Burketown to Roper Bar, Northern Territory
With about ten percent of the distance covered on
our trek across the Top End of Australia from Normanton, in Queensland,
to Mataranka, in the Northern Territory, we again set out on our journey.
Our first stop was Burketown Hospital to have a painful
insect bite on Rod's leg checked out. Obviously the one that latched on
hadn't cleaned its teeth or proboscis recently!
The district nurse, a laconic type, inspected the
bite and advised that it was a particularly serious infection. Then proceeded
to advise and warn us that the bugs in the Top End were bigger than Texas
compared to their southern cousins down when it came to initiating skin
Prophetic news that we didn't want to hear!
It was necessary to sit in the hospital waiting room
for a couple of hours until a Royal Flying Doctor Service doctor from
Mt Isa could return the District nurse's call, endorsing her diagnosis
and the prescription of 'heavy duty' oral antibiotics.
We spent the time studiously inspecting wall charts
and jars displaying a smorgasbord of the Top End's most wanted list...
dangerous critters,if given half a chance...would sliver, leep, creep,
crawl or maul their way to the exposed skin of southern visitors...in
order to inflict incapacity, disease and sometime's death.
Upon leaving we were advised that the infection would
require further attention as soon as we reached 'civilisation'. Based
on our intended route, Katherine, in the Northern Territory, was chosen.
Before heading off we consulted the map...noting that
our chosen route was marked as "four wheel drive only" and "unsuitable
Although a bit apprehensive, we had met a couple at
Leichhardt Falls the day before and they informed us that they had just
come through from Roper Bar, towing an offroad caravan.
There's nothing like hearing of road conditions direct
from the horse's mouth and being assured that if we took it steady, we
wouldn't have any problems...we proceeded.
Two days of bone-jarring corrugations, shallow but
nasty dips and washed out floodways followed. In addition we had to ford
several rivers...the worst being the Calvert, which had a steep entry
and departure angle. It was also signposted as being the favourite playground
of the Estuarine crocodile.
In addition, it turned out to be deeper than expected
and water washed above the wheel arches on the Prado as we churned our
way across. Fortunately, however, we had taped the caravan door and front
locker in anticipation.
Through the water we could see large boulders and
pebbles littering the river floor and the prospect of being hung up on
one or having the engine stall was not a welcome thought.
...in that unfortunate event, I doubt that either
of us would have got wet in reaching terra firma!
The country through which we travelled was remote and savannah-like, punctuated
only by small sandstone ranges that popped up out of nowhere.
St. Vidgeon and Lomarleum Lagoon (Northern Territory)
Our decision to take the Roper
Bar route to the Territory and three days of teeth-chattering rough dirt
roads was vindicated by our discovery of the picturesque Lomarleum Lagoon.
Located about 500 metres off
the road, behind ruins at St. Vidgeon, 65km east of Roper Bar, it's a
truly idyllic spot.
Lined by shady trees and swaying
reeds, it was studded with water lilies.
We selected a camping spot literally
about three metres from the waters edge ...indulging the cool breezes
sweeping off the water's surface and feasting on the panoramic views that
could be enjoyed from each window of the caravan.
We're still not sure whether
crocodiles were present in the lagoon...or more to the point...whether
they could propel themselves the three metres or so at the van...to score
a free meals on wheels...but we suspect not.