August 11th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 2 of 10

This morning we woke up early at 5:30. Breakfast was a simple Australian bush style breakfast of toast and basic cereals. I have not had cereal in years, but I had some corn flakes with skim milk, as well as some toast with jam. We set off towards Jim Jim falls at 6:30am. The drive took us down a 1 hour extremely rutted and bumpy gravel and shale road. After about an hour we came to the 4×4 trail where I hopped out and locked the front hubs on the truck to put us into 4×4. We took the 4×4 trail at a reasonable pace in order to not bottom out the truck but still at a reasonable rate of speed. About 15 minutes down the 4×4 trail we then came to the parking spot for Jim Jim falls.

During the fall Jim Jim falls has a very high flow rate, and you are not able to see it from land. The good photos that you see from the internet are from an airplane or helicopter. Luckily we came during winter so we could actually see the area where the waterfall would be, but also swim underneath. After parking the truck we walked about a half hour to a beach below Jim Jim falls. Most of us went in the water, while a few stayed behind because they were scared of crocodiles, or couldn’t swim. We swam a bit out from the beach towards some rocks, which we climbed over, to the other side where we saw a beautiful plunge pool. The water in the plunge pool was a little warmer, but absolutely beautiful. I swam to the other side of the plunge pool and relaxed under the barely trickling waterfall.

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Afterwards we hopped back into our 4×4 and drove back to the same camp that we stayed at the night before. We had leftovers and sandwiches, which were delicious. After lunch I helped hook the trailer back up to the 4×4 (we couldn’t take the trailer with us this morning due to the extremely bumpy road).

We started driving towards Mount Bundy, three hours away, where we are going to stay tonight but made multiple stops along the way. The first stop, an unexpected stop, was to clear a tree that fell right in front of us because of a small bush fire. We had to come to a sudden stop. The tree took five of us to move and two people to watch traffic in either direction. The second stop was a massive cathedral termite mound, which was taller than I was. The cathedral termite mounds grow 1 metre every ten years, so it is a slow process. The cathedral termites build their mounds from dirt, water, grass, and poop.

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The next stop was the Buklukluk Lookout. We learned about the foliage in the area and how the indigenous people made baskets and bracelets out of some of the foliage by weaving the fibres. We made bracelets, which took about 10 minutes, so image how long it would take to make a basket.

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Along the way to our next stop I was nominated to be a trivia quiz master, so I asked a series of ten questions each about World History, Animals, and Australia. The questions and answers were already prepared for me. The best team got 22/30 correct and won a prize of candy at the next stop. The next stop was pine creek, and old mining town, where we got ice cream, beer for camp tonight, and watched some caged snakes eat mice. I also received a bag of candy for being a quiz master, which I shared with the group. Gold mining was, and still is huge in the area, so many little towns along the highway were founded in the mid to late 1800’s. So much gold was found in the area that they were short of workers, so they got Chinese people that were serving time in Chinese jails to come work in the Australian gold mines, in return for freedom after a period of time. They did their time and stole gold by smuggling it back to China in urns of deceased family members, and then became quite wealthy. It is unknown how much gold was stolen, but it was suspected a fair amount.

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We got back on the main highway, called the Stewart Highway, towards Mount Bundy. The Stewart highway received its name from the explorer who was the first person to travel from Southern Australia to Darwin in 1861. The first telegraph in Australia was made in 1871 to England through Asia and Europe, which apparently took six years to complete.

We arrived at Mount Bundy, which is a beautiful farm area that has wild dingos, a bull, some horses, a miniature pony, and an alligator pond. When we arrived I setup my tent, and plugged in all of my equipment to charge (these tents all had electricity, which was nice). I took my camera and went in search of wallabes and the bull to take pictures of. I didn’t have the correct lens to take a picture of the wallabes, but at least I was able to capture some. After that I met up with the rest of the group who were sitting around drinking and talking politics, before we had to start preparing dinner. Dinner was mashed potatoes, buffalo steaks, sausages, and cooked vegetables. After dinner we went in search of toads and crocodiles by flashlight. We were unable to find any crocodiles, but did find some poisonous toads that if you lick them you will get high.

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I went to bed at 11:00pm. Check back tomorrow for more of my adventures!

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August 10th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 1 of 10

Today I was picked up for my tour at 6:40am by my guide named Alex. She’s been in the tourism industry for nearly a decade now. The day started with a 1.5 hour drive to our first stop in Corroboree where we get a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast as well as a coffee, as well as some fuel.


The second stop, which was another 1.5 hours drive, was rockhole billabong along the Mary River. We went on a 1.5 hour river cruise, which was absolutely fantastic. Billabongs are similar to what we know as a swamp. They are only 3-4 meters deep on average, with a maximum depth of 8 metres. I saw a Darter bird, Lotus Lillies, Snowflake Lillies, Melaleuca trees, Jacanas (a small bird that can run on top of water lillies, rainbow bee eaters (a small beautiful colourful bird), whistling tree ducks, and a Jabiro (a large bird with a 1.5 metre wing span).


The third stop, a half hour away, was the south Alligator River where we had delicious burgers, and salad. I helped cook and clean dishes. There are a few areas that were not named correctly because they were named Alligator Instead of Crocodile. There are no alligators in Australia, and quite a few rivers and places have been named incorrectly.


On the way to our fourth stop we saw a bunch of old Citroen 2CV’s in a pack doing a road trip. It was interesting to see.

The fourth stop was another 40 minutes away. We stopped at the Ubirr art sites. This is an area belonging to the indigenous people. There was a ton of old paintings dating back as far as 4000 years ago and as early as 180 years ago, when the white man set foot in Australia. I learned a few neat things at this site. When an indigenous person dies they get wrapped in paper bark (Melaleuca tree bark) and taken somewhere high to decompose and then they take the bones and wrap it in more paper bark and bury. The famous paintings all have a story behind them such as sickness, or beware of the white man, beware of the dingos, beware of thieves, etc. There was on that was a health warning about moving the rocks because they will make you sick. Turns out the rocks were making them sick because they contained high amounts of uranium, and we have modern science to back that up, but they only knew something wasn’t right because they were getting sick. This prompted them to paint a painting on the rock to warn the others. All the paintings on the rocks are done with a paste made from a mixture of ochre and water. We also got a chance to overlook the beautiful area all around us, and all I can say is it was absolutely stunning. Take a look for yourself.


The fifth spot, 40 minutes away, was Jabiru where we refilled the truck again, and got some ice cream. We have to refuel the truck a lot because it only has a 100 litre tank and the truck is massive and heavy.

The sixth and final spot today was the camp. It took us about an hour to get to but along the way we saw a tragic accident involving one of the 2CV’s we saw earlier where the vehicle got ripped to shreds and the people died on impact. It shook us all up so Alex said we could all get some beers from the liquor store at the camp ground we were staying at.

I helped Alex unhook our trailer and park the truck, and then starter to cook dinner because she needed to setup camp for the others. Dinner was a delicious chicken stir fry. After dinner a few of us helped do the dishes. We then heard a loud bang, and went outside the kitchen tent to take a look. A family was trying to park their RV but was failing miserably because they hit a tree. I took over for them and successfully parked it and they thanked me. Alex told me her boyfriend, who is also a tour guide, was staying elsewhere in the camp, so I could have her posh tent because she was just going to bunk with him. My even more upgrades tent had a nice mattress, a fan, and a place to charge my phones. I gladly accepted it and couldn’t be any happier.

Tomorrow we’re off to The Jim Jim River. I may or may not have service to update my blog but check back later for the next step in my adventure!

These photos are just taken with my iPhone but I will upload a blog at the end of this tour with all of my good SLR photos.

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