Tag Archive | Northern Territory

From On High

An Australian Point of View #5 Mountains

One of my most vivid memories of my first year of high school is the day my geography teacher, a European immigrant, made a scathing comment about Australia’s mountains. How dare we call our main mountain range “great” when, in comparison to the European alps it was nothing. I remember, even at the tender age of 12, feeling indignant that he should feel free to criticise my country.

Since then, I’ve seen much of this land and explored many of its mountain areas. I know now that Australia, once part of the supercontinent Gondwana, is the oldest and flattest continent on Earth.

Norseman, Western Australia

Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

Tectonic movement and volcanic activity have shaped the upland areas and erosion by wind and water has worn them away; instead of the rugged craggy peaks seen in Europe and the Americas, Australia’s mountain ranges are characterised by highland plateaus and deep canyons, wide valleys and rounded peaks.

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake, Tasmania

Mount Wellington, Tasmania

Porongurups, Western Australia

Bungle Bungles, Western Australia

Katherine River and Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory

Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, reaches an elevation of just 2,228 metres above sea level.

Mount Kosciuszko, New South Wales

The Great Dividing Range, so maligned by my teacher, is the third longest land-based mountain range on Earth. It is 3,500 kilometres long and stretches from the northernmost tip of Queensland, through New South wales and into Victoria. At its widest it is more than 300 kilometres across. The range dates from the Carboniferous Period, making it more than 300 million years old. Surely the term “great” is well-deserved.

Where the mountains meet the sea, Cape Tribulation, Far North Queensland

Daintree National Park, Far North Queensland

Kroombit Tops, Central Queensland

Glasshouse Mountains, South East Queensland

Bald Rock National Park, Northern New South Wales

Alpine National Park, Eastern Victoria

Perhaps that teacher needed to study his geography!

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Cityscape

An Australian Point of View #1 Capital Cities

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world with a land mass of 7,692,014 square kilometres. Despite its size, Australia is composed of just six states and two territories, all with their own capital city. Every capital has its own distinctive architecture; some buildings are more well-known than others, but each plays a part in the story of its city.

Brisbane, Queensland

The heritage-listed Albert Street Uniting Church, completed in 1889, is dwarfed by the surrounding city tower blocks. By the early 1900s it was the main Methodist Church in the city and is now the home of Wesley Mission Queensland. With its Victorian Gothic architecture and its inner city position, the church is a popular wedding venue.

Melbourne, Victoria

The Arts Centre Melbourne is Australia’s busiest Performing Arts complex. Construction began in 1973 and the buildings were completed in stages, the last being finished in 1984. The steel spire is 162 metres high and is surrounded at the base by a ruffle of steel mesh reminiscent of a ballerina’s tutu.

Adelaide, South Australia

The scoreboard at the Adelaide Oval has been keeping track of cricket matches since 3 November, 1911. The heritage-listed Edwardian scoreboard is the only one of its type in the Southern Hemisphere and is still manually operated.  A tour of Adelaide Oval includes a visit inside the four storey scoreboard.

Perth, Western Australia

The Bell Tower in Barracks Square houses the Swan Bells, a collection of 18 change ringing bells. Twelve of the bells come from St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and date from the 13th century. They were gifted to the city of Perth during Australia’s Bicentenary, while the Bell Tower was completed in time for Millennium celebrations.

Hobart, Tasmania

The Shot Tower at Taroona, just outside Hobart, was built in 1879 and was, for four years, Australia’s tallest building. Lead shot was produced in the tower for 35 years. Next door is the home of Joseph Moir, who constructed the tower and other landmark buildings in Hobart. The shot tower is still the tallest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

Darwin, Northern Territory

Government House, on the Esplanade in Darwin, is the oldest European building in the Northern Territory. Completed in 1871, the house is the official residence of the Administrator of the Northern Territory. The Victorian Gothic design is complemented by wide verandas, which help to cool the house in Darwin’s tropical climate.

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Parliament House is the meeting place of the Parliament of Australia. This is the second Parliament House and replaced Old Parliament House, which was in use from 1927 to 1988. This new building was opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II during Australia’s Bicentenary celebrations. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms adorns the front façade, and an Australian flag the size of a half tennis court flies at the top of the 81 metre high flagpole.


Sydney, New South Wales

The Sydney Opera House, opened in 1973, overlooks Sydney Harbour at Bennelong Point. Every year, more than eight million people visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site and it hosts more than 1,500 events and performances. The Opera House becomes a focal point during Sydney’s Vivid Festival each June.


Participating in Becky’s #RoofSquares Challenge

The Power of Water

Round Australia Road Trip #4

There’s not much at Victoria River! It’s allocated a dot on the map but there’s just a roadhouse with a campground out the back and a massive bridge over the river. It’s not the place we’ve come to see though, it’s the landscape.

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The Victoria River has its headwaters in the centre of the Northern Territory and by the time it reaches the north it is wide and deep. In late September at the end of the dry season, the water is well below the bridge but in the wet the level rises dramatically. Sometimes the road is cut by the swelling waters.

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The water has carved a path through the sandstone to create Victoria River Gorge, a spectacular landscape of red cliffs lined with ancient Livistona palms, prehistoric relics only found here and in northern Western Australia. It’s easy to see from a distance where the river flows because there’s a bright strip of green along its banks where the vegetation is lush.

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The jagged red escarpments continue on the road further west to Timber Creek.

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This time, there really is a little town on the Victoria River. Including outlying indigenous communities, the town supports a population of around 320. There’s a hotel, hospital and school, and a choice of two caravan parks. After the basic amenities and red dirt of Victoria Crossing Roadhouse, the Wirib Tourism Park is luxurious. The town sits on the bank of Timber Creek and there’s no shortage of water here. Sprinklers water the thick, green grass every day and there are large, shady trees all over town. They provide welcome relief from the 38 degree temperature during the day.

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Just outside Timber Creek, on the banks of the Victoria River, is one particular tree with a story to tell. This ancient boab tree is estimated to be at least 500 years old. It’s sacred to the Ngarinman people who held traditional ceremonies at its base for hundreds of years. It’s also the site of the 1855/56 camp  of the explorer Augustus Gregory. The dates of his explorations were carved into the tree by the expedition artist Thomas Baines as a permanent record of their time here.

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More evidence of the past can be seen at the Bullita Homestead. The homestead on the Bullita Stock Route was part of the larger Humbert Station and is testament to the pastoralists who settled this area in the 1860s. Now it’s open to visitors who tackle the rough corrugated track for the 42 km it takes to get there. The homestead is a four room corrugated iron building on the banks of the Baines River and photos inside show what life was like in the 1960s. The abundant water supply meant the people who lived here were able to grow their own vegetables and fruit and the house is surrounded by large boab trees and eucalypts.

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The power of water is also evident at Limestone Gorge, another stop on the Bullita Stock Route. Over millions of years, weathering caused by naturally occurring acid rain has created distinctive ripples and undulations in the limestone.

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After an afternoon’s adventuring on the track, we’re back in Timber Creek in time to drive up to the lookout to watch the sunset.

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The sun goes down fast here but long after it’s gone the sky is filled with colour. It’s reflected on the waters of the Victoria River and glows off the red sandstone of the escarpments. It’s a landscape worth driving to see.

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Revisiting Our Favourite Place

Round Australia Road Trip #3

When we lived in Darwin thirty years ago, our favourite get-away spot was Florence Falls. It was remote and difficult to get to, which only added to its attraction. Every few months a group of us, ten or twelve friends, would pack up our four wheel drives and head south for a few days of back to nature camping.

There was no road to Florence Falls. To get there, we travelled south on the Stuart Highway…

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and turned left at the tiny town of Batchelor.

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After a few kilometres we left the dirt road and went cross country. We passed by the magnetic termite mounds, all perfectly lined up facing due north and south, keeping the nests at a constant, optimum temperature…

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until, after more than four hours, we came to the creek.

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We followed the creek to a broad, sandy area shaded by tall trees. Here we pitched our tents and stowed our drinks in the chilled water of the creek so they’d be ready to have with our barbecued steak for dinner. Then we would laze the day away, floating on airbeds in the swimming pool at the bottom of the falls. It was the perfect camping location and we always had this beautiful place to ourselves.

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Today, Florence Falls is part of Litchfield National Park and there’s a sealed road all the way; it takes just over an hour to get to Florence Falls from Darwin. There’s a choice of two paved walking tracks down to the pool at the base of the falls. The trees have grown and the forest has taken over our camping site. Many people come every day to visit these beautiful falls and swim in the deep pool.

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They love it as much as we did, but it’s a little crowded now.

A Look Around Darwin

Round Australia Road Trip #2

Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory, in the part of Australia more fondly known as the Top End. It’s a laid back kind of place with a tropical climate and a relaxed lifestyle. We lived in Darwin for more than two years in the 1980s and it was still in rebuilding mode after being devastated by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. This was my first time back in the city and after 30 years I expected to see some changes.

In some ways, Darwin is very different. There are many new buildings, roadways and many more shops and businesses. In other ways it seemed as though very little had changed – the people still have the same easy going attitude to life and they are as friendly as ever.

The biggest change is the trees. In 1984, the landscape was dominated by new homes with new gardens. Now, there are trees – big trees – in every garden, on the footpaths and lining the highways. It’s green and lush, with tall palms, banana trees and spreading poincianas filling the skyline.

It’s definitely a change for the better.

Taking to the Road

Round Australia Road Trip #1

Welcome to the first instalment of the Round Australia Road Trip Journal.

A couple of weeks ago my husband, aka Mr ET, and our daughter set off on the first part of a great adventure. They travelled from Toowoomba to Roma, Longreach and Mount Isa, into the Northern Territory on the Barkly Highway, on to the Stuart Highway north to Mataranka, Katherine and Kakadu before arriving in Darwin. They covered 4046 kilometres in 11 days and saw many amazing sights along the way.

Two weeks later, I joined them in Darwin. I took the easy way, flying from Brisbane to Darwin! I travelled 2860 kilometres and the flight took four hours. I was lucky enough to have a window seat and this is what I saw on the way.

Our daughter left us in Darwin and now it’s just Mr ET and me, travelling back to Toowoomba, taking the long way round via Perth.

The journey so far…