Stephen Powell WILDLIFE ARTIST
PHOTOGRAPHER - TUTOR - SPEAKER - MOTIVATOR - WEBSITE DESIGNER

The Big Trip 1999

Please excuse the poor quality of these photographs.
They are a product of a poor slide scanner!

Family
December 99 Wedding
Kakadoo Crossing
Kakadu Crossing.
Lichfield

Lichfield

Parry's Creek -Wyndham

.Boab tree Parry's Creek -Wyndham

The Olgas

The Olgas.

The Rock

The Rock

Bungle Bungles

Bungle Bungles

Bungle Bungles

Bungle Bungle (Dark blob in thebottom is Colleen)

Girraween

Girraween

Lawn Hil

Lawn Hill

Brush Turkey Regent Bowerbird

Camp Visitor. We had hundreds of camp visitors. Bush turkeys, snakes(one king brown 4+ mt), crocodiles(Up to 5mt-1.5 ton), Hermit crabs, rock wallabies, birds, birds, birds, wombats, Barking Owls, ,,,,,,,,,,,,

Rock Wallaby
Monitor

Crock encounter Crock encounter
Close encounter of the crocodile kind. There are a few places you can swim up north this was one of them. However they are very aware of litigation. We were told at most places that you can swim "we are pretty sure there are no salties". We blundered across this Croc of the plastic variety set up as a 'joke' in the swimming hole. Saltwater Crocs grow to 6.5 mts. Our Kakadu camp had about 5 within view at most times.

My wife took long service leave and our two boys took a term of school. We traveled between 26th June and 3rd Oct 14 weeks. This is the recommended time to travel, between the rains and the heat. Our trip followed the path indicated visiting as many national parks as we could along the way.

We traveled in a Land Rover Discovery: Diesel, pulling an off road Camper Trailer. Water on tap, 12-volt lighting & fridge. An inverter was used for 240 volt charging. Gas cooking & inner spring mattress on top. Set up time was about 15 Min. People travel the out back on everything from bikes to massive motor homes. We wanted 'our' combination of convenience, reliability & comfort.

You can see many places in a standard car but it can restrict access. Many areas like the Bungle Bungles are restricted to high clearance 4wd and no caravans. If you want to promote your work take some photos with you. People get very helpful if they know you are serious. I handed out cards all over the place. Many have checked out my web page and I will let them know when paintings are added. I made list of people and species they liked for possible sales. One fellow camper bought a painting and recently commissioned another, including the cost of flying me back to Alice Springs to get the reference I require. Not bad for a campfire show and tell session!Bush Camp sites are very scarce. Access to aboriginal land is restricted. We mainly camped in National Park Camp areas and they are not very flash.

We took a camp oven and a bush toilet they didn't get much use. Firewood must be carried into most NP and many restrict fires. Most campsites have toilets.
At the peak time it is estimated that 250,000 people are traveling up north. Solitude was hard to find. Places such as Lawn Hill NP recommend booking up to 6 months in advance.

We made no bookings, as we wanted a lay back itinerary. A tight itinerary on a 3-mth trip didn't make much sense. We stayed in each place until we had covered the major features and moved when it felt right to move. We visited places you could spend years in but we have seen the features of a lot of places. This was my first visit to most of this country. We stood in ore of the vast vistas and grandeur of the gorges. Every step we took revealed fascinating plants and rocks. The desert colours and textures were constantly changing. The rocks that came in a range of colours, including black, white, green, orange and burgundy. Speckled and striped and highly polished. Spinifex, green at the base and toped with yellow, glistening against the deep red sand dunes. West Macdonald ranges, Namajira Country, was like no where else on our journey. The ranges are a combination soft green, blues and the deep reds highlighted with white trunked gums. It's difficult to photograph. A single photograph is too small to catch the impact of much of this country. We started taking a series of photographs to combine together to capture the scale of the landscape. I can give only a few of our numerous wildlife encounters.

A long walk through a hot gorge ended surrounded by hundreds of large black and white butterflies. They had congregated in the only shady damp place in the gorge, their cool oasis in an otherwise hot dry area.
My list of new bird species sighted grew virtually every day. I carried Simpson & Day and Pizzey & Knight field guides with me at all times.We had birds in and around the camps, including, Regent and Satin Bower birds together on our table. Purple-Crowned and Red-backed Fairy-wrens. Sited 15 kinds of Pigeons-Doves that including a Wompoo Fruit-Dove the chose to alight on a section of vine lit by a shaft of sunlight, its colours glowing against the dark greens of the rainforest. Serenaded by Brogas dancing against a purple sky. Barking Owls that made us laugh by woofing at us from the trees. A howling sound like the gibbons at Melbourne zoo but turned out to be a Great-billed Heron, near Cape Tribulation.
We sat on a cliff top engulfed in an out back sunset overlooking Lawn Hill Camp site. In front of us a deep, red sided gorge with water edged with tropical vegetation. Added to this for 45 minutes thousands of Flying Foxes passed on either side. Some coming almost close enough to touch on their way to their feeding grounds. As the flock headed into the distance they merged into what looked like huge swirls of black smoke. The next night found us in a canoe tied up to pandanus. The flock passed around us, some dipping to drink as they flew by. The sound of there leathery wings and calls adding to the spectacle. Magic! We marvelled at a Leaf-tailed Gecko's uncanny disguise. Watched Salt-water crocodiles swim past our camps. Gasped at the site of a 4+mt King Brown its head the size of my hand and queried the dignity of sitting on a toilet occupied by watchful frogs.

See it whilst you are fit enough to enjoy it all.
See Queensland before it's all gone.

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