Friday, June 27, 2008

DAY 241: Day off Walker Creek (Litchfield NP)

Sat 21st June 2008
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 99 m
Distance to date 14377 km (8986 miles)

Awoke to the cascading falls on a cloudy morning. I slept without the outer cover so had a nice breeze all night - unusual because the wind normally falls at night. I was just about warm enough in the silk liner. After breakfast I got cracking with bike matters - primarily sorting out the slow puncture from yesterday. I removed the tube after marking tube and tyre so I could see exactly where the puncture occured on the tyre, so as to see if something was still stuck in there. Using a calm pool down at the river to test for leaks I found a very small hole in the tube, but was unable to find anything still in the tyre at that point that might have caused it, however I went right around the tyre, inside and out, to see if there was anything else stuck in that might cause a problem later but I found nothing. The original tube that went down yesterday also had a small hole right on top of a previous patch - weird - so I patched the 2 tubes and also checked my 2 other spare tubes - and 1 of these had a large rip (?) so I will dump it. The other spare tube is fine, so I still have 2 spares, which will do.
I also set to to clean all the red hard-baked clay off the bike, picked up from the wet road yesterday, and gave the chain another good lube with the White Lightning ‘self-cleaning’ lubricant that I paid a hefty $16 (7 pounds) for in Darwin last week.
Bike stuff complete, I had a peanut butter and jam sarnie for lunch then set to to clean all the panniers, which were quite grubby. There is a kind of slatted table about 2m square at the campsite which is ideal for working on, and sitting on too, although I put the Thermarest chair down first, which is very comfortable.
I went to explore up the track after this, and very much enjoyed the beautiful walk - up and down little granite rises and winding around and above the edge of the river - Pandanus and other tropical trees all around. There are several places where you can swim in the river, but I waited until I reached the 8th and last campsite at the end of the path to see which was the best - it was the last one, where there was 2m deep water for 25m or so, where the river was a good 5m wide. It’s easy to get down into the water too on the smooth rocks. The water feels very warm; wonderful, and although I felt a little cool on coming out, the sun was out by this time, and I was warm again in seconds. Last night whilst I was dangling my feet in the river something nipped me - little shrimps as it happened - only about 40mm long. The information sign here says this might happen but assures that ”’s just some small creature who thinks you’re detritus - welcome to the community....” - cute.
I saw only about 6 other folk whilst walking and swimming but there were about 8 young English tourists larking around at the waterfall near my camp. I walked towards them to get back to the tent and it seemed as if they weren’t even aware that I was camping there - it’s that secluded.
I went for a late swim as the light started to fade, and as I came out spotted a large lizard lay on a rock (pic) - about 600mm (2’) long. I carefully moved close to get a pic without disturbing it.
I have been trying to charge my mobile phone up using the 2 solar panels I brought, to no avail. I paid £70 each for there 2 and the very few times I’ve tried to use them they’ve let me down - I might as well send them home again and cut my weight down. I can usually find a 240v outlet to plug in my AA/AAA 15 minute battery charger.
As I was cooking dinner I heard a loud crashing over the noise of the waterfall, and next minute a large dog ran into the camp and stopped a few yards away. He was quite big, around a Doberman size with tan colouring, and he stood eyeing me, panting from his run. Was he running to the smell of food cooking? Pets are not allowed in the NP at all, and it was clear to me that this was a feral dog. Next minute another, identical dog ran in too; they looked like siblings. I was somewhat taken aback, as I have heard stories about how such wild dogs can hunt in packs, and how they have threatened humans. My reaction was to pick up a stick and stand to my full height, shouting loudly - this seemed to work and they backed off, loped away, and in fact I never saw them again thankfully. I erected the outer tent, just to give me a feeling of greater security. Maybe the fire had a deterrent effect too?
It was very windy and the wind turned so that the smoke and sparks kept blowing in my face, so I retired to the teny earlier than last night.

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