The silence of the outback night 

The deafening silence of night on the tablelands. A silence broken only occasionally by the wishful night cry of a mopoke a way off in the dark and the rustle and chirrup of crickets. We sat under deep indigo skies peppered with bright sparkles, like the eyes of the universe and beyond we’re looking down on us. How microscopic we must have seemed. All rather humbling but stupendous, awesome, glorious, dazzling and beautiful beyond belief. We were camped in the bush in a pull-off along the Tablelands Highway – which for most of its 370 k is single lane ‘semi-bitumen’ running between Barkly Homestead and Cape Crawford. By the time we reached Cape Crawford, we’d driven a 1400k loop over 6 days (a leisurely journey) starting at Borroloola and finishing within about 100ks of our start point. It was a marvellous journey.

I so love the plains! Vast unbroken stretches of grasslands where pratincoles flutter and dart alongside the road, and where bustards – those huge stately birds who pose as still as statues -, and flocks of brolgas dance – Orana Orana tralala …… and cattle of course!

The plains we crossed were covered in golden Mitchell and Flinders grass with patches and fringes of towering native sorghum and spear grass mainly along the northern parts of the road. Great expanses also of silver box trees looking in the distance like an enveloping silver-blue mist. Stark white trunks picked out where Ghost gums and Coolibah trees grew. And all along the 100s of Ks were on of my favourite species, bloodwood trees (eucalypts) of a number of varieties.

A desert bloodwood tree in bloom
All sunsets look glorious but outback they are especially wonderful
All around was darkness except for the glow of the mozzie candle and iPad!

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Typical roads we travelled. This is one of my favourite parts of the countryside.
Show me a waterhole and there you’ll find cattle. Lovely gentle creatures, they often stop in the middle of the road to check you out.
The Burketown Bore! Sunk in the late 1890s it pumps out 700,000 litres of hot (68 degrees C) non-potable water per day
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Malandarri Festival – Borroloola June 2017

Dancers in the dark, in the sand and under the stars. Two happy fun nights to remember! Malandarri is an annual  community and regional celebration of traditional and contemporary arts and cultural practices of the four clans in the Borroloola area. The kids, including some local white kids, joined in most performances. In fact we ended up being treated to a veritable multicultural smorgasbord – not just dancers from the families (men, women and children) in the region but also Bollywood, Fijian and Tahitian performances.

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