Cape York via Simpson Desert 28 June 2015 – Day 27

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 23:26

Peter Beard (WA)

If you are planning a trip to the NT sometime soon you should put Lorella Springs on your list of places to visit. Make it a week and you will only just scratch the surface, take a month and you'll still want to come back. This is an incredible place.

Today started noisily. Not from us or any people staying here, the crows started talking early and were soon joined by a cacophony of galahs, finches, magpie larks, chooks, a peacock and the local friendly emu. Not easy to sleep beyond sunrise out here.

A fairly slow morning of cups of tea, breakfast, sitting in the shade reading and generally relaxing, trying to dislodge the vibrations still thumping through our bodies from yesterday's corrugation-filled ordeal. By 10:30 we were ready to start exploring.

First stop is to log the day's activity in the guest book so they know where you intend to be at the end of the day. One book for day trips, another for remote camping forays. If you don't come back and sign out they send out a search party. First a recce of the campsite, then send up the helicopter, which also offers scenic flights and remote fishing trips. not sure if they combine the two services. The helicopter pilot is from Nedlands in WA and we live in Mosman Park so we are almost neighbours. He told us he spends winters up here doing tourist flights and enjoying keeping up his flying hours. We chatted to him last night after our wonderful dip in the hot springs, dinner and a bottle of red wine. Seriously, this place is paradise.

Our day trip is to Nannie's Retreat and Le Spa, about 40km north of the homestead. The track varies from soft, boggy sand on wide flats to bone jarring black and red corrugations in the sections full of white gums. Crossing Rosie Creek is a long water splash, about knee deep so the exhaust pipe burbles in the water but the bottom is smooth and solid. Ali, no need to panic.

Not far in is the turn off to Rosie's Track, a long trail that goes all the way up to the Gulf of Carpentaria. In between here and there are creeks, waterholes, hot springs, waterfalls and great fishing spots. We'll tackle that one tomorrow. Meanwhile, just north of that turn off is the air strip, then the Chicken Track turn off, an easier alternative to the Gulf than Rosies. Perhaps that way home tomorrow?

Keep heading north and you cross a disused haul road - raised, flat, hard gravel in a dead straight line between a mine somewhere out there and who knows where. The track to Nannie's Retreat continues to meander through the bush, sort of like the track heading out of Koolyanobbing we drove all the way back on day two on our adventure.

The first turn off is to Le Spa, we bypassed that and kept on to Nannie's Retreat car park. A few other crew decided on this trip today, about six 4WDs are parked here. The walk to the swimming pool at Nannie's Retreat is about one and a half kilometres. In the heat it felt more like 20. Incredible country, the Yiyintyi Range is a conglomeration of rocky outcrops, quartz and sandstone and granite covered in trees, bushes, grasses, and reeds in the watery hollows. We finally emerged at the cold water oasis of Nannie's Retreat, a lovely, long pool in the hills fed by springs. The valley surrounding the pool tells of what it would be like in the wet season. At the top of the sheer sides of the pool there is debris caught in the trees, left from the last big wet when the pool was at the bottom of a five metre torrent of water gushing through the narrow defile.

After a cold, refreshing swim we hiked back to the car and took the short trek back to Le Spa. This water hole is thankfully close to the car park, our energy expended on the walk to Nannie's Retreat. Occasional bubbles emerge in the middle of the pool, not sure if it is heat or life. Further up the track is Helicopter Pool. We'll leave that for our next visit.

Both of us are feeling weary but happy as the sun sets over Lorella Springs Station. As Pete's sister Carol commented, any place with the word springs in the name has to be good. This place is better than good. Another early night tonight, and tomorrow a trip to the western coast of the Gulf.


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