Thursday, August 11, 2005

Katherine Diary

Well it looks like I have access to the internet, but somehow it sucks to write in an internet shop, so I'm typing this from M's laptop. Later today I'll make a trip to Katherine and post it, well, if you're reading this, what was I saying?

We're staying at Manbulloo Homestead (est. 1919), which is situated a few kilometers from town, just along the Katherine River. Our room, if I can call it that, is perched on stils, for some odd reason,and just overlooks the river. If you bend your head this way and that you might just be able to make out the water from the balconey, but in the afternoon when the sun's in the right place, you can see flashes of light glinting from the waters through the riverine vegetation, looking all the world like a swarm of daytime fireflies. We (M & L & me) go to the river every morning at around 7, when the sun is yet to gather strength and there's still a fine mist rolling on the river. We're using a boat borrowed from the homestead owners to observe the spiders, because the bloody things really like to hang their webs just above the water, which makes it pretty damn hard to measure from the bank. The spider in question is called Argiope radon, and quite rare in the sense that it's one of the few of the genus (maybe the only one) to live in aggregations. The book says that it prefers tropical riverine habitats, rainforest even, and I'm of the opinion that what we see here is basically an outpost population. I think this because we went looking for them all over the place, including the gorge and hardly found any. It's not rainforest habitat here, mostly riverine, so that might explain its relative rarity.

The homestead is overrun with wallabies. They're always bounding around the place, usually being chased by something or the other, but normally dogs, because the homestead is one of the few places around here that's 'pet-friendly', which means that we're surrounded by all sors of dogs. But then the wallabies are always running, even if nothing's chasing them. One of them was fleeing from something when it got stuck in some logs next to the river and L found it while she was doing her run of prey observation. She called us on the walkie-talkie thingy and before we got there to look at it, the wallaby had given up the fight and died. M checked its pouch and there was a joey, a small pink creature. L went up to the homestead to tell the owners and some guy took the wallaby away, but no idea where. There are crocodiles in the river, mostly freshwater ones. We saw one or two slipping off a log and splash into the river, but mostly we only hear odd splashes that made me jumpy in the beginning, but now it's so normal. I saw a dead one on the bank once, partially decomposed.

This homestead seems to be pretty popular with travellers, there are lots of people who come here in order to go fishing or canoeing or whatever. Crayfish nets are all over the place. And where the river converges into a gentle 'rapids' section, among the reeds is a good swimming spot, albeit a bit algae-fied.

I dont think I'll post anything more on this trip...unless you want to hear boring details about which spider ate well and which didnt etc, but in case anything interesting happens, I'll post it.