Busy Day at Fogg Dam

Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
1
17
30
Trip End Apr 15, 2013


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Where I stayed
What I did
Harrison Dam
Jumping Crocodile Cruise
Monsoon Forest Walk - Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve
Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre
Humpty Doo Rice Memorial

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Friday, March 15, 2013


It was still a bit dark out when I woke up the second time or was it the third time??  I waited until it was almost 7 am before I took my shower and got ready for the new day. 

This morning, Heather and Jeremy had arranged for Jenny and me to go on the Jumping Crocodiles Cruise on the Adelaide River - nowhere near the city of Adelaide.  We had breakfast and Jenny arrived at the house sometime shortly after 8 am, so we set off with Jeremy.  I think I just heard one of the dogs panting outside my window because Emir the Anatolian shepherd dog has panic attacks during thunder storms.  Shiva, whose breed starts with M and is from northern Italy, seems to do better.  Anyway, we had a detour to the Harrison Dam - the other part of the Rice Project - on our way to the river.

Once at the river - oh, oh, I still owe Jeremy and Heather $25 aus from my entrance fee - Jeremy went off to do one of the series of interviews on the Rice Project history that he had volunteered to do.  Jenny and I got on the boat for the tour.  As we went down the river, the guide told us something about the crocodiles.  I did learn a few things:  female crocodiles make nests of dirt and leaves on the river banks and lay their eggs there.  The females lay a lot of eggs at one time and they can regulate the gender by the environmental temperature of the nest.  The eggs in the center of the nest tend to produce males, but about 71% of the eggs hatch into females.  Once hatched, the baby crocs are prey to almost every animal, including bigger crocs.  In the end, only about 1% survive.  Crocodiles can make it to 70 or more years old.  I think he said there was an 80 year old croc on the river.

Crocodiles are the perfect predator.  They haven't changed much since they were first around, about 200 million years ago.  They are extremely fast - can swim much faster than Olympic champions.  They have bumps on their backs which are like solar panels and provide them with heat.  Since they are cold-blooded, they do need a source of heat.  This is about all I can remember.  Oh, there was also the part about crocs being able to sense movement across a river - so they can be aware of potential prey entering the water - and swim after them.

As we motored along, the guide would spot a crocodile and tell us its name and identify it by some feature - size, red lips, missing front legs, etc.  Then the woman member of the crew would dangle some meat on a string on a pole over the water.  She made sure she held it over both sides of the boat so everyone could get a chance to see and take photos.  Jenny got some excellent videos of the crocodiles jumping up in the air for the meat.  I, of course, did not, because I didn't have a good battery in my Nikon even though I charged one last night.  The Lumix was blinking red since it was so low on batteries.  Oh, well.

Another local attraction is the Wetlands Center:  Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre.  It is housed in a building on the land of the Rice Project - lots of things here tie into the Rice Project.  I had been planning to go there today and then Heather and Jeremy worked out that Jeremy would take Jenny and me there.  This time he stayed with us and mentioned how the center had changed its display since the last time he was there.  The center also used to have an exhibit on the Rice Project but that disappeared and no one knows where.  Each time we went out, we made a detour somewhere.  The center was nicely done.  It had a cafe run by aboriginal people and an upper deck where you could look out on the wetlands and see...well, you could see the invasive mimosa grass and the artificial pond, but there weren't many birds or other animals to see.  Oh, yeah, one of our detours, it may have been earlier, was to find wallabies but we didn't find any.

After this trip, I went for a siesta but ended up finishing Thornbirds and noticing it was 3:45 pm so I decided I should be off to do my walk at Fogg Dam.  I looked around for Heather or Jeremy - to let them know that I was going, but didn't see anyone.  I drove to the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve parking lot next to the path and took the 2.2 km Monsoon Forest walk.  I was shocked at how dry the ground was - the leaves crackled and the path was dusty.  After awhile, though, the path turned to a boardwalk and soon after that, the ground became wetter, then there were puddles of water, and finally there was water covering the ground.  The vegetation was very different from Tasmania - no conifers that I could recognize and quite a few broad-leafed trees.  The predominant tree is the paper bark with its shaggy, spongy layers of paper-thin bark.  There were also palms that looked a lot like the silver thatch palms of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.  There were other trees as well but I don't know what they are.  Even though some parts of this tropical forest were dry, there was still a lot of moss and other fungi on the trees - I took lots of photos of bark and moss - now that I had put in a charged battery that works.

I had been hearing what sounded like thunder, but the sky seemed sunny and blue.  Just in case, I tried to move along rather briskly once I got to the end - there was a loop on the boardwalk, but I determined it was the end by the lookout point and the fact that the landscape changed from forest to wet grassland.  I didn't take so many photos on the way back.  As I approached the beginning of the trail, it seemed as if the thunder might have been getting louder.

Once back at the car, I was still in the forest and the sky seemed sunny and blue, so I decided to drive to the end of the dam road and check out the look-out for birds.  I had scared off several big white birds on the walk and one smaller, dark bird that looked like a peafowl, only smaller.  I might have a photo of it.  So I was hoping to see some ducks, geese, or egrets, or even some crows.  Once I got out of the forest and out of the car and looked back, I saw the dark, dark sky.  It was quite stunning, so I took a few photos.  I started to go forward since I didn't think I should try turning around on the dam road, but then there was a place for a U-turn.  I headed back to Heather's.  On arriving at their farm, I opened and closed the gate while a few raindrops hit the windshield.  By the time I drove to the house, it was definitely beginning to rain.   Jeremy was leaving and said he saw that I made it just in time, because now it was raining harder.  As I got to the front door, Heather was coming out.  She noticed that I had made it just in time as well.
Now it was a full-blown tropical storm with thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain.  I was certainly lucky.  I marveled at the feeling of being in the storm while still being protected - safe and dry - in the house.  With the screened verandas and louvered windows, you can feel the wind, sprinkles of rain, the coolness.  It is so different from rain storms at home - unless you can view the storm in a screened-in porch. 

I mostly hung around the kitchen and Heather while she prepared dinner, did watch a bit of the news while sipping my gin and tonic.  Heather made another lovely fish dinner, with new potatoes in garlic butter and green peas.  There was mango and Pavlova for dessert.  We talked for a while about our travel experiences again and soon it was bedtime.  Now It is raining again.  All together a lovely day in Eden at Fogg Dam.


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