The Top End Tour 2004 in verse

PEOPLE ON THE TOP END TOUR with Philip & Patricia Maher
22 May – 6 June 2004
By Kay Hahne  
Kay's trip report
 'Top End' poem by Kay Hahne

On Day One of our Top End Tour, Horst was the Birthday Boy,
Phil found for him a Rufous Owl, to all of us a joy.
The Botanic Gardens in Darwin is a special place to go,
Later at the Lizard Bar the champagne began to flow.

Kay’s goal of the Big 400 was reached the first day out.
Now anything she misses will not cause her to pout.
But the mosquitoes, heat and sand flies – how will she keep her cool?
Joining blind birdwatchers without specs, groping in the pool.

Neville has his monopod and lenses that are big,
He looks like David Attenborough, but doesn’t give a fig.
When he gets home on his computer, his photos he’ll download
Of birds and bats and butterflies, and maybe one cane toad.

Lesley’s legs are sometimes bare, then ZIP they’re covered up!
With artist’s pad and pen, at the escarpment she looks up.
Her shirt is green, her hat is red, like a grevillea in bloom.
Collecting bits like a bower bird, she soon will have no room.

Rosemary’s very liberal with her smile and insect spray.
The smell is wafting up to us and driving all away!
She follows right on Philip’s heels, as keen as any mustard.
"A Banded Pigeon I must see, and next, perhaps a Bustard!"

Helen’s on her own with us, she’s left her Andy home;
She’s settled in with the Canberra crowd and is ready now to roam.
Each new bird’s an exciting event, she’s writing down a list.
At the end of the trip she’ll let us know the few she’s sadly missed.

Neville’s set a brand new trend, showing just one wounded knee.
He scaled the heights but slipped and fell chasing Grasswrens one, two, three.
The stores will soon be full, I’m sure, of shopping Japanese:
"We want these special trousers – one short, one long leg, pleeese!"

Helen by a tall termite mound, and a big fat boab tree,
Photographs reflect a moment in time, saved for eternity.
"Look! That tessellated bark is like a crocodile skin!"
Our cameras click, the film winds back, we put another in.

Rosemary says she rooms alone, but we think that’s all blather.
One night she slept with a frog, we hear, and got worked up in a lather.
She broke the loo at Kakadu, mislaid a sink plug if you please,
Had dyslexia of the tongue one day, shouting "Look at that bird full of trees!"

We binged on fruit and peanuts before we came to the WA border.
Alas, alack, what did we lose but Trish’s great long prodder!
A huge black pod with rattling beans which she threatened to use on Phil;
"Don’t be too long, just pick me up, I’m walking to that next hill."

Lesley’s keen on spotting plants, she’s bought a brand new book.
Rosemary and Helen are interested too, and are helping her to look.
Horst’s got his camera with a 500 lens, to give Nev a bit of competition.
Every day there’s lot of happenings, to aid Kay in her composition.

We’re at "Peewee’s at the Point" again, another wonderful meal to share,
While gazing across the water, sitting out in the balmy air.
It’s our very last night for the checklist, to discuss, tick and check what’s new;
The grand trip tally, according to Phil, is two hundred and twenty-two.


Some things we will remember from our Top End Tour, 2004.

* The crescent phase of Venus, just below the crescent moon – a first for everyone!
* A huddle of dingo pups in the middle of the road
* A Barking Owl feeding on moths by lamplight
* Black and white contrasts: a tree full of white cockatoos and red-tailed blacks
* A sinister dead tree at night with not only showy white corellas, but invisible black crows
* Green ants up your pant-leg
* Feeding frenzy at Fogg Dam
* The noisy leaf-blower man at picnic site at Fogg Dam!
* Black Flying Foxes hanging in the trees along the Mary River during our cruise
* Kakadu Steaming – sweat dripping off noses and chins while standing still at 08:30 at Nourlangie Rock
* Mango smoothies at Mayse’s Cafe in Pine Creek
* Explosion of White-breasted Woodswallows, than a slow settling back into the tree
* Great Bowerbird’s bower and collection of white stones and shells plus green glass
* Crossing the new Ghan railway line numerous times
* Burn of Black Kites over the smoking grass fire
* Lawns of Little Corellas
* Raptures of raptors
* Rafts of Radjahs
* Creche of Whistle-ducklings
* Flights of Finches
* Dregs of debris from the floods
* Peel of paperbarks
* Fan of Pandanus
* Rattle of ripe pods in the wind
* Rainbow of Pittas
* Spread of Darters
* Bark of Owls
* Clatter of Kookaburras (blue-winged)
* Flutter of butterflies
* Group of Gouldians
* Plethora of Pratincoles
* Mix of Martins (tree and fairy)
* Buffet of Barramundi (yum)