Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


ImageShady Shangri-la
Exquisite beauty and boys-own adventure are butted side-by-side in the Top End, where the lily-clad Shady Camp Billabong meets the murky undercurrent of Sampan Creek.

Story and photos Don Fuchs

Half past six in the morning and the sky is pastel with opaque hues of pink and watery blue. The air is filled with noise – a flock of white egrets, determined to greet the morning and wake everyone up; a blue-winged kookaburra, trying to laugh but ending up in hysterics. In the billabong crocodiles are floating in the water like logs in a rain-swollen river. A jabiru struts along the banks, looking for fish, frogs: breakfast. Two juvenile jabirus, dirty-looking and not yet displaying the vivid colours of the adults, are getting involved in a dispute with a large, dancing pelican. Fish are jumping. It is a scene out of an Attenborough documentary, one of those sequences where you think, 'how on earth did they manage to get that?'. Only it is not television; not edited, cut, presented and put together for dramatic proposes – this is real life. And it's a typical morning at Shady Camp Billabong.

ImageThis billabong is part of the Mary River in the Top End of the Northern Territory. Flanked by the two cattle stations – Melaleuca Station on the Shady Camp side and Marrakai Plains Station on the opposite side – it is protected as a nature reserve and managed by Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife. Shady Camp Billabong is a nature-lovers paradise and is Wayne Turner's favourite spot. Wayne, 36, lanky and almost two metres tall with short, cropped, salt-and-pepper hair, runs Aussie Overlanders and Gondwana Adventure Tours and Expeditions in Darwin. Both companies offer two-to-five day backpacker tours to Kakadu National Park and into Arnhem Land. Shady Camp is part of some itineraries, with guaranteed crocodile sightings on a sunset cruise thrown in. "It's the icing on the cake of my tours," he says. Story end

Full story Issue 32, Dec 2003/Jan 2004

Go to:

Subscribe today

Subscribe now and receive each bi-monthly issue for only $45 mailed to any address in Australia. Overseas rates at Subscription Centre. OUTBACK has been Australia's fastest-growing magazine for the past two years in a row.

R.M. Williams Summer 2004/5 Catalogue

Visit rmwilliams.com.au for R.M.Willams history, news and the on-line product catalogue