Our little chopper (smaller than the one at the Bungles) was once again devoid of doors that might hamper our view of the scenery below. Once again, my companions claimed the back seat, which delighted me. I had an amazing view and nothing to obstruct my photos.
The helicopter lifted off precisely on time, dipped slightly as it turned and, gaining altitude, headed for the coast. The ground below us alternated between rocky outcrop and tree-dotted savannah, before intensifying into a deeper greens as we neared the coast. Before long, the brilliant turquoise of the ocean appeared on the horizon. Islands floated on the sea. We edged out over the water at Crystal Point, searching the mangrove-lined tidal pools below us for crocs and the coastal waters for sharks and rays. We saw one huge manta ray surface, then dive. Otherwise, our pilot said, the tide was still too high for much of a show. Gray swirls of mud made curving patterns in the turquoise bays below, where the tidal rivers emptied into the ocean.
We followed the brilliant turquoise water and bright green mangroves and tea trees along the winding coast to the mouth of the Mitchell River, then followed the river up to the impressive falls. The river gorge was largely in shadow, but the sun caught the edge of the lower falls, making it a white slash in the darkness. Wonderful. We could see great flocks of cockatoos flying below us, and a pelican landing on the river. After giving us numerous excellent photo-ops, the pilot turned for the heliport and our “home” for the evening.
With the wind rushing past us in the doorless chopper, we were quite cool. It was a real shock when we landed and started walking back to the 4WD in the now stunningly hot sunlight. Very few of the customary afternoon clouds have gathered. I’m glad I did the hike this morning. A breeze makes the heat close to bearable, but only if you stay in the shade. It must be 110˚ again.
At the end of our flight, coming back down to earth also meant paying for the flight. It amused me when the pilot sat down on the ground, an old credit card device in front of him in the dust, and took our payments. Nowhere so remote that you can’t still take care of business.
Evening brought some relief from the heat, though the rocks retained much of the warmth. But compared to the heat of the afternoon, it seemed fairly comfortable. Enjoyed another evening of good company, good food, and dazzling star show overhead. Wonderful, rewarding day.