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Two In The Top End -

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(generated from captions) 20 tonnes and a range of

5,000km are a couple of this

aircraft's atrible utes. The

ability to land and take off on

short poorly prepared surfaces,

the distance that it can move,

and the amount of freight and

troops that it can

carry. Basically it can go to

unprepared strips with minimum

support, open the back up and

unload, get out of there or

take another lode and get out

of there. The C-130s ability to

land anywhere in the roughest

of conditions mean it's used

not only in military operations

but humanitarian missions and

natural disasters, from cyclone

Tracy in 1974 the Katherine

floods a decade ago and the

Bali bombings, versatility even

stretching to shuttling

civilians, used as a strike

breaker during the 1989 pilot

disputes. Eight RAAF Hercules

departed. Those lucky to get on

the flight found the experience

a novelty. It was fine, it was

on time. The crew were

friendly, talkative. We enjoyed

ourselves. As a former C-130

navigate or and commander of

the RAAF airlift Group, Ian

Scott has seen it all in the

back of a Hercules. We have

seen things like prized bulls

to China, Prime Minister,

Jackson Pol ocks blue polls did the rounds of the country in

the back of a C-130. We do

humanitarian, combat and also

anything else that's

special. And in half a century

the Royal Australian Air Force

has done it all without losing

a single C-130. These days

there's a new kid on the block,

the C-17 has three times the

carrying capacity of the

Hercules, but not its ability

as an all-rounder. For the

Hercules admirers this

lumbering old work horse will

never be surpassed. Absolutely

love it. Even the smell. It's

nos tall quick. I'd love to get

back in it and fly it. I really

would. Actually, Bill, the

Hercules is an aircraft a pilot

can love. Yes. Markrk Willacy

with the report. For a longer

version of the interview with

the Governor-General go to our

web site at

That's the program for tonight.

Ali Moore will be in the chair

from tomorrow for a short while

while I take a break. For now,

goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI across the Top End, 'Tim and I had begun our journey surrounding development looking at the big issues of Australia's last frontier.' the Garden of Eden up till now. What we've done is we've kept it Yeah, up till now. 'Racing ahead of the wet season, the base of the Cape we were set to travel across of this land. and experience the vastness and lost explorers.' There were stories of gold of a reputation, Tim. And Burke had a bit coming from the pub. He was well-known for getting lost, My goodness. 'We'd marvel at giant mines.' and, of course, fossils.' 'And giant crocs, What are we looking at? No, I can't. Can't you tell, John? to a classic Top End story 'The Savannah Way is leading us of boom and bust. once the third largest in Queensland, We're heading for a town that was but now it's barely on the map.' We've got an homage to gold here, We're in Croydon. That's right. an homage to the big bloody nugget. nugget I've ever seen. Now, this has got to be the biggest the largest real nugget ever found. It's probably ten times bigger than isn't it? Well, it is gilding the lily, this sort of gold here. Because they didn't get was found in quartz. Because the gold here these would be samples Yes. That's right. I'm pretty sure this quartzite. out of the mines of the area, Big Pineapple and the Big Banana. It's almost in the league with the It's lacking a bit. Well, it's on the way, isn't it? It's just not quite ambitious enough. to make a big bloody nugget, I mean, if you're going why not a big bloody nugget? from half measures that way. We're sort of suffering nor large enough to be a Big Nugget. It's not small enough to be real, Thank you. 'There are massive mines ahead of us,

of China and India. feeding the booming economies of rusted metal Will they too become graveyards and faded glory? has been kept alive.' But one Croydon relic

Thank you. HORN 'The Gulflander to Normanton, 150km away. was once a crucial transport link of the biggest tourist attractions Now the curiosity is sold as one in the Gulf Country.' by the Gulflander, TP1809 and TP1811, Both carriages used

rail motor consist were both once part of the 1800 class Works in Granville in 1953. built in the Commonwealth Engineering and figures, mate? What is it with numbers these train enthusiasts. I know, but numbers and figures, on the Normanton-Croydon railway - For more detailed information Spare me. More detail? For God's sake, mate. or have you had enough? Do you want to know more, No. I've had enough. My head is swimming in figures. I've had more than enough. but we love them all. Oh, here we go. Population small OK, well, we'll do that. Drive carefully. 'We'd marvelled at Croydon's nugget, more awesome to woo the tourists.' but Normanton had something much Now, this beast was shot in 1957. And all it's dimensions Yes, that's right. and this is the result. were accurately recorded, Yeah, it is. It is an awesome beast. It's the stuff of nightmares, geological period, Tim. it's something out of another It's a dinosaur. It's a dinosaur, John. Terrifying. this size still out there Now, would there be any lurking in the Norman River, Tim? when I see a croc this big I doubt it. The thing I think about the cattle came along? is think, what did it eat before mate, is other crocs. The only answer I can think of, Probably a cannibal. Other crocs. Oh, Lord. in in life, isn't it, this thing? It's a view you'd hope never to take this sort of animal? Well, indeed. Would it move quickly, Crocs can move pretty fast. I think so. My feeling is, Tim, as much distance as I could I'd like to get between myself and this creature. Let's go then, mate. It's a bit of a nightmare. Yeah. It is. That is big. 'It's a short trip north from Normanton to the Gulf of Carpentaria,

a vast expanse of water, and one of the richest fisheries in the world. When the fishing season starts, $130 million worth of prawns and barramundi

will be shipped through Karumba. We dropped by to see local barra fisherman Gary Ward.' You've been here 35 years fishing. Have you seen many changes in terms of size of the catch or anything? No, the catches have been pretty static. We have a long-term and short-term monitoring program which gives us a lot of information on this, and it clearly shows that the stocks are sustainable, and that our overall catch is very static, very good. That's inshore fishing, isn't it? Yes, that's right. What about off-shore? Yeah, we have had a problem on the off-shore fishery

because the Indonesians came down and the fishing techniques they use are different from ours. They're not regulated in any way, shape or form. They can use anything they like, and some of their nets are incredibly strong nets. What are they fishing for? Shark, mainly, bottom dwellers, they use a bottom set net with a 14-inch mesh, and these target the bottom dwellers, the sharks, the big breeding stock, and, generally, that upsets the whole ecosystem. Nobody seems to want to do anything about it, but we're just going to have to keep pushing for research out there in that area. We've talked to people who want to develop this northern part of the country and want to put crops in, dam the rivers and so forth. I don't look at it too kindly. I think it will do damage, especially dams to the river system and the Gulf. If you start damming our rivers, you'll stop the flow of the river and just destroy the whole fishing industry.

'Lots of water, lots of prawns, lots of fish. If there was an overriding impression of the Gulf Country, it was of abundance.' Oh, that's nice, isn't it? That there? Yeah. This rock is all shell, compacted. It's amazing. It's all shells. Tells you how much life is in that water, or was in that water. It's just fantastic. A rock made of life, mate.

The sea was obviously much higher when this was laid down, and then the sea went back, and you've had freshwater coming through here from the land during the wet season, and that's just dissolved some of the calcium and brought other calcium down into it, and just cemented this together, so we've got today a rock rather than just sand as it would've been. So my guess is that this dates back 100,000 years, when the Earth was about as warm as it's going to be in 20 years time. And sea levels were four metres higher back then, then they are today. Right. Interesting. Yeah, it is. What a beautiful world, you know, that we can walk on a beach that's 100,000 years old. That could be a song, Tim. What have we got here, mate? Prawns. They look like good prawns, from the Gulf, eh? Cheers, Tim. Cheers, mate. Here's to the Gulf. We made it. Here's to the Gulf. Yeah. Look at that sunset. That is a sunset, Tim. Yes. Isn't it ever, mate? And that's the way we're headed. West. Yeah. 'Soon, the wet season will attract birds from around the world to breed. For now, the few remaining water holes are perfect spots for Tim and I to indulge a shared passion.' Where is he? He's out there. Oh, yeah, I can see him. A sarus crane there, Tim. If you were just walking past idly you'd say that's a brolga. It's funny. People confused them

with the brolgas for many, many years. It was only fairly recently that they were told apart as a separate species. That's a big bird there, that's a big bugger, Tim. That's well over a metre tall. Yes, he is. You wouldn't want 70 or so of those coming at you with anger in the eye, would you? Mate, that'd be a highly unlikely scenario.

It's plenty difficult to get close to them to have a look. If they realised what they could do with that beak. Yeah, it's true. It'd be difficult to swat them off. And that reverse angle bloody knee. That's right. That'd surprise you. It would. Cassowary style. That's right. But, John, I don't think it's a major worry. The crocs I can understand you fretting about. I tell, you, wouldn't it be great if we just saw a croc waddle past. Big one, real big bugger, you know, real big. It depends which way it's waddling, mate. If it was waddling towards us I'd be a bit worried. Yeah, but it would be interesting to see one. It'd be great.

'Day nine, and there's a big decision.

Will the hybrid make it across 700km of potential mud to Borroloola? We seek some advice from local copper Laurie West, who hasn't seen many petrol-electric hybrids around these parts.' Three inches of rain here yesterday. Yeah, and there might be more today? Could be more today, yeah. This is the wet season now,

it could come any time, in the morning, in the afternoon.

Any time. Yeah. Even with a four-wheel drive it can be tricky, yeah? Oh, it could be, yeah. Yeah? It's just all tearing up the roads, that's all. And the shire here, they have a bit of a dim view of that. OK. Leave this one behind? I think so, yeah. Well, that was our feeling, it might be a bit silly taking it into the mud. Yeah. I'll look after it for you. All right. You can have a bit of a drive around with it. OK, just don't take it off-road. I won't take it off the bitumen, no. 'As we head onto the dirt, it's farewell hybrid, and welcome gas-guzzler. We're now racing to get to Borroloola and back on the bitumen before the wet season hits and the rivers become impassable. The great thing about travelling with Tim is the way he sees the world through very different eyes. Not many people get excited spotting road kill.' Oh, shit, John. That's a nailtail. Are you sure? Absolutely. Let's go and have a quick look, eh? Oh, all right. That is fantastic. Oh, John, this is a nailtail wallaby, mate. Now, I've heard you talk about them, Tim. They're rare, yes? They are. They used to be all over Australia. And rarer now, of course. This poor little bugger. Absolute bloody tragedy to see an animal like this dead on the road, but, you know. Anyway, have a look at this. This is why they call them a nailtail. See, it's like a human fingernail in the end of the tail. It's a really strange little device, no-one knows what it's used for, or why the animal's got it.

The old fellas used to call them organ grinders. They move like that. As they hopped, they put their arms in circles like that. In the old days when Aboriginal hunters used to stalk these animals, they used sign language to denote what species was ahead of them, the sign for this one was that. They hop with one foot straight ahead and one foot to the side, so the track's like that. Right. And they're very fast, you say? Extremely fast. Like little greyhounds. This one wasn't quick enough. Can we put him a more dignified position, Tim? I think so. We don't him to be absolutely squashed, do we? Let's put him over here. Well, mate, I'd be very, very surprised if you ever get that close to a nailtail again. What, in my whole life? In your whole life. They're a very rare animal. Right, well, they haven't really adapted, have they, Tim? They don't look left or right, I've seen 'em. They shouldn't be the ones that have to look left or right. It's the bloody driver. 'As we edge further westward, the savannah country stretches before us in a seemingly endless carpet. It's hot and inhospitable country. We imagine the difficulty of tackling it on foot and horseback, as Burke and Wills did back in 1861.' Just trying to imagine the terrain during the monsoon. This would be mud, every step of the way would be a fight. Cos you'd sink into it, and have to lift out, plonk the foot down for the next step. Unbelievable. 'At Camp 119, an axe mark on a tree is one of the last signs of Burke and Wills before they disappeared and perished.' Right. You can still see where the axe... ..marks were made.

Almost 150 years ago. Yeah. So this is as far north, this is their last camp north, yes? Last together. Then they had one that, I think, Burke and Wills went off to try to get a glimpse of the ocean. And turned around, came back here, met King, and then packed up and headed off. And King survived through the assistance of meeting benign Aborigines. That's right. Aborigines were happy to help them. Well, they helped them in that direction, too, yeah. Burke had the same chance, but when he saw the Aboriginals coming, he pulled his revolver out and fired it into the air and scared them off. Good one, Burke.

He wasn't the best leader in the world, John, you'd have to say. And Burke had a bit of a reputation, Tim? He was a policeman, he was well-known in the Beechworth area, where he worked, for getting lost on the way home from the pub. Just the qualification to mount this expedition. But he had dash, you know. He looked the part. That's all the Royal Society, in particular, were focused on, for the greater glory of Victoria. There's not many places you can touch living history like that. Exactly. Right. 'At times, humans just don't seem to belong in this forbidding country. Burketown's founders had high hopes for this northern outpost. How would they see it now?' I tell you what, there are a lot of sort of pre-fab, temporary buildings. Yes. Here we come, John, I think we're coming up now more to the business district. The CBD. What have we got over here? The Morning Glory restaurant, which looks like it may have seen better days. Well, it might be seasonal, Tim. It's true. It could be seasonal. Well, that's it, mate. We've done the town. All right. Then let's hit the road. 'We travel through country the early settlers called the Plains of Promise. Now at the end of the dry season, the name seems a cruel joke.' You know, by the early 1860s people had come up here and taken up this country as cattle runs. And they probably expected immense wealth from these plains, and it's not bad cattle country, to tell the truth, you can see the soil's pretty good, you know. The big problems here, I think would have just been distance to market for any produce, and the variability of the seasons. Yeah. Sure. From afar it sounds wonderful, but the closer you get, the mirage is lost, you know, I think, by the time you're actually settled out here, trying to scrape together a living, you'd call it the Plains of Purgatory more likely, I suspect. 'Even in the tropical north, water still seems the eternal problem. As distant clouds tease the beginning of the wet, we could see what extraordinary force the monsoon rains would soon unleash.' Look at these huge blocks of stone being smashed. Look at this. A real good example, you know, of the fact that this country exists in one of two states, the dry or the wet. And in the dry it's like this, and it's unimaginable in the wet. This would be just a massive, massive flow of water.

We'd be underwater here by several metres. Yes. We would. It's a massive volume. Wow. 'Too much water one minute, not enough the next. Nature's balance isn't always easy to live with. Before the wet season hits, we detour south off the Savannah Way, and head for an old stomping ground of Tim's. He wants to catch up with an old mate, John Scanlon, at one of Australia's most famous fossil fields.' Well, John, it's good to be back here, mate. It's been 25 years, but this is the Riversleigh Fossil locality. What do you reckon this place was like 20 million years ago?

Oh, about that time, where we are standing now was near the edge of a lake. Back behind us there was fairly high limestone hills, and the lake extended right out to those mesas

out in the middle of the valley there. 'In the punishing heat, John takes us to some of the treasures hidden in the rocks.' So, are we close?

Are we close? Yes. Here it is. In this weathered face there. What are we looking at? Can't you tell, John? No, I can't.

It's meaningless to me. I think it's the back end of a crocodile skull, in cross section, and just weathering slightly out of the rock there. I think that's the upper jaw, and that's a vertebrae over there. A bit of his backbone. And another one over here, looks like. So, can you extrapolate anything about the size of the animal, how it compares with the modern day crocodile? It's size, disposition, or anything like that? It's within the size range of saltwater crocs today. This would have had quite a different feeding style, a different shaped head, and rather than using the twist-feeding method, the death roll, to dismember its prey, it would have been using its blade-like teeth to just carve off chunks of flesh. After 20 million years there's not much left, but there's enough to tell a story. 'Nearby, the rocks hold other treasures, too. Here, in one of the most remote parts of Australia, is a prefabricated town of 750 people. They aren't chasing fossils, but lead and zinc. The Zinifex Century Mine heaves five million tonnes of ore out of the earth every year. It's Australia's biggest zinc mine and part of the engine room of the global economy.

Willie Leslie is a foreman, who flies between his Kiwi home and the mine every two weeks.' So, what's this stuff used for? Who's using it, Willie? The zinc is predominately used in the zinc alum process on roofing products, the lead predominately in the battery production. A lot of guttering could be made out of this, I'll tell you. A lot of zinc alum guttering there, Tim.

There would be. A lot of roofs. The ore is put in trucks, then water added to it, put into a slurry and piped all the way over to, what, about 300km, something like that? Yeah, that's correct. About 340km up to the port of Karumba, where it is thickened up there, and then it's dried and shipped out through port. We're looking at a lot of water here, Tim.

It is. I understand it's about ten gigalitres of water a year, which is a massive amount of water, particularly in dry country like this,

and they get the water from the ground, a groundwater supply, and because the rainfall up here is so variable, and it recharges that groundwater, it's hard to say how sustainable that is in the longer term, because if climate change comes about, and we get less rain, for example, up here... Then that'll become an issue. Yeah. You don't think of mining and climate change being linked, but they really are. 'Everything about this mine was big.' So, Willie, those trucks, they look like Tonka toys from up here but they're pretty big, I suppose, when you get close. They certainly are. Each one of those trucks is about 240 tonne, and they're worth approximately $4 million each, of which we're running 56. Now, those trucks, Willie, I like to look at them, they're big, to have bit of a go, sure, but Tim and I would like Could we borrow, say, two of them, a bit of a race, really. Well, we'd like to have (LAUGHS) 'Willie wouldn't lend us a truck,

into the belly of the beast.' but he did offer to take us deep My goodness. Just massive, isn't it? you don't get a sense Until you get here, comes from, do you? of where the wealth When this activity really is economy at the moment. what's driving the Australian It's just unimaginably vast. And hot. Yes it is. Yeah. How hot does it get down here, Willie? 50 degrees? Oh, easily during this time of year. We clocked a 52 the other day, and it'll get warmer as the days go on. 'Bike batteries in China, roofing iron in India, the earth is literally being torn asunder to feed the insatiable appetite for raw materials. But just out of earshot of the giant machines, was a very different world. Lawn Hill National Park is a sacred site, and only 10km from the mine.' gorges in your time. Now, Tim, you've seen one or two do you think? How does this measure up,

special gorge, this. This is really a very and the rocks, it's awesome really, There's something about the cliffs it gives you a sense, doesn't it, I don't know, agelessness. of brooding sort of, It's just fantastic. Any possums here, Tim? the rock-haunting ringtail possum. There's a little thing called Not a rock-loitering ringtail possum. the rock loitering-ringtail, Well, that's a different species, more common in Sydney. of the possums, really, One of the prettiest in these rocky habitats. and it's only found of a sanctuary for it. They provide a little bit Well, I think I'd be happy to call it Would you? the best gorge in the world, Tim. I like the echo, too, Tim. I'm calling it that.

Yes. Nice echo. Wouldn't it be great to get 50 Cent Yeah, a concert here, Tim. put out a bit of grunt. or someone like that, who can really Eh? Don't try it, John. The echo, it is pretty spectacular. Fiddy's gonna get the young kids out here, Tim. to discover this, don't we? That's what we need, young people Thousands of people coming. I suppose. I suppose we do. Yeah. Well. Or Snoop Dog? It'd just beautiful the way it is. someone with a bit of attitude. Someone like that, No, mate. John, John, John, how could you? some sympathetic work. I'm sure they could devise ringtails, Think of the rock-haunting

being kept up, you know. we were beginning to get a sense '12 days into our journey, in the Top End, of the essential dilemma

modern world knocking on its door. a massive, ancient land with the Very loudly.' Well, there's a lot to synthesise, to process here, Tim, and one wonders what the implications would be if silver, lead, zinc and gold, in large quantities, were found in the gorge? What would the call be then? Well, you would have to say that if we were desperate for it, if we were getting towards the end of the boom and we needed that to keep the national economy going,

the decision would be. I think I know what I think there would be a mine there. though, brings home, The point you make, in modern Australia is all about, very much what living and, as things get tighter, the sort of choices we make, probably make in the future, the sort of choices we'll without thinking if we continue down this path about what it all means.

about the certain simplicity Tell you what, Tim, there's something and the prospect of a cup of tea. of a small fire, a humble billy, And that puts us out of sync. out of sync on this trip. We've met a few people who've been I liked them. I reckon it's all right. I don't mind being out of sync. Sure. Well, food for thought, as they say. Exactly. 'Next on our journey we head further westward, and into the Northern Territory. There's more fossil adventures on the way.' Have you got any idea what these are? Well, could they be stromatolites, Tim?

They are, mate. I can't believe we saw them from the road. 'Encounters with cattle.' She's a bit aggressive. in the tools department. He's not bloody undermanned ever threatening crocs.' 'And, of course, It's about making the wildlife especially crocodiles, valuable to the community, cos they tend to eat people. 'Beware too, mango madness.' everything's on edge. You can see it just around the pubs, That's right. Exactly. 'So continues our northern odyssey.' Closed Captions by CSI * CC Good evening, Virginia Haussegger with an ABC News update. There are reports tonight of a mass shooting Finland. A vocational school in reports tonight of a mass shooting i country's north-west appears to be Finland. A vocational school in the the centre of seige. Reports still sketchy but police say there the centre of seige. Reports are may be many dead and injured. They believe the shooter is a 20-year-old male and that he is still building. A Coalition win in the male and that he is still in the Senate has quickly with a bill to increase Senate has quickly turned to defeat with a bill to increase pensions deemed deemed unconstitutional. Despite the pressure to act on pensions, Government maintains it pressure to act on pensions, the

the results of its review next Government maintains it will wait fo A 'Canberra the results of its review next year.

wrote an article on defence A 'Canberra Times' journalist who

intelligence has had his house

by Federal Police. Seven intelligence has had his house raide arrived at Peter Dorling's by Federal Police. Seven agents home this morning with a search