Thursday, August 5, 2010


We said our goodbyes to Mum and Dad and set off early from Charleville. The road to Cunnamulla was saturated...with lots of water lying alongside the road. Apparently a lot of rain had fallen a week or so before. We checked out Cunnamulla and saw "The Cunnamulla Fella" statue. Tried out a pie from the local bakery and it was terrible. Frey threw hers in the bin!

We got to Bourke early enough to go into town and buy some lunch. Then we had a quick look at the Port of Bourke and The Darling River, before driving back out to North Bourke to set up the van at Kidman's Camp. Let me tell you...what a beautiful park! Right on the Darling...out of town, very clean amenities, beautiful pools, landscaped grounds and a terrific open fire area. The towel hangers in the bathrooms are horse-shoes...thought that was cool!

Frey, Georg and I walked down to the Darling and saw the Jandra Paddleboat heading off on a tour. The girls and I did a spot of fishing and before long, G had landed a nice size yellowbelly. F was quite content playing with the worms we had bought. Bec decided that she would come down for a visit (with drinkies), so we sat and fished and had a nice bevvie! The rest of the night was spent in the van...catching up on the girl's school work and reading. Quite restful!

We left Bourke early and by the time we were at Cobar, it was obvious that there wasn't going to be any more nice weather. From that point on...the temperature stayed under 12 degrees! Brrrrr! Quite a shock after 8 weeks of good weather....and the last 6 have been over 30 degrees. Anyway...we continued our long drive...stopping for a cuppa on the side of the road between Cobar and Hillston (a lonely stretch of road with lots of goats) before we got to Griffith early afternoon.

I'd promised the girls a bit of retail therapy and Griffith delivered. We had a late lunch at Griffith Central Shopping Centre and looked around the shops. We then had a look up the main street before deciding to upgrade our powered site to a self-contained cabin. We felt cold, so we thought it would be nice to sleep in-doors and have a heater, tv and toilet/shower indoors.

After tea, we decided to go to the movies across the road as a last night treat. As there wasn't much on for the kids, we all saw Eclipse again...the 3rd time for Bec and G!

We left early the next morning and traveled home through Deniliquin...stopping for a coffee and a snickerdoodle at the Beechworth Bakery in Echuca. Walking back to the car, F looked into the Campaspe River and said "Are there crocs in there?". We all discussed just how used to the top end we had the point that we were all expecting to see crocs! Lol.

We were home by 1.30pm...after picking the cats up from Heather's. It was good to be home and we had lots of family and friends call in throughout the arvo and evening.

So...the verdict?

Bec must have enjoyed it. She thanked me for organising such a great trip and said it was so enjoyable and much better than our last escapade to FNQ. Her highlight? Gunlom by a whisker from Lawn Hill. Bec just couldn't get over swimming in cascades at the top of a huge waterfall...and when you looked could see forever. No wonder they call it the infinity pool!

Georgia struggled with missing her friends...but admitted it was a great trip and that (like Mum) she had enjoyed it more than our last trip too. Her favourite? Lawn Hill National Park. She just couldn't get over the experience of canoeing down emerald green rivers with blood red canyon walls towering over you on either side. Magic!

Frey was Frey....she just went with the flow...and enjoyed wherever she was! Her favourite? Easy. Climbing the rock. She was so proud of herself going all of the way to the top. I guess it was a pretty good feat at the age of 6.

Heather couldn't get past The Red Centre. She was expecting it to be a little dull...but couldn't believe how spiritual, ancient and beautiful it was. It was one of those cases where it was worth believing the hype.

Mum and Dad are still travelling, so I'm not sure what was their favourite thing. I'm pretty sure it was Kakadu or Lawn Hill though!

As for me? Well...I enjoyed this trip far more than last because I knew what to expect in terms of how fast the time the world still goes on without you and that everything is still going on as normal when you get home. Due to that, I feel that the holiday was even better than I could have hoped. We had sun from Day 1 to Day 56...with only a little bit of rain on the way home! The two weeks in the Centre were around the 20 degree mark...and the 6 weeks in the Top End and Queensland Outback were we couldn't complain! We're all brown...which is a laugh now we're sitting in 11 degree weather.

My favourite? A hard one. It would be a toss up between Gunlom, Jim Jim Falls or Lawn Hill....but since Gunlom and Jim Jim are both in Kakadu....I'm going to say Kakadu by a whisker over Lawn Hill. Like Bec...I though Gunlom was an unreal experience....while Jim Jim was one of those days in your life where you know you'll probably never do anything like that again. Swimming out 130 metres (in a plunge pool that is 50m deep) to the edge of a waterfall....that tumbles 100m from the top of the Arnhem Land sit under the spray is something that I will never forget.

So...that's it....done and dusted! We're sad it's all over...but lucky are we that we had such a trip? Can't really be sad about that....and if the Universe is kind to us....there'll be more! word....Viva La Vida! Live the Life! Get your backside into gear in the near future and travel...cause life's too short....and you just don't know how long any of us have got!

So go!

August 6, 2010


We started our massive drive home on Friday from Adels. We stopped at Burke and Wills again for lunch and then continued on...arriving at Cloncurry...or “The Curry” as the locals call it by early afternoon. We set up in the Gilbert Caravan Park and couldn’t get over how warm it was there. For some reason, the weather was nudging 35 we went down to the pool (which was really nice) and had a refreshing dip and a lay on the poolside lounges under the shade of a coolabah! Before sunset, Frey and I walked to Sunset Hill where I took a photo of the little lass, face aglow in the twilight!

We got up early and headed for Longreach. On the way we drove through farmlands and barren places....all beautiful though! At lunch time, we stopped in Winton and had the best meat pie at The Waltzing Matilda Centre (Coolibah Cafe). On the way out, I took a good snap of the girls with the swagman outside the museum.
We got to Longreach at around 330pm and set up in a drive-thru site. We unhitched and relaxed outside in the chairs having a few drinks...then we walked over to the Woolshed (a restaurant in the park) for tea. It was a great meal and not overly expensive. Bec, Mum and Dad really enjoyed the country and western entertainment there too...a couple singing songs by Dolly, Johnny Cash, Slim Dusty etc. Bec said it reminded her of her Dad. The duo singers were actually really good.

As we were staying 2 nights in Longreach, we got to sleep in....until 9am, which was nice. Once we got moving, we headed to the QANTAS Founders Museum for a look around. It was an awesome place to visit. You got to see different planes in the evolution of the company, read lots of interesting facts, see lots of interesting items (eg. Old menus, uniforms etc.) and go into the original hanger where QANTAS started!

We met Mum and Dad for lunch there and then Bec, Georg, Frey and I did a tour of the retired Jumbo 747 “City of Bunbury”. We got to walk out under the jumbo and learnt all about different parts of the exterior of the plane. Georg and Frey then climbed a ladder and stood in the propeller/motor of the jumbo and had a professional picture taken. We climbed up into the cargo hold to have a squiz and then finally we climbed up into the jumbo. Inside we watched a few short videos and toured around different sections of the plane. We even got to sit in business class and go upstairs to first class for a look. On the way out we all went into the cockpit for a look....and there a lot of dials and buttons in there!

After leaving QANTAS, we drove across the road to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. After entering, we toured through the galleries looking at exhibits on: Aboriginals, explorers, pioneers, rural life and of course stockmen! My favourite part was the explorers section where you could read about each of the explorers...and then on the way out of that section there was a huge interactive map where you could push an explorer’s name...and see their path light up on a huge map of Australia. It was definitely worth going there...and before we left we had a decent coffee and some cheesecake too!

We moved to Charleville the following day...and took most of the day to get we stopped in Barcaldine for a coffee...and a quick look at the Tree of Knowledge (where the Australian Labour Party started)...the we stopped in Blackall for fuel....and looked at the teddies in Tambo....and got fuel in Augathella....before finally arriving in Charleville at around 4pm. We set up in the Bailey Bar Caravan Park and set off to see the town.

We stayed hitched on, so we all crammed into Dad’s car and went to see the town centre. Bec found a few shops open and bought a few bits and pieces. Then we headed to the Bilby Experience at 6pm. This was awesome....for a small cost of $5 per person, you got to see a presentation about the plight of the bilby, read through lots of media articles, watch an interesting DVD about the Bilby Brothers and then you got to go and see 6 bilbies that are part of the Charleville Captive Breeding Program. They were very cute! You should have seen them all running around over rocks...chasing one another under the glow of the red night lights. A site to behold! The girls loved them and also loved the bilby shop on the way out. No guessing what they got....more soft toys!

We had a late tea at the Cattle Camp Hotel...and Dad shouted....since it was our last night together. Tomorrow they continue on in Queensland, while we drive further south towards good ole freezing Victoria!


After leaving Mt Isa (or “The Isa”) quite early, we headed for Cloncurry and then onto Burke and Wills Roadhouse. When we got there, we had something to early lunch if you like. From Burke and Wills, we had another 145km to Gregory Downs (only a pub, toilet and playground there) and we stopped to lower the pressure in our tyres. On the way we saw heaps of emus and brolga alongside the road.

Bec was a little stressed going off we had 85 km of dirt road to Adels Grove. The going was Ok were sealed and the first 40km was well maintained due to a huge mine that uses the road. We did have to pull over though when a huge road train went past and engulfed us in a cloud of red dust! Eventually we got to Adels, found someone had stolen our site and then got put in the Grove...which was apparently better! It was too...the grove was very shady and was right beside the Lawn Hill Creek...which is a beautiful spring fed watercourse lined with pandanus and bamboo. The other sites were exposed to the sun and the weather was hot....30+ degrees. We got a shock, as we thought we’d left the weather behind in the Top End.

After setting up, we spent the arvo swimming in Lawn Hill Creek....a little cool in the water but beautiful! You could swim out to a floating pontoon or climb trees and bomb into the deep water. You could even hire tubes for a small donation to the Royal Flying Doctors Service and float on them. I just floated around on a noodle.
The nights at Adels were great. There was no power, but we had a roaring campfire that we sat around (a little way back though...cause the nights were warm enough). A couple of nights we made damper and had it with jam for dessert. Another night the girls played hairdressers with Mum and Bec. It was quite funny seeing Mum in pony tails!

On the first full day, Bec +George and Frey+I did the canoe trip up the Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) middle and upper gorges. The first gorge had sheer walls, quite close together that were interesting to paddle through. The contrast of the red gorge walls and emerald green water was magnificent too! If you looked up, you saw rock figs clinging onto cliff faces, with their roots trailing all the way down the cliff to the water.

At the end of the middle gorge, we had to drag the canoes to the upper gorge....a bit of fun that was! We went all the way up to the top of that gorge, including a section of rapids that I had trouble getting through! Because I had Frey in the front, the canoe was raised at the front and the water just kept pushing it back. On the way through the rapids, we saw quite a large freshwater croc sitting on the bank. We had a rest at the top and floated down the gorge eating muesli bars and mandarins. The archer fish were following our canoes and eating any bits of muesli that fell into the water.

Once we got back in the middle gorge, we all swam at Indari Falls. These falls were tufa falls....ones made by calcium and lime deposits in the water and they were quite beautiful. I swam out under the falls and had a natural spa where several falls fell into the one spot...making a bubbling/rushing section of water.

Once back, we were met by Mum and Dad and we had a picnic lunch. After eating, we walked to the cascades (between the middle and lower gorge) and swam there in little pools of running water. It was great to cool off, as the weather was hot at 34 degrees. Frey made a friend there and had fun building a mussel shell mural on one of the banks.
The next morning, Bec, Frey and I did the Island Stack walk. This walk goes up a sheer cliff face and onto a stack of rock that is surrounded by water. We walked around the stack, looking down into the Lower Gorge, which was magnificent and serene. We couldn’t take photos though, as this section was not allowed to be photographed by the public...but I tell you was beautiful. At one point, we sat and had morning tea on the cliff top, looking down into the gorge, over rivers lined with cabbage palms and off into the distance into barren lands. It’s hard to believe that this paradise is out in the middle of what appears to be no-where. Even Bec said it’s like paradise...which is high praise from her! She didn’t even want to come into the place...

We finished our stay in Adels with another canoe trip up the gorge (this time with Mum and Dad too)...but we only stayed in the Middle Gorge and had a longer swim at Indari. Back at the camp, we all swam in the rapids below the resort and returned to the deep swimming of Lawn Hill Creek (with the pontoon).

I was pleased to get a few new birds here too....a channel billed cuckoo, a white browed buff robin and a purple crowned emu wren. God they are beautiful birds....the emu wren that is...although the robin was pretty nice too!

Thanks to Debra for making me watch Postcards last year on TV when they showcased Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill). After that...and Deb + Greg’s (and Mum and Dad’s) reports on Adels/Lawn Hill...we altered our trip and made the huge detour (900km round trip) to come into what has been one of the best places on our trip.
Even Adels Grove is worth the is an amazing place....a beautiful shady grove of trees on a magic coloured creek in the middle of nowhere. What is even more amazing is the grove was planted by a French botanist in the early and mid 1900s, so you have exotic trees growing along the side of the river. Adels Grove is actually an anagram of the botanist’s name....Albert De Le Strang! How’s that for a fact!!!!

It truly is paradise and anyone going past should make the effort to come in. It’s been a favourite of Bec, George, Frey and mine! Top of the list...alongside Jim Jim and Gunlom!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Heartbreak Hotel" CAPE CRAWFORD + MT ISA

We weren’t going to blog for here....but it was kinda interesting.

After the scary drive down to Daly Waters (there’d been a massive smash and a couple in a caravan had been killed), we took the left turn to Cape Crawford. The highway was more like a goat track and it took ages to go the 270km to Cape Crawford. Once there we set up in the caravan park behind The Heartbreak Hotel and laughed at the toilets...named Elvis (men) and Pricilla (women). We had tea there that night and paid too much for an average steak and some chicken kievs.

In the morning we were up early and off by 7am. We had to carry fuel with us because of the 375km without fuel. The Tablelands Highway was a joke! I tell you guys back home....the roads around Majorca, Mount Cameron and Red Lion are more “highway” than this was. Every time another car came, you had to get off the road. Every five minutes you had to stop for cattle too...which were all over the road.

Apart from this though...we loved the it was nature city! We counted over 30 wedge tail eagles....saw 5 Australian Bustards, drove through a flock of flock bronzewing pigeons and saw about 1000 Australian Pratincoles along the was an amazing drive. Gary and would be your dream drive!

It took over 5 hours to go 375km. We had lunch at the Barkly Homestead (very clean and well organised), then did the 450km to Mount Isa....OMG....we didn’t get into the park until 7pm and we had been in the car for 12 we were a little today we’re resting in Mount Isa. That’s right....we’re in Queensland now!

We spent the day in Mount Isa resting. We slept in until we wanted and enjoyed having the luxury of an ensuite powered site. At lunch time, we ventured down the street, had a look around, bought a few things and had lunch at the Isa Hotel...awesome Hotel and great food! After lunch, we went and had a look at OUTBACK AT information was OK. The girls were busting to go to this fun park, so we drove there and they had fun on the flying foxes and other zappy/cool play equipment in this new, huge playground. It even has a waterpark and a scooter/skateboard town/track. Our verdict on Mt Isa.....we love it! What an awesome place....and quite beautiful too!

Tonight we take it easy...get ourselves organised and head off road for 3 nights. You probably won't hear from us for a few days....or even be able to see you all on the other side!


Jesus Loves Nachos

Well...apparently he does, according to what you read when you cross the bridge in Katherine. It’s written in big letters alongside the railway bridge and every time we read it, we laugh!

Katherine was an interesting stay. A lot of time was spent trying to get Dad healthy. He came down with a nasty virus...had the shivers and shakes and couldn’t stop visiting the facilities. After ridiculously long waits in the Katherine Hospital Emergency Department....try from 9am until 330pm (told Dad he’d been at school)...we finally got some medicine to help Dad get on his feet.

Katherine allowed us to do some retail we did a bit of shopping and bought a few birthday presents for people back home. There was a Maccas and Coffee Club there we were right and managed to get quite a few coffees in during the 5 night stay. The girls and I also had a few serves of hotcakes and hash browns.

Some of the local attractions were Springvale Homestead! We thought it would be like a Tyntynder or Murray Downs...but it was occupied by a souvenir shop and cafe...and so it didn’t seem old at all. The only thing of interest there were the huge raintrees...4 of planted for each of the settlers children back in the 1880s.

There were more hot springs in Katherine, so we made a few visits to those...and they were quite nice. Not as warm though....only 32 degrees. Mataranka was 34 and Douglas Daly was 60! There were nice falls in these springs though...and Georg, Frey and I enjoyed getting under them, having a nice spa.

We did a drive down to Cutta Cutta Caves...and did a one hour tour of these karst limestone tropical caves. They were awesome. We were toured through several deep chambers with beautiful formations...including stalactites, stalagmites and curtains. Some of the stalagmites were full of shining crystals....which is where the Aboriginal name Cutta Cutta comes means “Many stars”. As you go deeper into the caves, they become hotter and more humid, which is quite different to normal caves that are cold. The last section of the cave is closed to the public because the humidity is 100% and the temperature is around 35 degrees....not very pleasant. It’s also full of bats and snakes down there we didn’t mind! On the way out...the tour guide turned off the lights to let us see how dark it is in the cave...PITCH BLACK!

The main attraction in Katherine is of course Nitmiluk (aka. Katherine Gorge). We booked in for a 3 gorge, 4 hour tour. During the tour you catch 3 different boats (one for each gorge) and explore each gorge. Between each gorge you have to climb over rocks and rapids to get to the next gorge. Let me tell you...the scenery in there is magic....especially the second gorge where the walls are sheer cliffs on both sides of you.... Along the way we saw Aboriginal rock art, caves (with bats), hanging gardens, waterfalls...and even water raining from the bottom of rock overhangs (it’s just the water from the swamp above slowly filtering through the sandstone)... The tour guide was an Aboriginal bloke and he did an excellent job. He told us about the formation of the gorge (both geological and Aboriginal perspectives). I liked the Aboriginal explanation the most....the Rainbow Serpent! On the way back we had a snack and had the opportunity to have a swim. Frey and I got in (cause G nearly broke her toe getting in) and swam in a safe area between the 1st and 2nd gorges....apparently the salties can’t get into the area because of the rocks and rapids! We had a great time and it left me wondering what the other 10 gorges would’ve looked like....

We didn’t really like the town of Katherine much...and felt that it wasn’t much of a highlight. The only saving grace was our caravan park....Low Level. It was a beautiful park, with a huge pool and spa (that the girls and I used a few times) and it was close to the Low Level Bridge and Katherine River. We walked down there a few times and I even threw a few lures around to try and catch a barra...but no luck. We saw a few freshies though and a golden tree snake. I’ve included a picture of the bridge with the girls to let you see how nice it was there!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


We are so good at packing up now...that I blinked and the van was on behind the Kluger! Lol! No...but we're pretty quick at getting it all on and setting off down the road.

We had a few stops on the way...firstly we dropped into the Adelaide River Inn to see Charlie. Who's Charlie? He's the water buffalo you see blocking the road in the first Crocodile Dundee movie and Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) hypnotises him....that's if you've seen it. We went in to say hello to him and get a photo of him, but he didn't say much, because he's as dead as a doornail and stuffed now...and water buffalo can't talk either. He stands on the bar in the pub. Lucky he can't unleash a load! Wouldn't like that landing on my pot of beer or bar meal!

After Charlie, we drove down to the Adelaide War Cemetery. I tell you, it's the most magnificently kept cemetery and has beautiful manicured lawns and an extensive tropical garden around it. We all walked around the graves of those lost during the bombing of Darwin (World War II) and felt quite sad reading about boys as young as 16 that were killed defending our country. There was even a grave containing 7 people....all postal workers killed while keeping the lines of communication open in Darwin during the war. It was quite a sombre place to walk around and it really did make you feel a little sad thinking of how different life was back then for those people...and how lucky we all are today to be safe and live in such a great country....anyhoo...there's Matt's one and only deep and meaningful for this blog...soz! On a brighter note, we found a couple of great bowerbirds (they're everywhere up here) and then we found it's bower....full of snail shells....bits of rings of old cans etc... We've started calling Freyja "Bower" now because she keeps collecting rubbish around caravan parks (or wherever she goes) and keeps dumping these items in her nest (our van or the back seat of the car!).

We got to Douglas Daly by lunch time and set up the van quickly. After some lunch and a cuppa, we set off to the Douglas River Esplanade, where we saw a beautiful rapids, a small weir and a place called "The Arches" where some people swim through them and onto a beach. I was too scared to do it because they do have crocs (salties), although they say they have caught them all....but who's to know? Anyway...we went below The Arches and found a shallow beach in the river....where lots of people were we did (well Bec didn't and neither did Mum), but we felt safe there...swimming under paperbarks and pandanus...and right next to us was a huge croc trap! Lol...Will post a photo of it for you to see!

After the swim, we drove up to the Douglas Hot Springs where we had yet another swim. This time we got in the river...and had to get straight back out again...the water here is so hot it scolds....around 60 degrees celcius! You can see it bubbling up through the sand! We walked down stream a little way and found a spot where cooler water merges with the hot you lie in the shallows....with currents of hot and cold washing past you....awesome! I loved the spot. I just lay on my back looking up at the sky with hot/cold/hot/cold etc. going on for ages. Everyone got in here....and even Mum said the water was hot! Those that know Mum will realise that the water must have been pretty warm! We tried walking as far up stream as we could...but still had to stop 10m short of the springs because it's so hot! The girls spent time there making sand castles and trying to find luck...although someone said that snakes and frogs were around a bit....but we didnt' see any of them either....

...until the shower that night....there I am...having a nice private shower...with around 25 frogs! They were behind the door, on the walls, on the top of the the sinks....everywhere! Some even went into the cistern of the toilet when you walked past! Lol.... No snakes though although we keep seeing Golden Tree Snakes everywhere....which are quite beautiful and harmless snakes. to Katherine do the gorge etc.