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.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Once we packed up the caravan in the Free Spirit Resort in Darwin, we were off for about 5 minutes...until we saw Palmerston we detoured in to get a morning coffee. Yummo!

After about 35km, we returned to Berry Springs for another swim. It was great getting into the warm water at 10am in the morning for a good paddle around. Bec, Mum and Dad even got in this time and we all took turns getting under the thermal waterfall.

After the swim, we had a coffee in the van and set off for Litchfield. It only took less than an hour and we were at our park: Litchfield Tourist and Van Park. We were really happy with the park, as we set up under swaying palms and it is so much quieter than the noisy Darwin park (it was right on the highway). We set up our vans and took the short drive in to Buley Rockhole (we're in the closest van park to the main attractions).

Once at Buley, we swam in little deep pools, that would trickle over rocks into the next deep pool...and so on...and so forth. We spent over and hour changing pools every 10 some were very deep, some had cascades and some were like spas. Bec was in her element...lazing around in natural spas! Mum tried to get in and Dad did and ended up on his bum! Hurt his arm a little...and his pride. It was awesome swimming around...except when a Merten's Water Monitor decided to join everyone in the should have seen everyone stand up and look around then. Lol!

After Buley, we went to Florence Falls....(fond memories hey Deb?)....where Mum, Dad and Bec didn't feel like attempting the 140 steps down...and 140 steps back they stayed at the lookout over the falls. Georg, Frey and I went down to the falls and had a quick swim. We went right out into the the cascading water...and stuck our heads under for a drenching. Georgia had a noodle to swim with, while Frey was using a life jacket (thanks again A and M!).... The plunge pool was quite deep and in spots you could see huge rocks below you and logs. We saw lots of sooty grunter swimming around too. Check out the photo and look for the people swimming with noodles: that's GF and I and the photo was taken looking down from the lookout! After the swim, we walked back up to the lazies and went back to the park.

The next day, we rested and took off into the park late. We stopped at the Tabletop Swamp first for a look at this beautiful paperbark lined swamp which was covered in white waterlilies. Next was Tolmer Falls...a beautiful spot where you can only look down into the falls from a lookout. Unfortunately no one is allowed to go to the base due to colonies of endangered bats! We took a few good shots there....and then Dad, Frey, Georg, Bec and I did the Tolmer Creek walk back to the car (Mum took the short cut). We got some great shots of along the creek, with us bathing our feet in the cool water.

After Tolmer, we drove to Litchfield Cafe for lunch....we needed coffee and something to eat...and it was a good little spot! After here we went to Wangi Falls for a look. It's a beautiful spot...but honestly...none of the falls here measure up to the ones in Kakadu! Jim Jim Falls and Gunlom are truly mind boggling! It's just that not many people can get into them and they're very is 38km in on a rough dirt road and the other is 58km in on a rough 4WD road.

We did the treetop walk at Wangi and walked over the top of it and down the other side. Beautiful views. You couldn't swim though due to high water levels and crocs. Very inviting!

Mum and Dad shouted drinks and icy poles and after that Bec, Frey, Georg and I drove to Greenant Creek. We walked from there to Tjaetaba Falls through monsoon rainforest and open woodland. It was a beautiful walk. When we got there, we swam above the falls (not allowed to below the falls due to it being sacred) in a little rockhole right on the edge of the falls drop off. We had to tell Frey to stay away from the edge. On the way back Frey conked out in the car and went to sleep using a water bottle as a!

Today we went into the town of Batchelor to have a coffee at the Butterfly Farm. Then we toured through the farm...and it wasn't very good. Hardly any butterflies and not very well organised. I think we've been spoilt going to the Melbourne Zoo all of those years!
In the arvo, we went back to the spots we enjoyed we did the Shady Creek Walk into Florence Falls...and this time Bec got in. I told her Deb said it was she did it! The whole time she was worrying about crocodiles and the big fish swimming around under her. Lol. Frey used the life jacket and Georg used a noodle again, as it is quite deep in spots.

After Florence, we returned to Buley so we could have our rejuvenating spa treatments again. Bec and I sat in one rockhole with the falls rushing past our backs and enjoyed the peace and the two girls were enjoying swimming in the next rockhole. On the way home we checked out the Magnetic and Cathedral termite mounds. The magnetic ones look like something from Doctor Who or a sci-fi movie, while the cathedral mounds are massive...I've included a picture of one for you to enjoy!

We've enjoyed Litchfield....but have to our opinion....Kakadu wins by a mile!

Anyhoo....hello to all of those people who read this, but don't know how to leave a comment. Believe us...there are a lot of family, friends and school associates who still haven't figured it to those that have....aren't you clever!

Post soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


's hard to believe, but we're nearly at the end of a week here in Darwin. It's been an action packed I'll try and condense it all into as small a space as possible.

We arrived on Thursday, took Heather round the sights to find our bearings...and we had Maccas...cause we hadn't seen one for awhile. After that we went back to the van and got organised to go to the Mindil Beach Market. We got there around 630pm and stayed until after 10pm. While there we ate exotic foods, drank strange concoctions of fruit juice and bought the odd thing or too. We caught up with Chris L (from CPS) for a short while and quickly exchanged goss...and while walking around, we were approached by Anthea C from Carisbrook Primary that was she was on a ski trip. Got some lovely photos of Bec, Heath etc on the beach...and a good one of Georgia with the sun going down on the sea.

On Heather's last full day, we hit Casuarina Shopping Centre...looking for bargains. The day was spent doing retail therapy...and after that we headed to Cullen Bay (that's right Ellie B....Cullen) Marina....where we went on a sunset cruise of Darwin Harbour. It was magic....and the sunset was awesome. The cruise went for awhile and I was feeling a little sick after it. We drove around to Stokes Hill Wharf and sat above the sea on the wharf...eating whatever took our fancy. I went for an authetic Laksa...and it was beautiful.

We got up at 5am the next day and said a sad goodbye to Heather...who flew back to Melbourne. The girls cried nearly all they really missed their Grannie and I think Georgia is finding it difficult now being so far from her friends. She really misses school! I tell you now...Heather was a breeze to take away...never complains, always helps and always has something great to say about the scenery!

The next few days were filled in with Bec and Georgia have a pedicure and then they took me to the movies to see was OK. Dad, Mum and Frey went to Shrek Forever 3D and really enjoyed that. On Sunday we went to the Northern Territory Museum...and it was awesome....especially since it's free. It's full of Aboriginal Art, displays on wildlife, a Cyclone Tracy exhibit and a real/stuffed model of a 6/7m crocodile named "Sweetheart" that they caught up here in one of the rivers. He was huge...yes a he! Named after Sweetwater Billabong or something. We went to Aquascene Fish Feeding that afternoon...and the girls and I fed thousands of wild fish that come in on high tide each day. Very good...but costly to see a natural phenomenon. On the way home we revisited the Mindill Beach Markets again and had tea there.

On Monday, we organised ourselves and went to the Territory Wildlife Park. This park is dedicated to showcasing the wildlife of the Top End. It was pretty good....especially the aquarium (with weird animals like sawfish, saratoga etc.) and the Bird Free Flight Show....where Georgia and Freyja got to hold a Rufous Owl on their arm. The also had pictures taken with a Pacific Baza and a Bookbook Owl. On the way back to Darwin we stopped at Berry Springs. Wow! What an awesome place....a bit like Mataranka...but much bigger and deeper....but not quite as warm. Georgia, Freyja and I got on top of a thermal waterfall and just lay there looking up at the palms above us or the pandanus lining the sides of the creek.

Today we went into the city to do some shopping and then went to the new Waterfront Precinct to enjoy the wave pool. Georg, Frey and I had a ball riding the waves and enjoying the hot weather.

We have a day left here, so might go back to Berry Springs or the girls want more shops....we'll see if we can compromise!

We're still enjoying ourselves and we love the park we're staying in (Free Spirit Resort)....happy hour every evening while the girls swim in the pool....can't get much better.