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!