Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Westward Ho!

We had a few overnight stops to get to Kununurra, just over the Western Australian border. Most of the stops were full of like-minded caravaners, so we always ended up chatting to someone.
As we were driving towards Timber Creek we kept seeing heaps of army vehicles, and when we got to Victoria Crossing roadhouse there were busloads of American soldiers all getting out to have a toilet stop. Just as well we’d already been as there would have been quite a queue!





We wandered down to the boat ramp at the Victoria river, and couldn’t believe that people were letting their children splash around in the water there!! It’s a wonder there aren’t more crocodile attacks after what we’ve seen!

One of our overnight stops was at the East Baines River. We set up and walked back about 500 metres to do some croc spotting. We found there was an old bridge with no sides so you could scan the water easily. No crocs though! The water was so beautiful and clear that we were almost tempted to have a swim!
                                      




We went back again at sunset – got some lovely photos.







You can always rely on Randall. Despite no phone service he was able to use satellite technology to get the latest footy scores!
It was very cold the next morning – made us think of everyone back home!

                                         

We were going to get to the WA border that day so we cooked up some of our vegetables into a soup before we left and tossed the rest out. We knew from last time that they were very strict at the border. We ate apples for breakfast and lunch so as not to waste them, but Randall paid later with severe internal pains!
The bloke at the border was unfriendly to say the least! GST slice gets personal! Not a word from him – just went in and checked our cupboards and fridge. Thanks to good camouflage he didn't  see the firewood in the back of the car so Randall was happy!

We checked in to a caravan park at Kununurra for a couple of days. It gets very wearing travelling, stopping, setting up, and packing up.
We drove up to checkout the Ivanhoe crossing. It is now closed to cars because of structural damage. We watched two idiots casually ambling across it, taking no notice of the two warning signs at the start!










Randall wanted to test the winch on our car, and discovered it was not working, so we got a mobile mechanic to come to us and check it out. He spent a couple of hours on it but unfortunately couldn’t fix it.
We noticed the Great Loritz Circus was in town. It seems to be doing the same journey as us, as we saw them on the Stuart Highway heading towards Katherine, Darwin, and now Kununurra!


After Kununurra, it was off again and next stop Broome!

We had two overnight stops where musicians got out their guitars and speakers to draw a crowd and sell some CDs. The first stop, the bloke had a young female assistant, and we sat at the back of a group and chatted to another couple. The music was country, but a bit slow for us.


The second time we were camped by a dry riverbed and there were at least 60 caravans there! Before the music started Randall went off and played his pipes up the riverbed, and many people appreciated it.
 Free camping can be a lot of dirt and dust. Some stops can be quite dusty and we have to wash our feet in a dish each night before bed, so we were quite glad when our last stop was on bitumen!! We parked next to two huge motor homes and enjoyed happy hour with them and others around us. It was a warm night, so we sat outside while I cooked an easy tea and Randall played his practice chanter.
As I was cleaning up to go the next morning a lady from one of the big motor homes heard me vacuuming and came over to see why it was so quiet! (I was actually worried that I was making too much noise at 7.30 in the morning!) We have a little hand held Dyson and it is brilliant on our caravan carpet.
The highway to Broome is quite good, but every now and then you come to a single lane bridge and have to give way to oncoming traffic.
Just after our last break before Broome, there was a really long one and it was difficult to see who got to the bridge first -  us or another car, so we kept on going and so did they! We got to the point of no return and it was a battle of wills - Randall prevailed in the end!




Another bridge, another stop for croc spotting. This time we saw a croc trap with fresh bait in it so thought we might get lucky, but not to be.





The phone service on the highway from Kununurra to Broome is quite good, and at one stage we stopped to watch a video that came through of our grandson Otto giggling away. It made our day that’s for sure!




We are now in Broome for a while. We are really enjoying the warm weather and swimming every day. I have visited the Broome museum and looked at the shops. We have walked along Cable Beach one way and driven along the nudist end the other way! The swimming pool at the park is really good - it even has a lap pool in it so Randall and I have been trying to improve our swimming strokes.
We will stay here for a few more days before going off anywhere else.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Litchfield National Park via Darwin

We arrived in Darwin about lunchtime, parked the car and caravan and had a look around the city. We enjoyed an early pizza tea at a street pub and it was nice to relax and watch the people go by.
We heard that you could stay on The Esplanade overnight, so, even though we had a caravan we thought we’d give it a go. We parked outside the Novotel. We took up two parking spaces and put in enough money for the rest of the evening. Randall even lined up the waste water pipe over a drain for low impact street camping!


It was Thursday night and the Mindil Beach Markets were on so we walked the few kilometres to see them. It was very busy, and very hot, so we ended up heading back sooner than we thought. We enjoyed a cool drink and an ice-cream sitting in the park. We were up early as we had to leave the spot before 8 am and we headed to a boat ramp for breakfast by the water, then it was off to the shops to restock before heading off to Lichfield National Park.

We stayed overnight at a camp called the Gravel Pit, which was exactly what it was!  Once you close the curtains in the caravan it doesn’t matter where you are anyway! Some young French people pulled up to stay as well– 2 girls and a bloke, and we had a bit of a chat with them.
In the morning it was off to our favourite place from last time – Buley Rockhole.
We got in early and found a spot to set up. It was very hot but the rock holes were not far away so we had plenty of swims.

Randall put up the satellite dish to get some news, so we were able to tell people who won Wimbledon.
The camping area said no generators, but Randall set it up with about 30 metres of power cord down the back of the camp site and started it up when there was no-one around. Unfortunately the ranger noticed the power cord (not the generator) and had a go at Randall. Fair enough I suppose. Anyway we stayed 5 nights there and got to know the ranger’s movements, so waited until he did the morning run before we started it up. (people we talked to didn't even hear it). We nearly got caught one day, but the ranger was busy looking after some (more) French backpackers whose car had broken down.
The water at Buley rockholes is very fresh and clear, and we did a few bucket runs to fill up the caravan tank when it got low.




We did some of the 4WD tracks around Lichfield, as well as going to Wangi Falls and Tolmer Falls.. We went into Tjaetaba Falls, which involved a river crossing.

As we came out onto the main road again we met a foreign young bike rider wanting to know the road conditions. We told him about the river crossing and he thought he could walk across. We did warn him about crocodiles ( no way would I do it)!
We drove into Tabletop Swamp, which was very pretty, as well as driving into the Lost City, which to us seemed very lost as it took ages to drive in!



The campground was busy each night and all sorts of different kinds of campers, motor homes etc. rolled in. One night a fleet of 7 identical motor homes came in!
We met a very nice couple while we were at Lichfield – Graeme and Lyn, from Victoria and had a few chats and a coffee. We both packed up and left on the same day – too many noisy families and young people had moved in for the weekend!
We overnight camped near the turnoff to Edith Falls. We noticed lots of caravans there when we left Edith Falls a few weeks back, so we thought we’d stop there. We were the second caravan in, and many more rolled in after us.


A couple wandered over for a chat and the bloke was talking to Randall about his problem with the car windows not working (except the driver’s). He had even been told it was a logged problem by the garage he called into. We had a similar problem and had discovered the windows can be locked by the driver and Randall had done that by accident. Off goes the fellow, and returns to say that Randall was right!
We arrived in Katherine the next day and headed to the car wash. The red dust was getting to us! We spent about $14 dollars – I was feeding in the money as Randall washed first the car and then the caravan. They certainly looked much better, and at least we could see out of the caravan windows again!


We did some shopping, then started the journey west – the next major stop would be Kununurra in Western Australia.






Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kakadu

Gunlom Falls
Our first stop in Kakadu was Gunlom falls. We had been there before on several day trips, but this time we were heading to the campground to stay a few nights. The road in was rough – 37kms of corrugations- but we went carefully and arrived with everything in tact. (Not so on the way out. We lost our two way aerial off the bull bar before our very eyes and a fuse blew, which was my fault for trying to charge too many things on the go.)
Gunlom campground was very spread out, with a generator area and non-generator area. We had met a chap at Pussy Cat Flats the previous day and he also headed to Gunlom Falls. He had broken his back window just like us and was waiting for a replacement in Darwin. His name was Mark and he was from Coff's Harbour. We did the rock pools and shared stories and drinks with him over the next few days.






We swam in the rock pools a couple of times. It was hard work getting up to them! It was quite a steep rocky track, so by the time you got there you were well and truly ready for a swim!
The Ranger arrived each evening to collect the camp fees, and he was most impressed with our generator set up. (Close to the car, so it wasn't annoying anyone too much).
The amenities were ok, but we found out that as the showers were solar, they weren’t hot first thing in the morning – a rude shock for some!

Our next stop in Kakadu was Cooinda. We booked an early morning cruise for the next morning then headed to our campsite to set up. The resort is now run by Accor, and has supposedly won awards, but the amenities block, although new, was always dirty and the washing machines were filthy!



The early morning cruise was amazing!  The birdlife was wonderful, the crocodiles were there in force, and the sunrise over the water was beautiful.




 The cruise included breakfast, so we headed back to the resort and waited in a long queue to serve ourselves – Randall was not impressed!
There are two swimming pools at the resort, and we always headed to the quieter one each day. A bloke sitting next to Randall commented on his swimming – he thought he must have been an Olympic swimmer!! That’s because he always goes hell for leather whether it’s swimming or walking!
We did a day trip to a place called Ubirr. Ubirr has aboriginal rock art and an amazing lookout onto the wetlands below. It was a very hot day, but the rocky area was very cool and shady.








 Watch out croc!!
The bloke who was impressed with Randall’s swimming told us about a place called Cahill’s Crossing, near Ubirr, which is the border between Arnhem Land and Kakadu. It is a river crossing, and you always see crocs there at high tide. Randall took this great video of a croc going over the road.



                                          



We ended up sitting on the rocks watching the tide come up and the water flow change direction, and see at least ten crocodiles. People were fishing there and taking great risks to get their lures when they got stuck.
We sat there for about three hours in the cool shade and it kept us very entertained.

We packed up the next day and headed out of Kakadu towards Darwin. On the way out I kept on seeing signs on the fence all along the highway saying Danger and wondered what was dangerous there. We pulled over to read the signs more closely and discovered that it was owned by the military and that  there could be live firing and land mines!










Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Edith Falls to Pine Creek

Last time we came to Edith Falls I was sick so I didn’t enjoy it very much. I had a very sore throat that ended up with an ear infection. This time was wonderful!
The campground was quite lush and reminded us a bit of Mt Field National Park campground. The lady who runs the show is a bit of a sergeant major! The signs were quite funny though.





There is a big plunge pool by the campgrounds and then a short walk up to some more pools above it, and a longer walk to more pools again.
The first pools are lovely. It is so nice to swim in the fresh water, and of course it is a bit warmer than home.


We dispensed with a camera on this trip and just use our phones so there is one less thing to carry. There was no phone service at the campground but we discovered that there was if you walked part way up to the pools. I was pleased to be able to ring my brother for his birthday and send some pictures of where we were.

We stayed 4 nights here and really enjoyed it. Randall always has his radar out for opportunity and he comes over to me to say that there are power points at the amenities block (there were no powered sites at all, and no generators allowed) and a tap to take a washing machine attachment, and we could do some washing while we were there. I thought it was a bit cheeky, but Randall said he’d take the rap if anyone questioned him. He carried the washing machine over and plugged it in, but the power points wouldn’t work. He scanned around and saw the shower block water heaters were also plugged into power, so he undoes one to check, (I’m cringing!) It did, so he goes and gets a double adaptor from the van, hooks up to power and gets the washing going. I stayed right away (I know I’m a woos!) Randall got talking to a lady there who decided she’d go and get her washing machine and do the same. The sergeant major manager lady was too busy ordering people around to catch him.

We did the long walk one morning while it was cooler and saw the Sweetwater Pools. It was very pretty. We didn’t carry water but there was plenty to drink while we were there!







The weather was perfect and it was so nice to be able to wander down to the plunge pool and cool off at the end of the day.

Our next stop was Pussycat Flats at Pine Creek. We heard people talking about it when we were at Daly Waters and it sounded good. It’s actually a racecourse with a golf course in the middle, along with some huge termite mounds. It’s got a bit of atmosphere, not like a caravan park, but has good rates for power so we decided we’d stay.




It was very hot when we arrived and it’s not much fun when you are setting up. The bar opened at 4 pm so we headed there for a cool drink. A motor home pulled in which Randall and I both admired, then Randall thought he recognised the couple so he wandered over. Sure enough it was Lois and Richard from Tassie - Lois had worked at Wrest Point and was now retired. We enjoyed their company into the evening sitting in the ‘indoor outdoor’ seating area and comparing notes about our travels.

 It was quite late when we finished up, and too late for a big tea so I made cheese and bacon on toast that Randall said was the best meal he had had on the trip! (Beer glasses?) He also went out and decided to blow the bagpipes – it was nearly 10.30, so I’m cringing!! Someone yelled out a complaint, but the owners loved it and wanted him to play more!






We stayed a few nights to recharge the caravan batteries and as they were quite depleted from our stay at Edith Falls. Every time we are on power or start up the generator we get everything out that needs charging and plug it in.
Our next stop is Kakadu which we are both looking forward to.