A Travellerspoint blog

Saturday 19th August 2017

Darwin, Kakadu, Katherine

sunny 36 °C

Hello Everyone,

Darwin on a Winter's night. Sun goes down about 6.43pm 35 degrees and Blood Orange Full Moon rises 7.02pm. Great display from the water. Cruise was lovely, relaxing on the bow of the boat and sat next to a couple from Adelaide who also owned a FORD RANGER! There is not getting away from them! The Moon rise over the water was amazing, perfect timing!

While we were in Darwin I visited a friend of Mum's Jackie O'Brien who at 91 had only just lost her husband Vern and was still going through that awful time. Jackie was very pleased with our visit, it distracted her for a while and we learnt about the war and Cyclone Tracy from someone who lived through both.

Left Darwin and headed for Mary River Resort, well it is sort of, a oasis in the middle of a dessert. It was the weekend and as it was only an hour and a halves drive from Darwin, it was busy with a Fishing Club Annual Trip and many overseas travellers, we met a family from Milano so Dan brushed up on his Italian. While at the 'Resort' we booked an Air Boat trip on the Mary River over the wetlands. Fantastic! felt like we were sort of flying over the water which was less than 6 inches deep. Our driver/guide explained lots about the bird life and the beautiful lilies that grow there and the benefits of the plant. The leaves are water proof and the flower can be eaten. They even spin silk from the steams to make very expensive scarfs. Day 2 at Mary River Resort we hired a golf cart and drove the very dry and dusty tracks around the 1,000 square kilometre property. I got to drive it as it was meant to take 2 hours but Dan drove it so fast, we finished the lap in under 40 minutes so I had the rest of the time driving round slowly!

Moved on to Kakadu and stayed at Jabiru arrived to a lovely spacious park on Sunday where nothing was open except the BP Servo. The town has seen much better days, café, bakery and other shops had closed down and when we went to check it out on Monday when it was open, the only shop was the supermarket which sold everything you could want, but at price. Well we were in Kakadu now.

First day trip was to the East Alligator Region which included the Ubirr the rock formation at the end of the earth. It looks over the flat flood plain when it's wet and it's goes for miles when behind you there are huge rock formations. Day 2 was to Nourlangie Region including Yellow Water. We booked a sunset boat cruise with about 200 other people but they had 4 boats. It was great, specially that a local traditional owner was on board checking out his back yard and as we sat at the back got into a conversation with him (his name was Peter) who told us about the animals etc. Peter told us that there weren't many goanna's left in the region because of the Cane Toads had poisoned them and Selivina that terrible weed that gets into the waterways and chocks the vegetation and takes the air out of the water killing everything, is also in Kakadu. Scientists has developed a weevil that will eat it and only as a life span of 3 months so it's perfect. You could see where it's working but there is still plenty of it around. We had it in our dam at Nambucca where we had to dig, drain and strain to get rid of it.

Day 3 was a rest day after climbing over rocks in very hot conditions for 2 days and we treated ourselves to dinner at the Crocodile Motel (Built in the shape of a crocodile) where Dan got cornered at the Coffee Machine by 2 ladies on a 'Tour' and where fascinated on what he had done on his 'Tour". Day 4 we packed up and headed south to the southern part of Mary River. Set up camp at Mary River Roadhouse, a dust bowl just outside Kakadu Park boundaries and then headed back into the park. First stop was to a beautiful waterfall where we could have swam but we decided to move on to Gunlom Waterfall Creek which we heard was better for swimming if you can handle the dirt road. 37klms of very rough road. Took us about 45 minutes but well worth it. We tried to climb to the top pool but it was very steep and very hot so we decided to swim with the freshwater crocodiles in the pool at ground level. An Italian Couple had a flat tyre on their rental car and the spare was thin and would have been useless on the dirt road. Dan had a puncher kit with him and to Parlo's (that was his name, didn't get the girls name) amazement Dan was able to fix it. They were so grateful and we followed them out on to the main road just to make sure they got there okay. We knew that the thin spare would go okay on tar but not on the dirt. Haven't heard if they made it to Darwin as they were flying out from there.

Made it back to Katherine Yesterday where we have stocked up and prepared food for a few days as we can't take any fresh fruit or veg into WA. We also gain an hour and half which will be strange. The sun will rise at 5.30am instead of 7am now. Looking forward to the Bungles Bungles and Kimberley's.

More exploring and photo's to take, lucky we have digital now and not the old films!

Hope everyone is happy and healthy.

Much love to all.

H & D. xx

Posted by Scotta's safari 23:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wednesday 9 August,, 2017

In Very Hot Darwin

sunny 36 °C

Hello Followers,

Well we finally made Darwin, arrived last Friday and plan to stay a week. It reminds me of Canberra, you drive for hours and there is nothing around then suddenly there's traffic lights and traffic! But its completely opposite. Day temperatures have been in the high 30's and night nothing below 25 so it's warm at night too.

It's a lovely town, or city but its much smaller than I expected. We have done the Mindil Markets, food, fashion and fun. It was a great atmosphere, sitting on the beach watching the sunset. Everyone applauded when it finally went down at 6.42pm and 26 degrees. Also have visited the city centre, beaches (you can't swim, but the caravan park has 2 pools). We're going on a sunset dinner cruise tonight so that should be lovely.

When we arrived Dan noticed that the power plug between the Lucy and Pepe wouldn't come apart. It had got so hot it had melted. We had it checked yesterday by an auto electrician to find that the wiring isn't good, power from Pepe's leads was smaller than the wires on Lucy This explained why our fridge didn't work as well when it was attached to Pepe as it wasn't getting enough power. Yet another problem to get fixed and that's what is happening today. So far its taken Kevin (the sparkie) 6 hours to fix and he hasn't finished.

Before Darwin we stopped off at Linchfield National Park where there were beautiful falls to swim in. Enjoyed Wangi Falls with a swim and a dusty drive on dirt road to the 'Lost City' where rocks have worn down to shapes like a lost city. We went to have a swim at another falls but it was full of school kids on a camping trip so we decided to go back to camp and have a swim in the pool instead.

Leaving for Kakadu on Friday spending a night at Mary River in the wet lands then on to Kakadu for 3 nights, then stop of at Katherine then on to WA.

Dan's finding many other 'Ranger' Drivers and loves comparing vehicles. We have met some lovely people. Couple beside us come up from Melbourne every year for a month to get away from the cold. The way I feel in this heat, all I want to do is feel cold.

Hope all is well with everyone, Stay happy and safe, until next time.

H & D. Happy Days. xxxx

Posted by Scotta's safari 22:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Sunday 30th July, 2017

Katherine Northern Territory

Hello Friends

Haven't been able to use the computer, our signals hasn't been strong enough and WiFi not available but now we're in Katherine which is a reasonable size town, it has Woolworths and Target!

Arrived in Cloncurry on Monday 17th and spent 2 nights there. We had planned to free camp in Julia Creek but when we got there and saw what it was like and you could see the sites of the town in under an hour, we drove on the Cloncurry and camped for 2 nights. It was so hot that after set up I went for a swim, well it wasn't a swim really more like, dive in and get out!!! Temperature was 18 degrees and freezing. Cooled me down to quickly and 2 days later I had the flu. Worse thing was that Dan got Man Flu a week later so that wasn't good.

Anyway, seeing the sites of Cloncurry was more interesting with 2 excellent museums one being about John Flinn who started the flying doctors, best country museum I seen so far and the Chinese Dam which was an oasis in the desert.

On to Mt Isa, with both Woolies and Coles supermarkets! Very much a miners town. We did a mining tour, well its not a working mine and no minerals have been dug out from it but its underneath the visitors centre and is for tourists to pay and go underground. Very interesting, best thing is that they use old redundant machinery and start them up to show visitors how they worked. We even got to have a cuppa in the mess area, Corned beef and pickle sandwiches and a pastie!, lovely.... I was glad we did it but that's the mining experiences ticked of our buck list.

Mt Isa's water supply is from Lake Moondarra a huge lake where Dan tried fishing and caught a baby fish, but the best was Dan got a photo of a big bird, probably a hawk, when it swooped down and took the chicken he was using for bait that he had thrown into the water. I'll see if I can add it to the photos.

We only like to drive on the average 300klms per day and by 2.30 we want to been looking for somewhere to camp. We were now in the Northern Territory. We found a free camp just off the highway on Saturday, lovely to have some space after being in caravan parks were you usually have very close neighbours . It was lovely to pulled up beside a shady tree with space around. I was enjoying reading my book under the tree when a fellow camper came in, not considering the amount of space there was around, decided to pull in right beside us, pulling the branch of the tree that he had parked next to as it stopped them from getting into their van. He could have moved a metre to save him the trouble. 'Oh she said, I want to do that, read my book under that tree' so with that I got my chair and moved in front our van. Dan by this stage was coming down with the flu and wasn't feeling well but made the mistake of talking to the man who said 'Why do you want a van so big? and 'I should have done this 15 years ago', 'So many vans on the road'. All he did was whinge so not the best neighbours, they were gone by 8am.

Sunday we moved on to 3 Ways which is the intersection of the 3 roads. At the Roadhouse we planned to spend 2 nights, leaving Lucy in the park while we did the 200klms round trip to the Devils Marbles, south of Tennant Creek, but on Monday we had a 'sickie' and we both got to rest after our flu. Tuesday was better and we took our picnic lunch to have at the Marbles. Lovely spot and great to walk around the rocks.

Wednesday we camped at the Dunmarras Roadhouse, dusty and rustic but Craig had a great personality who guided us to our site. Lovely and shady but we didn't notice the branch of the tree was so low and as we drove out in the morning it clipped the TV Antenna. Luckily our neighbour travelling in a converted Bus had a ladder so Dan was able to rescue the remains of the antenna. When we got to Mataranka and set up, I didn't notice the kitchen draw was out and it caught the decorative edge of the slide out as it was sliding out and pulled the panel off but as things happen in 3's the shelf where we keep out drinking water collapsed under the weight so it hadn't been a good day. But as you know Dan, he bought most of his "Man Cave' with him and within 24 hours all was fixed We couldn't try the TV until we got to Katherine and it worked, Yippee.... all is good.

At Mataranka there are natural Thermal Pools at temperature of 32 degrees. We camped near a natural one, it was okay, but the stink of 'rotten Egg Gas' got up your nose after a while. It was pleasant floating down the stream on my noddle and finally getting some of the dirt out of my skin. Mataranka is home to the book 'We of the Never Never' (novel written by a woman who lived there in 1902) and at the 'Resort' where we didn't stay they had the replica homestead used in the movie and there they ran the movie at noon everyday. We decided not to stay there as they had entertainment every night, which included all types of music 'Country and Western' !!! Oh for the Blues Brothers!

Arrived at Katherine yesterday, lovely park, lots of room and so easy to get Lucy into her site. It's like being in a moving city. Different people everyday. Mostly Aussies and overseas tourist. They are the ones you have to look out for on the road as they tend to forget we drive on the left.

We had a tour of Cutta Cutta Limestone caves booked at 1pm today but we got there early and they were putting on a tour for just one guy and asked if we wanted to do it instead of at 1pm. Perfect for us, the 1pm tour had 35 people so it was great it was just the 3 of us with a guide. Much more time and you could see the natural sculptures the caves have become over the millions of years by the water that comes through it. Snakes and bats called the cave home, we saw snakes and frogs but no bats.

Tomorrow we will be doing a 15 minutes chopper flight over 8 gorges in the Katherine river and then at 4.30 we'll do the dinner cruise that takes in 2 gorges. We have heard it's worth doing and we are looking forward to it. As it's a 35klm drive out we are doing both in the one day. Actually we were lucky to get onto the dinner cruise as it's usually booked out a week in advance.

We plan to have a few nights in Litchfield National Park then it's on to Darwin for a week. Looking forward to seeing Darwin, always wanted to go there.

Thanks for reading our blog, so enjoy doing it and getting your comments.

Love to all,
H & D. xx (Happy Days)

Posted by Scotta's safari 00:24 Comments (0)

Sunday 16th July, 2017

Headings West Mackay to Richmond

sunny 30 °C

Hello Friendly Followers,

Here I am sitting in Lucy with the air conditioner on COLD. It's so hot during the day, reaches 30+ but half that or below at night. We left Mackay and the coast last Sunday, good to get out of town and back on the road. Decided to keep driving and we almost reached Charters Towers, well we would have if there was a powered site but when I phoned the 3 parks to book all were full. We could stay in the showground but we had noticed free camps along the road so we pulled into one called Macrossan Park about 25klms East of Charters Towers along side the train bridge over the river. Plenty of space so we set up Lucy. The original rail bridge was build when gold was discovered in the area and you can see the workmanship that went into building the stone pillars with a slate finishing touch on the edge. The newer bridge is just concrete. Lovely peaceful spot and with the full moon coming up it was a spectacular sight.

You are never alone out here. I think that if all the Van's travelling in Australia at any one time would fill a city the size of Sydney. There are thousand of us! Some travel up from Victoria for the winter with their Foxtel and Dog. One couple sold everything and plan to travel till they die. It's very mixed and interesting. One thing is though most follow some footy team. And don't start me on the State of Origin. The Queenslanders are far more passionate that NSW are. You usually get a finger wave from every other van on the road as you pass them, but when we see a 5th Wheeler, we both wave madly.

Stayed in Charters Towers for 3 nights, it was a lovely old gold mining town. We visited the Battery where rocks were crushed for gold and the town had several museums and things to see, or not to as we discovered on the Ghost tour we did. Dan got his metal detector out to see if he could find his fortune. The machine beeped, he got excited but only to find a piece of tin in the dirt.

Hughenden and Richmond where our next stops, Dinosaur Country and we weren't disappointed. At Hughenden we went to check into a camp site to be surprised by Lucy big brother 'Tonto' camped there too. We got the spot beside them and met 'Tonto's owners Chris and Tony from Hawks Nest. Lovely Couple who we spent 2 happy hours with. Chris called Dan a 'Show Off' as they had a Ford Ranger too (they call their car Lone Ranger)
as Dan had a very interested Tony checking all Dan's 'Extras' on Pepe. They are all now Face Book Friends. Tonto was the model before Lucy and we compared what was different and I think Lucy has some better designs than Tonto.

Porcupine Gorge is 62Klms north of Hughenden, if anyone is ever coming this way, it worth the drive. 1.2klm walk down to the bottom and 22klm (well it felt like it,) coming back up. Gave my new knee a work out, wanted to see if it was worth the money! Fabulous rock formations. They say its the Australian 'Grand Canyon'. Fish in the water and very refreshing sitting with out feet in it before did the climb back to the top.

Then on to Richmond where we are now. Visited a Fossil site 12 klms out of time where fish bones and shells are found. Dan chatted to a far more experienced man who pointed out fish bones and scales and a rock with a white sort of worm inside it. We took them back to the visitors centre where a professional saw them and told us one was a bone, the other a fish scale, size of a razor blade and as sharp and the rock with the worm inside was fish shit!!! No Bull!! It was a moon rock which is what Dan was looking for as the usually had something inside them but he didn't want to believe that they said it was. Anyway, he wants to keep it.

We were planning to be in Mt Isa tomorrow but can't get a power site till Wednesday so we'll get a free camp at Julia Creek and then we've booked at Cloncurry. I've learnt not to believe the pictures you see in the brochures nor what they say in the books. Some of the comments people leave in the 'Reviews' aren't true either but what I know is if you want to stay somewhere book ahead. We have done that for the Horizontal Falls in Derby from the 4th September and booked Broome for 5 nights from the 7th September so we can see the Stairway to the moon and the Pearl Festival.

What is so amazing about this country of ours is how different it is, what hidden treasures there are to find. You can never be bored. Enjoying writing this and if you want to send a comment please do. Would love to see who is reading this and how you are. We only get to see it, it doesn't do a Face Book were everyone sees what you post.

We are both happy and healthy hope you are too but do miss our friends and family but with model technology we are never far away. Take care all, until next time .....

H(appy) & D(ays)


Posted by Scotta's safari 23:48 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Friday 7th July 2017

Mackay Queensland

sunny 26 °C

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all well and keeping warm if you're south from where we are. We haven't been out of T Shirts since November last year. It's humid and warm here. Just like it was up in the Cape.

Last Friday at 8am we were down at the Wharf with Pepe preparing to be shipped out off the Cape where we have been for 3 weeks. We were looking forward to a relaxing cruise back to Cairns instead of the long drive back. As Pepe had been cleaned up he was the cleanest car in the car park. People were asking how our car was so clean. We boarded at 10am with 3 other passengers. Had the 'Man Overboard' talk and where to eat and our cabins. Ours was opposite the engine room and very noisy but we were given ear plugs. We had to wait for the tide to be high enough before we could leave and that wasn't going to be until 7.30pm, pity because Dan and I had planned to take pictures of us drinking bubbles while we waved at the Tip of Australia but it was about 10pm when we went past. So we spent the whole day watching the ship being loaded, met the other passengers that had gone on a trip to the tip and ate! It was lovely though and it was good not to have to do anything.

On Sunday morning about 5.30am the engines stopped and the boat started to rock, both Dan and I woke up. I was a bit concerned about Dan and his seasickness but he was fine the whole trip. The engine started again so we weren't lost at see. Enjoyed the trip, food was fabulous. Had tour of the bridge with Captain Dave who was very relaxed in this shorts and thongs! Nothing like a Cruise Liner Captain.

Whales swam past us on their way north, an unexpected surprise as Captain Dave had told us only a few hours early that it was unlikely to see them this far north early in the season. No camera ready unfortunately but the vision is in my head.

We got back to Cairns on Sunday morning and Pepe was the first to be lifted of the ship so we were at Dan Murphy's to fill up supplies by 1pm! we visited Dan's Godmother at her daughters Carmen's home and had a cuppa before we headed off and spent the night in Ingham. Drove back to Mackay and picked up Lucy on Monday. She is looking good and higher now so she sits better on the back of Pepe. Booked into a caravan park by the river, very good and cheap, $20 per night with free Wifi. Decided to stay until Sunday so we can clean everything as it's covered in Dust and stay off the road until after the school holidays as everything costs more and roads are busy.

Sunday we are heading for Charter Towers and then on to Mt Isa. Along the way we hope to see dinosaur bones at Richmond so much to look forward too.

Take care, until next week.

H & D. xxx

Posted by Scotta's safari 22:40 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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