Shot of the Day

Shot of the Day
Mulambin Beach, Yeppoon

Thursday, 5 July 2012

One night stands…

Since the last posting we have had a series of one nighters.  After leaving Kakadu we headed south to near Daly Waters then headed east.  The night was fast approaching when we decided to bush camp at a little place called Bullwaddy.  Very basic place, just off the road, there was water but not a lot else.  There were a couple of other happy campers there too.  The fridge decided to chuck a wobbly again, this time it was a blown fuse.  Mike did not have a spare, which is most unlike him, but a man in a motorhome near us had one so with many thanks to him the fridge was up and running again, and so were we.

From there we headed to Cape Crawford, which consists of not much more than a servo, pub and caravan park.  It is a hub though for some mines nearby.  In the afternoon we trotted off down the road, about 60 k’s to a place called Caranbirini where there are found the most incredible rock formation s.  They are a little like those found at the Bungles, beehive in shape.  There are lots of little pathways though the formations and it is not surprising that it was a favourite place of the aboriginals as it is very sheltered from the winds and from the heat.

Next morning we finally managed to do something we had planned since leaving home.  A helicopter flight out over the Lost City.  The flight was only 20 minutes long but it took us along the escarpment of Cape Crawford and out over even more incredible rock formations.  Unfortunately it is not possible to land there these days but it was still one of those WOW times. This country we live in is just so incredible, so beautiful and so inyaface.

From there we took off to Camooweal for yet another one nighter.  Then it was on to Cloncurry via Mt Isa.  What a forgettable place Cloncurry is.  We had the misfortune to arrive on a Sunday.  The place was empty, no one home.  We had planned on a night out at the RSL but on seeing the RSL we thought better of it.  The building had a lean to it, paint had peeled off the walls, grass was growing up the walls, it looked as though no one had been there for 50 years and the door was definitely shut.

Next day after yet another long, boring drive we stopped in Longreach for the night and finally had a night out at the RSL.  It’s a good town Longreach with plenty going for it – The Qantas Museum and The Stockmans Hall of Fame to name but a few attractions.  But we had paid those places a visit last year so we didn’t hang about the next day instead we took off early for Emerald.  Mind you the temperature that morning  when we got up was 3 degrees. We did notice that leaving Longreach the kangaroo problem was as bad as last year with a flattened roo about every 200 metres for about 20 k’s out of town.

Emerald, what can I say.  Who knew that was such a great tourist destination?  Well I guess it is school holidays and it is in the heart of the gemfields and like Mary and Joseph there was not a room to be had in the town.  So along with about 100 other vans, motorhomes and trailers we camped under the railway bridge.  No that is not a misprint – we really camped under the railway bridge and a great spot it was too.  Until the trains came along.  Up here in Queensland the coal trains have about 100 wagons and up to 3 locos.  You should hear one of those pass over the top of you.  At six o’clock at night it is not to bad but at 4am it is horrific.  The ground shakes for about 5 minutes before it arrives, the trailer shakes and your eardrums feel as though they will burst.  The places Mike takes me too, nothing but the best!!!

Now we are happily staying at Mulambin Beach which is just south of Yeppoon.  And it is very nice too and nowhere near a railway line, just mile upon mile of beaches and sunshine.  Bliss.

Tomorrow we are outta here again.  We are heading off down the road to Hervey Bay for one night, then Yamba for 2 nights and then Port Macquarie for another 2.  Then we will be home again.  We are so sad to be leaving the blue skies, sunshine and warm days behind. Whether we have time for another posting or not I don’t know.

But till whenever.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Where are we now

After leaving Litchfield Park after 3 lovely days we headed off to the big smoke - Darwin.  We stayed in a great little caravan park called Hidden Valley.  We can thoroughly recommend it to anyone heading up this way.
Our first day was spent wandering the city of Darwin - it is a growing city with lots of energy.  Very reminiscent of Cairns.  Like Cairns it has a lagoon situation with its own beach and wave maker - very popular.  There are lots of cafes and trendy restaurants to eat at.  We visited most of the heritage places and wandered around the Parliament and Supreme Courthouse.  We also managed a tour through the WW11 Oil Storage Tanks which run under the city.  There are about 10 of them, it was a monumental effort to get them built, then they were never used as they would have been a sitting target for the enemy.
We paid a visit to the Territory Wildlife Park and wandered through their monsoon forest, rainforests etc, and visited the aquarium. Then it was onwards to Crocodyllus Park where we had the croc experience.  The largest croc there is 15ft 11ins - huge.  The park actually breeds crocs so they have lots of holding pens that contain lots of crocs.  One huge pen must have had several hundred crocs of about 2M in size.  Totally awesome.
From Darwin we then moved on to Kakadu.  We stopped off at the Fogg Dam along the way then took the dirt road option to Cooinda instead of driving the black stuff via Jabiru.  It may have taken a little longer but with a couple of creek crossings it was infinitely far more interesting.
We are currently staying at Gagudju, Cooinda and again, this is a top spot to be staying, large sites, good amenities plus a bar and restaurant.  We have tried the bar but not the restaurant.
For our first full day we visited Jim Jim Falls, which are at the end of about 55km of corrugations that would give anyone nightmares.  They were so bad that our skin actually started to tingle from the shockwaves going through our bodies.
The walk into Jim Jim Falls started out as a pleasant stoll - afterall it was only going to be about 1km.  Them we entered the river bed, the river stones became boulders and the boulders became something akin to Uluru in size.  These we had to climb over, around or under.  It took us about 1 hour to clamber the 1km!! Its a great thought knowing it will take an hour to get back.  Anyway, the falls are spectacular, they are twin falls that plummet down hundreds of feet to a pretty pool that is suitable for swimming.  Judging from the comments of people entering the pool for a swim the water was very cold.
After stumbing out of the gorge we set off again along the rutted road to Cooinda.  About halfway back we came upon a vehicle broken down and a grass fire burning beside it.  We were flagged down by the driver and who should it be but Monte Dwyer.  Some of you may remember him as the mad weatherman on the Today show a few years ago.  He had cooked his little bus, then he managed to set the grass alight.  A walking disaster.  Anyway, we gave him and his daughter a lift back to Cooinda.  As Monte had broken his coxys bone a couple of days previously, he knelt in the front seat, facing the rear and gripped the headrest all the way back to Cooinda. I don't think it was Mikes driving that was upsetting him!
This morning we were up bright and early (like before 6.00am) so that we could do the Yellow Water Cruise.  We were out on the water just at sunup and it was well worth getting up for.  There were birds everywhere just waking up, the morning light changed through beautiful pinks and the reflections in the billabong were just indescribably beautiful.  We even managed to follow a 4m croc as it made its way home to its favourite bank to lie beside a tree trunk and recharge its batteries in the sunshine.
Later in the day we headed down to Nourlangie Rock for a look at the rock art there.  Then it was back home and we have had a relaxing time since then.
Tomorrow we are out of here as we start the long trip home.  We hope to be around Daly Waters sometime tomorrow, then we will cut across to Cape Crawford and hopefully the Lost City.  We will probably not have internet or mobile coverage for the next few days.
Till then.

Friday, 22 June 2012

The best laid plans...

We keep on ending up in places with either no power or no mobile / internet reception, hence the long gaps in the blog updates.  After leaving Yulara we had planned on going to Chambers Pillar to take a few photos at sunset.  Well a long, corrugated road really put paid to that idea, we figured after about 75 k’s of dirt that we had no chance of getting to our target before sunset, so we headed into Alice Springs instead.  Just as well we did.  The battery that runs the fridge decided it didn’t want to play anymore so we ended up having to get a new gel battery – at $380.00!! My Tom Tom, has caused untold problems since the day I purchased it and has played up the whole trip so I decided to pension it off to the bottom of a bag and bought myself a new NavMan.  Works like a charm.  The Tom Tom was very lucky it did not end up in pieces somewhere along the road, but Mike convinced me that you would like to play with it Jimmy, so it’s all yours.

From Alice Springs we hit the Stuart Highway and ended up in Tennant Creek – a very sad and sorry little town that we were not sorry to leave the next morning.  Next day we travelled about 680k’s up the highway to Katherine.  A long drive but you can really cover the k’s up here in no time.  Unfortunately we had not booked a park to stay in and all caravan parks with powered sites were full.  So we were once again unable to send emails or update the blog.

We had a great day out at Katherine Gorge.  We did the 3 gorge boat trip, we had previously only done 2 gorges.  It was a lovely afternoon out and the gorge is spectacular.  There is so much water flowing and this is the dry season.

From Katherine it was just a short hop of about 300 k’s up the road to Litchfield Park where we have done absolutely everything that is possible to do.

We have visited first up Florence Falls.  The twin falls are spectacular as they explode out over the cliffs and down into a plunge pool – lots of people swimming.  Then it was on to the Buley Rockholes, a series of cascading water over rocks and also very popular with the swimmers.  Later in the day we visited the Lost City – which is a cluster of huge rocks that have been chiselled out by the wind to form various shapes – you have to let your imagination wander a little, but we saw monsters, animals and various people’s heads. We stopped off at the Tabletop Marsh and watched and listened to the birds calling for a while – a very calming place.  The final port of call that day was to the Tolmer Falls.  Again spectacular.  This time the water is channelled out through a tiny chasm, under a rock bridge then falls hundreds of meters to a rock pool below.  Just stunning.

Which brings us to yesterday.  We visited the Wangi Falls, which are the most visited falls here in Litchfield.  Understandably so.  These are twin falls that tumble down into yet another plunge pool.  It looks just like a scene out of a Hollywood movie.  Balihai and all that.  We took to the dirt roads again and visited the Mt Tolmer Tin mine at Blyth Homestead.  The mine is no longer there but the remains of a tin shack are and it is just as it was left back in the 1950’s.  A family of 14 children worked the tin mine and to see where they lived and to read of their life you realise just how lucky we are.  One of the children had a pet 4 ft croc, who believe it or not was too scared to go in the creek because of the other crocs.  Then one of the children had her hand crushed but good old dad reset all the bones, bound it up and she was back working the horses within a fortnight.  Talk about a tough life. And of the 14 children, well a doctor delivered the first two, but dad figured he could do the job just as well himself!!!

Our final activity in Litchfield Park was to visit the Cascades another popular spot in the park.  We decided to do the loop walk of only 3 k’s.  We almost always do a loop if possible.  Anyway, they lied.  It was like 10 k’s, all up hill and it was very, very hot.

The weather up here by the way had been beautiful.  The days are hot (about 30 +), and sunny.  The nights are cool – but we don’t need the electric blanket anymore and the winter pj’s have been shoved to the back of the drawer until we begin the long haul home.

So now we are in Darwin.  We just plant on visiting a few sights and generally chilling out for a couple of days before we begin the long haul south.

Chris, you may be interested to know that we took the same road from Litchfield Park to Darwin as we did all those years ago, fortunately we did not need the services of a fire hose to clean the car!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The dingoes took our...

Tupperware cereal container and a Lock & Lock biscuit box - rotten sods.  All our food stuff is kept in Lock & Lock which is then stored in a big plastic box, which is kept on top of a camping table.  Yet the #$$%%^ managed to lift out the 2 containers and head for the hills.  They consumed what little cereal there was but could not open the Lock & Lock, just ate a bit of the plastic, gave up and left it for the ants.  Still if that is the worst than can happen.
So where have we been now.  Well, after leaving Alice Springs we headed firstly to Glen Helen Gorge for an overnighter - no mobile, no internet. On the way to Glen Helen we stopped off at Ormiston Gorge and later Redbank Gorge where we rock hopped over rocks and boulders to the very end where there is a lovely rock pool.  It was a bit of a hike getting there but well worth it.
Next morning we took off for Kings Canyon on the Mereenie loop.  Not a bad road for most of the way and only a few corrugations.  We did see a whole herd of camels - there must have been 60 and further down the road we saw a few brumbies. Later in the day we came across a 2m Mulga snake!! Again no mobile reception and no internet.
On our first full day we did the Canyon Rim Walk, about 6 k's in total.  It is a hard climb getting up to the top, then it is easy peasy.  The views are expansive and the rock formations just breathtaking. That took care of most of the day.
Next day we did the Kings Creek walk, a very short walk into Kings Canyon where you get an entirely different perspective of the canyon.  In the afternoon we trotted down to Kathleen Springs which turned out to be an absolute delight.  Yet another gorge with yet another waterhole at the end but entirely different to any others we visited.
So if you think we have been slacking off and just goofing around let me tell you we have walked serious k's,
After Kings Canyon we took to the road again, this time to Uluru - for the old school thats Ayers
Rock.  Yeh, at last mobile reception and internet.
Today we managed to stretch the 3-4 hour base walk out to 4.5 hours whilst we took serious Gb's of photos.
Tomorrow we plan to visit The Olgas (Kata Tjuta) and the next day will be out of here, our destination being Chambers Pillar - there definitely will not be mobile or internet there.  After one night there we will head back to Alice Springs for an overnighter and a restock before heading up towards Darwin.
Till then...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Gorged out on Gaps

We are now spending our last night in Alice Springs.  We have had 3 great days here.  Our first day was spent shopping, washing etc - all the mundane stuff travellers have to do.
Then we set off to Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm.  Both were fantastic and we even managed to catch the midday sun at the chasm as it lit up both walls.
The afternoon was spent at Desert Park which is a great way to learn about the geography and animals of the Northern Territory.  They put on a great bird show too and we marveled at a Boobook Owl and two incredible Kites as they sped in to catch small morsels of food.  So if you are coming up this way Desert Park is a great place to while away a few hours.
Today we went out to Emily Gap, Jessie Gap and Trephina Gorge.  Both gaps were spectacular but in different ways, but Trephina Gorge was mind blowing.  We did the rim walk of about 2 hours that took us around one side of the gorge then down along the sandy river bed.  Apart from getting lost at one point it was a beautiful walk and the views were to die for.
We finished up the day at Rainbow Valley, about 80 ks out of town.  There is a 20 + kilometer corrugated road into the valley which shakes every bone in your body but to see the rock formations as the sun sets is worth every jolt.
Getting out of there and back to the main road before dark was a real challenge.  So how do you top a day like that?  By going to the pub of course for a couple of beers and a good steak.
Tomorrow we are off to Glen Helen for one night, then 3 nights at Kings Canyon followed by 3 nights at Uluru then 1 night at Chambers Pillar before returning to Alice Springs to stock up for the next part of the trip.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

We are such deviates

Well it has been a couple of days since the last update, not all my fault though. 
On May 31st we left Wilpena Pound to head off to Marree which is a small town at the start of the Oodnadatta Track. We had a great trip there stopping off at Farina for a while to poke around the ruins. Then onwards to Marree.
Small town is probably making the place sound rather grand, which it is not. 
We checked into the caravan park, which is just a tad more upmarket than bombed out Beirut with the intention of staying 2 nights so that we could head out to Lake Eyre - a 200 k round trip - the next day.
So we wandered off to the pub for a drink and a meal then discovered that the town does not have mobile communications.  So there goes the update of the blog and catching up with emails etc.
Now Marree is one of those towns that never see rain - until May 31st that is.  It bucketed down all night and most of the next day. It is such a load of fun sitting in a camper trailer in the wet.  We did a bit of reading and watched a couple of movies I have on a hard drive, but otherwise it was a loooooooooooooooooooooong day.
We really did not think we would be able to get out along the Oodnadatta Track, the thought of driving all the way back to Port Augusta was not a great thought, but the idea of passing yet another eternity in Marree was as popular as contracting measles.
The track was open and the first 10 k's or so was a quagmire and very slippery but after that it was fine.  We stopped off at Albeprie Creek to look at the most amazing sculptures which include two upturned Beechworth aircraft that form a sort of gateway to an array of junk that has been converted into sculptures.  Some people have too much spare time on their hands!!!
We stopped off at Lake Eyre South which had a fair amount of water in it, then on to Curdimurka Siding which was once an integral part of the old Ghan Railway.  Then on to the mound springs and finally Beresford Siding.  At William Creek we decided not to head onwards to Oodnadatta so we deviated off along an incredibly corrugated road and ended up in Coober Pedy.
Well it was Mikes birthday and we needed to go out somewhere special to celebrate.  Thats our story anyway.
We didn't hang about in Coober Pedy and instead took off this morning and finally arrived here in Alice Springs late this afternoon.  We will be here for about 4 days, but as we have great internet access the blog should be updated quite regularly for a while.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Wilpena Pound - South Australia

Today has been a veg out day.  We did a short hike of about 7 k's to the Wangara Lookout which over looks the Wilpena Pound.  Great view.
The skies are blue, there is a nip in the air, the morning was cold, but hey we have an electric blanket. We are now about to head off to the bar for happy hour.  Coopers on tap at $5.00 a pint.  (A pint is SA lingo for a schooner).
Tomorrow we take off, not sure where, but in the direction of Marree.