Victorian High Country

After an inforced break in Melbourne and false start to Alice Springs we ended up in the Victorian High country. Yes totally opposite direction

Buchan Reserve

was our first stop. Here we were greeted by the most fierce animal on our trip so far. It was dark when we were settig up and I only had put a bag with fruit on the table for a second when I turned around a possum without introduction had made himself comfortable on the table and helped himself to a pear. He wasn’t going to go at least not without the pear. After that we had a very comfortable night if not a tad cold.

On the Sunday we had a tour of the Royal and Fairy cave. Both of them were discovered in 1907 for Tourism purposes after the depression.

From Buchan we went via Butchers Ridge and the mc killop bridge

over the snowy river

to Bonang where Glen’s step sister Jenny lives. OMG were we in for a surprise. Their property is on a plateau 800 meters above sea level and we had unobtruded views over to the mountain ranges

and back over the Snowy River. We shared a meal with them and had another cool night.

Today we spent the day in the e national park doing one walk in old growth forest and another in temperate rainforest.

Aren’t those trees magnificent

We decided to set up camp near the old chinese diversion tunnel on the Delegate river near Bendoc. Fire

going but another cool night ahead.

Oh it was not only cool. The water in our containers was frozen my fingers and toes numb. We quickly build another fire and had a very pleasant breakfast with the fire going and the sun out.

From here we went to Bendoc and on to Bombala through some exquisite forest. We had lunch by the river in Bombala and went for a walk along the river after lunch. Apparently there are platypuses living here we didn’t see any.

The afternoon was spent by driving through the splendid South East Forests National Park and along the Towamba valley.

Dinner was at the RSL in Eden and the final stretch of the day into Saltwater camp at Ben Boyd National Park

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Pilbara

What we may have missed out in the Kimberleys the Pilbara made more than up for. The colours, the rock formations, warm water to swim in and the air temperature was pleasant assisted in the nights by the fan we bought in Broome.

Again we were nearly the only people in the camp ground but for a young couple staying across from us. Next morning they ventured out to find the nearby falls but couldn’t get there bearing so asked us for some help. Of course as many other tourists in this part of the world and this time of the year they were from Germany.

They ended up hopping into the back of Vera and we went to Weano Gorge together.

After a short walk we got to the bottom of the Gorge for a refreshing swim. Back to the carpark and into Hancock Gorge. We had to climb over rocks, wade through waist high water und climb through the narrowest gorge to get to Kermit’s pool for yet another swim in lovely temperatured water. The colours and contortions of the rocks around us were superb.

In the afternoon we explored Joffre falls and guess what another swim just Glen and I.

The following day we explored Dales Gorge bumped into Mel and Alex from Leipzig again and more swimming. Our last night in the Pilbara we speent in the car park just above Hammersley Gorge, no one there. In the morning we took the long board out and paddled up the gorge as far as we could. Quite a magical experience.

Leaving Karijini and driving to Millstream via Tom Price

Outside one of the rio tinto mines

we were confronted with the harsh economical reality of this area. Trains with 348 carriages transporting the ancient remains of cynobacteria all over the world as iron ore and 4 lorry long roadtrains going to port hedland all loaded up.

We made it to Karatha that night, just another mining town and were greeted with the most incredible sandstorm. It all came up in no time and was ferocious. Lukily it didnt last long.

The next day we poked around and found this petroglyphs

The night was spent at a beautiful river camp

Northern WA coast

After our escape from Broome finally, we drove off towards the south going to have a look at Port Smith. We had to cross 4 deep and long water crossings following a roadtrain all the way.

To our surprise when we finally got to Port Smith the campground was open, the sun was shining, Vanessa at reception was delightful and a beautiful sunset over the lagoon. We were the only guests. We stayed there for 4 nights putting up with the sand flies and mossies. We explored the lagoon had a go at fishing again but were still unsuccesful. We discovered some beautiful little bays and enjoyed camping again.

Next stop was Cape Keraudren and were we in for a surprise. We had the best campsite on a hill overlooking a little bay and we were back on the Indian Ocean there was nearly a wave to be had for Glen.

Sunset

Sunrise

The Kimberleys

Our entry to the Kimberleys was stunning driving into the Victoria river valley, finally we had arrived at the most outstanding rock formations and incredible colours. The grass, bushes and shrubs very green against the red rock, the river very muddy because of the rain. Our first stop in the Kimberleys was Timber Creek near Judbara National Park. We were lucky to manage the escarpment walk in incredible heat. The rest of the park was closed to wash outs on the road. We have now taken to only sleeping in the tent which is nice and airy. The car would be stifeling.

I am still trying to split the pandanus leave with not much success so we set out to find someone to help me. Glen had met a women called Clara who lived in one of the community near by. So off we went the next morning to find her. Unfortunately she was busy making damper and her sister Doris was also busy that day and couldnt help us. I am determined to learn ithough. Next stop Kunnunurra We explored the Gorges and waterfalls around Kunnunurra, drove to Wyndham, Lake Argyle, had a look at the Ord River irrigation scheme and visited Waringarri Aboriginal Arts. We had a wonderful and unique experience. We had planned to take the Gibb River Road but it was closed so we made our way to Fitzroy Crossing and were welcomed with this.

We checked out Geiki gorge just made the road lots of water over it. Fitzroy crossing has the best stocked and priced IGA of any of the remote supermarkets we have come across. The road to Tunnel Creek was still open but not the road leading on from there to the Gibb Rover Road. Tunnel creek and the story of Jandamara impressed us very much. I had seen the film and Glen had read the book. We wanted to walk through the tunnel but after Glen sank thigh deep into quick sand right at the opening, we thought that might be not such a good idea. On top my knee was still playing up and we had to climb over boulders etc We had lunch and then needed to decide which road to take. To go back the way we came or to take the road that was officially closed. Since Glen likes to go forward doesn’t matter what condition. You know what road we took. The first section was relatively good until Windjama Gorge. The road into the gorge was impassable so we could only get a glympse of the gorge from a distance. Then the “fun” started we were driving through mudspats slithering and weaving through the deep water and mud. Luckily a car had gone before us, we could see the tyre marks and no more rain had come down since they drove through. We stuck to their wheel tracks and figured if they managed to make it so will we. We drove through areas bigger than a footy field and didn’t know how deep and how long it was. Vera did well in low range dif lock in 2nd or 3rd gear she made slowly but steady. Sometimes it felt like being on a sleigh. The mud splashing all over the car and into the window. Remember we don’t have aircon and open widows are crucial. We made it to Derby it was getting late and the sky was darkening up. When we were in the office at the caravan park signing in we could see the images from the cctv cameras. The wind had picked up and she was blowing and the rain started pelting down. The bloke offered us to set up in the laundry which we did. From the relativ comfort of the laundry we saw the lightening storm go by. It was pretty impressive. There are lots of Boab trees in Derby quite sad were the prison trees where aboriginal were chained.

We made it to Broome the next day and booked in at Cable beach caravan park. Walked over that night and watched the sunset with a beer and vey nice fish and chips. Glen surfed cable beach the next day and we had a look around Broome. The plan was to go up to Cape Leveque on Friday or Saturday and at that stage the road was still open. On Friday we met with an old friend of Glen’s who works at the landcouncil in Broome. We had a great time talking and it was to late to start the trip to the cape. During the night the rain started. I rang roads report in the morning and were informed that the road was now closed. We thought we may last the rain in Broome, but not at park we were so we relocated to Roebuck bay caravan park right in the city and right on the waterfront.

It did clear up for Saturday and Sunday with only few showers and then on Sunday night all hell broke loose. Lots of rain and heavy winds and a strong smell of sewerage. Bruce Glen’s friend picked us up on Monday for a guided tour of Broome it rained solidly all day when we returned it was raining cats and dogs and the wind was intesifying. While we were discussig what we should do pack up or try to last another night the park manager came and pleaded with us to leave. She said there is a lot more rain and 120km/h winds coming over night. I think we did the fastest ever pack up and drove off hoping to find an affordable bed somewhere. When we left the roads had become rivers and trees were lying across them

and emergency vehicles everywhere. While I was tryig to find somewhere to stay on wotif Glen spotted the Kimberley Klub a backpackers. It was all happening in there. We found a dry bed for a reasonable price. In the morning we saw the devastation so many trees down and the rain hasn’t stopped all day and night. We were informed by Bruce that we have been through a cyclone category 1. While we were waiting for the cyclone to pass and for the roads to open again we did a bit of this Now all the roads going north to Derby or south to port hedland were closed. We couldt go anywhere. We drove out to the Roebuck Plains and the road to Port Hedland. Vera got a new drive belt and had a solairnoid fitted to seperate the auxiliary battery from the crank, after we forgot to switch the manual switch and we had drained the crank and needed to call the RAC once again. We don’t want that to happen somewhere wup wup. So Vera was well looked after also all greased up by Glen. We ended up having to stay for a full week until the roads were open again. However the road to Cape Leveque was still closed and no indication as to when it may open again so we headed south. This is what the road looked like

The Territory 

Kakadu presented many unexpected events. Quite a few roads were closed due to the wet season which limited what we could do but other opportunities presented. We met Nakaiya a young aboriginal women who supplied us with bush tucker 

;Violet who taught me another way of basket weaving from pandanus spiralis as well as making string from fan palm leaves. 

Violet had brought a big piece of paperbark to show Glen how to make water carriers out of it.

WGlen made the Cahill crossing. He was lucky that it was passable at the time  and that the tide was going out. The water was about 60cm deep but flowing very fast. From there we drove into Arnhem land to Oenpelli. We drove along an amazingly formed escarpment on one side and big green flood plains on the other. Unfortunately the art centre at Oenpelli was closed and we could only talk to some of the artists who were painting at the back. Back in Kakadu we went to Nourlangi rock and Ubirr lookout 

Next stop was Mary River national park where I had been with my parents in 93 and Glen’s father had spent quite some time here in 88 campig at Shady Camp where we also pitched our tent.  We found a really shaded spot under a big tree which was needed because it was still very hot durig the day and the nights only cooled down when we had a down pour in the afternoon. The next morning we proceeded to the river and saw what we thought was a bird observatory along the river. We took the bush track through the mangoves trying to get there only to get a fright of our lives when we heard a big splash about 5 meters away from us. We must have disturbed a croc.

 We returned quick smart snd took the proper path to the observatory platform which was actually for croc watching and was completely enclosed with safey mesh. We only waited a while and this fellow entered the water. 

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Next stop Darwin. New years eve we watched the sunset at Culleen Bay. 
We were lucky to have a house to stay in Rapid Creek 

 for the next week and a half. We poked around Government House and come across these beautiful and colourful plants 

Vera had her universal fixed and got washed  Darwin style  

We got to the bottom of the problem with my knee. The MRI showed that there is some scaring in the soft tissue. Some advice from Karl helped and I already have much more flexibility again. 

After a week and a half we were sad to say goodbye to Lucy and Arlo our hosts and hit the road again.

 Litchfield National park was our next stop where we camped near the Florence Falls. We had the best views from the campground.  

We swam under the falls and hopped from one rockhole to the next.

 

From here we went south towards the west australian border with a two night stop at Timber Creek near the Victoria river. It was incredible to drive through this vast river valley with its red rocks and green grasses after the rain.

The Savannah way

We followed the Savannah way from Kuranda going west. 2 nights at the Undara Lava 

tubes from there to Georgetown where we enjoyed a well needed swim in the local pool. The museum here is worthwhile having a look at with its mineral and rock collection. Some great agats and thunder eggs.

The night was spent near a lagoon at the Cumberland chimney 

 after we watched the active birdlife for some time. 

Finally we made it back to the gulf and ended up at Karumba Point 

 via Normanton. About 50 kms out of Normanton we came across 2 Korean boys on their bicycles in the heat of the day who had gotten into some strive. To many punctures and no tubes or repair kit left. We had some repair stuff which they used but after fixing at least 6 holes the air was still escaping. Vera already packed to the rafters was going to struggle to take two bikes, all their gear and the two boys on board. So I hauled down a ute travelling towards Normanton. Young Cody stopped who was going for a spot of fishing over the weekend to the Norman river. Luckily he had a fare bit of space in the ute and off went the boys and bikes. When we finally arrived in Normanton we saw the boys again they had booked into the camping ground and had to wait until Monday when the hardware shop reopened to get their bicycles fixed.

Made it to Karumba that night only to be woken at 5.00am on Sunday mornig by the first storm of the rainy season for us. We decided to stay only two nights because we didn’t want to get cut off.

Gregory downs was our next stop the best camp for me so far right next to the river where we rode down the rapids. So cooling and refreshing. English back packers were serving us our meal at the Gregory Downs Hotel that was first opened in 1877 that was only  a few years after Burke and Wills had marked some trees near here.

Lawn Hill the next camp. Oh my god was it hot and the flies were chasing us however the gorge made up for it all.

 It was magnificient to canoe through the gorge and arrive at the waterfall at the other end for a rewarding swim. There were also steps from the campground into the river. We lost count of how many swims we had. 

Followingthe Savannah way we ended up in Hells Gate roadhouse for a night.

From here we went into Limmen National Park and were we in for a surprise. The Southern Lost City the most incredible rock formation stemming from a washed out escarpment. Stayed the night at Butterfly springs and had  a dip in the waterhole were still a dripple of fresh water made it into the hole. We had to  share it with a Mertens water monitor.

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Again like the other nights before we were the only campers!! No one is as crazy as us and travels the top end at this time of the year.

Yes finally swimable water again at Mataranka Hot Springs. I think we got water logged. We stayed at the Mataranka Homestead adjacent to the Elsey National Park named after the station from the book. “We of the Never Never” by Jeannie Gunn. At the pool we met 3  aboriginal women from Karambula in the Kimberleys  who had been driven by a taxi driver friend all the way from Kunnanarra to the hot springs. We sat in the pool and chatted to them for hours.
The question was out where to have Christmas we settled on Katherine. We got into Katherine on 24 December booked a table for two at the barrel and cruise bistro for Christmas day and then went straight to Katherine Gorge. We camped right at the gorge in the national park and went for one of the smaller circuit walks to have a look at the gorge then swim in the pool. On Christmas day not much more happened several swims interrupted only by the lunch we had booked in for. It was fabulous and we were well looked after. However i missed the kids terribly  but managed to talk to both of them on the phone.

Yes I even found some Henkel Trocken.

On Boxig day our real Christmas present arrived. We, just coming back on the ferry after a walk to Pat’s lookout and Jedda Rock and a swim under the waterfall

 when Glen started to waive at the ferry that was passing us. On the other ferry a person equally waiving their arms. Me, blind as anything couldn’t make out who the other person was. Then Glen announced “that was Kerri” our neighbour from Beach street. No way I said are you sure? We checked at the ferry booking desk and as it turns out it was Kerri. So we proceeded back to the boat ramp at 1.30pm when Kerri’s ferry was due back to return. She got a surprise to still find us here. We ended up chatting for a long time. The best present ever! 

Cairns and surrounds

  •  From Port Douglas we made it back to Tom and Magda’s in Kuranda. Glen and Leroy the dog are on much better terms since Glen brought him some pigs’ears. We are so welcomed here and are pretty relaxed. My knee is getting better after the physio strapped me up and gave me some exercises.  On Tuesday we took care of Vera. The lights decided to stop working but Glen managed to fix them. In the afternoon we explored the Cairns botanical garden. Absolutely pleasant place with beautiful vegetation.

  • Yesterday we explored the Atherton Tablelands and today we spread 2 cubic meters of mulch over Magda’s garden.

Port Douglas and surrounds

How lucky are we Gunhild came all the way from New Zealand to spend 5 days with us sand action packed were those days.

  1. Hartleys crocodile adventure  not to be missed with its 3000 crocodiles. Mosman markets with delicious fruits including soursop. From there to Mosman Gorge a walk in the rainforest and a swim in the refreshing river.  After lunch along the river bank we went to Daintree village. I like the heat but it was very warm that afternoon and we retreated to the pool where we were staying. Sunday morning Port Douglas markets and then a snorkeling tour to the inner reef  Today Gunhild and I took a rest day while Glen went out to the outer reef for some more snorkeling experience. We ended the night with pizza and cocktails. 

The cape

Oh wowww what an amazing place. Our experiences were truly colourful from extreme 4w driving to swimming with the crocodiles to being probably the only people who couldn’t catch a fish on the cape, making friends with the local dogs and horses in Alau, participating in a Melbourne cup event cape style, seeing the most incredible wildlife in particular birds we hadn’t seen ever before, absolutely amazing landscapes of massive proportions and only us in the middle of it miles away from everyone else. Being worried while camping on the banks of the Wenlock river that the wild pigs will get us,  mastering bread baking on the bbq,  making woven baskets with Lomandra grass, teaching feltmaking to some at the artists at Hopevale, taking a ferry ride to Thursday island, exploring the national parks and land trusts, spending time in cape tribulation camped in tropical rainforest.