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AROUND THE BLOCK TRIP 2010

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 25 February 2010 | Views [1507]

April 19th 2010

After an early start and 750 ks we stopped at Morgan SA for the night. The trip had been uneventful apart from running into a Locust Plague at Sea Lake. There were millions of the buggers and changed our car from green to yellow as they committed hari kari. photos attached.

We also managed to keep in front of one of the worst storms SA had seen in a long time. The skies were black and full of lightening but the good thing was the rain changed the car back to green ..magic!

Next day stop over was at a place called Kimba which is known for two things, 1: The Big Galah, 2: it's exactly half way across Australia. photos attached.

We had planned on spending some time at Streaky Bay area but so had a few hundred other people...well the sites were cheap $5 a night.

So we drove on and ended in Ceduna where we will stay for three nights. Driving around the area I was amazed to see so much new housing estates being built. It's not like the town has huge employment also it's fairly isolated. Who am I to wonder why !

With beautiful weather and freshly shucked oysters for lunch on the beach...we might stay longer.....more will follow

April 30th 2010

Happy Birthday Peter.

 

Travelling across the Nullarbor the colours are amazing from the different greens to the blues in the bushes .There are also tree stumps that look a bronze colour so different that you have to stop the car and check that they are real.

 

On arrival in Esperance we took the car in to have the exhaust checked after we had hit a bit of road kill. Thanks to a friend of a friend it only cost $20 to have a bit of welding done…quite car again!

 

Esperance is stunning with beautiful beaches and cliff walks. The town itself is a reasonable size and seems to cater for all one needs

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Our camp site was directly across from the beach off the Esplanade …perfect view.

 

Did the tourist bit and checked out the tourist points of interest which was mainly the different beaches and The Pink Lake. (Not today though) it only looks pink at certain times

This morning we packed up and have moved on too Cape Le Grande which is a National Park on the coast.

Camp site is just behind sand dunes. The roar of the ocean is incredible. The sand is the most brilliant white and goes for miles with vehicle access all the way.

The park has so many hiking tracks for all different levels of fitness…..should be able to manage most although unsure about the Frenchman’s Peak which seems a very high and extremely steep rock (mountain)

 

Wednesday 5th May.

After having very limited phone unless (I stood on top of Cape Le Grand Peak) and no internet contact for five days I can now finish this part of our journey.

Cape Le Grand really was the most amazing place and would love to have been able to stay another week or so.

With so many different hiking tracks and Peaks to climb there was always something to do.

Cape Le Grand (345 metres) was an easy climb compared to Frenchman Peak (262metres) which was extremely steep and coming down was horrendous…but we managed.

Sitting at the camp site this beautiful lizard came strolling by with not a care in the world…it was three foot long and is called an Ornate Dragon Lizard and apparently there are quite a lot in this area. Managed to grab a camera in time to capture such a beauty.

There are some amazing rock formations, some that sound like they’re whistling when the wind blows through them, which sound’s very eerie at night.

The beaches and different coves are so pristine and so unspoilt. It really makes you feel very privileged to be able to view and absorb it all.

This is one place for a revisit!

Wednesday 12th May

Camped at the Borden Recreation Park for what was going to be one night turned into three.

We were able to watch a couple of training practice with the local football team. In addition, the kid’s hockey practice match was also on.

Only a one-shop town and not many homes where the locals are very much into their sport.

 

Next, stop Mandurah to catch up with Harry, Aimee and Jack who live there. It is hard to believe that our grandchildren have their own home they are so grown up. They spoilt us a lot while we were there. Harry must take after his Grandpa Pete, as he loves to cook. Jack managed to get a game with his football team. However, just like the Saints they lost. Never mind it was great watching him play. Hope your neck is better Jack.

Aimee (Harry’s partner) never stops, always cleaning and spoiling both boys.

We were sorry to leave them, a big thank you from both of us.

 

 

Driving through Perth it never ceases to amaze me on the great infrastructure they have compared to Melbourne. Down the middle of the freeways runs the train with great stations all with good car parks. How sensible is that! While the Victorian Government cannot get the Myki cards running properly!

 

 

We stopped at Gingin along the way to stock up on supplies *bought the best chilli snags at the local butchers* Great town, which has lovely park in the middle of the town. I did not realise there is a large RAFF Base there.

 

Staying at Cervantes tonight ready for going out to The Pinnacles first thing in the morning.

 

The Pinnacles, that is a desert discovery if ever there was one. It is a spectacular experience and one that I am so pleased we were able to see.

Mysteriously rising from the sand dunes are thousands of lime stone pillars. Quite regal looking I thought. Some stand over 3 metres tall, some are jagged, sharp edged columns rising to a point. While others I thought, remind me of tombstones.

With the yellow sand and the brilliant blue sky, they stood out in stark contrast. In the background, you can see the turquoise ocean and the vivid white beaches.

Breathtaking!

 

Leaving that behind we head off for what was going to be four days at a free campsite on the beach at Freshwater Point. The only thing is a fire had gone through the Coorow area in December and burnt everything in sight. Therefore, it has closed for rejuvenation.

Managed to find one not with a sea view but still very quite if not just a little too windy today……………more to follow

Sunday May 16th

 

We had 4 days bush camping just outside Dongara, which is 65 ks south of Geraldton. Time spent catching up on some reading and bush walking.

 

Our next stop was Geraldton www.geraldtontourist.com.au  

This is where we have just spent the last 3 days. Of course, on arrival at the Caravan Park the shower was my first port of call…bush showers are ok but give me the real thing please.

Will head off tomorrow we think for Kalbarri.

 

Geraldton has a population around 53 thousand it has a large shipping port on the Indian Ocean.

It has a mix of city; coast and country feel to it. The town centre runs along the Esplanade with lots of waterfront restaurants. Beautiful beaches and water park playground.

The magnificent hilltop HMAS Sydney II Memorial: pays tribute to the 645 crew lost aboard the World War II warship HMAS Sydney.

It sits high on a hill overlooking the city and ocean. It is a large silver dome of 645 seagulls each represents a lost sailor. There are two large walls naming all the crew that lost their lives.

The ship discovered only in 2008 in waters off Shark Bay after taking a hit by the German ship the Kormoran on Nov 21st 1941.

A large towering shape represents the bow of the ship flies the Australian Flag.

It reminded me of the overwhelming feeling I had when we were at Lone Pine.

 

We visited the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier, www.gerladtondiocese.org.au

Which after all the ones we visited overseas this one had the most amazing architecture I had ever seen. The architect was Monsignor John Cyril Hawes (1876-1956)

Started in 1916 but not completed until 1938 taking another 50 years before Bishop Barry James Hickey consecrated it.

The grounds had a garden called Divine Mercy with a beautiful marble statue and seating under olive trees very tranquil indeed.

 

Walkaway Wind Farm is Australia second largest wind farm (largest in SA Yorke Peninsula) there are fifty-four wind turbines…no silly rare birds here obviously to fly into the !

Ellendale Pool, which is a deep permanent pool, surrounded by towering red rock walls and beautiful old gum trees. (Note to self-campsite for our next trip)

The pool is supposed to be rich in Aboriginal Dreamtime history.

 

Anyone wanting to dine here the place to go is Bella Vista it was the best restaurant meal we have had this trip. You will find it on Marine Tce. Beautiful seafood lovely staff made and good friends made the night..

 

More to follow……….

 WEDNESDAY 19th MAY

Just put on photos for now...it was a pity the sun wasn't out when we went down the canyon to view Natures Window as the photos don't show the real red of the rocks.......

Friday 21st May

 

 

Northampton one of the oldest settlements in Australia 1864 also has a church built by Monsignor Hawes. Our Lady in Ara Coleli Church was built in 1936 and sits next to the Sacred Heart Covent also designed by him in 1919. It really has some beautiful buildings even the information centre is the old police station and courthouse dating back to 1882. A convict Joseph Lucas Horrocks who first settle in the town Horrocks named Northampton. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/39710747/Joseph-Horrockspdf

I have actually taken a fancy to the name Horrocks said with a broad Scottish accent only though.

 

Port Gregory small coastal hideaway (cost of house on the beach $55,000) is also known for its Pink Lake also known as Hutt Lagoon from which beta-carotene is produced. Which actually was pink but unfortunately I was without a camera after mine broke just after leaving Geraldton.

 

I can see why Jane thought Kalbarri was beautiful, from the moment, we came over the hill and saw the red cliffs and ocean you knew it was going to be an adventure.

 

Kalbarri has so much to do even at this time of the year. In summer, it must be a hive of activity. There is water sports of every description water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking and even jet boating. The beaches stretch for miles and you have the added advantage of being on the Murchison River. This is a lovely wide river, which runs behind the dunes taking you on to the ocean beach.

 

Yet the most incredibly beautiful place has to be Kalbarri National Park. I had thought Petra in Jordan was stunning for its colour and yet this out surpasses there.

You have seen the photos in books and the Getaway programs showing the amazing rock formation and colours with a sky that looks an unreal blue. Yet when you see the size of the Gorges with so many different reds and gold’s it just astounds you.

Although today had been cloudy occasionally when the sun came out, it showed its true beauty.

 

There is a rock called Natures Window ** after seeing it on TV it was on my list of things to see.

Taking the track down into the Gorge and fighting of a million of flies, we arrived at the rock.

Whoever named the rock really could not have given it a better name. When you look through the hole in the rock, it frames the beautiful gorge perfectly. Although no raging river flowing, not even a trickle.

Nature is wonderful and we are the lucky ones for having it all on our doorstep.

 

After climbing back up the Gorge, we continued through the park and as you will see from the photos, it is huge and stretches for miles. It was a shame the sun was not out to do proper justice to the photos.

http://www.australiascoralcoast.com/en/Things_to_see_and_do/Nature_and_wildlife/Pages/National_parks_of_the_Coral_Coast.aspx

 

A visit to Rainbow Jungle Parrot Centre where in a tropical rainforest setting which is regarded, as Australia’s most beautiful parrot habitat. You can see why when you wander through the park.

It is a privately owned park and it has been operating since the eighties. They have over 40species of parrots and Cockatoos. Some of these birds are rare and endangered and are bred to save them from extinction. I am not one that likes to see birds caged but a walk through the parrot free flight area where the parrots come and go was wonderful. Well worth a visit if your passing through.

 

With plenty of cliff walks and gorges to explore there is plenty to pass your time. The coastlines rapidly changing vista makes it interesting with every corner you take your eyes take in just another amazing view...

 

Just a bit of history back in 1629 the notorious Batavia mutiny and massacre occurred

Here. More than 300 souls shipwrecked of which 200 reported to have been slaughtered, drowned or died of thirst or starvation. This apparently was arguably the where the first white men settled in Australia. (Wouter Loos and Jan Pelegrom de Bye) http://www.voc.iinet.net.au/batavia.html

 

** Just a piece of useless information the couple that were at the rock with us live in Mount Martha! Not only were they living in the next suburb to us, but also they had lived in Stanley St Blackrock opposite (the Sheridan’s) at the same time! You can be thousands of miles in the middle of nowhere and still run into someone who knows some of the same people you know. Talk about being six degrees removed!

 

 

SUNDAY MAY 23rd.

 

Passing through into Carnarvon, we had planned on stopping at a place called Bush Bay….well Bush Bay is nothing like the book said. “Idyllic beach camp” I think my description would be for all those wanting an idyllic spot to hide from the law or the Inland Revenue. Talk about a group of rabble with their rebel flags flying from their vans. The camp spot is supposed to be only three-day stays but I reckon this lot had lived there for months.  We moved on but I made a note for whenever we need to runaway !!!!

 

Carnarvon was a small coastal town and I get the feeling on arrival that their pass time in shooting as we drive past the rifle range, target practice range and clay pigeon range on the way into town.

 

The road into town has been made into a memorial drive for The HMAS Sydney II crew. With a plaque and a palm tree planted for everyone of the 645 crew lost at sea.

When you see how long the drive is with names down both sides you realise just how many families would have been affected by that loss.

 

We did not stay in Carnarvon as we were coming back through later, but stayed 60ks outside at a place called Rocky Pool. It is on the Gascoyne River (which is dry apart from the pool)

The last time this section of the river really had any large volume of water was back in 2000 after Cyclone Steve went through.

 

Rocky Pool itself has a lovely permanent deep pool, which is a wet land for the wild life. We have seen ducks, black swans, cranes and a pool full of carp (so no-good eating fish)

Kangaroos, Emus and wild cattle and goats roaming, around but no human’s we did not see a soul for three days.

Spent a lovely time reading, walking ,talking to the roo's and any other animal that past by, and watching the sunrise and set. To have that all to us was incredible then our peace was shattered as three lots of grey nomads moved in.

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We only found out on leaving after five days this is no longer a campground as the Gascoyne Water Board has taken over the pool and banned camping and fires. They need to update their info in Free Camps Australia. At least we were able to enjoy it without be evicted.

 

Back into Carnarvon, we did the tourist trip around the town that has a large fruit and vegetable plantation and bananas that taste like bananas. Naval oranges I have never seen so large they were the size of a melon!

 Interesting old part of town where the jetty is one mile long built in 1897. Carnarvon has a large fishing fleet and some beautiful seafood.

Around the town are many murals, done by various artists the ones in my photos done by Markham Boston.

http://markhamboston.com/

(Goat in photo found wandering in Caravan Park)

 

 

More to follow…..

 

Monday June 1st.

 

Hard to believe it is the first day of winter and we have just walked back from having our second swim for the day.

Here we are enjoying the beautiful Ningaloo Reef and all it has to offer in lovely 29 degrees days, just perfect.

 

 After leaving Carnarvon, we set off to explore Coral Bay as we had heard so many mixed reports about it.

 

In my opinion, it probably once was lovely until developers with no insight in building to suit the area have ruined a beautiful coastal village.

 

So over crowed was the camping area you would have been sharing all your meals and conversation with your neighbours. Packed in like sardines, not our style of camping!

 

The “Resorts” were ugly buildings just plonked anywhere. The shopping centre sold the usual over priced made in China souvenirs.

 

Therefore, if you are thinking of going to Coral Bay I say give it a miss. Although the beach, snorkelling and diving along the reef is quite spectacular.

 

 

 

 

 

We headed for Exmouth and then Cape Range National Park (Ningaloo Reef)

 

Because we had inside information (thanks Dad) that to get a camp spot in the Park, you have to be there early as they do not take bookings. It is a matter of first in best campsite.

 

The Park opens at 8am; we got there at 6:45 am only to find we were third in the queue!

 

Having already checked the park out the day before we knew which site we wanted and knew it was going to be vacant, so we just had to hope the two cars in front had not done the same.

We got the one we wanted and it is has a great view of the beach and ocean.

 

Yesterday we walked up into the Yardie Creek Gorge with its rusty red cliffs and deep blue water. The colours are truly wonderful.

 

We saw mangrove trees, which had literally hundreds of Bats screeching in them.

There are hundreds of Termite Hills all over the places. I thought they were anthills but have since found out they are not.

Walking along the trail, we passed many kangaroos, emus and lots of different bird life.

 

.The view from the top of the Gorge was fantastic and looked out over towards Ningaloo Reef and the waves crashing over it.

 

In the Park, there are many different beaches to explore yet none beat Turquoise Bay. With its white beach, as the name says its Turquoise water.  The water was warmer than where we are camped, which is only 40 ks down the road. Unsure how that works!

Brilliant blue starfish and different coloured fish and of course coral, are just some of what I saw. Also saw a small (about a metre) reef shark go by!

Sorry I did not have an underwater camera for you to share the experience.

 

In our campground, (the park has thirteen campgrounds all quite different) we have eight campsites with one for the camp hosts.

Each campground has a camp host who look after the camp bookings etc. Camp hosts are all volunteers but get free campsite, gas and water. Most stay from 2 weeks to 5 months and get to volunteer in any of the National Parks in Australia.

We might look into that job when we get home.

 

Most nights there is a happy hour down on the boardwalk overlooking the beach. Always a good spot for catching up with fellow travellers tales of good camping spots and bad ones

We have a great bunch of old surfers staying now. Three of them are Cray fishermen, have just finished 80 days work on their own boats, and tell us they had the best season ever. One is a retired schoolteacher and he gave us a beautiful golden Trevalla, which he had just caught.

They all go out to the reef (2 ks) in their tinnies and surf or fish out there all day.

Two nights ago, a fellow from another camp was stuck out there for the night. He was the last too leave but his motor would not start. Then he broke his oar on the reef trying to get his anchor up. He ended up sleeping in his board bag with a couple of sharks banging into his boat throughout the night. Worse part was he set off his flairs but no one saw them.

We know he was very happy to see the guys from our camp arrive out there early.

 

Actually today on the boardwalk was a small snake sunning himself mind you it was 31 degrees….did I tell you it was HOT here.

 

Ps. Saturday June 5th...

 

We had planned to stay here only five nights but ended up staying for eight and it was they best $85 dollars ever spent on accommodation.( $10 a night and $5 for entrance fee) We would love to stay longer but we might never get home!

 

More to follow..

Wednesday June 9th.

Sorry for extra long delay between updates. Lots to do and see with no coverage half the time.

 

Before arriving at Tom Price, we went through a town called Paraburdoo whose local football team was The Paraburdoo Saints hence the photos. Well any Saints team has to be good and worth a photo.

 

Local history re Tom Price where we have just stayed named after Thomas Moore Price, who worked for the American company, Kaiser Steel. He came out in the early 1960’s and convinced the mining companies that it was worth mining for Iron Ore. In September 1962, he returned to America at the age of 71. Sadly, he died from a heart attack whilst at his desk only two hours after advised of the very rich ore deposit discovered on the mountain here.

Tom Price today is a thriving mining town with the Rio Tinto Mine being one of the biggest in the world…hello Mr Rudd you are not popular here!  Now Julia what can you do?

 

Staying in The Karijini National Park for 4 days.

 

The park had a fire go through in January burning out quite a large part of the park.

Which takes away some of its true beauty, but only on the flat ground. There is already some regrowth happening.

 

These most spectacular deep pools and waterfalls in the different gorges are truly one of nature’s wonderments.

Hundreds of millions years old, it was like being in a secret garden with tranquil deep icy cold pools. The waterfalls run continually as they are spring fed.

 

There are so many different ones to explore. It would be a lovely cool place to spend those hot summer days. Only in the middle 20’s for most of our visit, which meant it was 5 degrees cooler down by the pools.

 

Fern pool and Fortescue Falls was a great hike down 500 metres of rock face with over 300 steps, twisting pathways and rocks to climb over, but oh so worth it. It was like being in another world so serene and lush green.

We were not as brave as the young backpackers who enjoyed the coolness of the pool. It also has some brown snakes that grow over 2 metres that live in there. Which is another reason not to go in?  I know we were informed that, they are harmless but!

 

Climbing back up we were sorry to leave. Yet very lucky to have seen such another unspoilt part of this country. Once again, knowing we will revisit again.

 

Next stop catching up with daughter Melissa at Munija / Auski Roadhouse where she will meet us. It is only an hour from the mine where she is working.

Auski Roadhouse is not on the itinerary for another visit. The massive generators that run the roadhouse and motel/caravan park run twenty-four hours and are so noisy. Two nights without sleep ugh!

  

Well after travelling 8000 ks, it had to happen. A flat tyre, but not with the trusty old Ford.

No, it was in Melissa’s Nissan Patrol!

 

Melissa was taking us out to the Wittenoom Gorge and the disused Asbestos Mine, in the middle of no mans land.

Of course you know what I am about to say. Wrong size jack in car and no locked nut tool (whatever that is but its important) in the car!

 

Yet again no Telstra Next G mobile phone service Mr Rudd * or should that be Miss Gillard now? Telstra (what happened to that service we would have coverage everywhere?)

Managed to get someone on two way radio who were over 50 ks away yet willing to come out and help (thanks for the offer and glad you didn’t have to come out)

Fortunately, two mine trucks came by and out jumped five men who were engineers, surveyors and a geologist. Who as you can see by the photos all started to help. Must admit there were many supervisors on the job!

In no time, they had removed the too small jack and replaced it with theirs. By then Pete had found the nut lock thing. With the proper jack inserted, the job was complete in no time at all.

So thanks to Gilbert and crew from McMahons Leighton Mines for your help.

Melissa learnt a lesson also today never trust your partner to have the right tools for the job in the car!

Wittenoom Mine closed in 1966 after all the problems they discovered about Asbestos. The town is just a shell of old buildings and unused streets these days.

You can still see a lot of the blue asbestos in the ground.

Pleased to say we all made it back to camp without any further flat tyres.

 

It was great seeing Melissa...at least with our daughter’s one in WA, one in Darwin, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne we always have a reason for travelling. Not that we need an excuse!

Tomorrow we head for Port Hedland.

 

Have I mention I now have a new perfume and one that I will not have on my Christmas wish list, as I am willing to through way as soon as we are home. It’s called RID!  Bloody flies.

 

Monday 21at June.

 

 

Port Hedland of course is BHP Iron Ore and not much else. The Port has six iron ore berths, three general cargo berths and the plan is to increase the iron ore berths with another five by 2011. Therefore, things are going well with BHP at this stage.

The town has a long history dating back to 1628 when the Dutch ship “Vyanen” went aground west of Port Hedland.

In 1887, Gold discovered on Mallina Station establishing the Pilbara Goldfields and the townships of Marble Bar and Nullagine. (Is this bringing back any memories for you David?)

In 1904, a successful gold prospector built the Esplanade Hotel that still operates today and probably has increased threefold.

The First Chinese Restaurant opened in 1930 is also still going strong.

One thing you don’t want to be in a hurry when one of the trains goes over the crossing.

Three engines up front followed by a hundred plus carriages then another engine followed by another hundred plus carriages, amazing length.

 

We only stayed in Port Hedland to collect mail (thanks to favourite neighbour Kim for redirecting) and to stock up on supplies as we were heading out for De Grey River.

 

Thanks mum and dad for telling us about this campsite. Hard to believe it is free I wonder how long before the council realise what a little money making revenue it is.

 

There is quite of bit of water in the river, which makes the spot very popular. We have a huge area, which we have spread ourselves out in hope we do not get any noisy neighbours who love to run their generators all day.

Ok so this time we got a fellow who not only had a noisy genie but he had a bloody chain saw, which came out every night for wood that you could break easily. After three nights I had too be diplomatic and let him know he was really annoying me! It worked.

It is set in a lovely bush setting on the banks of the river. I suppose all up there are about fifty other vans or mobile homes scattered around in the bush here at anyone time.

The weather is fantastic 30 degrees and the river is good for swimming. I also have found my hammock, which I had forgotten about. So now, my afternoons may include a read and a siesta while swinging in the breeze, such elegant photos!

 

Cape Kerauden was our next port of call. Once again, five star accommodation views for less then $10 a night. Great rock pools with some amazing little creatures lurking in the water.

 

Two nights in a freebie than onto Broome, been informed all the caravan parks are fully booked. I am sure we will find something.

 

Arrived in Broome had a look around and left.

Broome is lovely if you like crowds.

The place was ridiculously busy. Population has quadrupled and you can hardly move.

We have seen so many nicer places and quieter along the way. Well and truly over rated!

 

 

Moving on to Derby more to follow…….

  

June 30th

Broome

It really wasn't that bad just not my scene.

Time seems to be flying by now and still so much to see. We still have not left Western Australia yet!

 

Derby caught up with our friend Peter from Geraldton who was in town on business.

Fish and chips on Derby pier were lovely.

Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek are hard to describe. What I saw going through these towns was Mt Isa forty years ago when I lived there. How these communities have not moved on in all that time (and longer) is beyond me. Unemployment, alcohol problems, mental health issues are just a few of the problems. The locals have nothing to do except sit around in the parks. Half the children do not go to school and the government is talking about taking the pensions off the parents if they do not send their child to school.

One would hope the governments could have made a bit of headway with all the money that has been spent the poverty and desperation still exists.

Truly, a very sad situation when you think of the millions spent on relocating and giving refuges homes and jobs while the communities out here struggle.

Some of the women elders try so hard to stop the drinking, violence and teenage pregnancy but it seems futile.

 

We now seem to be in the land of the Boab Trees. Some of which are huge, of course there are the ones known for being used as a place to hold prisoners in many years ago. When you see how much room is inside you can understand why. Although it is not a place, I would like to have been as they were often full of snakes!

 

Lake Ellendale sounds rather flash for a campground but really it is a large dam in a paddock. Camping there was different as most of our neighbours were some rather spectacular Brahma cattle.

One in particular was one very old large bull about 16 hands up to his rump! One morning one of the younger bullocks was annoying him. He was snorting and kicking back dirt and looked like he was ready to charge. The younger one seemed to get the message and scampered off.

 

Driving into Wyndham was amazing with the rugged profile of the ever-changing colours of the Cockburn Ranges.

Wyndham has The Big Croc. From the top of the Bastion 350m above sea level, the view is spectacular. The bronze plaque explains how the five rivers enter the Cambridge Gulf. The rivers are the Forrest, Pentecost, Durrack, King and Ord. The tide was well out when we were there.

 

We did a joy flight over the Bungle Bungles from Turkey Creek, which is defiantly a highlight of the trip. The Bungles are in The Pernululu National Park World Heritage Area. The Aboriginal people have lived in this part of the country for over 40,000 years. The area is extremely spiritual to them and includes sites that feature rock art. Some areas are restricted or have no access either by land or by air.

Flying over the Bungles and seeing the beehive formations (which is what they look like) you get a much better visual picture of how vast they are.

Our next trip (yes there will be a next) we will do the ground tour.

 

Lake Argyle is breathtaking. We stayed at the Lake Argyle Village, which is right on the Argyle. Great caravan Park with an amazing infinity swimming pool, it felt like you were swimming in Lake Argyle (minus the crocs)

Lake Argyle is Australia’s largest body of freshwater with a surface area of 900 square kilometres when at full supply and over 2,000 km2 when in flood. The expanse of water is so huge that Lake Argyle has been classified as an inland sea.

It is unknown just how many freshwater crocs are in the dam but it is estimated at over 30,000!!

Durack Family Homestead is now a museum it was originally built in 1895 by the Durack family on Argyle downs Station (now mostly submerged by the lake) The Durack were a famous pioneering family in the area and were well known for their social gatherings. Mary Durack is quite a famous author today. The homestead was taken apart brick by brick and coded so it could be rebuilt where it stands today.

  • just a little note for Rob Scanlan  we found a tomb stone of a Patrick Scanlan dated 1st April 1904 in the grave yard on the property, any relation?*

Lake Argyle has some lovely bush walks with lots of native wildlife along the way and some great fishing.

There is a beautiful oasis picnic park down by the overspill part of the dam.

 

We are just camped outside Katherine by a Billabong down a dirt track when an aboriginal woman came out of the bush and asked if she could sit with us. Interested to here her story of course I said yes. Her name was Kathy and she was from the Minidipuk community just a short walk away (not sure how far but not visible)

Kathy told us she was born in Halls Creek but had lived here just on the outskirts of Katherine most of her life. She had three children and six grandchildren. Her father took tourists on bush tours and art rock tours. Yet she had never been to see the rock art because the spirits would follow her

Kathy was dressed in a filthy old skirt and singlet top her hair was matted and she was nearly toothless. I asked her age and was mortified to find out that she was only fifty! She wanted to know all about where we came from and where we were going and our family. Kathy was well versed in communication and knew all about current events. The sad part was in her hand was a can of UDL vodka and a VB. She also was smoking. She had left the community and came to her hidden grog supply spot, as drinking is forbidden inside the compound only to find us camped there. So going back to my earlier story what can we do!

KATHERINE

Katherine is an amazing area I will not say town as that still has a lot of improving needed.

 

While we were there, the main road closed to allow part three of a generator to travel through. It was massive the other two sections had gone through earlier in the week.

The generator was on a trailer, which had two trucks pulling and one pushing!

Power lines needed to be taken down or heightened to let it go past. It really was quite a spectacular sight. At the very end of the escort vehicles was a police car doing about one k and hour, I said to the policeman ‘go on smile” and he gave the V sign and a big smile (photo) As it was going from Darwin to Alice Springs it was a long haul.

 

The hot springs at Katherine were very popular and I must say quite relaxing. I did manage to soak away a few hours there. The hot springs comprise of a number of pools winding through the trees. Temperature is suppose to be a constant 32 but no where near that more like 25-28.

 

However, the highlight would have to be Nitmiluk Gorge or better known as Katherine Gorge. There are actually thirteen different gorges. All the gorges had water in them and really do look stunning. There were no waterfalls running due to dry season.  It is worth the hike in and up to the top for that breathtaking view.

 

Katherine School of the Air in operation for over forty years and covers an area of approximately 800,000 square kilometres. Of course, today with satellite links and computers life is a lot different from forty years ago.

 

Springvale Homestead once was probably a lovely old homestead now spoilt by being a café and a caravan park!

It is the oldest homestead in the top end established in 1879. It ran sheep and cattle, which had come via land from Adelaide.

The owner’s wife planted a South American Raintrees for each of her four children that as you can see from the photos they are massive.

 

Now we move one-step closer to Darwin and Jane.

 

Monday July 12th.

We moved on to a place called Harriet Creek, which was just outside Kakadu Park where we will go after Darwin.

On arrival we found a lovely spot beside the creek and wondered how long before 10 other campers arrived. The place was picture perfect water in creek and many great walking tracks to explore along the bank.

Only one other * whiz-bang (the nickname given to all Kombi type vans due to noise of their doors) arrived. He turned out to be of interest due to the fact he spent his day naked by the creek! In the evening, he had a fire going down by the creek and looked like he was in some sort of spiritual trance…or was that a funny weed trance?

Then this morning when he was leaving he found his car bogged and Peter had to tow him out! Luckily, we had bought a towrope before leaving Melbourne.

I know your all thinking wow lucky Dianne just how much excitement can Dianne have in two days…..

* Whiz-bangs all those vans covered in graffiti called Wicked that you see are around town. Most seem to be occupied by backpackers who must have an unwritten code amongst themselves to see just how many times in one stop over can you open and slam the door *

July 13th

Happy Birthday Kim, hope you have a great day maybe even an early arrival present another grandchild for us to love.

July 15th

Welcome to our latest grandson Serge congratulations Kim and Adam another lovely red head to play with big brother Ruben. All our love to you  all xoox

Friday July 16th

Litchfield National Park is an absolute stunning place. We spent the day there going from one amazing Gorge to another.

No matter how many Gorges you see each one has something different to amaze you.

I particularly liked Tolmer Falls with the water cascading down the rocks into the deepest green pool of water.

Wangi Falls has also a large rock pool and cave at the bottom with no swimming allowed due to the colony of rare bats that live down there.

Yet my favourite would have to be one of the monsoons forest hidden rock pool. Where Fran (from Geelong, Cats supporter to boot!) wallowed with me for half the afternoon. It was magic so cool compared to the 30 degrees just outside the Park.

Further in the park is the Bamboo Tin Mine, first mined in 1902. The wet seasons caused it to close in 1906. Although it was reopened for a short time in the forties. Today it is just the ruins but as you will see by one of the photos if you fossick around you can still find a bit of tin.

Batchelor is the lushest green town with its tropical trees and plants. I  loved it so much as it reminded me of Fiji (another favourite of mine)

The green in the park and the football oval made you want to take off your thongs and feel the thick grass with your feet reliving days gone by before water restrictions.

Batchelor first begun as a farming area in 1911 and was named after a South Australian politician Egerton Lee Batchelor.

In 1933, it became a large Aviation area and extended in 1941 to allow the B-17s to land there when the Commonwealth resumed the whole farm.

The airstrip played an important role as the base for General MacArthur’s bombing force from December 1941. Thousands of troops were stationed here during world war two.

Then uranium was discovered in 1949, which of course led to the town developing.

Today it has a large Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and General Store, Service Station and Caravan Park.

Also in town was a replica of a Castle in Bohemia built by a local Bernie Havlik on a lump of rock in the park. He died before it was completed but it’s still amazing.

Batchelor is one place you must see just for the lush green grass; it is maintained year round (no water restrictions here).

Woke up this morning to the most beautiful view (no I have not got rid of Pete) the tree outside my window had a variety of birds in it. There was parrot’s, cockatoos, honeyeaters and some yellow belly finches plus two small kingfisher birds. All enjoying whatever delight was in the red flowers (unsure of what the tree was).

Now I must be in Darwin with Jane if you are reading this whoopee..

Just added some photos story later...

 

DARWIN

How I love this place with its beautiful parks and beaches and interesting history and of course my daughter.

Another highlight at this moment is not having red dust in everything. Nice being civilized living in a house again.

We have had a great time exploring the town and surrounding areas over the last few days.

For a town that was bombed in 1942 (243 killed and hundreds more wounded) and rebuilt then hit by Cyclone Tracy in 1974 , rebuilt yet still  manages to retain quite a bit of its history.

 We started our tour at Parliament House, which is a beautiful building with a spectacular view over the sea.

It is built on the site of the original Post Office which also suffered damage from cyclones in 1897,1937,1942 when it was bombed . After that, it relocated and now found in the town centre. Part of the original wall stands outside the entrance of The NT Library, which is on the ground floor in Parliament House.

The Northern Territory granted self-government in 1978 continued to grow that in 1988 the government decided it was time for a new larger building.

A new Square built to incorporate Parliament House the Supreme Court and Library opened in 1994 by Hon Bill Hayden. ( I hope I remembered all those details correctly)

The square is a lovely tree covered oasis in the centre of town and seems to be a popular place for meting or for a quite bite of lunch.

Captured in a trap in Darwin Harbour  was a 4-5 metre croc that lets me know I will not be going swimming around these waters. There are some lovely beaches but most carry the warning beware of crocs or stingers.

Charles Darwin National Park has many of the hangers built during WW11. Which now house mini museums with very interesting memorabilia about the invasion in 1942.

The park also has a great view over the harbour and city skyline.

 Darwin was devastated and Australia seriously threatened by the Japanese bombings in WW11 and around town is many historic sites.

East Point Military Museum, Ammunition Bunkers are just some.

Fannie Bay Goal opened in 1833 and the Infirmary added in 1887.

In 1942, all the prisoners released after the bombings as the Military took control of the building.

Although they have some horrible looking Gallows with official records stating seven executions (popular belief it was nearer 70) the last two occurred in  1952 for the murder of a local taxi driver.

to be continued..

Friday 23rd July.

Happy Birthday Miss Jane

Saturday 24th July

I spent the morning at the Parap market and was pleased to say I only came away with a new sarong.

We checked out the fish markets and the wharfs and bought some beautiful king prawns, and yes Jane’s dog likes prawns! (To be honest he likes everything apart from spinach) Met up with some people we had met at Turquoise Bay.

Jane headed off to Singapore with her flatmate Lidija and some friends for the weekend so we are babysitting the DOG. Frankie is easy to look after as long as there is food. He nearly rips my arm out when I take him for a walk or is that a run! Did I tell you he snores even louder than Pete does!

Sunday we had a get ready for leaving day i.e. clean the camper bedding stock the pantry fill the water reservoir ect. Re pack, everything in some sort of order but why it is I always seem to have more than when we last stopped.

As it was 33 degrees today, we also spent the remainder of the day in the pool.

All I can say at that this stage of our journey I would like to stay here in Darwin as the weather is great, of course, that’s not to say the wet season would suit. Therefore, we will have to re visit and see.

We are heading for Kakadu then Katherine, Mataranka………

Wednesday 28th July

So very hard leaving Jane I am already missing her so much and of course Frankie whom I also fell in love with. The good part is I know she is very happy, in fact the happiest I have seen her for a long time. She also loves Darwin and her job. Just means we will have to come back again soon!

Kakadu is just as beautiful as every brochure or TV program you have read or watched.

From the minute you drive into the Park, you can just feel its something special.

(Could it be because they now charge $25 per person just to drive through used to be $5 for the car until April this year!)

I think with all the upkeep in maintaining the roads etc it’s reasonable.

Our first stop in the park was Jabiru, which is really quite a large town with shops and all amenities etc.

Then we drove onto Mardugal campground and set up camp for a couple of days.

Once again, we find that the cost has doubled from $5 per person to $10! (At least we get showers and loos for that)

From here, we will make it our base camp and head off to all the different walks, rock art and billabongs plus Yellow river wetlands.

The wetlands are carpeted with water lilies, are just amazing.

Although some of the billabongs have only a small amount of water in them there is still a fantastic array of wildlife.

Pleased to report we did not see any crocodiles on any of the walks I am sure they are around though.

The interesting part of Kakadu is that it has six different kinds of landscapes and habitats.

Savanna woodlands make up the most of the park, which are your eucalypts and tall grasses.

Monsoon forests, which are in isolated patches and home to fruit eating birds and flying foxes.

Southern hills and ridges, which are the result of millions of year’s erosion.

Stone country, which is the sandstone escarpment of the Arnhem Land Plateau.

Tidal flats and coast 500 kilometres of coastal and estuarine areas with mangrove forests.

Floodplains and Billabongs, which after the wet season change the park dramatically. My next visit will be in the wet.

Of course, all around the park are different areas, which show just how long the aborigines have been here. Mainly by the rock art that is found in so many places and dating back thousands of years.

Very beautiful place and one I suggest you all visit once in your lives. You do not have to rough it like us, many tours leave from your hotel in Darwin.

Mataranka oh how beautiful is this place? Not the town but the thermal springs…just heaven!

 

NOW THE REASON YOU HAVE NOT HAD AN UPDATE RECENTLY……..

(We have been driving across to Seaforth north of Mackay and not down the Centre. We were keeping it a secret from Mum and Dad, as we wanted to surprise them.

We are now there but boy it was hard pretending my phone was out of order or no service when they rang.)

On with the journal.

Tennant Creek, historic town noted for the original home of the Overland Telegraph. Australia's last gold rush was here. Waramunga Aboriginal Tribe lives here.

The Overland Telegraph Station was certainly worth a visit. In 1862, John Macdouall Stuart’s expedition party started building the station and completed in 1872. Built along the 3,600 km route from Adelaide to Darwin it was the first telegraphic link to Britain through the colonial telegraph system.

In 1925, a linesman discovered gold, which soon led to the township of Tennant Creek being establish.

Waramunga Aboriginal people were the first occupants of the region and when the telegraph station was built, it caused major upheaval in their lives. In 1890, the telegraph station became a ration store and the staff gave out flour, sugar, tea and blankets to the aboriginals that had taken up camp by the station.

Later in 1892, The Waramunga Aboriginal Reserve was created and remained until 1934 when a mining permit was issued!

The John Flynn Memorial is situated at Threeways just north of Tennant Creek.

Mary Ann Recreation Dam was a lovely spot for a spot of lunch.

Camp spot we are at is called Attack Creek Reserve named for the spot where Stuart’s expedition was attacked by the Waramunga Aboriginal Warriors on his first attempt to cross the continent.

The next stop was the Camooweal Drovers Camp, http://www.droverscamp.com.au/content/view/66/35/

Which is a museum run by volunteer old drovers, very well done with a little bit of work to do yet?  We met the lady who did a fantastic mural outside the museum & painting an even better mural inside, a lot of drovers sat for her, those portraits are just unreal, and she deserves to wear the artist’s beret.  Jeff Simpson, an old drover, showed us around & explained all the bits & pieces.  I didn’t take the opportunity to have a ride on the famous bucking bull, Murranji.

We are camped down by the Georgina River which has an abundance of wildlife. Eagles, corolla’s, mud larks, egrets, lots of cranes and some Brolga's all spent the day there. Very peaceful and beautiful sitting watching them go about they're business.

MT ISA

I can hardly believe I am back in the “Isa” after living here 40 years ago! When I was a “Ten Pound Pom” I returned to Australia (we had been out for 4 years when I was younger) and came to Mt Isa to join my brother David who was working at The Mount Isa Mine. Life for this young 18 year old would never be the same again. The life we lived back then it’s a wonder I am here today writing this!!

I loved Mt Isa back then when it only had a couple of main streets and three pubs, The Isa, The Barkley and The Boyd (which we were the wrong colour to go into the Boyd) and a population of about 5,000.

Today of course the pubs are still there but a couple has had a revamp. The biggest revamp was The Boyd now called Redearth, which has done a complete 360 and is very up market serving cocktails at 5 pm! Stop laughing David.

Of course today the population has increased to twenty two thousand. The Mt Isa Base Hospital where I worked as a cleaner (I later came to Melbourne and did my nursing) has trebled in size. They have opened up a museum (god how old does that make me feel) where I found some interesting history and instruments that I had forgotten about. They have opened up the Underground Hospital which was built after Darwin was bombed. 

My old house is no longer there, which lets face it nor should it have been as it was just a tin shed bungalow back then.

A lot of new buildings and the town has spread out a lot more but aside from that it’s still the same. The biggest difference of course was the bloody big hole at the mine!

Of course we hadn’t realized that we had arrived the day before Rodeo weekend. On this weekend the town doubles in size with an extra twenty three thousand expected. The Mt Isa Rodeo is the biggest thing that happens here.

We were lucky and got one night’s accommodation but sadly the rest of the week was booked out.

Lake Moondarra is a beautiful lake where we spent many a hot weekend and it still is very beautiful.

Drove down the old World War II runway just for old time’s sake but minus the parachute flying behind the truck this time! (The things we did)

So with a bit of nostalgia fix I am sad to say we have to move on.

I just wish my brother David could have been there to relive the memories (although he is in China holidaying which is probably fun also)

We might just have to do another trip together Dave?

http://www.mountisa.biz/index.php

Travelled onto Cloncurry, which is another place that has not changed a great deal over the years just a bit bigger. There claim to fame is it is the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Then into Julia Creek which is a lovely small town, where we are camped now as I type.

Once again, we have a great camp spot by Julia Creek along with about other twenty or so vans of all sizes.

We stayed three days here and must say it was a lovely town with beautiful friendly people.

Even where we were camped, one of the local farmers dropped of wood for our fires at all the free sites. Now that is good country hospitality.

We moved on very slowly from there through Charters Towers by passing Townsville (will see them next year on our next trip) and onto Seaforth where we are now staying for four days. 

Seaforth

It is easy to see why Mum and Dad keep coming back here. This is one beautiful place still untouched by large tourism resorts. (I hope it never will.)

The beach is wide and pristine white most days there is hardly a soul on them with Dad and me usually having it to ourselves each morning on our walk.

The town itself is about 54 ks North from Mackay and looks out onto the start of the Whitsunday Islands. This in itself is a stunning view. Seaforth has a General Store a service station and a motel plus the caravan park on the foreshore. There is a large sporting complex including the Bowls Club where we had a fantastic meal.

There is also a great boat ramp and excellent fishing. Not that we tried it this trip will save that for next year when we come this way with the boat.

Seaforth, they have this amazing bird that cries (screech really) at night, it really is an eerie sound the local talk is that it dates back to the dream time when a mother lost a child and cries through the night looking for the child ! During the day, Little Curlew (that is what the bird is) either sleeps amongst the foliage on the foreshore or wanders around the camps. Then at night keeps everyone awake at night!

Seaforth is a large sugar cane growing area and the smell out near the furnaces is a wonderful sweet smell. The landscape around here changes so much. There are mountains and forest areas plus the sugar cane fields and of course the fabulous beaches and waterways.

I think the photos will cover everything. 

We went out to a small town called Calen where OHS would have a field day at the local store. The woman running it was at least 90 years old and some of the stock. She did not use a till for adding up just to put the money in. Everything transaction worked out on scrap paper or in her head. She was incredible. The shop contained years and years of newspapers and magazines that had not sold. All stacked neatly on the front veranda. Inside there was Hardware, Manchester, Crockery, food and goodness knows what else. It was like going back in time with patterns for dresses and old labels long forgotten. Yet overall, it was very tidy and everything clearly labelled. (Photos a plenty)

After four beautiful days of being spoilt by Mum and Dad (all the meals and good laughs) using Skype (hi Karen and Fay) and teaching Dad a few short cuts on his computer, it was sadly time to head for home. I know that is what we are doing now heading home and it is a sad and happy feeling. Happy knowing we will see family and friends but sad because it will be bloody cold!

We travelled from Seaforth and stopped for lunch at Fairbain Dam, which is huge built in 1969-1972. Another place for good boating we have earmarked for our next trip.

Clermont was our next stop camping the night here.

It is amazing just how many small mines are scattered around the country. We must have passed hundreds in the Western Australia, Northern Territory and now in Queensland. I really understand when told the mining companies are keeping us afloat. It is just a shame they leave so much destruction behind.

We are camped in a National Park called Lonesome near some beautiful Gorges where we can do some hiking before heading for Mitchell. This of course named after my favourite explorer (Sir Thomas Mitchell) I am overawed by the amount of travel he did all those years ago.

We have the delightful task of voting early tomorrow…..very pleased we have not had much coverage over these last few weeks (no TV). The little we have heard on the radio or read in the occasional newspaper has been an embarrassment for the country.

Mitchell

Thirty-five kilometres before Mitchell we found Major Mitchell’s campsite where allegedly he camped in 1846 on his 4th expedition to map out the route from Sydney to Darwin,(Port Essington then)

 

So now, I have been to at least two of his campsites Bourke and here.

Computer needs recharging more tomorrow.

This town has the most relaxing Artesian Pool that I have been in since our trip to Lightening Ridge two years ago. The pool is part of the Great Artesian Bore, which travels down through most of Central Queensland.

It is a constant temperature between 28-38 degrees good for the old bones.

We camped by The Neil Turner Weir and stayed for three days and then the rain came and the temperature dropped and we thought about turning around and going back North.

 

After leaving there, we went via Deniliquin and Moama where we stopped over at my sister Sue’s new house, which is lovely, and I know they will be very happy there.

 

Then it was back to Mornington and the cold wet weather. It was good to be back despite the weather…so that can only mean one thing…

 

So where do we go next any suggestions?

 

Thanks for following our journey I have enjoyed writing the journal. My next challenge is to turn some of it into a book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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