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Retirement Travels

Out to Nhulunbuy and back

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 26 June 2016 | Views [463] | Comments [2]

Jenny and I at Daliwuy Beach

Jenny and I at Daliwuy Beach

On June 19th after a day of resting and restocking in Katherine we headed off on the 720km trek out to Nhulkunbuy on the Central Arnhem Land Road which has a reputation of being brutal at times but to our surprise the first section of dirt out to the Mainoru Store was OK. It was rough in places and very very dusty but we made good time settling into the Mainoru camp area by mid afternoon. The camp ground there is typical of the camp areas in remote places, rustic and basic but at the same time it was adequate. The only issue was the generator which ran all night.

We set off on the remaining 470km to Nhulunbuy at about 8:00AM with the advice that the road was really bad - it was in fact better than the first section with parts where we could travel at about 80km/h. We still had to negotiate large bulldust holes and large potholes hidden in the shadows as well as the odd road train, we finished up being spread out quite a bit to avoid the dust which seemed to linger for a long time. Another hazzard was the Water Buffalo who have no road sense at all. The vegetation was a surprise, we expected to see a dry Savannah type environment similar to Cape York but it was lush, thick and green with parts being almost sub tropical. The varying surrounds helped to pass the time on what was a long drive, we arrived in Nhulunbuy just before 4:00PM and settled into the camp area. That night we decided to eat in the resaort given the long tiring day we had.

The following morning whilst waiting for the coffee to brew a Cockatoo flew in under the awning of our camper and pinched a muesli bar while Jenny and I were standing less than a metre away - it flew into a nearby tree and had a real feast!

Later that morning we headed about 50km out into the bust to a place called Manangayami (Scout Camp) on the Giddy River, it is a beautiful spot and would make an excellent remote camp site for a few nights with the only catch being that you need a 'Special Permit' that will set you back $30 per vehicle per day! After lunch we headed over to the coast to a series of beaches SE of Nhulunbuy. One of these is Garanhan Beach where there is evidence of the trade that took place between the local Yulnu people and the Maccasans from Suluwesi in Indonesia for hundreds of years. This trade continued up to 1906 when the SA Government put a tarrif on traded goods form overseas. Interestingly amongst the goods the Maccasans brought to this area and traded was Tobacco and Alcohol - for many years before white settlement!

The next morning we headed off to Yukuwarra to start the long beach and dune drive up to Cape Arnhem, first we had a steep loose descent down to this area from the escarpment then into the dunes behind the beaches and finally onto the beach. This drive was a good test of driver and vehicle as it was very tight and rough with little clearance either side of the car as well as the loose sand on the beaches above the high tide mark. The drive up to the cape was spectacular with some of the most beautiful coastal scenery we have ever seen - it made the drive most pleasant. After many photos and lunching near the tip of the cape we headed back along the beaches and through the dunes to make the climb back up to the top of the escarpment.

Once back on the main road we headed for the Art Gallery at Yirrkala, here we saw some excellent but very expensive art work - some of which was being readied for shipment overseas. Schuey could not resist the temptation to purchase a bark painting which lightened his wallet some what.

That night we went to the pub to watch NSW lose yet another State of origon Series - I think we were the only NSW supporters there!

 The next morning we emerged from our beds after a sleepless night where the temperature only dropped to 24 degrees and with the rain it made the humidity unbearable. We set off by 8:00AM for the first leg back to Katherine but with the rain of the previous night the road was damp and there was no dust so the drive was more pleasurable. We did experience some rain on the way but not enought to make the road slippery. Not long after morning tea Schuey announced over the radio that his alternator had packed it in - we stopped and made some cursory checks but not having found anything obvious set off with the plan for a more detailed check at lunchtime.

At the lunch break we found nothing obvious so we devised a plan to get Schuey back to Katherine by swapping batteries from car to car to keep him going. However when we arrived at the Mainoru Store to camp thet night a fellow traveller came up with a solution - hit the a;ternator with a hammer! (I confess to being very sceptical). It worked! It appears that it must have had a brush stuck in a position off the slip ring preventing the alternator from charging the batteries.

The following day we had a pretty easy run back into Katherine in time for us to vote at an interstate pre-poll polling booth and time for us to put a very dusty and muddy camper through the car wash.

After aother lay day the group has headed off to Gunlom Falls while Jenny and I are staying in Katherine an extra nigh to catch up with yet another cousin I have not seen for many years. Tomorrow we will head to Gunlom to rejoin the group and continue the journey.

More to come ......



Thanks for the update John...only 3 weeks before I get going. Drive carefully, watch the others and keep on enjoying the trip. I been keeping an eye on Allan's Spotwalla to see where you are and remember John to hide the muesli bars from the low flying birds!!!

  Rick Jun 27, 2016 2:31 PM


Checked the Photo Gallery and the trip looks Great. Must have had an interesting time. I'm arriving Melbourne 13th July. Will see later if our paths Cross

  Evan Jun 30, 2016 10:56 AM

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