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Monday, 23 July 2007

Want to change our page to Wewandawanda - have seen so many geratics driving cars with a tyre cover Adventure before etc. hang my head in shame….

We were going to drive out to Jim Jim Falls the next morning and then take the Yellow Water Cruise on the wetlands . The drive into Jim Jim Falls was impossible, the road was roughly corrugated and difficult. After 30ks and one hour, we decided to give up and turn back, just could not stand the road anymore. We then drove down to take the Yellow Water cruise. Wetlands are just so beautiful, water with thousands of waterlilies, with grass banks that float on the water. There were so many crocs on the banks and in the water it was amazing. I know now that they were at the Roper and in Shoal Bay, scary stuff. The birdlife was wonderful. There were lovely black and white ducks called Rajha ducks they have white bills they call them $10000 ducks in the NT as they are protected and if you kill one you are fined $5000 but they mate for life and the partner will die within days if its mate dies. so the government has fixed the fine at $10000 because the pair would die if you kill one. The little brown ducks are whistling ducks and are a major food for the aborigines. They were there in their thousands too many to photograph. and then more crocs We got up quite close to a pair of herons beautiful birds.
We saw a kite fly down and pick up a snake from the water, and got up close to the 5 brumbies that are allowed to live in the Kakadu park by the traditional owners, they say the horse has an affinity with their relatives because of the work the aborigines did building up the outback and because they are great horsemen

We left Kakadu the next day and drove down onto Pine Creek and then Katherine. We had planned to go onto Kunnamurra the next day but decided that to drive 1200k to see one town was a little crazy and if we skipped it we could take a little more time with the trip home. We were very lucky to get accommodation in Katherine as the show was on. We thought we would go, but took a look at all the locals there and decided that watching a DVD would be better. Really on our way home tomorrow - God all those kilometres ahead of us. Peter had done some research for us on where Mikes Father Carl was during the war, and we have decided to take some time and visit where he was stationed.

Next day we dropped into Mataranka and visited Elsey Homestead, (We of the Never Never was written about this area and a replica of the homestead that they used to make the movie is now near the Mineral Springs

tracked down where Mikes father served and took our selves off the Daly Waters and Gorrie airfield where 9 Stores was stationed. The photo of the van on the red track is actually one of the original airstrips, when you stood on it you could see the length, but it had overgrown on the edges, and Mike had to back the van into the scrub to turn around to get out, and had to knock down a couple of saplings with the van - lucky it is off road. there are ant nests everywhere you go but this one was at Gorrie airstrip, great shape - it would be about 10 years old..
More daly waters photos, the dead tree was marked with an S by Stuart in 1860's when he tried to cross australia from south to north for the overland telegraph routes He had 3 attempts, making it to Palmerston on the third attempt. Photos are of the hanger at Daly Waters, Mikes father Carl was sent her in March 42 a month after the bombing of Darwin, Conditions were terrible by all accounts, They were then moved down the road to Larrimar, where the rail head was and he was at Gorrie airport.
We had a great night at the Daly Waters pub, have organised a job for you Jane if the other stuff fails,,,,

We did the tour of the gold mine at Battery Hill in Tennant Creek and Dad tried out a bit of the equipment which is 89 - 90 years old and still worked - you needed those ear muffs.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Location: Kakadu, Australia

Sunday morning we set off to Kakadu - the first few days we are just going to do the Arnhem highway into Kakadu and look at the sights there. Booked into Corroobee Park - complete with pub, crocodiles wild pigs and buffalo. Pretty park and it is just so good to have water on tap, power, and hot showers whenever you feel like it. I don't know if Mike and I will ever be able to get our feet clean again. I now take a kitchen scrubbing brush into the shower with me.

Next morning we looked at the sights, Leaning tree lagoon is just beautiful with the white water lillies, and it is hugh. We then went to the window to the wetland, which gives you history and facts about the wetlands. We then went onto the Fogg Dam Conservation area. This place is amazing, I have never seen bird life like it, flock after flock of birds of all different species were flying in and landing, and then taking off. Jabiru (black necked stork) were there and they are about my favourite bird. I took heaps of photos of them. Also a photo a the red water lily. A great day, and back home for cheripin and crab risotto.

Tuesday, we have to drive into Palmerston to pick up and sign transfer documents, send emails etc, buy new straps to tie down the boat as the ones we have are very noisy and on the way home - the jumping crocodile tour. We went of this with a great deal of sceptism, but it won us. I know all the environmental reasons why they should not do this, but when you see a 5m croc lift itself past its hind legs so easily out of the water you forget all that. There are just so many crocs on the river a female every 75 - 100 metres and they are never fed anymore than once a day and the piece of pork is very small. Photos do not do this justice...

Wednesday we moved into Jabiru actually into Kakadu - we seem to have been going here for ever. In the afternoon we drove out to Ubirr to see the huge rock and all the rock paintings We climbed the rock - mike in thongs, and the views over the wetlands were spectacular. Aboriginal rock art - it is just amazing how old it is.

Today Mike took me on a rough 4WD track to see the Red Lilly billabong (could not find any red ones) and then onto Alligator billabong and then a 40k track out. The track from Alligator billabong was just car tracks through long grass and bush and we had to ford creeks again. fantastic fun.

We then drove onto Nourlangie rock for more rock art and big rocks. The artwork here is just so much clearer and in better condition than at Ubirr, and there were rangers giving talks about the history in some spots. Fantastic..

I then drove over the crossing at cahills crossing over the south alligator river and into Arnhemland - had to turn around straight away as you need a permit to go on. Every where you go there are huge signs warning about crocodiles, anyone who puts a foot in water here is mad - took a photo of the sign to show everyone.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Location: Shoal Bay, Australia

My birthday, and we went fishing and crabbing again. Another beautiful day in the bay, fish escaped, but we managed to catch 5 muddies. This place is amazing. Went to dinner at Cazalys, the local club in Palmerston. Should have stayed home and had crab.

Thursday 12th We had to go into Darwin and the tides were very late, so we had a lazy day in the park, and went into Darwin and then onto the markets. The food at the markets was great, but we are spoiled by Eumundi..

Friday 13th - fishing and crabbing again, tried fishing off the rock, but just fed the fish again. Mike caught a beautiful black bream which he let go, and guess what 4 mud crabs.. The fridge is full of crab how wonderful Saturday - tides were very late again, so we just had another lazy day, and packed and cleaned the boat, trailer etc . It was Renee's birthday and Dixie had a party for her complete with fireworks, so we had a few drinks with everyone as we are off in the morning.

Sunday, 08 July 2007

Location: Shoal Bay, Australia

We moved the van down to Shoal Bay. The setting is just beautiful, 60 acres with a boat ramp which you can only use 3 hours each side of full tide. There are facilities (if you can call them that) very basic but they light up a guerney at 4.30 in the afternoon so there will be hot showers. We spend the day getting the boat on the trailer and putting up our great sandfly shelter under the annexe. No power, but we have the generator and there are no water taps, but we can bucket water from the tank at the back of the shed. There are about 15 vans and plenty of room. The first afternoon we were too late to catch the tide but were told that if we towed the boat to East Arm at Palmerston we could try crabbing in the Elizabeth River. The river is huge and very deep. We put the pots out, enjoyed motoring about,nearly got stuck in a creek as the tide ran out but the crabs won and we came home empty handed. - No matter we still have barramundi in the freezer

Next morning we are ready to try our hand at crabbing. When we take the boat down to the boat ramp there is just a small strip of water with mud banks around. The tide comes in very quickly and in 5-10 minutes you can motor out into the creek and then into the bay. It is just huge this bay, with so many creeks and rivers coming out into it.

Mangroves everywhere.. There has to be crabs. It was very windy, and we put the pots in out of the wind, and we decided to fish. We quickly had a bite but were broken off, Mike then tried with heavier line and quickly the line was taken. After a great fight, We realised we had caught a beautiful shovelnose shark, lovely beige shades. We released him. Great day and we caught a nice fat mudcrab. Dinner

Next day - we put out the pots in a new place recommended by Dixie the guy who owns the camp ground. He is an ex professional crabber. Had a great day, fed the catfish and toad fish, saw crocodile drag marks across the mudflats and caught 3 lovely crabs... Dixie showed us a new way to cook the crabs, they steam them with lemon grass in the pot. They cook as quickly and taste just the same. Much easier.

Monday, 02 July 2007

Location: Litchfield National Park, Australia

We left Douglas Daly and drove onto to Batchelor - for our visit to Litchfield National Park. The park was lovely but we were very pleased we had our ensuite as they had only 4 showers and toilets each for men and women for the whole park of 190 sites and also the 80 school kids who came in and stayed in tents. The park is about 30k, from Litchfield so we drove in to the national park for both days. There was masses to see but on the first day we had camera trouble and we only took one photo - the one of the tin mine at Bamboo creek. The mine was still there, and the life they led must have been so hard and lonely. The saddest thing is that the 3 men who started the mine died of lung disease from the silica in the stone they mine to get the tin. It is a pity there are no photos as the falls we saw that day were the best and we spent a lot of time offroad - crossing creeks and driving narrow sandy tracks to get to the places.

Next day, we went to the more popular sites - Florence falls, Buley waterholes etc The park is really worth the effort.

Monday 2nd July, we drive into Darwin stopping of at the hot springs Berry Springs. We both enjoyed a dip - there are 2 waterholes which join up and you can float down between them. Water was not hot, just tepid - nice on a hot day.

We are staying at Hidden Springs, and spent the first day just driving around, looking at the sites, and getting ourselves set up. Next day, we started sightseeing, and started at the Aviation Museum. The war history here is amazing, and I found out so much about the war here, I knew Darwin was bombed, but not that it was hit 64 times, and that the Japs bombed Darwin 4 days after Pearl Harbour, and they dropped twice as many bombs on Darwin as Pearl Harbour. They built about 30-40 airstrips all over the Northern Territory, and into WA, and there were 250000 personnel here. We then went to the Oil storage tunnels built after the bombing. There are 5 tunnels, built in 14months by miners from Aus and Ireland, and just one of them was 5m high,, 171metres long, and held 3,847million litres. Do I get a job as a tour guide??

We then visited more sights, not war related. The city is quite unusual, the harbour is huge, the water an unusual colour light blue, not aqua. Lovely parks follow the waterfront. The city is small as you can imagine, and the rest of the town is sprawling, and confusing. We spent the late afternoon driving down to Shoal Bay to check out the crabbing spots and organised to go there on Saturday. Hopefully, the sandflys won’t be too hungry.

4th July, Mikes birthday, Mike stayed in bed and enjoyed getting phone calls. We then went and did some more sightseeing. We are getting to know this town much better. How would we manage without the sat nav system. It has paid for itself getting us around this town.

Dinner at Buzz Café, at Cullen Wharf, and Marina. We booked the restaurant the day before and were promised the best table for the birthday boy. They kept their word. The restaurant has a 30’s Singapore feel, and has tables over a couple of levels over the water. Our table was in the best spot and we faced the Marina, instead of the other diners. Great night,

5th July, More sightseeing, but we were lazy and ended up at the find of the holiday, the Darwin Sailing Club. Talk about the position, just beautiful, We had a couple of drinks and stayed for dinner. The sunset is amazing, the photos do not do the colours of the sky justice.

6th July, We had a catch up day, boring stuff - defrosting fridge, washing etc. Then shopping for a new water filter and a screen house for Shoal Bay - we have bought one with sandfly mesh and hopefully we will be able to survive the place so we can crab. Ended up back at the Sailing club for a few drinks and then home for the end of the football.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Location: Roper River and Beyond, Australia

Thursday we packed up - can’t believe that we have been here 2 weeks. Friday we braved the corrugations again and headed off to Mataranka. There are some beautiful trees in flower everywhere we go. One in particular is a small gum tree with the most vivid orange blossom. Others are purple, and others yellow.

We plan to have a meal in the restaurant, not barramundi and wash everything we can (by machine not by hand as I have had to do for the past fortnight)

Saturday, we drove onto Katherine. Had an amazing meeting in the office of the caravan park. We were waiting to be served, and there was a group from Tasmania ahead of who were having trouble with their booking. I heard “Martyn - with a Y” and I could not believe it. I said “you are kidding, and introduced myself.”(those who don’t know Martyn is my maiden name)

They were camped across the road from us and we had a lot of fun each night with my long lost cousin - we decided it was easier to be long lost cousins, rather than trying to work out if we were related. Diane will have to solve this one for us.

Katherine is a nice town. Monday we were going to the gorge but it is cold , wet and windy so we decided to see the other sights today, and do the gorge tomorrow.

We went to the Cutta Cutta caves, hot springs, railway museum etc in the rain. Hope tomorrow is better as we have booked a helicopter flight as well as the gorge boat triip

Tuesday is a much better day. Helicopter flight first about 30 minutes, flying over the 13 gorges and landing on a rocky outcrop overlooking a waterhole. The pilot was very young, but very professional and the flight was fantastic. The topography of the gorges is fantastic, and you really only appreciate the size of it all from the air. Great fun.

Next we took the 4hour boat cruise through 3 gorges, with a lunch break at the waterhole under the waterfall. seeing the gorge is wonderful,the cliffs are just huge and it is amazing how it was dug out over millions of years. Saw a couple of fresh water crocs, aboriginal rock painting and the cliff that Jedda was supposed to be thrown off in the movie.

Wednesday, we drive on to Douglas Daly Tourist Park for a couple of days. We plan to visit the hot springs (these are really hot, some spots 60degrees. There are thermal springs, an arch that the rapids run through into a waterhole at the park.

Park is lovely - very isolated, no phone, no TV, but nice to have a bit of a rest after the running around of the past week. Douglas hot springs are lovely, just looks like a lovely creek running through sand, but it is really hot, like a hot bath. Some parts, especially the edges and shallow water where the springs bubble up are so hot you can burn yourself. We wallowed in the warm water for quite a while.

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