Kakadu and Darwin

KAKADU!
Yesterday we had a massive day exploring, visiting Anbangbang Billabong, Nourlangie Rock, Jim Jim Falls and the Twin Falls.

Nourlangie Rock was a 1.5km walk past an ancient Aboriginal Shelter and some of the most recent art sites in the Kakadu National Park. Most being done in the last 1000 years. The kids were so intrigued about how they made their ‘ochre’ and the stories behind the artwork.

The Twin Falls were spectacular! The 1km rock walk with our little adventurers in the beaming 35 degree sun was well worth it. It’s just a shame you can’t swim there, with the chance of Saltwater crocs (but they are working on opening it again to swimming at the moment). They do have traps in place, they caught a 2 metre one, this time last year.😀

We decided to squeeze in the Jim Jim Falls as well, with a 1.8km return walk and most of it climbing over boulders. The kids loved it! These Falls were only trickling as there wasn’t much of a wet season this year. But still a stunning view, especially the walk as the sun was starting to go down! You can swim at this one as apparently the only way Saltwater crocs can get in is over the falls and it’s very unlikely they will survive the 150m drop.

We made it back to camp just in time for the start of Origin on the big screen, set up next to the pool! The kids swam as we sat back and watched the blues win!
Awesome day! 😊

What a jam packed 5 days we have just had in Darwin. A bit sad to leave, we could definitely live here… During Winter haha.
We did the Mindil Beach Sunset markets on both Thursday and Sunday, went out in the boat fishing for an afternoon (Thanks Uncle Gary for lending us your boat), catch ups with family, watched the V8’s at Hidden Valley and rocked out at the ‘after concert’ to Jimmy Barnes, watched ‘Minions’ at the movies, checked out some crocs at Crocosaurus Cove, did some shopping at the Northern Territory’s biggest shopping centre (HELLOOO civilisation 😜), ate way too much good food, lots of swimming, got 4am wake ups nearly every morning from the RAAF  Jets doing training and then finished it off with the Leanyer water park, which was awesome and free!!
Looking forward to sitting back and relaxing for the next 3 days at LitchfieldNational Park 😀 Ha, who are we kidding?! 😝

Daly Waters to Pine Creek

Onward from Daly Waters, another beautiful day in paradise after this mornings fright of Levi being attacked by the biggest grasshopper in history. We set off around  mid morning and the Pub serves breakfast and good coffee. We heading north towards Mataranka. This place is amazing, if you’ve driven through town and and missed the sign for the springs you’ll be kicking yourself. Mataranka has the most amazing hot springs springs I’ve seen. Firstly you could go to the Mataranka Homestead where they have a pub and camping, and have plenty of parking. The springs are only a short distance walk down a track, if you’re lucky enough to be there when it is quiet, it is lovely and peaceful, but every time we have been there, its crowded. Next you could go through through town and on the right is a sign with Bitter Springs on it. Again can be crowded, but probably the most beautiful of the two. It has a large step down ‘pool’ area, then due to the springs coming rising at one end there is a weak flow down stream,  take your noodle or tube, and float down the stream around 200m and walk back up. The water is amazingly clear, so take your googles to have a look around around. We had lunch here, and expect to stay for at least an hour.

We drove through to Katherine, it is a large town that has most amenities. Plenty of specialist shops like butchers and bakers. This is the next big town from Darwin, So stocking up here is a must if you’re heading to Jabiru.  Just out form Katherine is the famous Katherine Gorge, w spent a night out here, but due to the cost of going on cruises as a family of 5 it was going to cost a lot. We hadn’t budgeted it into our trip and passed on the cruise, but the camp ground was lovely, and the night we were there the local rangers came and did a talk about the area. We plan on coming back here on our big lap so will have it factored in then.

An hour drive north of Katherine is the Edith falls. This is another sensational area that has beautiful camp sites (first in best dressed) and picnic area. Definitely worth the drive in.

We pushed on and came across the Cutta Cutta caves, they run tours nearly every hour from 0900-1500 and use cash only. It’s amazing to imagine that this cave system was only found because a farmer kept losing his cattle, When he went looking around the vast area he found this small opening, with brush and bushes around it. It was then cleared out to expose the opening and now have the cave system. It was then later protected to save it from being destroyed, and access is only available via NT Parks and Wildlife.

We stayed a night at Pine Creek which is a old gold mining town, there is plenty of rich history there so dropping in and having a look around is worth it. Although the drive from Daly Waters to Jabiru is very easily done in one day, It is worth spending the day exploring in all the great spots I’ve mentioned above in between.

Litchfield National Park

LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
This place has so much to do for everyone, we struggled to choose what we wanted to check out this time.. Everything looked and sounded amazing!
We decided to start at Bamboo creek, where there was an abandoned Tin Mine which was still active until the 1950’s. The ground just sparkled in the sunlight with tin speckled through most of the rocks.
We then went with the Cascades.. ‘A 4km energetic walk, only for the adventurous’! 😀 A walk that is definitely worth it.. We had our own little Oasis at the Curtain Falls. Our little adventurers got so many compliments with how well they did, making it all the way to the top. It’s classed as a moderate-difficult walk so they did awesome.
We squeezed in a swim at the beautiful Wangi Falls, which is a pretty crowded tourist spot as it isn’t a very big walk from the carpark to the Falls and most tour groups stop in there.
Yesterday we took the ‘4wd only’ track to the Suprise Creek Falls to escape the tour groups. It’s a 27km rocky/sandy track with a few little creek crossings and one longer river crossing. This was probably our favourite spot in Litchfield.. Waterfalls flowing into 2 big Rockpools that were so deep, noone could touch the bottom (even the guys jumping from the higher rocks). There was an eerie feeling at one stage, with not knowing exactly what was living down below us (especially when your husband jokes about seeing something beneath you) but that feeling went pretty quickly! (Don’t worry, I returned the ‘joke’ with a swim under water and grab to his foot 😂) The kids had a ball jumping off the rocks into the pools.. Big kids too 😉
The termite mounds along this track were unbelievably big.. Some getting to at least 5 metres high! There was also the ‘magnetic termite mounds’ along the way that we found really interesting. They are all built about 2 meters high but fairy thin and all aligned north-south to minimise the exposure to the sun. It looked like a graveyard with the mounds resembling headstones.
We also stopped into the Blyth Homestead along this track, which was built in 1928 and the home to the Sargent family with their 14 kids. An interesting stop showing the tough conditions faced by the pioneers in remote areas.
We finished the day off with 139 stairs to the Florence Falls.. A pretty spectacular double waterfall. This one is another popular spot but perfect if you go late in the afternoon like us and miss the crowds!
Today we are heading for Katherine Gorge with a lunch stop at Edith Falls. We are loving all this swimming, before heading back south to the freezing cold ☺

Adels Grove to Daly Waters Pub

We set off to Hell’s Gate. Our lunch stop was at Gregory Downs, down by the river. Another awesome spot for anyone travelling through and a free camp too! Nothing like a good swim at lunch to tire out the kids and then they sleep the rest of the trip.
Hell’s Gate was a good stopover. We met a group of Rangers who were staying there for a week to do a Fauna survey. They came over to our camp with a legless lizard to show the kids and taught them about different wildlife you might find while walking around at night. The kids then grabbed their torches to see what they could find. They learnt that if you hold a torch light at eye level, you can see green diamontes shine, these are wolf spiders out to catch insects of a night. It was crazy how many we could see!
We had our first night of rain, apparently about 28mm fell. The kids were asleep within minutes listening to the sound of it ( a rare sound for us) The next day we crossed the border into the Northern Territory.. Woohoo! On our way to King Ash Bay. Getting ready to do some fishing.

We arrived at King Ash Bay and spent a relaxing 2 days here.. No luck catching any big Barra though! Spotted a couple of Saltwater crocs, Milli was convinced she found some of their tails
We have really enjoyed getting to know some of the locals here, such welcoming and generous people. Ended our stay with free Pancake Sunday and the craft markets!
On the road to Daly Waters we stopped for lunch at one of the Northern Territory’s Iconic hotels, ‘the Heartbreak Hotel.’ This hotel is one of Australia’s last remaining frontiers.

We set up camp at the Daly Waters Caravan park for the night, just in time for the Happy hour horn.
Daly Waters Pub would have to be our new favourite outback Aussie pub. So much character. A must see if you are travelling past! We had to have the Beef and Barra for dinner, after a few recommendations from other travellers and it definitely didn’t disappoint! The atmosphere is great too with an entertainer on every night.

It’s such a small world.. After setting up camp next to another little family and chatting over a beer at the pub, we found out they were from Cairns and use to work with our Brother in-law and also live a street away from our family in Kewarra Beach.. Crazy!
We also spun out when we came across guys who we camped next to at Bathurst last year. As you could imagine, we had a top night with some awesome people!

This morning we woke (as well as everyone else at our campsite) to an unusual Alarm, one that got the heart racing! Our little man’s blood curdling scream! He has been sleeping in the swag by himself and got up for a morning pee behind a tree with his eyes half closed, when a grasshopper landed on his arm! Yep.. you know those Northern Territory, meat eating grasshoppers?! One of those. We of course thought the worst, a snake had bit him! I’ve never seen Mitch leap out of the tent and turn into Steve Irwin so fast, The poor couple next door in their caravan came racing out as well but Levi flew into our tent just as quick! We are all now cracking up at how funny it must of looked.. What a way to start the day haha!
A short drive to Pine Creek today

Lightning Ridge to Longreach

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Today we set off for 5 weeks on the road… Yep, that’s right! 5 whole weeks!! Woohoo! Heading up into Queensland, over to the Northern Territory, up to Darwin and back down, with a detour into Birdsville for the Big Red Bash!! We are so looking forward to this adventure, one we have all been excited to go on for months.

We crossed the border into Queensland just 70km from Lightning Ridge, at Hebel. Had a nice lunch stop and play at the park by the Balonne River at St George and then onto Mitchell, where we pulled up to stay for our first night. We enjoyed a great meal at the Courthouse Hotel to celebrate Mel’s Birthday! Then headed back to the Major Mitchell caravan park, where we had set up camp.
The next morning we awoke to a freezing 1 degree. It was definitely hard to leave our nice warm beds, but the excitement of moving on to our next destination got us up and going pretty quick.

We had a fairly big day on the road today… 613km to Longreach. A few of the towns we drove through were Mungallala, Morven (we picked up the most delicious and freshest bread at the grocer here), Augathella, Tambo, Blackall and Barcaldine.
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we were heading out of Mungallala, we came around a corner to find a motorhome pulled over but still taking up half of our lane. With their hazard lights flashing, we pulled up next to them to see if they were ok, only to find the male driver standing there for a pee break!! All we could do was laugh… Hahaha Touro’s huh?!

We arrived in Longreach just before dusk. Spotting the Qantas boeing 747 (i don’t think you could miss it) as we drove in. We thought we would check out the ‘free camping’ not far out of town, only to find out it was Caravan, camper trailers and Motorhomes ONLY! What the?! It was packed full of just those… caravan city! So we headed back into town to the Longreach Tourist Park. Which turned out great anyway, with lots of our own space for the kids to run around in (much needed after spending the day in the car) and excellent amenities.

Leaving Lightning Ridge

 

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Crossing the border at Hebel

 

Mitchell is at Mitchell

Mitchell is at Mitchell

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First morning at Mitchell 1 Degree Celcius

First morning at Mitchell 1 Degree Celcius

 

Augathalla

Augathella

 

Thats a huge plane - Qantas

Thats a huge plane – Qantas

 

Sun setting over Longreach

Sun rising over Longreach

Countdown is on!

How good is it when you finally get to start a real count down to something! Less than two weeks to go and we are heading on a 5 week camping trip from NSW, up into QLD, across to NT and back via the Big Red Bash at Birdsville.

We just did a quick weekend away to Inverell for a tester to see what we have and don’t have, or better yet what we don’t need. The Patrol was pretty loaded on the roof with the 30sec Tent, swag, 20lt jerry, 25lt water, chairs and the top box. In the rear we have the 50lt Waeco, two hard tubs – one for staple foods and the other for cooking stuff, A camp oven and the ‘The Wedge’ bbq is there along with the 12 volt oven. All the clothes and sleeping bags for a family of 5 had not been put in yet but should fit ok. 

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