Saturday, 30 July 2011

Cairns - Atherton Tableland

Did quite a few klms travelling around the sights of the Atherton Tableland, the caravan park told us there was a great market on at Yungabuura on Saturday morning but ommitted to tell us that it was only the fourth Saturday of the month, this was the fifth Saturday !  We have decided that  Nth Queenslanders are great marketers......they often over promise and under deliver, we travelled around with this glossy map with many sights marked...most of them were a disappointment....we were told by the nut man ( local nut producer)  that they do a good feed at the smoke house.......so another 40 klms we came to this amateur tourist park with a very loud bloke decked out like Steve Irwin doing dodgy tours ...platypus sightings etc while his Thai wife worked the cafe .......then questioned with much concern, why we didn't eat certain elements of our lunch  (we were the only ones there for lunch) ..........couldn't get away from there quick enough. We ordered some of the smoked products for lunch and it was pretty good.
This was the view as we were heading up the mountains, it was like Melbourne weather up there 17c and drizzly most of the day, we were unprepared in shorts and thongs .......... when we left Cairns it was around 26c.
This was unusual sight , it's called the curtain fig tree, it's huge , this photo doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Cairns - Kuranda

We went to Kuranda today which is a town in the mountains that has a seven day a week market, as well as many Art Galleries and Tourist wildlife parks. The lookout on the way up there gives you a great view over Cairns to the ocean
I came across this and couldn't resist it........a real stuffed cane toad which is a fridge magnet ........ I bet you all can't wait to find out who the lucky recipient of this will be..............  have to wait till we get home   (no Sam, I won't make you put this in your new kitchen)
There is every type of Australian souvenir available from the markets and some good food spots, we had lunch at the German Tucker Wurthouse......delicious.......not surprising but most of the cafes are cash only !!  There were a few tax agents up there but no surprise that they didn't seem busy at all.
The caravan park that we are currently in must also supply alarm clocks..........every morning we have been woken at 8.15 (sorry to all the workers) by a small dove sitting on the top of the van near the hatch making a very loud cooing sound..........odd.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tully.......Etty Bay .........Cairns

We took a drive from Mission Bay , Tully has a large sugar mill and also the highest rainfall for the region therefore (of course) they have the Big Gumboot

We were also on a mission to see a Cassowary, there are signs everywhere indicating that a Cassowary had been sighted in a particular area, they are very elusive, but we were in luck and came across one at Etty Bay wandering along the beach. They are a very large bird , can grow to 2 metres and have big claws .......so I didn't get too close.
Cairns has been a service stop for us , we are staying in a really nice caravan park at Woree , about 7 klms from the CBD. After the last river crossing at Jim Jim falls , Mark thought that it would be a good idea to have a snorkel fitted to the car before we headed to Cape York, so along with a service, that will be done next week. Cairns has developed quite a bit since we were here about 11 years ago, at the waterfront close to the marina is now a large public pool surrounded by sandy beach.
We are going to Kuranda tomorrow and will also check out Lake Tinaroo , we may spend some time there before we head up to Port Douglas where Rachael will spend some time with us and some time with Kate at Trinity beach.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Karumba to Mission Beach

The trip from Karumba was fairly uneventful apart from the unfenced cattle that wander on to the highway, you are never sure which way they will run, so you have to be very aware of them.
Well surprisingly we did get a spot at a free overnight camp, we also meet a couple Coline and Doug there who were from Perth and are travelling for 3 years.
After almost 7 weeks we have left the red dust behind and have hit beautiful tropical Queensland.
Mission Beach .............beautiful one day ............perfect the next...............it;s been around 25c every day.
Cyclone Yasi certainly did some damage here, most of the trees had the foliage stripped from them and many snapped in half. There is good regrowth now but the area is still struggling to recover.
Dunk Island is only 4 klms away but unfortunately is closed as it was badly damaged and there is doubt that it will ever be open for business again, they are unable to get any future insurance cover.
" Jump the Beach" must be on top of the list of every backpacker that travels to Queensland. They drop groups of them on tandem jumps about every couple of hours, they jump from the plane at 22,000 ft and once the parachute opens you can hear the excited squeals, whooping and cheers.

Next destination Cairns.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Lawn Hill to Karumba

Almost 300 klms of dirt road, some of the road had been well maintained by the mine between Lawn Hill and Gregory Downs but when one of their large trucks passed us going the opposite way we totally lost any vision because of the dust.
video

Apart from the dust we saw lots of bird life, flocks of green budgies, cockatiels, galahs , cockatoos and finches.
We found it very difficult getting a caravan site at Karumba and ended up in a caravan park in town (not at the beach where we would have liked to have been) the site was almost on the road , no shade and right behind the toilets , when I say right behind I mean you can here the flushing !!!!!    We also seem to be surrounded by industry, with trucks coming and going all night and the constant buzz of machinery. We were here 11 years ago and nothing much has changed............. we're wondering why we came back.............Karumba attracts a lot of tourists for the fishing but you need to have a boat.
          Karumba does have beautiful sunsets over the water, this was taken from the sunset bar while enjoying a Sav Blanc for me and a beer for Mark.
           Leaving tomorrow heading to Mission Beach but will need to stop over night somewhere, we are hoping to free camp about half way............free camping is a designated rest area , some are day use only but others are overnight stops, unfortunately some of the annoying grey nomads use them like caravan parks and race to get the best spots and are all set up by lunch time, then just sit by their van all day............so when we get to them later in the day the rest stops are packed.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Camooweal to Lawn Hill

After approx 300 klms of dirt road we made it to Adels Grove - Lawn Hill.
The caravan survived its first creek crossing ( the deepest about 600mm) with no problems.
It now certainly is living up to its name " Bushmaster" , it's covered in red dust and caked in mud.

We're bush camping again, but have had no problem for power as the solar has kept us almost fully charged.
More gorges today, we walked or should I say climbed like mountain goats to the look out over the Lawn Hill Gorge, beautiful views with a bonus .........a weak mobile signal.

Next on the agenda was to canoe down the gorge to the falls. Mark voted himself captain and sat at the back steering with his double paddle while I did all the work moving us forward.
That's my recollection anyway , Marks version was that I sat in the front giving a few token paddles and slowed us up by putting my hands in the water while he did all the work.
It wasn't just a leisurely cruise it was much more strenuous than we expected. Unfortunately no photos, I was worried my camera could end up in the drink.

This most commonly sighted lizard is this Gilbert's Dragon , also called the Ta - ta lizard as is has a habit of waving a front limb when it stops running.

We have walked , climbed, rock hopped and trekked through enough gorges and photographed enough waterfalls to last us a while. We're ready for a sea change ........... next stop Karumba

Friday, 15 July 2011

Kakadu - Jim Jim Creek Crossing


 
video

I had planned to video the creek crossing but due to operator error it didn't happen , luckily Sue to the rescue she filmed us going in and coming out.

video


Kakadu



There is a lot to say about Kakadu you may want to settle back with a cup of tea.

Tony and Sue (SA) were also heading to Kakadu and Tony was particularly well researched , so we tagged along and took advantage of all his forward scouting. (Thanks Tony)
We bush camped in the National Park at Mardugal, Mark and Tony became native and entertained us and all the camp with their didgeridoos.
After the fellas went out hunting and returned with sausages , Sue and I went off gathering bread and sauce......................... then Mark and Tony made made fire.
Not so successfully at first , but the sausages were delicious when we got them, we ate very late that night, after a long day out walking, rock hopping, exploring the sites.
There are a lot of fantastic things to talk about in Kakadu, but the down side were the midgees and mozzies, we all got bitten but poor mark was eaten alive. He spent a couple of nights up scratching, his legs were covered in angry red bites.
We thought that we would see crocdiles in Kakadu but were surprised about the number of them, the day we arrived we walked down to the boat ramp , about 200mts from where we were camped and saw a large salt water croc cruising just below the water line.

These signs are at all waterways, check out the last symbol on the sign.

Just as we entered Kakadu we stopped at a lovely wetland area, with waterlilies, masses of birdlife and we saw a whistling kite swoop down and catch some type of rodent , or as another tourist called out "he got a moose" , we were all scouring the countryside for the moose ............he was a pommy and was saying mouse , he didn't see the funny side of it, I think, he thought that we were being rude and laughing at him.
We saw some amazing rock paintings, the Kakadu National Park is very well run and maintained, throughout the park there are rangers giving talks at various times of the day. The rangers also come to the campsites to do talks at night, we watched a slide show and listened to a talk on aboriginal art.
This is Nabulwinjbulwinj...............He is a dangerous spirit who eats females after striking them with a yam.

The road to Twin Falls had just re opened after all the rain from the wet season. It was a fun 4wd into the falls area with a 750mm deep creek crossing, that was to the top of our wheels , with some water coming into the cabin , and then a rock hopping trek into the falls , it was spectacular. Jim Jim falls were next, it was hot and getting late so we didn't do the long walk into Jim Jim , but what we saw was lovely.


The next adventure our wagon master (Tony)  had in store for us was the Guluyambi Cultural Tour . This was a boat tour only the East Aligator River with an aboriginal guide who gave us an insight into his culture. We were amazed by the number of crocodiles that were in this river ...... we were warned to keep our arms inside the boat.
Next on the agenda was sunset at Ubirr, this was breathtakingly beautiful, we climbed to the top of masses of boulders........... looking at rock art along the way to reach the plateau which gave you a 360 degree view of the surrounding grass and wetlands.
There is so much more to see in Kakadu but that will have to wait for another trip.

After 6 nights without power , we are tonight in a caravan park in Camooweal, not much here apart from a pub and a couple of service stations so it's good to be able to charge everything up, do the washing etc.
Off on dirt road tomorrow for a couple of hundred klms to Lawn Hill then over to Karumba.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Darwin - Mindil Market

Spent the day yesterday at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Notrthern Territory. Lots of good displays including aboriginal art and a facinating Cyclone Tracey exhibit.
Today we caught up with a bit of housekeeping, washed the caravan etc , Mark thought he deserved a sit down with a cold beverage after all his work. He certainly has relaxed into this new lifestyle.
Just kidding.............That good looking bloke above is our neighbour we get to admire his stunning physique every day and he is always dressed the same !!

 Mark relaxing at our tropical shady site at the Howard Springs caravan park.

Mindil market is a twilight market held on the foreshore at Mindil beach and we couldn't believe how many people were there , hundreds of people go down to the beach to watch the sunset over the water.
There is every type of cuisine available , buskers , bands , stalls, aboriginal art and lots more.
Marks purchase from the market, this will wake up some of those grey nomads.

Had a look around Fannie Bay Jail today, if you had to be in jail it's a nice location, the prisoners were taken down to the beach every day for a wash.
Having dinner at Cullen Bay tonight with Tony and Sue (SA) and another couple we met at Daly Waters Norma and Bob (SA)

Heading to Kakadu tomorrow, more photos of gorges and waterfalls to come.

Darwin Military Museum and Cullen Bay

Off to learn more about the war , the many attacks on Darwin . There was a lot military activity in this area during the second world war. Half the population was evacuated in 1942 anticipating the attack. Many of the city buildings were destroyed, several ships sunk and aircraft shot down.
                    Someone should tell these blokes they can come out now.
Cullen Bay is lovely area with cafes , restaurants and retail around the marina.  There is a large croc , I wanted Mark to plank on the croc but he wouldn't be in it , so I thought it would make a good photo .......  I didn't take into account the Irish photographer who shot it from the wrong angle !!!!        I wasn't doing it again.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Darwin

Enjoying lovely days of around 30c here, we are staying about 23klms out of Darwin in a nice park and have got a shady grassy spot. After the last couple of weeks in gorges and at waterholes we are back to museums. The Aviation Museum was first destination and we were asked were we seniors (the cheek of  the guy)....... we said....... well we could be ............ he charged us accordingly..............we are going to be seniors for the rest of the trip when it comes to entry fees  !!!

 This is a B52 bomber that was donated by the Americans to Darwin Aviation Musuem , it was restored in America and renamed "The Spirit of Darwin" . This type of aircraft still operates in updated versions.
Off to the oil tunnels tomorrow ................looking forward to that one (not)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Berry Springs

Mark thought that it was about time he got his fishing rod wet, so we headed off to Mandorah pier after some reliable info from some of the old fishermen in the caravan park. After a long afternoon sitting on the pier being entertained by the locals back and forward on the ferry to get their supplies from Darwin , this is what the fisherman had to show for the afternoon (see below)
But you should have seen the ones that got away !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dinner at the pub was a good option , Barra burgers , considering we had nothing to cook it was a good choice.Great pub on the water , good company , Sue & Tony from SA, good food, cold drinks .
Berry Springs ........... lovely warm thermal springs , but unfortunately it was Territory Day today and every man and his dog were at the springs, there is a very accessible water fall but we had no chance of getting anywhere near it . We settled on one of the other pools but were soon joined by a group we named the  "cackling cast of cocoon"  astride their various coloured noodles , we had spotted them at another pool and avoided them, but unfortunately they floated down to where we were.
What was surprising was the number of fish that were in these pools, we were surrounded by them, unfortunately no fishing here.
Just got back from a fire works display at the local school, before the professional display the locals let off their fireworks , you can buy any amount of fireworks here. It went for a couple of hours and was quite spectacular.
Off to Darwin tomorrow , plan to stay put for a week.

Litchfield National Park

We had a nice grassy spot at the caravan park near Litchfield National Park, this was happy hour with Sue & Tony from SA.
This is one of the Magnetic Termite Mounds, the landscape in this area is dotted with these, not all as large as this one, it looks like paddocks of tombstones.
Many beautiful spots to visit and waterholes to swim in Litchfield.

Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole, Tolmer Falls, Greenant Creek and Wangi Falls.
This last photo is taken from the top of the waterfall at Greenant Creek, we swam at this waterhole and could sit at the top of the waterfall , which was about a 40 metre drop .