Lazy Sunday for us today. We decided that we would benefit from having a wee rest day. We went off to the local Bakery and grabbed some fresh rolls and cooked up some sausages, mushrooms, bacon and eggs and scoffed the lot washed down with orange juice, tea and coffee.
We had planned to leave here Monday but we have extended this, we have to get some business done with the commonwealth bank and don't want to rush it.
We plan to get to Jabiru in Kakadu on Tuesday which should be easy as it is only 200 kms. We will use this as a base to tour Kakadu park before we move on to Litchfield Park. We had planned a visit to see the Jim Jim falls but apparently the road was washed out a while back and is closed. There are plenty other places to see and do depending on road conditions.
Kaz got a text message from our bestie's Kev & Di lol. They were now in Darwin and invited us to visit. Well if we get any invites we are there with bells on and jump in the car and headed off to the north end of the city. The park they are on is huge and has a lot of live in folks who like it sounds, park a van on site and live there as if it was a regular home. Transient types who work now and again and live pretty chilled out lives. I reckon some of them might do some gardening if you know what I mean. Anyhow we spend a couple of hours with them and as we are close to the city we head back to the Mindel markets for food. Can you believe it, we park the car, a car parks next to us we all get out and it is a couple of people we met at Alice Springs a while back and we were amazed as they were at the coincidence of that. Even meeting them at all but for them to park next to us is crazy.
We head in to the market and Kaz picks up some fancy new thongs and we then pick up some food. Satay chicken skewers and chicken laksa with extra chillies. We then sat on the beach and had the food and that laksa was fantastic. The thought of another sunrise didn't interest us and we head off and let the others take it in.
We get back in no time and both jump in to showers as it is still 30 degrees. We are having seconds thoughts in relation to our travels as we do not want to head south in to the cold. We may try and move somewhere and spend a couple of weeks in the heat and sunshine before we think about heading south.
Early night = crap sleep. I think it was the way you know you have set the alarm but you kinda don’t trust it. Anyway got up before the alarm and out the door just after 7am on our way to the fishing boat docked in Darwin. We get up there and we are first and meet Dan our skipper for the trip. He tells us we have to wait as there are another 5 people to come. Then 1 arrived followed by a group of 3. We are now waiting on the one and as we are waiting we see a group of Irish people heading for a party cruise loaded up with booze, complete with stubbies and travellers in hand.
Dan the skipper man phones our 1 and leaves a message. We then head down to the boat for a safety drill etc. We hope that our 1 doesn’t show coz this boat ain’t big and it would give us three a side when fishing. I say safety drill but as the water has crocs in it a life jacket might not help you live. Dan decides we will leave as the wind and tides are on the move so we shouldn’t waste any more time getting out there. We leave our mooring and slowly head out of the bay and in to deeper water before Dan guns it and as the front lifts and dives so we all get an early morning face wash of salt water. Dan is so funny, not. We get our rods baited and cast out to see who would be first to catch the first fish and then the biggest fish of the trip. A guy in the group of 3 pulls in a tiny wee fish which we are not throwing back but will use it for live bait later. Kaz then lands a similar fish and he will also be a live bait fish later. Then I do the same but mine gets chucked back as it is a baby. We stay on this sheltered spot for a bit before we move on to look for the big guys. The tide is still running a bit strong due to the wind but it eventually settles and we are in again. He same guy from the 3 pulls in a fantastic snapper and not to be outdone Kaz pulls in an absolute cracker of a snapper. Superb we now have lunch in the bag. Bit later the older guy from the three gets a bite and hooks on to a massive Jem fish, this thing weighs in at between 10 and 12 kilos and Dan has to grab a hook on a pole to get this one in to the boat before the crocs get it and he does. That fish was easily the largest and best of the day though there were a few young sharks and a couple of cod pulled in.
Me? Yep I caught nothing but my first tiny one and in fact caught the line Kaz was on more than once. It was a great half day trip and we took the snapper Kaz caught and had it for lunch cooked by a local restaurant on the pier. That was the freshest of fish and tasty with it. We had it grilled with fries and a salad, a champagne for the lady and a xxxx scooner for me. We didn’t hang around Darwin, instead went straight back to base for showers and Kaz had a wee sleep. We will have a swim later and then a quiet one and watch the footy, hopefully. Did I say it was hot here, 33 today.
A bit of a lie in this morning last night we had that amazing night at the Mindel Markets. The place was packed and nature as usual put on a scene stealer with a stunning sunset. There was food from all over and we could have spent the night making up our mind on what to eat. It has been a while so we grabbed some Chinese which went well with a bottle of champagne.
Having watched the sunset on the beach with a huge amount of people.
Today we headed back to Darwin as we wanted to locate the boat ramp for the fishing and also to visit an exhibition of Darwin when it was attacked by the Japanese. If anyone visits make sure you have a go at the VR headset. The exhibition runs alongside the history of the Royal Australian Flying Doctors Service.
Off on to the pier next as we spotted fab food on offer and fish of course was our choice but the Coffin Bay oysters looks amazing and at $10.00 for half a dozen, a bloody bargain. We will be visiting Coffin Bay later in our travels so will grab some then. The fish as you would expect was as fresh as it gets, we scoffed this down whilst watching a number of boats speed past. There were also a couple of navy destroyers tied up and one was flying a saltire. Not sure why but I guess it may have been built on the Clyde.
Next stop was a pharmacy for Kaz to grab some travel pills to help her as we sail out to the fishing spot tomorrow and then on to the Darwin Museum which was pretty good with. Lot's of history not only of the bombing of the city but also the storm that flattened Darwin. There was also the largest collection of Aboriginal art in the world on show according to the woman at the entrance. All cultured out we decided to get back to base as on the way back from the market last evening the bus driver was giving a tip about seeing some Barra which hang out at the local Howard Springs right next to our park. So off we headed and sure enough there was an amazing collection of fish and some Barra but the were way out in the water but as the sun shines the light catches the silver flash and they are big barramundi for sure. We hope to dine on their relatives tomorrow. Back at the park and tonight is happy hour and cheese put on by the park. Not sure how that makes it happy hour as they only provide the cheese. We decide to give it a miss and provide our own happy hour with wine, Jack Daniels, cheese, salami and crackers. During which we were invaded by a group of 6 hungry peacocks which had not been invited but stuck around anyway. After a long day we reckon a wee night watching the footy would be good and reckon the Geelong game would be on but as we tuned in we got bloody Sydney instead. Oh well an early night will good as we have a busy Day Saturday and it's gonna be HOT.
Up and on the road today pretty early as we head off to the Crocodylus Park which is not far from our base. As the name suggests it is a wildlife park who specialise in the crocodile trade, providing leather and leather goods. Here they have some croc’s who have been captured from the wild as well as some who were captive bred. The wild ones are huge and are here because they posed a threat to humans of the stupid variety. Here if a sign does not say you can swim, then you should not swim and some folks can’t get there head round that and go for their last dip. Evidence being the case of a 10 year old boy whose parents could not locate him. Unlucky for him a huge croc could and when the croc was shot and cut opened, there was little Jonny still in one piece swallowed whole by this monster croc. I will spare you the photo of that one.
We both managed to feed a jumping croc some chicken on a pole and witnessed a group of lions being fed small snacks the size of our heads. We took the cruise on to the waterway within the place where there are a group of crocs who seem to get on for now and watched them eating some more chicken. There are also nurseries full of baby crocs who get fed for four years before being fed some electricity and shoe laces. There were also monkeys, emus, kangaroo, wilder beast, meerkats, tigers and all sorts of birds, spiders and reptiles. A pretty good Wee park which was not crazy busy as the Darwin show is on today.
I think I mentioned the Mindil Markets before and got it wrong that we were going there on Tuesday I think but we are defo going tonight bus at 5.15 and return around 9pm. None of us needs to drive so it will be a happy hour tour for sure.
Update, market was great as was the beach and the amazing sunset.
Kaz managed to book a Barra fishing charter for Saturday.
We must be getting acclimatised now as the temperature is 33 most of the time though the nights are a bit chilly, getting down to 22. Last nights entertainment was quite good or we are desperate. Either way we got fed and the guitarist/singer was pretty good with lot’s of 80’s stuff and some of the dreaded country music.
Today was a great day, the land cruisers moved out heading for Kakadu. This has left us a missive amount of room and lot’s of peace. Went to the local shopping centre for a haircut for me, bewt cut but $80.00 a bit of a rip off. Oh wait, I forgot that I dropped a $50.00 note on the floor as I walked in. Only found that out when it came time to pay. Kaz had to come and make bail as the Barbour was not about to let me walk out. We went to the centre management and asked if anyone had handed in any money, yes I know. Surprisingly no one had but I did see a local with a slab walking out of the bottle shop.
Anyhow hot again so back to the camp and straight in to the pool to cool off and a wee afternoon of sun baking for Kaz and me washing some of the outback of the Pajero. We already washed some it off the van which was looking a bit second hand and we seemed to have lost one of our nitrogen dust caps luckily only from one wheel. We had booked a mud crab and Barra fishing trip but pick of time was 6am ffs. Kaz decided that her sea legs are not that great neither her sea stomach so we decided to cancel that one. There will be lot’s more fishing opportunities as we travel to the west.
This afternoon the usual begging birds arrived this time the peacocks decided to have first go and we managed to hand feed them which was pretty cool until one of them shat in front of our awning. Who knew that peacock shit was very similar to a puppy crap. Hands in the air please. Next it was the scrub turkey’s or that is what we are calling them. They are pretty laid back and are something that a survivor contestant would kill and eat on site. Tonight it’s Webber time, sliced and roasted spuds with garlic and herbs matched with Jamie chicken and a Darwin salad washed down with a nice Barossa Shiraz, outside of course as the sun disappears leaving with an amazing red glow. You can bet the cork will not be going back in the shiraz.
Kaz is a book hog for sure two books inhaled today.
Today we drove up to Darwin to have a look around the place. An easy drive even though we managed to to go straight when we should have went left to stay on the highway. It worked in our favour though as it avoided the centre and took us along the esplanade which is where we wanted to go in the first place. We also lucked on to our first stop which was the war time oil storage tanks dug out initially by hand before machinery was called in to get things done faster. These were used to hide oil supplies form the Japanese during the bombing of the city. It was interesting to note that the hotel on the point of the harbour was not bombed due to the Japanese using it as a marker point for their bombing raids.
What a great waterfront area Darwin has with a huge swimming pool which has a wave machine and free boogie boards for use. There is also a cruise ship dock and of course high end shopping and a multitude of restaurants and bars. We also had a go on the driverless bus which goes around the area using sat Nav guidance and is battery powered. We used it to be dropped off at a very nice bar restaurant where we fed our munchies with pasta, steak and a couple of coldies.
We thought that we should walk off our lunch so made our way to Mitchell Street which is a well known backpacker area and is choc a block with happy hours and cheap accomodation. Can’t say we were that impressed with it and decided to move on to the parliament and library. The parliament was not in session but we could roam around the viewing chamber and the gardens etc. a very shmick building of course and well looked after by the look of it. The library was, well a library like any other, we didn’t stay here long. We will return here tomorrow by bus to visit the Mindel Markets which is mostly food stalls from the world over and cocktails with the sun setting. There will also be some craft stuff from “the locals” and a bit of music we are told.
We head back to base as the sun is now beating down the usual 30+ and there is entertainment on at the camp tonight. Sausage sizzle and soft drinks for sale, as if.
I think there is a singer supposed to be on as well, probably on of those country buggers no doubt. Anyway we will rock up and give it 5 min’s. Other than that we will have a quiet night as we are again knackered.
What a start, up earlyish, all hooked up and on the road to Darwin by 8.15. We are in our stride now with the setting and packing up of the van. An easy three hour road trip today Kaz is today’s pilot of the filthy car and the van is not much better. We will try and give both a wash at some point to get the red earth and dust off.
As we don’t have a long drive, we stop in to the small town of Pine Creek and head for Mayse’s Cafe. What a treat, really clean and the food was top notch with fab coffee. We may revisit this town on the way back south before we head west.
Getting hotter as we drive with the temperature already 30+ and a wee bit hazy sunshine or it might partly due to a burn off happening. There have been bushfire warnings given for the Darwin area and we are staying about 25 kms to the south of the city. We press on and see a sign for a local market and turn off for a visit. Big mistake this as without kidding there would be three stalls and nobody else there. I reckon these folks forgot to go home after the Sunday market. We quickly u-turn and get out of there. A bit further up the road guess wot, yep another market sign and can you believe it, we turn in again as there are a lot of people around but no market!! Once again we get out of there and back on course we decide next stop will be the Big4 Howard Springs.
We arrive after a blooming easy drive and get booked in. We get the usual follow me and this time a quad bike to our allocated spot and it’s a drive through site, so no reversing for Kaz which both Kaz and me are happy about. We set up, this time fully since we will be based here for the week. This includes using the awning fully opened for the first time and a privacy screen bought in Aldi we will add later. Amazing that the people around us all seem to have Lancruise V8’s which come in over 100K plus the huge house on wheels they are towing. We get set up in no time and head for the pool. When we get there we are surprised that there are not many kids in there. They do have another two pools on site, one of which is a splash type play park with water guns etc. anyhow, in we get and the water is absolute bliss having spent a great deal of time in the dust. We have a decent splash about then spot a jacuzzi, it looks like a mirage and as we get in we discover it is a mirage as the water is cold. Cold water in a jacuzzi, well that’s a first but we get chatting to couple of folks doing what everyone else is doing yes, getting some winter heat but these two are not Mexicans but hail from WA and are here till Wednesday before they have to return home. Chat over we make a sharp exit and after a quick change we head to the local stupid market to get supplies. As usual the place has Woolworths, Coles, Kmart, Bunnings, McDonald’s, hungry jack, dominoes etc just like everywhere else. We get in and get out loaded up and wonder where it will all this stuff will go. On the menu tonight will be pizza, cooked on our pizza stone on the Webber BBQ. Tonight will be a quiet one and we will head to Darwin in the morning to hit up some tours and stuff. Our location is great not only for Darwin but also for Litchfield and Kakadu parks so plenty of touring around to be done. As we scoff our pizza darkness starts to fall and out come the local animals with possum Wallaby and Kangaroos, this time live versions. The park also has a group of peacocks so that will be a noisy awakening tomorrow and it’s lights out time 10 pm tonight !!.
What a great way to start the day. A buffet breakfast with everything you would want except for the Scottish stuff, square sausage, black pudding, a well fired roll and maybe a we bit of haggis. Strangely there was a dish that looked chicken casserole, I asked what it was and the reply was liver in gravy and very healthy I was told, wtf? We managed to overeat of course then headed out to the Cutta Cutta caves south of the town. As usual the caves were amazing but do not photograph well. They used to be a hang out for Aboriginal people and idiots used to fire guns in there apparently. We spent a good hour there and walked off some of our breakfast.
We left well informed and headed for our next entertainment. This meant driving form the south side of Katherine to the north side to get to Nitmuluk national park which houses the Katherine Gorge. As we head down to the boat area in the trees above there are thousands, yes thousands of bats hanging and of course bat shit every where. Apparently about 7.00pm the sight of them all leaving in to the night sky is something to see but we imagine it will be more shite than sight and decide to give it a miss.
Here we take a boat, in fact three boats to get deeper and deeper in to the Gorge. The trip lasts for four hours with an hour reserved for swimming in Gorge part 2. The other parts have crocodiles in them, no joke as they are pointed out us and we keep moving. There is an active program to catch and then transport these crocs to Darwin and as I said we had just had a big breakfast and would make a great meal for a saltie or fresh water croc. The swimming was just fantastic in 34 degree temperature and the water washed of some of the dust off us. The Gorge is just mental the sheer scales and age of the place is mind boggling. At times it did look like Westfield had opened a shopping centre as the masses gathered to board their allotted boats. We will return here as we head south again from Darwin and go back in to the Gorge for some canoeing action we witnessed.
We head back to our park and think we will treat ourselves as the local restaurant menu and reputation is very good. We head in to reception to book a table and get our 10% off for being guests where we are told it is closed on a Sunday, ffs. Oh well, I knew I made too Much chilli last night, so left overs it is. We get a bit of luck though as we are informed there is entertainment on tonight. We grab a chair and a cold one and race round to witness what looks like a gathering of old people waiting for god to beam them up and the singer (or is it really Elvis), we hope does get beamed up. In any case we can’t hear much above the whistling of the waiting for god massive’s hearing aids. We decide to give it a miss and exit back to the van. We get in to the chilli and dust it off. Darkness has fallen and knackered, we reckon it’s bed time only to find it’s ten past eight lol.
We leave here tomorrow, destination Darwin where we will get fully set up and spend at least seven days touring around the place and soaking up the amazing history the place has as well as some fun stuff like jumping crocodiles etc.
The food in Darwin we have head is really top notch so we will get our noses in a few troughs and work it off on our bikes. We also hope to get both the van and Pajero washed as the red dust is everywhere on both. Ok. So 8.15 now and time for bed, gonna be a nice one with a minimum temp of 16 degrees.
Leaving day arrives and we take it easy due to Katherine only being 100 kms from here. Great not having to drive six hours to our next stop. We arrive at the Riverview Tourist Park which is a Top Tourist site where we get 10% off the same with Big4 parks. We get booked in and as we have had several times now, you follow a person on a moped to your given spot and they then direct you on to the spot taking the bad language and agro out when we do it ourselves. It’s a pretty good park, very close to town but not close enough that it becomes a problem with locals. We get set up and head straight to Katherine town centre which is a wash with locals all in different shapes and sizes, yet all use the same deodorant which ran out 10 years ago I suspect. This is not a place to get mouth to mouth should you need it. We get in to the Tourist information office to get the good oil and book a couple of items.
We then head in to the local Country Club for a nose and as the Katherine Show is on with whip crackin, horse riding, rodeo and all that good country cowboy stuff on, the place looks like filming is due to start on a magnificent 7 remake. We spot an interesting sign buffet breakfast Sunday morning. So tomorrow we will do a smorsborg breakfast here before heading to the Cutta Cutta caves then take a cruise along the Katherine Gorge which includes swimming, we hope without crocodiles.
Later we return to the van and get dinner prepared before walking down to the hot springs for a dip. Now, had we not been to the hot springs at Bitter Springs then these would have been fantastic but compare the two and Katherine’s are sadly lacking. The setting, temperature and the fact that it all looks a bit dug out and not natural like Bitter Springs does not help. I don’t see us going back there anytime.
It’s a noisy night in camp as there are fireworks from the show, a woman yapping and laughing like a witch and also the local speedway is on so the noise of country racing is going on full blast. The current temp is 22 degrees and it is going to be a warm night.
Since we have enjoyed this place we decide to stay another night and enjoy some more swimming in the hot springs, the great heat and sunshine. I can get the GoPro camera out and have some more practice filming. The video this thing captures is amazing, I will try to add a wee video if I find time, lol.
Today we will be doing nothing, Kaz will read another book or two in a day and we will go for a swim a couple of times. Kev and Diana have compiled a list of things they recommend we do as we continue on our travels on Saturday. We will head to Katherine which is not far north. They have been round Australia several times and the list includes tours, parks, restaurants, museums and a whole heap of other stuff. They will stay in Bitter springs for a few more days before heading north and then west to WA.
We enjoy a few swims and meet a few other travellers at the springs who provide so much priceless information and love our Scottish accents even though we repeat quite a lot of what we are saying. Unusually we get talking to a couple who are not from Victoria and if fact are from Brisbane. They are both Poms but have lived in Australia for a number of years and we reckon they are quite posh and are no doubt travelling in a luxurious motor home or big bus but they could easily be in a tent.
We return last nights invite to Kev and Di for sunset cocktails which they accept though our nibbles are very much lacking compared to theirs. A bag of chips and a two dollar dip. Kev is an ex fisheries exec and Di owned and ran a hairdressers on Philip Island but they have both retired and are only in their mid fifties. They provide us with their emails and mobile numbers if we need any advice or get in strife as we travel. We will no doubt bump in to each other along the way as they are following our path north then west to WA. Classic stuff, exchanging details and promises to catch up. The pic’s here are random as we didn’t take any today. The car with boat on the roof is Kev and Di’s set up.