Day 22-26 Canoeing with crocs

‘Down by the waters edge, have you got a torch?. Shine it out there, you can see the crocs moving about.’ So said our friendly grey nomad neighbors. They had been here for 14 days, having cracked the chassis on their Triton on some far flung road. They lent us a spotlight which put our little LED torch to shame, and sure enough there came the reflections of a half dozen or so crocs cruising around the lagoon, some of them just meters away from the bank where we stood, and many were camping. All ‘freshies’ though so nothing to worry about. Guess they must be, we haven’t read any news of croc attacks since leaving Darwin.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We left Katherine a few days back. One of the apparent advantages of this lifestyle is I really couldn’t tell you just how many days ago it was. Does it matter? Virgin territory for us all the drive was good from the beginning but was brilliant as soon as we hit the Gregory National Park (no not just because it’s my namesake!). The road wends it’s way through dark ochre cliffs and the wind was from behind which does wonders for my mood behind the wheel. We didn’t stop but time just drifts effortlessly by.

We know that at least some of you are interested in how the driving goes and other day to day matters. So for the driving, our philosophy for this trip of ‘less is more’ combined with Emma’s wonderful preparations seems to be working brilliantly. We get through our 300 or so km in about four and a half hours with a lunch break, and in the interim we admire the scenery while the kids finger knit, draw, and or listen to music or the occasional audio book saved on to the IPhone. I like the story about the aardvark that took a while to work out he really did like termites. Fitted in perfectly with the endless termite mounds (cathedral mounds mostly) that cover the landscape. Shame we don’t have aardvarks, they could gorge themselves!

We had lunch on the way at Victoria River Roadhouse… Spectacular location, and apparently the cliffs are magic at sunset… Another place to stop at ‘next time’! We met some friendly grey nomads who delighted in showing the kids their backseat passenger… A cockatiel who travels everywhere with them. Easier than a dog I suppose. They also reminded us of the 1.5 hour time change we would encounter when we crossed the border the following day. Useful information that – much easier to get to Kununurra the next day early enough to secure a site… They don’t take bookings!

We overnighted in the mighty metropolis of Timber Creek. Population you, the other nomads and the friendly guy that knows where shade will be 30 mins before it gets there. He was right. And for all that, there is your choice of two 1 star caravan parks. I picked the one with the pool. Then Emma said they both have a pool. I knew that…

We tried to leave early to make a run for Kununurra and at 8am we were ready. We would have left then too, but I managed to sneak in a quick wash of the caravan. 30 mins later we were on the road. It goes faster when it’s clean. No really, like a red one. Speaking of which is there a law which says caravans must be white?

When we arrived after another thoroughly enjoyable drive, this time with the appearance of the fascinating boab trees to keep us amused. We missed the last powered van site at ‘Kimberlyland’ by just one grey nomad. A blessing in disguise as it turned out, cause you couldn’t prize me out of our site down the front and just one row back from the Lily Pond Lagoon. Ce Magnifee (apologies to those with French speaking capacity)! There just shouldn’t be this much water in this landscape at this time of year and it kind of takes you by surprise. But there is, and it adds a certain something. What is it… Ahh yes, life! Wow 25,000 freshies in this waterway, albeit and including lake Argyle we are talking 25 or so Sydney Harbours worth of water. And I’ll bet you didn’t know 60% of a freshwater crocs diet is insects.

Anyway we’ve been in Kununura for a few days now, can’t really tell just how many cause it doesn’t seem relevant. We’ve visited the zebra rock gallery, a fantastic indigenous art gallery (I want to buy them all!), Lake Argyle and we’ve been canoeing on our lagoon (I’m adopting it so I can take it home with me). Crocs abounded but we didn’t see any on our personal sunset paddle, but we did see swallows swooping and diving for insects from the surface, birds of all kinds perched amongst the branches of trees long deceased cause they prefer dry feet and another magnificent sunset over the red cliffs in the background. Think we’ll stay a few more nights.

The kids have gained some independence here as well and I have learnt to relax just a tad. I can read two paragraphs of a book or one page of a tourist brochure now before getting up to check on them. They have taken to playing with new friends at the playground without our direct supervision… There is a kind of dry dusty dirty sand there that they love playing in. Seems they miss the sandpit at school. Amy went through three sets of cloths today. I guess Oliver would have as well were his shirt not dark red.

PS Congratulations Daniel & Emily!

Seeking advice – an interactive blog

So we’re sitting by the pool at Kimberlyland caravan park and we’re getting a little bit worked up. Almost stressed, which doesn’t seem quite right under the circumstances. You see we can’t decide what to do. On the menu of options is a tour of the Bungle Bungle at $1,100 for all of us and or, in a week or so time, a flight and boat ride through the Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley Buchaneer Archipeligo at $2,400. Neither are in the budget as such, but both are highly tempting. The Horizontal Falls is on my equivalent of a bucket list. We are $1,500 ahead of budget overall for the trip at this point and do have a contingency fund in case of emergencies.

Should we:

A) do nothing, not in the budget so just move on and enjoy the rest of this magnificent land
B) just do the Bungle Bungle, it is within our budget given the current underspend
C) just do the horizontal falls, which would put us a bit behind budget but we could make it back up by eating straight rice for the rest of the trip
D) be a little mean spirited and just adults go one at a time to go on the horizontal falls and halve the cost, after all the kids are happiest in the nearest pool. We are also willing to take offers of babysitters flying over to relieve us for the day
E) do the Bungle Bungle and just adults do the horizontal
F) to hell with it, and do the lot, work out how to pay later

Oh yes and we need input quickly in order to make bookings!

Ps this blog is designed to attract comments.


Paul Manning on Jul, 30 2011 at 5:59PMSomehow at this point in our travels we always seem to end up taking option F on the basis of when the hell are we going to be back here and knowing that at the end of the trip we’ll just be saying – wish we’ed done that!

Looks like you guys are having a stack of fun – watch out for that car though – they tell me it can be a long walk to the next servo out that way!

Cheers Paul

Granny on Jul, 31 2011 at 10:11AMWant to fly me back? I’ll happily stay in the pool with the kids, This cold weather in Canberra is to be avoided at all costs. ha ha. Go with having a great time … you may not get back that way for a good few years!!!!!!

Gill on Jul, 31 2011 at 4:52PMHey guys…not sure why you’re even asking we all know that the answer is F.

Give my love to Amy and Oliver and tell them I have a few stories to share with them about a certain black and tan dog called Tully.

I’m supposed to be writing a Uni assignment at the mo so you are a good distraction.

aroundoz2011 on Jul, 31 2011 at 9:11PMThanks for the comments guys.  We have made a decision!  After about 6 phone calls to the tour company at Horizontal Falls and to-ing and fro-ing, we decided it wouldn’t be very family-holiday like if we adults went by ourselves… So we’ve booked in for all of us… Count down to Aug 11th!

Then we looked further into the Bungle Bungles trip… A 12 hour day, starting ar 530am… With about 5 hours 4WD on rough roads (it’s only 50kms each way) So we decided to give that a miss this time. It’ll be there when we’re back with our own four wheels.

PS Gill- Amy and Oliver were both very pleased to hear you had stories to tell them about Tully!

Day 19-21 Darwin

So we returned to Darwin a day ahead of schedule so we could return to the Mindel Beach Markets. They’re only on Sunday and Thursday evenings. Again the kids we’re enthralled with the street performers, so much so that when I returned from the great sushi hunt to tell them I couldn’t find any, it was like my words couldn’t penetrate at all… They were transfixed. This time Oliver got the coconut with the straw that he had desperately wanted last time, but couldn’t quite decide whether he liked it or not. The next day we had an entertaining time trying to get it open – see photos!

The following day we had to say goodbye to Grandma Jumbo, or Granny as she has become known. There was significant risk of a bout of sadness particularly from Amy. But it seems Amy had struck a patch of hunger at that point which meant she had an almost one track mind. Tragedy averted.

Then it was down to business. The car was serviced, very thoroughly but at no small expense, with a some what worrying parting comment from the good people at Ford, ‘oh yes and on the test drive the mechanic noted a small whine from the back, could be a bearing or the diff’.

‘Oh good’, I said. ‘What should I do about that?’.

‘Just keep an eye on it, should be ok…’ came the reply.

So now we have to listen for three whining noises from the back.

Other business involved procuring approx $500 worth of groceries from the big Coles and Woolies… And believe it or not there is still some room in the caravan. We also all got haircuts at the caravan park. Not my usual salon style cut, but good enough, and a good price. The lady comes to Darwin each year from Townsville for 6 months… We’re not sure if it is the difference in climate?

Generally though, this time in Darwin was uneventful. Swimming, packing and preparing for the trip west.