Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Mt Isa, Sunny Qld

Hello to all our Family and Friends,
As you can see we are certainly moving fast. One week to drive through NT.
We did stop sometimes though. The first stop was only overnight at Victoria River Roadhouse. It is beside the Victoria River which was beautiful. The locals said they wouldn't swim in the river even though it was hot because of crocs; so we went looking at old Victoria River Crossing but couldn't find any. Next day saw us arrive at Katherine Gorge; campsite right beside the pool along with all the international visitors and 3 school camps, regular ant city. Did the walk around the gorge with good views finising our trek down Butterfly Gorge. Again it was very hot and we cooled off in the pool before the school kids took over. After tea entertainment at the pool was lit by strobe lights similiar to a disco with live performers. We had a ring side seat from the camper. The music started off as country and western which had a lot of crowd participation which was encouraged. A pleasant change to what most campers had been experiencing and it was appreciated. The mood turned more up beat towards the end with the schoolgirls getting up and strutting their stuff. When they did the Bus Dance Rex remembered how well Lee and Julie used to do it at birthday celebrations. Then it was on to Mataranka - Elsey National Park. We have camped here twice before so it was only a familiar stop over. Rex did go for a swim in the Roper River and tried to catch an elusive Barra but no luck; sausages for tea once again. Bonus was we did have the only site with a sprinkler so Rex stepped back into his childhood and had a shower under it. Onto another familiar spot, Banda Banda Station. A cool grass spot to stay with plenty of water so we were able to wash the car. Interesting to watch all the oldies with their super large caravans trying to back them in. Rex couldn't contain himself and had to offer assistance as two sites were being taken up by one van. Not that they were untidy or anything they just couldn't follow their lovely wifes guidance. A few domestics were happening. They were all lined up like a jagged bolt of lightning. Night time entertainment had changed to the history of Banda Banda rather than the running of a cattle station. Reason being that they don't know what will happen in the future as it is in the process of being sold. We thought our next stop would be at Barkley Station Roadhouse on the Barkley Highway that runs acros the middle from Northern Territory to Queensland but we travelled on and crossed the Queensland Border last night and stayed at lovely Camooweal where it stays light till 7.30 pm and is a cool (cold) 24 deg C. Locals were pulling out their woolly underwear. The pool was closed as this time of the year. Not much else to do so we moved on to Mt Isa. After settling into the caravan park we went up to the Look Out, similiar to Anzac Hill at Alice Springs from which we could get a good idea of the layout of the city and where the shops were. Hustling bustling busy city where pedestrians have to give way to cars, a bit strange to us Victorians. Back at our camper a helpful neighbour thought the alignment of the a frame and the camper body was out of alignment and he thought we may have a chassis problem. Just what we needed. Rex obligingly climbed underneath to set his mind at rest an said that all was fine.The camper wasn't going to fall to bits.
Tomorrow we moved on to Richmond to look for dinosaur bones.
Love to all
Rex and Rob

Friday, June 25, 2010

From Kununurra, W.A

Hello Followers,
From Broome we headed east to Derby which is known for having the highest tides in Australia. It is the place that has flights or boat trips out to see the horizontal waterfall because the tides move so quickly, not that we saw them, but we did watch the tide coming in very quickly from the pier. We also saw a huge hollow Boab Tree infamous for being used as a prison in earlier times which was located a short distance out of town. We had planned to travel from Derby to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek but after checking road conditions learnt that the road after Windjana Gorge was pretty rough and needed a high clearance vehicle so we decided to give them a miss and went by the highway. At Fitzroy Crossing we camped at Kimberley Lodge which as we drove through the pristine grounds looked like a swish golf club. No shortage of water here and we were allowed to wash some of the red dust off car and camper. Geikie Gorge is close by and we decided to bust the budget and go on a river cruise run by the rangers. The gorge is small by comparison to Karijini but it is here we saw the wild pigs and the freshwater crocs from the boat. Returning to the camp ground we crossed the original Fitzroy Crossing 10 feet wide and 150 feet across following ground level and not a bridge structure. Next overnight stop was at Halls Creek where we picked up a new dolly wheel for the camper to replace our ailing one. In the afternoon we decided to do the Tourist Drive. We first saw a phenomena of quartz crystal stacked like a built wall that appeared in sections over the hills. It can be seen from the air appearing from the ground over a large distance. No one is sure how long it goes for as part of it is still buried in the earth. Suitably called the China Wall. There was also Palm Springs about 45 kms out of Halls Creek which formed a crystal clear pool unusual in such a dry environment - no washing of the car in Halls Creek. 7 kms on along a 4WD road - the back road into the Bungle Bungles, Lake Argyle and Kununurra and our first real creek crossing we found the promised Gorge; red cliffs and a string of deep pools with sweet water; the perfect campsite for one lucky couple who offered us a cup of tea. Returned to the caravan park as the sun slid quickly below the horizon. When the sun goes down here it doesn't mess around - 5 minutes between daylight and dark. We are sending this from Hidden Valley, Kununurra, just on the edge of the National Park which has been likened to a mini Bungle Bungles. We walked it today in mid 30 degree heat and discovered the similiar beehive shaped hills that made the Bungle Bungles famous. We were glad to cool off in the pool when we got back. We had planned to get the car serviced while we were here but Nissan can't fit us in under a week. The mileage is adding up 15,000 kms on this trip up to now. Tomorrow we move on to more adventures.
Catch up with you all again soon
Rob and Rex.
Photo Profile - Palm Springs - Halls Creek.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

From Broome W.A.

Hello from Broome to all our followers. We are well and still very much enjoing what we are doing.
The last place we left you was at Pannawonica. Since then we have travelled to Millstream - an abandoned station that has been turned into a National Park. The main feature here is water - beautiful clear green springs flowing through tropical green growth with pools, some with water lillies, manicured by the previous owners. These pools are flowing rapidly and deep into the Fortescue River creating wetlands along which the walking trails wind their way. It forms an oasis in the middle of an arid landscape. Considering the pioneers came to this country in the late 1800's the buildings and the layout is very good.We spent 2 days exploring the station and walking the walks before moving on to Karatha where we did a once around the block and said this is a mining town not a tourist resort. We moved on to Roeborne where we stayed in what we called a Happy Caravan Park. While there we visited Point Samson - the up market place to stay if travelling through this area, and Cossack - the heritage restored village open to the public. From here we travelled to and stayed at Cape Keradaun. We were fortunate to find the best campsite at the mouth of the river close to the beach. This lovely blue river wound its way over white sand as it snaked its way down to the sea. We enjoed a walk along this nice coastline beach which went for miles and it was good experience for an overnight stay. Our first downer was waking up to a flat on the front wheel of the car. The spare was under everything in the back of the truck so all had to be unloaded and had fun working out how the tyre changing worked on th new vehicle. From here we went to try and get the flat fixed at Pardoo Roadhouse. They don't do mechanical repairs and we moved on to Sandfire Roadhouse, who also didn't do repairs so on to Broome. So many stressful kilometres with the knowledge that we didn't have a spare. We arrived in Broome, booked a site and hurried on to the Tyre Service to get our tyre fixed, which we were lucky to get done, before closing time it being Saturday. After settling in and relaxing a bit we did a tour of the town which is different to when we last experienced it. It is now a thriving, bustling, recreation tourist town which has spread out and is bigger than it used to be. We revisited Cable Beach with its Camel Rides and the 4WD's driving up the beach, we went searching for the dinosaur footprints on the headland, visited town beach which seemed used by the locals rather than tourists with its historical cemetary. We did a shop and retired back to the caravan park and the pool. It is unusally hot here for this time of the year with temperatures getting close to 40 deg C.
Tomorrow we head for Derby. More to come
Luv Rex and Rob

Sunday, June 13, 2010

From Pannawonica

Hi Family and Friends,
Over the last week we have had the luxury of spending time with family as well as a trip into Karijini in beween.
This is the second time we have been to Karijini and the gorges are as spectacular as they were last time. Great gashes in the earth with a stream or pools on the floor of the gorge. Having more time this time we walked them all up to Grade 4 level. We climbed down seemingly impossible cliffs to the bed of the gorge and followed it along sometimes climbing around pools by clinging to the wall along the side. It amazed us both at how well we did. It was great to meet so many people, young and old, local or international all doing the walks. My favourite was Dales Gorge where we climbed down to the bottom of Fortescue Falls followed it downstream sometimes past quite deep pools, through what I called a fairy's garden because many people in one flat area had built stone artful stacks ( of course we couldn't pass without contibuting our creation) onto circular pool; water coming in through the rock walls with ferns growing around the edges surrounded by high cliff walls of rich reds and yellows. We returned by the steep climb out to walk along the cliff top to complete the round circuit. On the way out we met up with the group of young Americans that we had cheered on as they edged their way down to the bottom of Joffre Falls. Magic place.
We returned to Paraburdoo before going onto Onslow to visit with our nephew Cam, his wife Renee, their 2 boys, Royden and Crawford and Renee's dad Dennis. It was here that Rex was able to catch up with all the motorbike news as Dennis is a fellow biker. We spent a lovely couple of days being feed gourmet meals, (Renee is a great cook), being shown the town sites including the beach with amazing shells, old Onslow with its stone gaol still standing, and the Salt Mine where Cam works. Royden also showed me a honey bird bush; the flowers really look like birds and when you suck them they give a little nectar. Once again we struggle with which photo -the gorges, the salt mine, the bird bush or the green frog but we decided on Renee's dad leaving this morning on his bike to go to Darwin.
Love to all
Rex and Rob

Monday, June 7, 2010

From Paraburdoo in the Pilbara

Hi Family and Friends,

After 9 weeks on the road we have finally arrived at my sister Sharon's home in Paraburdoo where we are being totally spoilt by her and her husband Owen.

We travelled from Leonora to Sandstone via the old Agnew Road It is a road that is being promoted as a tourist trail although it was the only road 26 years ago. There are different points along the road highlighting the history of the area such as wells, boundary fences, gold towns etc.

Doyles Well was the site of a pub on the Cobb and Co route to the gold fields around Agnew. Not much left of what would have been a centre of activity in the early 1900's except the concrete swimming pool. Closer to Agnew is what was the township of Lawler. Everything has been levelled except the police station which is now inside mine property. It was amongst the debris here that I found a 1917 silver threepence. Then there was the cemetary full of people that had died too young. On this road we also found a rock which neither of us saw on a sidetrack around the water which covered the road. We both heard the bang as it hit and scraped all the way down crumpling the petrol tank cover. Luckily it did no major damage and was still drivable and we arrived in Sandstone safely where Rex managed to push aside and wedge the offending part that was rubbing on the tail shaft.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From Leonora, Outback W.A

Hi Family and Friends,
We have left the rain behind and are enjoying beautiful weather. Over the last few days since leaving Kalgoorlie we have stayed at Goongarrie Station - abandoned. It has been taken over by the Department of Conservation and Environment and is available to camp or to stay in the homestead or the shearers cottage. We originally booked in for 1 day but stayed for 2 it was so beautiful and relaxing. We walked the station discovering diggings where gold had been discovered, finding old cars and machinery which Rex enjoyed and trails with interpretive signs on the trees and shrubs. The birds discovered my solar dyeing in plastic bags, thought it was lunch and tried to fly off with them, leaving holes in the bags so I had to do some repairing and replacing. From Goongarrie we travelled on to Menzies where the Council Caravan Park leaved a lot to be desired. The council garbage truck came in at the break of dawn and crashed and banged. There was a lot of permanent prospectors living in the park and we felt as though we were intruding although I did catch sight of a good size nugget of gold that one was showing his mate as we were packing up. While we were at Menzies we went out to Lake Ballard. It is the site for "Inside Australia" exhibition by Antony Gormley. It comprises of 51 sculptures spread out in the eerie setting on a salt lake 51 kms out of Menzies. A photo of one of the sculptures is our choice of photo for this update. Instead of sticking to the highway we went inland to Niagra Dam created in the early 1900's for the gold mining. We camped close to the Dam and had a beautiful view from the camper over the water. Again we explored the gold diggings looking for that elusive speck of colour. I did find some lovely rose quartz and we came across a herd of feral goats to Rex's delight. Two billy's put on a display for us by smashing their horns together. Then it was on to Leonora. I passed through this way 26 years ago with my girls and their 2 friends. It was interesting to see the changes. Apparently it had a new beginning after we passed through when it was virtually a ghost town. Another 20 years has passed and it looks like another down turn. The mine is still working but the shops in town look like most of them have gone out of business. The old boarding house where I took the girls photo 26 years ago had gone through a restoration and has now fallen into disrepair once more. I got Rex to take my photo with my head stiking out of one of the miners rooms similiar to the photo we took all those years ago. Tomorrow we go to Sandstone up the old Agnew Rd. Agnew still hasn't got any fuel but it does have its pub.
We sent our love to all our followers.
Catch up soon
Rex and Rob