Heading West

We left Darwin on a rainy afternoon – the first real hint of the wet season approaching. I say rainy, but this was not your regular rain…it was drenchworthy with massive bolts of fork lightning and possibly the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard. It was something else.

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After revisiting Katherine and stocking up on supplies, we started travelling west towards the border. Unfortunately, ZZ decided it was the perfect time to BANG and break down in the middle of nowhere (between Victoria River and Timber Creek to be precise). I shouldn’t be mean…it was not his fault. We had had him serviced a few days earlier in Darwin to prevent any potential situations like this one from occurring, and the guys didn’t put the points in correctly. Isn’t that always the way? Breaking down after having it tuned up? So frustrating!

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. A lovely couple and their kids who were on their way home from a holiday in Bali took pity on us and pulled over. No party had any reception, so they agreed to call RAC on our behalf when they got to the next town. About an hour later, the guy appears again in his car. He had called RAC only to be told that it would be about 3 hours until someone could get us (and it was already 4pm and we were stuck in not the safest of places just over a bridge AND there was a storm on the way), so he bought a tow strap, drove back and towed us into town (and got saturated in the rain and would not accept any money for petrol or the tow strap). The goodness of people! We were able to track them down when we went through their home town a few days later and gifted them with some beer and chocolate.

We were stuck in Timber Creek for two nights, which, while far from the end of the world, it wasn’t the most exciting time of our lives. We had also brought no fresh fruit/veg, as there is a quarantine at the W.A. border and we were planning on being over there pretty quickly. The only store in Timber Creek was attached to the Roadhouse/caravan park, and they were charging $9 for a piece of watermelon. Crazy.

Finally the local mechanic was able to sort us out and we were on our way, driving straight to Kununurra, just over the border of Western Australia.

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We were pretty stoked to be over the border and on the move again, as after a couple of overcast days providing some relief from the heat, it was really starting to get hot and sticky again. We pulled into Kununurra and went and immersed ourselves in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket, getting excited by all the options. After running all the necessary errands, we enjoyed some delicious tofu and salad wraps on the grass, then popped by Wild Mango (a café we had parked in front of) to enjoy an icy cold fruit granita.

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This one was citrus flavour, full of freshly squeezed juice. It was so delicious and super refreshing. I wished that it would never end. Mmm icy treats.

Then it was time to plan the next leg of our trip, destination: Broome. Stay tuned for more..

 

Wild Mango
20 Messmate Way, Kununurra W.A.
Open 7 days, breakfast and lunch

The Groove

In the midst of our market weekend, we headed over to Nightcliff to go to the Sunday morning markets there. A lot of the stalls were the same as had been at other markets, and we didn’t find anything that won us over in terms of brunch. On the way out, we noticed a funky little café with a large outdoor deck and seating. We popped over to take a look and to my surprise, they actually had multiple vegan options on the menu.

Not only did they have make a make your own sandwich option (with a variety of breads including GF), with an extensive list of items you could add, from artichoke to pineapple, but they had a vegan breakfast listed which included toast, avocado, baked beans, spinach, mushrooms, roasted red capsicum and tomatoes. Yum!

Their lunch menu included a vegan roasted stack, and cous cous stuffed tomatoes. Pretty good for an omni café! What caught my eye though was the delicious looking lentil patties that you could get on their own or in a burger. Billy and I decided to split one over coffee for an early brunch.

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The burger was awesome! The pattie was coated in sesame seeds and was packed with flavour. It was noticeably spicy, which I always love and was accompanied by salad and what appeared to be a homemade tomato relish in soft Turkish bread. Beautiful!

I would go as far as to say that the lentil pattie was one of the best ‘veggie burgers’ that I’ve tasted (and there’s been a few!). I’m going to have to try and recreate this one.

Also worth mentioning – though it was very busy due to the markets, our food arrived with about five minutes which was pretty impressive. The staff obviously know what they’re doing! The Groove is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area. Lots of veg options, friendly staff and a good atmosphere.

The Groove
Shop 4, 35 Progress Drive
Nightcliff, Northern Territory
Mon-Sat – 7.30 – 6pm
Sun – 7.30 – 2pm

Nitmiluk and Litchfield National Parks

We arrived in Katherine early in the morning, and decided to head out to Nitmiluk National Park first thing, before it got too hot. The heat (and the HUMIDITY) was really starting to affect us, and we were now planning our days around where we would swim. Nitmiluk National Park is most famous for the Katherine Gorge, which is a series of gorges cutting through the rock. There are various walks you can do through the park, and we picked a pretty basic 1-2 hour one which took us up to a lookout above the gorge, and then back around through part of the park.

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The view from the top was pretty breathtaking, it was quite incredible to see the vibrant river cutting through what is quite a harsh (yet beautiful) landscape.

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The walk was not too strenuous, but the heat that was developing already at only about 10am was insane. We were dripping with sweat from just being out there. It was quite a phenomenal walk though, with some amazing rock layerings and formations as well as an entirely different landscape from where we had just been in Far North Queensland.

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While there was a spot you could swim at the gorge, we had already decided that we would go back into town where there were more thermal springs, and cool off there. Quite a few backpackers had the same idea, and you could see why. It was a lovely peaceful little spot, where you could float around in the crystal clear water.

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Unfortunately, my phone also decided it was a great spot for a dip, and somehow unbeknown to us jumped in. It sat on the bottom of the pools for probably about an hour, and amazingly, after pulling it apart and leaving it in rice overnight, it worked just fine! At first I thought it had become all warped, it was telling me I had messages that I couldn’t see and so on. Then I discovered that it simply had the Y2K bug, about 13 years too late. For some reason my phone went back in time to 1/1/2000 and so all my messages and photos and stuff were at of whack. Bizzareo!

After Katherine, we headed a bit further north to the Edith Falls (our next swim destination). Edith Falls is still within the Nitmiluk National Park, and we discovered upon arrival that you could camp there for something like $6.60 each a night, so we ended up doing that. It was such a lovely spot, right on our doorstep was one swimming area that was just the most perfect temperature.

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We thought it was pretty amazing, and just splashed around there for the afternoon. The next morning when we got up we went on the 30-45 minute walk up to the top pools, which was where the main falls actually were. And oh. my. goodness was it worth it. It was SO out of this world beautiful.

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We stayed up there for a couple of hours, splashing around and chatting with others as they came up there. Nearly all my fears of being eaten by crocodiles subsided just in the sheer beauty of the place. Plus we were above a waterfall, and I am pretty sure crocs are usually downstream of them.

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It’s pretty crazy finding such lush places like this, and then walking back into dry bushland under the scorching sun.

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After Edith Falls, we kept on our way north up to Litchfield National Park. We spent the afternoon wandering around these humungous termite mounds and finding more swimming spots (of course).

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This was our first swim spot, a series of tiered pools called the Buley rockhole. We lazed around in this one a bit higher up which was quite shallow, but was away from all the people – there was quite a crowd down the bottom.

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A little further along the tracks was a campground at the Florence Falls, which we set up at as it was getting dark. The night was a STINKER, we had the doors open and the mozzie net up and we just lay there sweating our butts off. It was crazy. All we had to comfort us was the thought of getting up and going straight down to the falls. The colours as the sun set were pretty awesome though.

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Billy either caught a little bug or had a bit of heatstroke, and was not feeling too flash hot, so we had to get him into the water stat. Others had the same idea…all of us poor folks sleeping in stinking hot vans or cars were the first in the water.

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Next up were the Tolmer Falls, which you could only view from a lookout, as down the bottom there are several rare species of bats that are being protected. While the amount of water was not that spectacular, the height of the Tolmer Falls was really something, and you can imagine in the wet season the water would just be streaming down.

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The lack of being in cool water was not appreciated much by a withering Bear, who didn’t look like he was going to make it.

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We went on to our last destination for our time at the park, the Wangi Falls.

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What can I say? Another incredible swimming spot with beautiful waterfalls. That moment you step into the water and all the heat and sweat and lethargy just washes away…it’s indescribable.

Well that’s two big photo posts for you in one day, I’ll post again soon on our time in Darwin – where we headed straight after Litchfield, but that’s all from me for now. Hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us 🙂

Crossing the outback: Queensland to the Northern Territory

After our lovely tropical beach, rainforest, and lush waterfall experiences, it was time to head off on our long journey to Darwin. It was pretty exciting, neither of us had been to the NT before, however, the excitement only lasts so long when you have two-four days of driving ahead of you. In saying that, it was a really cool experience watching the landscape change and it just solidifies my amazement at the variation of the landscape in our country. Not to mention the sheer size of this place!

We set off early in the mornings to try and beat some of the heat. We were really starting to feel it now as we sat in the van for 8 hours a day with the sun beating in on us. We took the Savannah route (which is above the main one which goes from Townsville) with the plan of heading south to the main road at Normantown, after which the road becomes a bit dubious if you don’t have a 4WD. We saw THREE emus on our first day of travel. I’ve only ever seen one in the wild before, these guys are crazy prehistoric looking birds. They kind of camouflage against the landscape, huh?

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Our first main stop was Georgetown, where we got a new tyre to replace a balding one. Then we drove all the way across to Normantown, where we snapped a shot with this ‘big’ thing…an apparent replica of the largest crocodile ever caught in the area. Look at the size of that thing! Crazy!

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Georgetown had not just one but TWO big things, so we were grab another snap before we headed south. Yep, it’s a big barramundi.

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We headed as far as we could before the sun got too low (and all the little wallabies started to emerge by the side of the road) and stayed overnight at the Bang Bang rest stop. You can find street art in the strangest of places…

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The following day, this happened to our tyre (not the new one, thank goodness).

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I’ve never burst a tyre QUITE as bad as this before. Thankfully we had a spare to get us into Cloncurry where we could pick up another. We went a little further to Mt Isa and set up camp, as we had some other car issues that we had to attend to. This being our last stop in Queensland, I realised that I was yet to drink a XXXX beer (THE beer of Queensland), so we quickly remedied that. There is actually something to be said for drinking mid-strength beers in hot climates, that’s for sure.

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The next day was back to outback driving. The scenery doesn’t change much for long stretches, so you get kind of excited when you see something like this.

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I know…wild, right?

Oh, this one time we also got surrounded by cows.

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FINALLY, we made it to the border. WAHOO!!

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Then it was pretty much back to outback driving, with a roadhouse punctuating the trip every few hundred kms. One of them, smack bang in the middle of nowhere, had about four peacocks. Again, the things you see….

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We found a rest stop just in time for sunset, and got to watch the sun go down on central Australia. It was pretty cool.

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The next day it was all systems go. We were kind of tired of driving and being in the middle of nowhere, so we were on a mission. We had a kind of interesting drive, as coming the other way were all these solar cars for the world solar races. Some of them were crazy, they looked like little space ships. The poor drivers, it was about 40 degrees and they didn’t have any air con in those tiny little bubbles. They would have been ROASTING.

Finally, we hit Mataranka where we were blessed to find the thermal springs. We melted into the water and floated around for an hour or so, which really revived our bodies and spirits. It is not easy driving for days in 35-42 degree heat (with no showers). There’s definitely nothing glamorous about this lifestyle (but it’s rad fun!)

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And with that, I’ll leave this picture heavy post there. I’ve got plenty more to add, so I’ll try and sneak another one in tonight while I still have reception. We’re actually in W.A. now, so I’ve got a bit of a backlog to get us up to speed…I’ll see how I go.