Month end Odo reading: 7,751
June 2009
Km's for the Month: 1,487
Odo reading at month start : 6,264
1 June     Distance:  79kms      19.88 mpg     14.1 l/100

Taylor Creek Rest area to Devils Marbles camp.  On the way to Devils Marbles we passed through a town (1 petrol station and that's about all) called Wycliffe Well - there were little aliens all over the place and inside the cafe there were newspaper articles about little green men all over the world. Wycliffe Well professes to be the UFO capital of the Australia.
 
We then went to  Devils Marbles today getting there just before midday - just as well we got there early as by 3pm the camp was almost full and by 5pm caravans and motorhomes were squeezing into any little space available. The Devils Marbles are a very interesting formation of rocks, many balancing on others. At sunrise they take on a few reddish hue.
2 June     Distance: 109     20.08 mpg     14.05 l/100

Yvonne drove for the first time today. We saw plenty termite mounds along the way, as well as a dingo feasting on a "road-kill" calf. The vegetation is changing a lot now and it appears we are out of the worst of the desert.  Tennant Creek is a town with a population of 3,000, of which I guess 90% are aboriginal judging by the number of them on the sidewalks. We spoke to Connor this afternoon and got all his news about the Disney on Ice show he attended in Auckland over last weekend. We are attending an Outback Bush tucker show tonight by Jimmy Hooker. Update - show was cancelled.

3 June     Distance:   273


Tennant Creek to Newcastle Waters Rest Area.  S 17o 22' 31  E133o 26' 22Nothing of great interest today - the vegetation continues to change every 20kms or so. Apparently just north of here forest vegetation becomes the norm. We have seen a lot of greenery today, which makes a nice change from the red sandy semi-arid desert we have become so accustomed to. Very hot today.

4 June     Distance:  135

Newcastle Waters rest area to Daly Waters. Staying at the Daly Waters Pub Caravan Park.  As mentioned the vegetation is much greener now, with more frequent forests. On the way to Daly Waters we stopped at Newcastle Waters. In the middle of a parched landscape about 100 metres from Newcastle Waters we stopped at a large lake full of water-birds, there were literally hundreds of pelicans.
 
We arrived at Daly Waters early as we have heard it gets really busy and the Daly Waters Pub caravan park is normally full by 3pm, if not earlier. It's filling up very quickly now and it's only 12:30.  What an interesting place - the pub itself is like nothing we have seen before - maybe only in old cowboy towns like Tombstone in Arizona, but this is more authentic. At the same time we checked in for the park, we were asked if we wanted to order our feed for tonight, a Beef & Barra combo (for the non Aussies reading a Barra is a Barramundi fish). We ordered two for 6:30. As well as the meal there is nightly entertainment by local musicians and bush poets - should be fun!

It's a fun place and considering it's way off the beaten track it's absolutely amazing how many people come to look at the pub and stay for a feed and a drink.

The show was great fun - at first Frank the Chook man performed with some great songs and a few poems. His songs are a very true reflection of the Aussie way of life and everyone enjoyed the performance - especially when he sang with 2 silkies (Chooks) on his head. The food was great, especially the steak - it was certainly worth our while coming to Daly Waters - a must see & do!

5-7 June     Distance: 290     20.20 mpg     13.97 l/100


Daly Waters to Katherine, via Mataranka. Staying at the Shady Lane Tourist Park **  The park would have rated a 4-star, but with only 4 showers and 4 toilets for the men and the same number for women - for a camp with well over 200 parking sites and it was absolutely full - it looses 2 stars for not having enough ablution facilities.

Our first destination today was the little town of Mataranka - we stopped at the post office there to buy a DVD titled, "We of the Never Never" a famous Australian movie which we have been told we must watch, the movie was set in Mataranka.  From there we went to Bitter Springs a thermal pool / river, much less known by tourists, it is totally natural. The water was around 30o and is crystal clear. As it is a river there is a fairly strong flow, so we started up-stream and floated downstream about 400 metres, where one can climb up one of the only man-made items, a ladder.  It was really great, warm in the water and cool when one got out. The temperature today just after noon reached a scorching 38o.  Both Yvonne & I swam.
 
We weren't going to come to Katherine today, but the rest area I picked to stay at was still empty just before 3pm, so we decided to push on to Katherine. After the obligatory visit to Woolies we headed for the camp.

6 June  -  Went on a boat trip on the Katherine River, through the first 2 of the 13 gorges - it is now known as Nitmiluk Gorge and is in the jointly managed Nitmiluk National Park, it is managed by the Jawoyn People and the Parks Authority. 

It certainly is very scenic and a very rugged landscape, it's very hard believe in the last 3 floods, the gorge overflowed its banks in places and almost engulfed the visitors centre. In those places the river rose more than 12 metres!

The trip is broken in two, as it's not the wet season now the boat we were on could not pass over the rocks, so we got out and walked about 500 metres, then got onto another boat that took us to the second gorge. It was a 2-hour experience and well worth braving the extreme heat. On the way back we spotted a fresh water crocodile on the bank, only very infrequently do the find "Salties" here - although they do have traps for them, we saw two of the traps.

7 June - rest day today. We have to be in Darwin on the 15th June. Very hot again today - 36o.  Heading off to Kakadu National Park tomorrow.

8 June     Distance:  156kms      19.88 mpg     14.1 l/100

Katherine to Mary River Roadhouse (en-route to Kakadu National Park) **  S 13o 36' 50  E132o 13' 10
Stopped in Pine Creek, about 90kms north of Katherine. Nice railway museum and mining museum. Besides that an uneventful drive and nothing to write home about. Another scorcher of a day - 38o at 3pm, thank goodness for air-conditioners.  Camp expensive at $28, considering poor amenities.
 
9-11 June     Distance:   106

Mary River Roadhouse to  Cooinda 3-star. Staying at the Gagudju Lodge  Cooinda Caravan Park, yet another dusty park, but very popular with rental & private caravans. $35 per night!  Before coming to Kakadu I read many articles on the merits of "doing" Kakadu or not doing it. The one I remember well was titled, "Kakadu - Kaka-don't". The first impressions we have is that the latter description is more appropriate. The 106km drive here today was uninspiring, not much to see and even when we ventured off the main road to do the Mardugal Billabong walk alongside the Alligator river, near Cooinda, there was far less bird life than I expected. We were lucky to see a large White-Breasted Sea-eagle, being chased by crows! The bird life in OZ is so varied and there are stunningly beautiful birds (of the feathered variety!) Flies are still plentiful but now we have the added aggravation of mozzies, I think I was bitten about 30 times today - they're like the Richards Bay mozzies, very itchy and they leave a nice welt.
 
10 June - We did a boat trip on the Alligator river, from Yellow Waters, Cooinda. It's an amazing wetland which during the wet season, the water level rises about 2-3 metres - it many ways it reminded me of the Everglades in Florida or the Okavango in Botswana.

The birdlife is stunning with hundreds of species.

We saw Sea Eagles, Whistling Kites, Jacanas, Jabiru (a stork), Cormorants, Herons, Egrets, Australian Darters and many water bird species.  The problem I now have is trying to remember all the names so I can cross them off in my "Slater Field Guide of Australian Birds".

The first salt water croc got out attention even though it was quite small - shortly however, the sight of salties almost became boring as we saw more and more of them - one of them on the bank only 2 metres away and another in the water about the same distance away. We even saw a croc lunge at a few Whistling Ducks on the river bank, the birds scrambled away from the bank really quickly and none became "lunch".

We also saw Brumbies (wild horses) and as we headed back to shore we saw a massive 82cm Barramundi being caught. Although a National Park, fishing is allowed in order to keep the fish numbers down, but only lures and artificial bait is allowed to be used.

The pink water lilies we really beautiful. In a nutshell, this trip made the 500km round-trip to Kakadu worthwhile, without this boat trip it has been more than slightly disappointing.

11 June  -  We walked to the Warradjan Aboroginal Cultural Centre, 1km from the camp. I have to confess, as much as I normally love learning about other peoples cultures and beliefs I am unable to become too enthused about the Aboriginal culture or their art. One very weird thing we have noticed is the lack of Aboriginal people working in any of "their" cultural centres - this is so unlike the Maoris in New Zealand who generally always work and act as guides at traditional Maori tourist attractions.

12-13 June     Distance:   61


Cooinda to Jabiru. Staying at the Lakeview Park, an Aboriginal owned park. It's very nicely laid out with green lawns and en-suite private ablutions - also, all roads in the park are paved so NO DUST!  $30 per night. 4****.  Another scorcher of a day at 37o. I had my first mishap with my RV today, I foolishly reversed it into a roof overhang resulting in a fair sized scratch and a bit of a shouting match between Yvonne & I (can I hear in the distance, "so what's new?")  Anyway, I have already touched it up with the paint Paradise supplied.

Jabiru is a small town and as such there is nothing to really see other than tour company offices.  On the way here we spent a couple of hours at the Bowali Visitor Centre, the Park Headquarters. We watched a very interesting film about the six very different seasons in the Top End and in Kakadu specifically -  from the wet season to the hot & dry season.

13 June  -  Went for a walk to lake nearby the camp, it's well in the 30's again. Not much to see there.

Nitmulik Gorge
Croc on the bank

14 June     Distance:    229


Staying at the Coolalinga Caravan Park, half the park is nice the other half is a not so nice. I guess as we are only staying one night we are in the not so nice half. $29 per night. 
 
On the way to Coolalinga we stopped at the Windows of the Wetlands Visitor Centre near Djukbinj National park.

The exhibits were interesting but the building is too far away from the wetlands to see anything, we did however see water buffalos in the distance.

As we arrived at the camp in Coolalinga we had a call from Connor, who had been to our house with Scott to collect our post - as a reward for watering our plants we told Connor about a box of Skittles that he could take, but he couldn't find them, but after one re-direction he found them instantly. At the same time he told us he had sat in my Porsche as I promised he could, so Scott took a photo and sent it to me. We are missing the Cheeky Monkey & Kelly! 

15 June     Distance:    229


Coolalinga to Darwin, via Palmerston
 
Staying at the Hidden Valley Tourist Park, it's very nicely laid out.  $44 per night. Overall camp   4 *Arrived in Darwin at last after stopping in Palmerston which is about 16kms from Darwin. We stopped in Palmerston to buy groceries and fill up with diesel. It is a satellite city of Darwin and apparently is very fast growing. Very nice to see the sea again!
 
After leaving there we went into Darwin city to look around before going back out of town to the park. It's an interesting city, where grass that has been watered it is very green, but otherwise the grass is dry and brown. Where it's green with lots of palms and trees it reminds us a little of Singapore or entering San Diego   on the I15 highway. After taking our RV into town we decided it's not too practical as parking is pretty scarce and most parking spaces are too small, so we hired a car from JJ's car hire - owned by James who was leaving the next day to play in the Midnight Sevens rugby tournament in Las Vegas. Anyway the first car he gave us kept cutting out so he than gave us (his) Ford Fairmont powered by LPG.
 
We drove in Darwin town, walked along the Esplanade and visited the Northern Territory Parliament House, a unique structure reminiscent of buildings in Singapore.
 
18 June  -  After a day driving along the Darwin coastline with it's really great beached we visited the museum where there is an excellent exhibition of the damage the 1974 Cyclone Tracy did to Darwin - on Christmas Day. 80 people were killed but 26,000 were evacuated.   Darwin was totally rebuilt after the cyclone.  In the evening we went to the Mindil Beach sunset market and after enjoying some really tasty Asian food we watched a stunning sunset.
 
The V8 Supercars are in town - we watched the parade of all the car carrier vehicles drive past our camp which is only 1 km from the racetrack, we are deciding whether to go and watch the race on one of the days.
 
19 June  -  The Ford Fairmont has now packed up - so now I have a Toyota Corolla, how many more? After a reasonably uneventful day we drove to Stokes Hill Wharf where we boarded the ex-fishing yacht, the Cape Adieu, for a sunset dinner cruise, the weather could not have been better, but the time we boarded the extreme heat had cooled down to a very pleasant  & balmy 23 degrees.  After enjoying a really good seafood buffet, then grilled Jew Fish and rump steak the boat was positioned perfectly to watch the sun set. Just before 8pm we headed back to the wharf for dis-embarkation. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.
 
21  June  -  Went to the V8 Supercars race at the Hidden Valley raceway which is 1km from the camp. The race certainly generates much interest as there were tens of thousands there. The air force did a fly over in a F18 and then a vertical climb from ground level until the plane was out of sight! Took a lot of video for Harry, my brother-in-law who races classic cars in S Africa.
 
22 June  -  Visited the World War II oil tunnels in Darwin, near the port. These were built during WWII to protect oil supply to ships and to prevent the Japanese from destroying Darwin's fuel supplies. Got another rental car today, a Toyota Camry, the Corolla was really rough and a spring in the backrest of my seat dug into my back making it most uncomfortable driving - car # 4!
 
27 June - went to the Aviation Heritage museum near Darwin airport - I wanted to see the B52 Bomber on display there.  It's enormous! Fantastic displays at the museum and well worth the visit. A history lesson about the bombing of Darwin, more bombs were dropped on Darwin in the raid than all the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbour!

Aliens at Wycliffe Well
Devils Marbles
Yvonne driving & concentrating
Temp at 14:38 (38C)
Termite mound, Mataranka
Yvonne in Bitter Springs
Daly Waters Pub, with Chook man below left
A large Barramundi
A "salty" about 2 metres away
Croc warning sign
Mardugal billabong
Sea Eagle
Pink water lily
Site with en-suite bathroom
The point of contact
V8's at Hidden Valley
Connor & Kelly in Porsche
Alligator river
WWII Oil tunnel
Sunset on Cape Adieu
Booze cruise on Cape Adieu
Sunset at Mindil Beach
Crocodile Dundee
Parliament House, Darwin
Lest we Forget Memorial
B52 wing and Spitfire at Aviation Heritage centre, Darwin