Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mataranka to Katherine

Yesterday was only a short drive from Mataranka to Katherine, but we still had to have a day of laziness after driving. So after setting up Myrtle for her few days at the Shady Lane Caravan Park we read through the information on what there is to do in Katherine. Shady Lane Caravan Park is very nice, with lots of shade from the palms and the amenities are by far the best we have experienced - just like a real bathroom. I booked us to do the Dawn Break Cruise on Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge) this morning, so it was up bright and early and off to the boat ramp at Nitmiluk Visitors Centre. After departing the dock at 7.00am we drifted down the first gorge while enjoying a yummy hot breakfast. When we reached as far as we could by boat we walked about 600mtrs along a very easy path, taking in the rock formations and Aboriginal Art. The second gorge was even more spectacular with its dramatic rock walls and fascinating mythology and history. Our tour guide Jake, who actually happened to be a Maori (New Zealander) was really nice, funny and very knowledgeable.  Nitmiluk Gorge actually consists of 13 immense gorges that stretch for kilometres, but only three are accessible by boat. To see more you have to either walk or take a flight over the area. The rest of our day was spent longing around. I actually set up my jewellery and again low and behold I sold a necklace - woohoo!

Spectacular Rock Fractures

The Moon, Rock and Tree!

Nitmiluk Gorge

Tears Rock - water seeps through the rocks above.

Jake - Our tour guide

Friday, June 28, 2013

Kakadu to Edith Falls to Mataranka

Well its been a few days without electricity/Internet and then a few more days indulging in the Mataranka Hot Springs. So I have a few things to update you on. Tuesday we left Kakadu after having a very educational and relaxing week. For the next week or so we will actually be backtracking over roads we travelled on our way up to Darwin. No way around it as it's the only way to get to the west. We spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Nitmiluk National Park at Leliyn (Edith Falls). Once again we were surrounded by beautiful scenery but I was unsure how much swimming was going to get done here as the signs did say that there were Freshwater Crocodiles in the water. But I thought maybe I'll give it a go, but then I stood in the water and it was absolutely freezing. Now I like swimming but freezing water and crocs both go against my grain! But we still had a nice relaxing two nights there. On the second night as I lay in bed and listened to a pack of dingoes howling to each other in the distance I knew "Life is Good".
Edith Falls and Plunge Pool
Then it was off to Mataranka for a few days of indulgence in the hot thermal springs. We did have two nights here on our way up to Darwin, but knew we would be coming back and am I glad we did. There are two thermal springs, both located in the Elsey National Park. Bitter Springs is Matarankas newest spring and has been maintained in a fairly natural setting. The main Mataranka Thermal Spring is closest to our camp , which is an easy 2 minute walk. The water is unbelievable clear and is a consistent 32c and very very relaxing.
Bitter Springs Thermal Pool

Mataranka Main Thermal Pool
Last night we decided to light a fire and sit by while star gazing and along came a guest for dinner.
Nothing better than sitting by a fire in the dark

Our little dinner visitor - no I didn't feed him or eat him!
This morning I wandered down to Stevie's Hole which is where the small springs flow out into the Waterhouse River. It was such a peaceful sight with the steam rising from the warm water and on the side of the river a metre long freshwater crocodile slept in.
Serene - Waterhouse River
We are heading north to Katherine tomorrow morning - and not a moment to soon! Two bus loads of kids just arrived - I've have my kid days, I'm outta here!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wildlife and SuperMoon

Another quite day today -
mixing with the wildlife, swimming in the pool and soaking up the SuperMoon. 
My first experience with the wildlife today was at 5.30am. I could hear what sounded like two dogs barking at each other in the distance. Then I realised they had a consistent rhythm going on.....Then I realised it was these two guys talking to each cute.
This one was really keeping an eye (or two) on me!!

I got a wink from this one.

Then at lunch time we decided to go and get a sandwich from the Bakery - really only shop in town to get anything. There was a family of these Blue Faced Honey Eaters hanging around, but today it wasn't honey they were interested in. They wanted Corned Beef and Salad sandwich......MINE. He jumped on the table to help me eat my lunch. So to keep the peace I broke some of the roll off and threw it on the ground for him, And blow me down if he didn't pick it up and flew to the table top next to us and ate his lunch! Manners I guess.

Tonight's SuperMoon is absolutely amazing when there are no city lights surrounding you. At 8.00pm I joined in (in thought only as I was totally all alone in the darkness) with many others around the world and meditated for about 20 mins and it was great.

OK we are all ready to soak up the moon light now!!
Full Moon (let alone SuperMoon) if a perfect time to cleanse your crystals.
We are leaving Kakadu National Park in the morning and not to sure if I will have any Internet connection for the next couple of days.
So if I don't, have a great couple of days and may all you wish for come you way.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lazy day in Kakadu

Well as I said yesterday today was going to be a lazy day, and it certainly was. Other than going to the Jabiru Sports Club for one beer (then leaving Shane there for a bit of a racing day) and having dinner at the tourist park restaurant (which was very nice Barramundi) I did absolutely nothing remotely connected to my adventure. So seeing I haven't really got anything to tell you all I thought I would just share some of my photos.
Off course I have to share another one of the beautiful Northern Territory Sunsets

and..... another one of the friendly crocodiles - I think I must look tasty!!!!

and..... me peeping through the rocks at The Lost City

The rock on the right is two faced rock with a Jabiru bird sitting on top off it.
But all I can see is ET facing left, Robocop facing right and
Homer Simpson having a snooze!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nourlange and Fire

This morning we headed of to have a look at the other main Rock Art Site - Nourlange. At Nourlange you can see how local Aboriginal people lived in this area through changing times. Environmental and social changes are reflected in the rock art and in the ground, where archaeologists have uncovered over 20,000 years of Aboriginal occupation.

Everyone likes to DANCE

On the way home we called into Anbangbang Billabong. I got out the car to take a couple of photos but didn't want to get to close to the water just in case there were some unfriendly local hiding in the shallows!!
Anbangbang Billabong - See the Kakadu Darter drying his feathers.
If I was him I would do it in a place where there wasn't a chance of getting eaten!
As I mentioned last night Kakadu has six different seasons and the one we are in at the moment is Wurrgeng and we are following Yegge. During these two seasons drying winds and flowering Darwin woolly butt tell the Bininj/Mungguy to patchwork burn the woodlands to encourage new growth. So needless to say there has been a bit of residual smoke from the days burn off. Doesn't help with the asthma and sinus's, but no big deal. But early this evening we were sitting by the pool when all of a sudden there was lots of smoke and one of the days burn offs had got out of control and was at the caravan grounds border. The local CFA (Country Fire Authority) were on the job pretty quickly, but then proceeded to back burn the rest of the caravan parks perimeter. So it gave everyone lots to look at and talk about. I didn't feel like we were in danger but I sure am glad the CFA was there quickly.

Fire at the caravan park border!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rock Art and Culture

Today we were definitely tourists, with the day starting with a visit to see some Aboriginal Rock Art. At Ubirr (pronounced oo-bir, with a short oo) we saw a range of different styles of paintings. Most of the x-ray paintings in the main gallery were painted within the last 1500 years. They show the abundant food available in the area surrounding Ubirr, including fish, waterfowl, mussells, wallabies, goannas, echidnas and yams.
Mabuyu Hunting Figure
Almangiyi (long neck turtle)
Close to the main gallery is a painting of a thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), believed to have become extinct on the Australian mainland 2000 to 3000 years ago.
We stopped off at the Border Store for lunch and were pleasantly surprised with yummy fresh salad sandwiches. The Border Store is so named as it is situated at the border of Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land. You have to get a permit to go into Arnhem Land, it was declared an Aboriginal Reserve in 1931. It remains one of the largest Aboriginal Reserves in Australia and is perhaps best know for it's isolation, the art of it's people, and the strong continuing traditions of it's indigenous inhabitants.
 After lunch we were on on a cultural cruise with Guluyambi on the East Alligator River. It was a very enjoyable 1hr 45min travelling along this beautiful - crocodile filled - river, taking in the wonderful pristine wilderness. we saw lots of crocs, birdlife and learnt a lot about the aboriginal culture, local mythology and the rivers abundant food chain. We even got to go ashore on the Arnhem Land side to take some photos upstream.

Pristine East Alligator River

Resident basking on the banks!!
Tonight the caravan park we are staying at had one of the parks and wildlife rangers come and give guests a slide show and talk on the different areas and wildlife of Kakadu - very very interesting.
So now I am very tired from all my touristy activities and looking forward to a nice nights sleep.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kakadu National Park

Today we decided to have a lazy day, so all we have really done is visit the Visitors Centre and swim and relax by the pool. So I thought I would share some information about the park I have just learnt. Kakadu National Park covers an area of 19,804 km2 (7,646 sq mi), extending nearly 200 kilometres from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west. It is about one-third the size of Tasmania, or nearly half the size of Switzerland. The Ranger Uranium Mine, one of the most productive uranium mines in the world, is surrounded by separation from the park. Over the years there has been quite a lot of controversy regarding the mines location and effect on the environment. Aboriginal people have occupied the Kakadu area continuously for at least 40,000 years. Kakadu National Park is renowned for the richness of its Aboriginal cultural sites. There are more than 5,000 recorded art sites illustrating Aboriginal culture over thousands of years. 
One thing I didn't know was that Kakadu's Aboriginal owners recognise six different seasons.

Gudjewg | Monsoon season
December to March | average temperatures: 24°C - 34°C
Gudjewg, from December to March, can be described as the 'true' wet season. It is a time of thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooding. The heat and humidity generate an explosion of plant and animal life. Spear grass grows to over two metres tall and creates a silvery-green hue throughout the woodlands. Magpie geese nest in the sedgelands. Flooding may cause goannas, snakes and rats to seek refuge in the trees. Eggs and stranded animals are a good food source for Bininj/Mungguy during this time.
Banggerreng | Knock 'em down storm season
April | average temperatures: 23°C - 34°C
Banggerreng, in April, is the season when the rain clouds have dispersed and clear skies prevail. The vast expanses of floodwater recede and streams start to run clear. Most plants are fruiting and animals are caring for their young. Violent, windy storms early in this season flatten the spear grass; they are called 'knock 'em down' storms.
Yegge | Cooler but still humid season
May to June | average temperatures: 21°C - 33°C
Yegge, from May to mid-June, is relatively cool with low humidity. Early morning mists hang low over the plains and waterholes. The shallow wetlands and billabongs are carpeted with water lilies. Drying winds and flowering Darwin woolly butt tell Bininj/Mungguy that it is time to start burning the woodlands in patches to 'clean the country' and encourage new growth for grazing animals.
Wurrgeng | Cold weather season
June to August | average temperatures: 17°C - 32°C
Wurrgeng, from mid-June to mid-August, is the 'cold weather' time; humidity is low, daytime temperatures are around 30°C and night-time temperatures are around 17°C. Most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out. Burning continues, extinguished by the dew at night. By day, birds of prey patrol the fire lines as insects and small animals try to escape the flames. Magpie geese, fat and heavy after weeks of abundant food, and a myriad of other waterbirds crowd the shrinking billabongs.
Gurrung | Hot dry weather
August to October | average temperatures: 23°C - 37°C
Gurrung, from mid-August to mid-October, is hot and dry. It is still 'goose time' but also time for Bininj/Mungguy to hunt file snakes and long-necked turtles. Sea turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beaches of Field Island and West Alligator Head and goannas rob their nests sometimes. White-breasted wood swallows arrive as thunderclouds build, signalling the return of Gunumeleng.
Gunumeleng | Pre-monsoon storm season
October to December | average temperatures: 24°C - 37°C
Gunumeleng, from mid-October to late December, may in fact last from a few weeks to several months. It is the pre-monsoon season of hot weather that becomes more and more humid. Thunderstorms build in the afternoons and showers bring green to the dry land. As the streams begin to run, acidic water that washes from the floodplains can cause fish to die in billabongs with low oxygen levels. Waterbirds spread out as surface water and new growth become more widespread. Barramundi move from the waterholes downstream to the estuaries to breed. This was when Bininj/Mungguy moved camp from the floodplains to the stone country, to shelter from the violent storms of the coming wet season.

So that means we are in Wurrgeng | Cold weather season - so I ask you why am I sitting here typing this post in a sarong with perspiration running down my back??

This rock at the Visitors Centre has been painted to depict the 6 different seasons

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Howard Springs to Kakadu National Park

We finally hit the road a bit late today after having a little mechanical issue with Myrtle. After trying a couple of  possible repairers we finally came along Vic from Northern Van Repairs. He was our caravan angel, he fixed our problem and had us on the road again within an hour. The drive from Howard Springs to Jabiru in Kakadu National Park is only about 216kms but there were quite a few spots of road works happening which slowed us a bit. We finally arrived and headed to the caravan park we had been recommended to stay - Lakeview Tourist Park - but they didn't have a site for us so we headed to the other park, Aurora Tourist Park. When we drove in and picked our site we thought we had struck gold. This is such a nice park, grass, shady trees and the most beautiful pool I have ever seen in a remote caravan park, with a bar and restaurant beside the pool. Myrtle is camped about 10 steps from the pool. So needless to say I may be spending a bit of time in the water - no chance of crocodiles in the pool too!!

Northern Van Repairs

Vic - Our Caravan Angel

Hows this for a pool in a remote caravan park?

Monday, June 17, 2013

All Stocked Up

After a couple of days back in civilization on the outskirts of Darwin I am now ready to head out to the wilderness again. This past weekend has been especially busy in Darwin with the V8 Supercars racing. The caravan park we are staying at - Howard Springs Holiday Park - was inundated with racing enthusiasts with their favorite car teams jumpers on. Although they were mainly in Ford and Holden colours. On Sunday I was sitting quietly by Myrtle when I heard a familiar tune - Greensleeves. Now anyone from Australia (I am not sure if it is the same in other countries) will know if you hear a small van playing Greensleeves, it has to be Mr Wippy, although they go by different names these days. So up I jumped and bolted to the front of the van and bought us both a yummy single chocolate topped ice-cream. Well that was a first getting an ice-cream at the door of my camper. Today was a little quieter as a lot of the rev heads left town, so we ventured out and stocked up on our food etc. supplies ready to head off to Kakadu National Park tomorrow. I'm not sure when my next post will be as I may not have Internet there.

Mr Wippy Ice-Cream Van

Yummo - Had to eat quick though as it was a pretty warm day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Darwin to Litchfield National Park and Return

Yeeeaaah I am back online after a few days in the Internet/mobile never nevers!! I must admit it was kinda nice not having any social media for a few days. We have spent the last four days in beautiful Litchfield National Park. We stayed in the actual National Park, with no electricity. We did have toilets and showers but you had to be quick or the mozzies would pick you up and carry you away.
 Litchfield National Park covers approx. 1500 sq. km. and is an ancient landscape shaped by water. It features numerous stunning waterfalls which cascade from the sandstone plateau of the Tabletop Range. One such location is Wangi Falls, where our camp was set up only 350 metres from the water. As well as the amazing waterfalls with their shady monsoon forest walks the national park consists of intriguing magnetic termite mounds, historical sites and the weathered sandstone pillars of the Lost City.
Aboriginal people have lived throughout the area for thousands of years. It is important to the Koongurrukun, Mak Mak Marranunggu, Werat and Warray Aboriginal people whose Ancestral Spirits formed the landscape, plants and animals and are still present in the landscape today.
With all this beauty surrounding you it is sometimes easy to forget that a lot of the waterways in this part of the world are inhabited by saltwater  (salties) and freshwater crocodiles. The swimming holes I swam at are all designated swimming holes and are checked each day that no salties have ventured in. I was a bit nervous if I thought about them so I just put it out of my mind!!

Entrance to Litchfield National Park

Cathedral Termite Mound - This mound is a home to grass eating Cathedral Termites.
It is approx. 5 metres high and over 50 years old.

Beautiful Wangi Falls - my swimming hole for four days.

The Lost City - nature has formed thousands of sandstone rocks and weathered pillars to resemble a long lost civilisation. How much do these rocks look like a man?

Florence Falls

My swimming pond at Buley Rockhole

Wangi Falls said goodbye to us with this magnificent sunset
We are now back close to Darwin for two nights to do some washing and buy some supplies for the next part of our adventure.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tropical Markets

As I have mentioned I love markets. Every town, city, village I visit, no matter where in the world it is I also seek out the markets. I especially love a market in the tropics, they have a different feel about them. Although I must say I am a bit surprised buy the absence of some tropical fruits at the Darwin markets. I thought they would have the unusual fruits such as Rambutan and Custard Apple as the markets in Cairns do. But even so I still enjoy a market. This morning we enjoyed the Nightcliff Village Market with its wide range of tasty foods such as curries, soups, crepes, satays, sushi, samosas, burgers, noodles.. and locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables. We also enjoyed a yummy tropical fruit juice. There is also a diverse range of arts and craft, clothing, plants, massage and tarot stalls. One stall I had to stop of at was only small but the stall holder has a huge personality. It was maned by none other than Monte Dwyer, yes the Monte that did the weather on Channel 9 for many years. For my overseas friends or those a bit younger than me Monte has been in television in various roles for many years. But I remember him from the news and his personality was always as vibrant as his shirts - he always did, and still did today wore very loud Hawaiian type shirts. Anyway to get on with my story he has been travelling around Australia for quite a while in his camper named Claude and writing books on all the wonderful sights, sounds and people in this wonderful country. I bought his latest book The Nomads at Large and am really looking forward to reading it. If anyone would like to check out his website, blog or buy a book check out
Beautiful Tropical Plants

Amazing Colours

Monte !!

Tonight we went out for dinner again, I know I am supposed to be on a budget! But I figure as we are leaving Darwin on Tuesday for the unknown we had better lash out while we can. This time we went to the Casino - SkyCity - for yet another smorgasbord. No I didn't take a photo of my meal tonight because I have realised most of my pictures are either of food or a nice cold beer!!
                Anyway I now bid you all good night as I lie in a pool of perspiration in my bed.
                                              And it's supposed to be Winter !!!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Queens Birthday Long Weekend

It's funny how you're not in the workforce you don't take much notice of when there is a public holiday. It's even worse when you are travelling around as we are, I loose track of what day it is all the time. But this weekend there is no way you would not realize it is a long weekend, by all the events Darwin has on offer. One such event that we went to was the 2013 Greek Glenti (apparently Glenti means Party). I have never been in one place where there were so many Greeks. There was singing, dancing, eating and lots of talking. I just needed someone with me who could translate!!

2013 Greek Glenti

That's a lot of souvlaki meat!!
After a lounge around the camp it was getting close to dinner and neither of us felt like cooking. So seeing it is actually a Saturday (looked at my phone to see what day it was) we would take ourselves out for dinner. We both felt like seafood (my friend Alice would not find this strange as I almost always eat seafood when we go out) so we decided to head off to Seafood on Cullan. They had a Asian and seafood smorgasbord and yummo was it nice.

I started with Prawns, Oysters, Scallop and Calamari

Next was an assortment of Asian Fare.

 To finish off it was fresh fruit, but there had to be one that I dipped in the chocolate fountain!!