January 2010

  • Cover Page
  • Map of Trip-2006.
  • Map of Trip-2008.
  • Map of Trip-2009.
  • Map of Trip-2010.

  • NT Border WA Border

                                                                   Two border crossings in two days!!!

    Welcome to 2010. This marks the beginning of our 4th year on the road, and our last for a while. The end of this year will see us back to Bundy, back in the house and back to being normal again. Why you may ask?? Well it is time for us to be responsible parents, as Alex will be starting secondary school. While we could keep going for another year or two we think it will be in his best interests to let him do his secondary years in a school. Then the problem is that when Alex is finished, Harry will be starting. That leaves us with 9 years to stay put (and yes, we did threaten him with boarding school). We are often asked how we think we will cope, and to be honest we are not sure, but we will make the most of it. We did seriously consider relocating somewhere new, a new house, a new town, new friends and a new job, just to try and keep the dream alive. The reality is that within a month of work, school and home, it would just be the same crap, only somewhere different. We do have a nice house, great friends and we really like Bundy, so the decision was made.

    We are planning some fairly major renovations and some additions to our house in town, so that gives us something to look forward to. I was thinking of a slight change in direction as far as my career goes, but am not sure now if that is such a great idea. My plan is to go back to my old job, and play it by ear. One thing I am sure of is that we won't have the kids wanting to tag along with mum and dad for too many more years. That means for us we want total freedom to have all the school holidays off, every weekend and be home every night, to do things with the kids, when we want to. That will be easy for Chris to achieve being a teacher, but not so straight forward for me. But there is a solution to almost every problem, and we have a solution for this one as well. More of that down the track.

    That's enough of that doom and gloom. We still have a whole year ahead of us, more time than most people can even dream of having off, and it won't be wasted. 2010 will be another great year of adventure and exploration, seeing new things, learning new things and for this year at least we will continue to live that dream.

    Once again we have been seriously busy since leaving the Sunshine Coast. A few days after new year we made our way back to Bundaberg and stayed in Roz and Kelvin's front yard at Bargara. The weather was horrid with it raining every day and every night. I had a fair bit of work to do at our house at the beach, so that kept me busy for a few days. It was too wet for Kelvin to work, so both he and Ross  helped me out which made it so much easier and a lot quicker. Thanks Guys. I did get all my jobs and a few more finished and by Thursday we were ready to move down the coast  to Burrum Heads for our annual two weeks. On the way we planned to spend a few nights at Woodgate at the Joiner's beach house. They have had this place now for about 18 months but it was the first time we had seen it. When we arrived, much to our surprise was Tom and Audrey's van, set up in the Joiner's backyard (we met on the Gibb while traveling in July 09 with the Joiners). We couldn't believe our eyes. We knew they were around the area and had planned to meet up, but not here. It was great to see them again and to hear their stories and adventures. Our boys were really excited as they also have two boys. They are in the death throws of their trip and are starting to make their way home to WA. We had a great time at Woodgate. We went to the bowls club for a trivia night, which was great fun. We went yabbying, four wheel driving along the beach and a bit of fishing. If you can't afford a holiday house, it's great if your friends can, and I am sure we will spend many a night camped in their yard in the future. It's a magic spot.

    The crew The Kids at Woodgate The Leavers

                                                                        Hanging out at Woodgate

    Burrum Heads Burrum Heads Burrum Heads

                                                                               Burrum Heads 2010

    We had two nights at Woodgate and then it was off to Burrum. As Tom and Audrey had planned a few days at the mighty Burrum, they followed us down and ended up staying a week. This year we had two weeks which was probably a few days too long for me to sit still. It was great to see the old crowd again, minus Roger who has been sailing a yacht back from the Greek Isles with the boat's owner. All up with a bit of sightseeing he will be away nearly 5 months with Pat battling along on her own. As much as I love to travel I am certainly not brave enough to do what Roger is doing. Reading their daily log makes the hairs on your neck stand up. They have had to contend with pirates, huge seas, breaking down (no RACQ out there), being shot at, running out of food and fuel and I am sure much more. It takes a special (or slightly mad) sort of person to live that life. I now have a new respect for young Jessica  who at times must be scared out of her wits. Not for me!! While it wasn't the same without Roger, we still managed to have a great time. Alex taught me how to ride the Rip Stik (after a number of falls with large areas of skin off the knees), we did a few trips into Hervey Bay and generally pottered around, getting the car ready for the year. As per usual we probably drank too much, ate too much and told too many yarns, but that's what it's all about. The old crew never change, and every year its just like we see each other every second day. The reality is we never see any of them throughout the year and hardly ever speak. It's just one of those funny old timeless friendships that will go on forever.

    The Process
    We left Burrum and headed back to Bundaberg, this time to change over from the caravan back to the camper. This is a horrible process as we always have a trillion other jobs to do as well. By the time Chris gets here undercarriage checked out, the boobs crushed and eyes tested there goes a day. Then there is the packing, deciding what we need  and trying to get it all to fit. Then to add insult to injury there were a few jobs that I had to do at out house in town. We had great weather for a change, for the past two years it has rained during this process which made it rather more difficult. It is on so many levels such a shame that this will be our last year travelling for a while, as we are actually getting better at the packing process. This year we are taking much less crap (Chris calls it necessary survival equipment), and we actually have empty boxes (yes, totally empty) in the trailer and the sack on the roof is also all but empty. What a lovely change. We were finally packed, the van covered and for the last year it was backed into the Joiner's carport (one of our plans for next year is to attach a large carport to our house for the van).  The fine weather continued and we drove out of their driveway on the Wednesday, the first day of school.

    Lake Maraboon Lake Maraboon Lake Maraboon

                                                                                   Maraboon Dam

    For those with a good memory, last year at exactly the same time we were forced to head south via Broken Hill to get to the NT due to cyclones and floods in  north and outback Qld. Back then it really didn't matter that much as we were only going to the centre, but this time with us heading to the Kimberleys, going north was much more important, not to mention a lot, lot shorter. Well bugger me, if we were in almost exactly the same situation. Another cyclone and the threat of closed roads. TC Olga was on again, off again so we decided to head north and take our chances. First night we made it to Emerald (staying at Lake Maraboon) and then the next day into Longreach. So far so good.

    The 747 The 747 The 747
    Captain Brett

                   This doesn't look that hard!!!

    The new addition- The 707

                           The new addition- The 707


    We spent a few nights in Longreach and finally got to see the Qantas museum. What a ripper. We did the tour of the 747 and the new 707 and spent hours walking around the museum. It really is outstanding and a must visit. The next day we again visited the Stockmans Hall of Fame and pottered around town. Chris and I visited the Hall of Fame about 25 years ago just after it first opened. It has been completely revamped a few years back. Compared to the Qantas show across the road, we found the 'new' Hall of Fame a bit dreary. A number of the displays were not working, it was a bit dark and a little too proper. The Australian Outback is simply not that proper!!!.

    The Stockmans Hall of Fame

                           The famous Stockman

    Three Ways Roadhouse

                                   Keep on Truckin'

    The next morning we planned the short drive to Winton to visit the Waltzing Matilda display. Was our run of luck with the weather about to change? Much to our horror we were told the road a few hours the other side of Winton was going to be closed due to the rising rivers. What they were unable to tell us was when that was likely to happen. Do you keep going, fingers crossed, sit it out or head south. We were not going to head south, not a hope in hell. As I am not very good at sitting around we had no choice but to continue on. It rained all day, non stop and heavy. We made it to Winton and continued on. The area that they predicted would cause trouble was at Mc Kinlay, a few hundred kms west of Winton. We arrived there around 2-00pm and the river was (relatively) dry. Thank goodness. By 5-00pm the water was just under the bridge and rising. That's a big change in a few hours, and there was more on the way. After a late lunch in Cloncurry in an absolute downpour, we made it to Mt Isa fairly late in the arvo, but we made it. Although it wasn't raining, it sure looked like it would so we booked into a cabin and watched the ladies' tennis finals. The next day we were away early arriving in Tennant Creek again late in the afternoon in search of a caravan park with a TV so we could watch the men's tennis finals. You have to be joking. Three parks, none with a camp kitchen and TV. We then decided to go back to the Three Ways Roadhouse as we could watch it in the bar. What a great decision. Nice camp area, green grass everywhere and a big TV. I am glad we didnt spend $150-00 on a cabin as the game was over rather quickly.

    Now I must mention the countryside. Travelling west after a few cyclones is an absolute treat. From the moment we left Bundaberg the countryside was green and lush, all the way to the Stuart Highway and then up into the Kimberleys. It was stunning and such a quantum shift from how we normally see it, brown and dusty. The cows on the Barkly (h'way) were standing in grass almost as tall as they were. The transformation was amazing and it made the trip so much more interesting. Dams all full and some areas just a flood with water. Chris even saw a Bustard (bird) and we all saw numerous Brolgas on the side of the road. Australia really is ever changing and so diverse.

    Katherine gorge camp Ground

                 Katherine Gorge Camping Ground

    After leaving the Three Ways we continued and continued and finally stopped at Katherine. We decided to stay out at the Gorge and were so glad we did. Katherine had in the past few days been pounded by rain with the place flooded. The road into the Gorge and the campground had only opened a few hours prior to our arrival. We had the entire place to ourselves, as well as the new magnificent pool. What a job they have done. When in Katherine, this is the only place to stay. We spent 2 nights there and had some serious evening storms. The first night was minor with the storm on our second night somewhat more intense. It bucketed down complete with a very spectacular light show, for hours and hours. This is the first serious rain we have had in the camper and we did have a few minor leaks that we will attend to. All in all it stood up to mother nature very well, and we all slept well with the thumping of rain on the canvas.  Out of there after two nights and then on to Kununurra. We booked into the Big 4 in the middle of town as they gave us a good deal (knock me dead with a feather- we are not big fans of Big 4's). There were only 2 other campers in the entire park, and a few permanents. You can see why they have to charge so much as their tourist season really is less than 6 months long, with the place almost empty the remainder of the year. This is a huge park and they have to maintain at least 4 staff just to keep the lawns under control. At 2-00am on our first night, down came the rain again, complete with lightning and thunder. It rained until lunch when it cleared to a lovely, hot, steamy humid Kimberley 'wet season' day. We shopped all day in preparation for 8 weeks in Warmun, as well as a visit to the library. Please keep the rain away so we don't have to pack the camper up wet! We did a few last minute sightseeing ventures, one of which was Ivanhoe Crossing. We have driven across this a number of times over the past few years and this was the first time we had seen it flooded and closed. Not sure I would give it a go just at the moment!!

    July 2009 Ivanhoe Crossing now Ivanhoe Crossing now

                     July 2009                                                                     And now - deeper and dirtier.   

    Luck was again on our side.  Pack-up day, no more rain and we woke to a beautiful day, complete with dry canvas. Camper packed and groceries pushed into every nook and cranny. It is amazing how much food you can jam in a small place. How much food you might be asking youself. Well just on $1,500-00 worth, that's how much. We think that is our record so far. Hope it lasts a while!!!

    So that's it, time to move on. Let's get going, Warmun here we come, bring on the house.

    Until next month. Bye bye.


    We are really looking forward to being in a house again - control over the toilet paper!