Day 106 of retirement

September 30, 2017

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Hi All

Sunday 24th September:

Off on an Arnhemlander tour today. The 4×4 bus was a 20 seater but there was only 9 of us so Rich, our guide, suggested that he could take us to some awesome rock art that not many people see. The catch is that it is down a rough 4×4 track and then you have to climb up to the top of an escarpment, which involves a 30-minute steep rock climb. We all agreed that it was a plan.

The first site was the “kitchen / lounge” room. A beautiful overhang with a very nice breeze overlooking the wetland below. It was used for cooking and just hang out away from the midday sun. And of course awesome rock art.

Site two was a burial site along with rock art.

Site three was smaller gorges that run back into the face that were the bedrooms. A place to get out of the sun and a lot cooler to sleep in.

Site four was very unique. It contained rock art from a previous era to all the other art. It has a different look about it and it has been carbon dated to be 9,000 years old minimum.

Lunch was by a beautiful billabong watching the crocodiles watch us. On the way back we stopped at the causeway, which is the only access into Arnhem Land from Kakadu. Now the tide had peaked and it was flowing out. The crocodiles lay in ambush just on the down streamside of the causeway and catch fish as they swim past.

At one stage we counted 9 crocs on both sides of the causeway. Even saw one very good fisherman croc catch two big fish. We then had to drive through the causeway but they all scattered when we did.

Had an awesome day out.

Monday 25th September:

Rest day today. Had a sleep-in then slowly made our way to the Bowali Information centre to organize some activities for tomorrow. Booked a 9:00am Yellow Waters cruise on the local billabong to see some wild life.

After a sandwich for lunch we went for a drive to Nourlangie (100km round trip) to see the Anbangbang billabong and possibly do a bit of a walk. Got to the rock car park and it was extremely hot so gave away the climb up the escarpment. Drove a short distance back to the Anbangbang billabong and it probably should be called the Anbangbang mud hole. Being the end of the dry season and no rain it is one huge mud pit.

After a bit of a walk round the billabong it was just too hot to climb to the lookout so we returned to the aircon in the hotel for a cup of tea and a lay down.

Tuesday 26th September:

Off today to the Yellow Water billabong cruise at 9:00am. We drove to Cooinda (140km round trip) where we were picked up by a shuttle bus to take us to the billabong (5 minute ride).

Our young Indigenous guide / skipper Don was awesome. He explained everything to us and would point out creatures long before anybody else could see them. He had a bit of a wicked sense of humor so made for a very interesting cruise. He was very good at positioning the boat so everybody got great pics as well. Awesome guide.

Back to the Cooinda Lodge for lunch. Guy had a good old steak and I had Crocodile, Camel and Kangaroo sausages. Very nice indeed.

By this time the midday sun was is full blaze (bloody hot) so we made our way back to the hotel and hit the pool to cool off. Then back to the room for a cup of tea and siesta.

Wednesday 27th September:

Left Jabiru for Darwin (270km) and had a nice leisurely drive. Found our Airbnb which is a very nice studio apartment (4th floor) right next to the Cullen Bay Marina.

The awesome “Seafood on Cullen” restaurant is a five-minute walk away so we wandered down after an afternoon rest and snooze. The seafood buffet was the best. Feeling very full now. Settled in to watch The Bachelorette.

Thursday 28th September:

Dropped off the Mighty Mazda to Kerrys Mazda in Darwin for her service after doing 12,000km on our adventure. Their courtesy bus dropped us off in town so we could wander. After a walk down the mall we made our way to the waterfront. From there we walked round the wharf to the end where the Royal Flying Doctor and the bombing of Darwin museum is.

This is an awesome museum where they utilize virtual reality so you really feel like you’re in the middle of the bombing of Darwin. They also have two hologram presentations on the founding of the flying doctor and the story of one of the ships and captain that were in the bombing of Darwin but escaped.

Finally they have a big screen at your feet and in front of you. You stand on a platform that vibrates and compressed air shoots out when the bombs explode in Darwin give the feeling of pressure waves.

They also have an old retired RFDS plane on display so you can see the cramped conditions the nurses and doctors had to work under. Lots of audiovisuals round to tell you lots of stories.

Early afternoon the courtesy bus picked us up and dropped us back at Kerrys Mazda to pick up the Mighty Mazda. She is all good and ready for the next 10,000km.

After a cup of tea and a lay down we made our way to the Mindil Beach sunset markets. After a wander we meet up with Oscar and Mila, friends of Guy’s from Manila who have lived in Darwin for the last 26 years. We all gathered up some food and sat on the beach watching the magnificent sunset while catching up. Great way to finish the day.

Friday 29th September:

This morning we were picked up at our apartment by Colin (7:00pm) for a day’s touring of the jumping crocs at Adelaide River and then visiting Litchfield NP.

First stop was the Adelaide River where we were handed over to Pat, our “Crocodile Dundee” guide for the jumping croc experience. Now Pat is a bit of a character, as he gets around barefooted with a pistol strapped to his side. He a mean storyteller but does know his crocs. He had them jumping out the water to a height that could have them in the boat if they so desired.

Next stop was Litchfield NP and Wangi Falls. Awesome waterfall and swimming hole but full of “tourists”. Following a stop at a lookout we arrived at Buley Holes. This is a series of rock pools that you can make your way down. Some pools are shallow and some are deep. Not so many “tourists” here so we might be back in a couple days as we head back there to stay tomorrow.

Finally back in Darwin for a sunset prawns and bubbly at the beach to finish off an awesome day.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy.

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Day 99 of retirement

September 23, 2017

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Hi All

Saturday 16th September:

Left Mt Isa and headed to Camooweal (190km away). Easy run and arrived at 12:30pm to our motel. Good old lamb chop pub lunch followed by an afternoon siesta.

After the siesta went exploring Camooweal that took all of 20 minutes driving very slow. Big day tomorrow so an early night.

Sunday 17th September:

Our leg today took us from Camooweal in Queensland to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. (380km drive). Had one stop in the middle so the trip took us 5.5 hours in all.

Arrived at the Tennant Creek Caravan Park to a very nice deluxe cabin for two nights.

Monday 18th September:

A rest day today in Tennant Creek so some exploring around the town was in order. First stop was The Pebbles.

These huge granite boulders just 15km north are also known as Kunjarra. This is a sacred site of the Munga Munga dancing women’s dreaming. You can walk round the site on a good walking track and is definitely worth the visit.

Next stop was the old telegraph station that used to run a line from Adelaide through to Darwin. All the old buildings have been preserved and it is quite eerie walking amongst them. Just so hard to imagine living in places like this in the middle of nowhere, way back then.

Next stop was Lake Mary Ann built in 1981 purely for recreational use by the town’s folks. The lake has lots of picnic tables and lawn along with walking tracks round the lake (It is rather small).

We were going to have a picnic there but the flies chased us back into town for brunch.

Finally a drive up to the lookout and a quick trip round the town back streets then retired to the aircon of the cabin for a siesta as it was getting pretty hot at this time. After the siesta, it was time to give the Mighty Mazda a wash. She was looking pretty dusty and dirty from the top end red dirt. Looking brand new once again.

Tuesday 19th September:

Left Tennant Creek for Daly Waters (425km) for a one night stop over on the way to Katherine for three nights. Now the Daly Waters Highway Inn is actually on the main highway but the township of Daly Waters is a 3km drive off the highway a bit further down the road.

The Daly Waters Pub is well worth a visit if you’re ever passing. Awesome pub full of memorabilia from many travelers and years gone by. Guy and I left a signed old pair of my old thongs there. Pay them a visit if you’re ever in the area.

Very nice small cabin at the Highway Inn with a great aircon.

Wednesday 20th September:

Left Daly Waters for Katherine (280km). With a side trip to the Mataranka hot springs it took us 3.5 hours. On the way back down we are stopping at Mataranka for two nights to experience the hot springs so just checking out where to go as it is 7km off the main highway.

The Big4 Park in Katherine is very nice. A nice big cabin in a very well laid out park.

Hit the info centre in Katherine and booked a Katherine Gorge tour for Friday (The three gorges tour). Going exploring Edith falls tomorrow some 42km out of town along with some other points of interest in town.

Thursday 21st September:

Off to Edith Falls this morning (124km round trip). A very spectacular place in the middle of the dessert. Guy and I both had a swim (a rare moment as Guy doesn’t swim) followed by a picnic, followed by another swim before heading back to Katherine.

We checked out the Katherine hot springs when we arrive back. Beautiful place but the spring is not that hot. More like luke warm. So back to the Big4 for a cup of tea and then we hit the swimming pool at the park during the heat of the afternoon. Very refreshing day.

Friday 22nd September:

Off to Katherine Gorge (30km out of town) to do the three gorges tour. The water level is pretty low at the moment as it is the end of the dry season. We made it all the way to gorge three but couldn’t get to the end (We could see it).

It involved a boat ride, a 500m walk to the next boat in gorge two, a boat ride and a 60m walk to boat three in gorge three. Then reversed on the way back.

By the time we got back to the gorge parking lot it was a blistering day (Forecasted 39C). So back to the Big4 and off to the pool and spa to cool off. Very refreshing afternoon by the pool.

Saturday 23rd September:

Today’s trip took us from Katherine to Jabiru (300km in 3.5 hours). Nice leisurely run through an ever-changing countryside.

Over lunch we selected a day tour for tomorrow so booked that. Then a walk to the grocery store only to find it closes at 3:00pm on the weekend. Back to the Crocodile Hotel and watched a great video on the life of Kakadu. Very interesting.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy.

 


Day 92 of retirement

September 16, 2017

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Hi All

Saturday 9th September:

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. Great way to spend your birthday being a nomad.

Left Charters Towers for Hughenden some 250km away. Arrived at 12:30pm ish and was able to check in and unload the car. A wander downtown and we found some very yummy Chinese for lunch.

Then back in the car and off to Porcupine Gorge NP (150km round trip). The gorge is in the middle of nowhere north of Hughenden and it is very spectacular. We hiked down to the bottom and back up (2.5km). Luckily we had a bit of a breeze with some cloud to keep us cool ish. We will sleep well tonight with Magnum ice creams as reward for our “big” walk.

Sunday 10th September:

As we only had a 120km drive to Richmond today we spent some time wandering round the streets of Hughenden. Visited the museum, as this area is renowned for its fossils. They have a very good collection there.

We managed to get some free WiFi outside the Information centre sitting on the footpath. All 100MB of it. Was able to check email and facebook and that was it.

Arrive in Richmond at 12:30pm but the cabin wasn’t ready yet (It is 2:00pm check in). So we had lunch at the local roadhouse. Mmmmmm very average meal.

Back to the cabin and all checked in for a relaxing afternoon with a cup of tea and a lay down. Oooohhh and we have usable WiFi in Richmond.

Monday 11th September:

Short run this morning from Richmond to Julia Creek (150km). Before we left Richmond we visited the museum and all the Bougainvilleas in flower on the main street.

Arrived in Julia Creek at 12:30pm and got into our very nice cabin straight away. Had a light lunch in the cabin as we are attending the big bush dinner put on by the local community at the caravan park tonight.

As it was pretty hot we rested up in the air-conditioning for the afternoon. At 6:00pm we made our way to the camp kitchen area for the big bush dinner.

$15:00 each bought you a ticket to dinner with mains (Very nice Lasagna) and desert (A yummy truffle thing). They also had an entertainer who sang a few songs and told a few jokes. All very entertaining for the 80 ish people who turned up (From the paid caravan park and the free camp across town).

Tuesday 12th September:

Another short run from Julia Creek to Cloncurry (145km). But before leaving Julia Creek we visited the visitor information centre to see the feeding of the Fat Tailed Dunnart.

The Dumnarts are a mouse like creature that only lives round Julia Creek and were thought to be extinct. A small colony was found and the locals set about to ensure that they survive.

A fully fenced reserve has been built and a number of captive breed / wild Dunnarts have been released. The Dunnarts are surviving but only just. At the visitor centre they keep two males who are rotated round once a day for a feeding schedule. They are very cute and it would indeed be very sad to lose them.

Arrived in Cloncurry and unpacked into our very nice cabin for the night. Off downtown to the Leichardt Hotel for lunch. We ordered 6 oyster Kilpatrick and a 400gm steak to share and luckily we did, as it was huge.

Then visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) museum. The RFDS originated in Cloncurry by John Flynn (took him 10 years). The first RFDS plane was actually a Qantas leased aircraft and the first flight took off on May 17th 1928 from Cloncurry. The RFDS then went on to become a nationwide service.

One way these remote communities could help themselves while waiting for the RFDS was to utilize the RFDS medical kit. It was quite extensive and every item was labeled with a number. When somebody was crook you would call the RFDS on the radio and the doctor would instruct you how to treat the patient by telling you what numbered product to use. Very efficient for people with zero medical experience.

A quick visit to the Information Centre museum to see the gemstone collection consisting of specimens from Australia and overseas.

Wednesday 12th September:

Another short run from Cloncurry to Mount Isa (145km). Arrived before midday so off to the information centre to look at tours and points of interest in the Mount. We booked two tours. One day tour and one evening tour.

Checked in at 1:00pm and settled under the aircon for the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon we did a drive round Mount Isa and checked out the lookout.

Thursday 13th September:

First tour of the day was round Mount Isa and the edge of the mine. Philip our guide was full of knowledge and filled us in on all the history as we toured the Mount.

Second tour was The Hard Times Mine tour. This is an actual old working mine that was built by the locals and miners from the mine to replicate an older working mine complete with working equipment.

Earl our guide, worked in the mines for 34 years so was excellent in telling us all the history and stories of mine mishaps. We even get to use the drilling rig at a shaft face. Sadly no pictures were allowed in the mine but it was an excellent tour.

We treated ourselves to dinner at the Isa Hotel for the best steak in town. It is our 12-year anniversary (On the 16th actually) of being together. The steak was awesome. Finished the night with Magnum ice cream.

Friday 14th September:

Off this morning to visit the underground hospital. In 1942 after the Darwin hospital was bombed it was thought that Mount Isa could be a prime target for the Japanese. So with the help of the Mount Isa miners an underground hospital was built.

The facility was never used in danger. Drills were constantly run to evacuate the patients to the underground. The most use it did receive was by the doctors and nurses coming off night shift who would bunk down underground, as it was dark and cool.

After the war the facility fell into disrepair but in 1997 a committee was formed to restore the hospital. Once again volunteers from the local and mining community came together and restored the underground hospital.

Next stop was The School of the Air. The first school of the air was founded in Cloncurry in 1960. In 1964 it was moved to Mount Isa where it remains to this day. There are now seven schools of the air in Queensland.

They have approximately 170 children from 110 families living in an area, which extends from the NT border in the west to Richmond in the east, Burketown in the north and Winton in the south.

Children participating are from prep through to year 10. Children participating in distance education receive printed curriculum papers supplemented by a daily phone lesson to participate in a class and to access teacher help. Web based teaching is slowly creeping in as communication improves in outback regions.

Finished off the day with a Lake Moondarra Sunset tour. Guy and I were the only guests so feeling very pampered. Philip and Phil were our guides and who just happen to be our guides on the Mount Isa day tour. The lake is 15km out of town and is actually a dam that supplies Mount Isa.

Awesome sunset as we had cheese, fruit and the odd drink or two.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 85 of retirement

September 8, 2017

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Hi All

Sunday 3rd September:

Left the lovely Cooktown and a 300km drive saw us in Atherton. Arrived at 12:30pm, checked in and hit the local Atherton Hotel for a good old country lunch.

Dropped into the Chinese museum but it was closed. Oh well back to the cabin for a cup of tea and a lay down.

Monday 4th September:

A short drive today (220km) to Mount Surprise from Atherton, so on the way out of town we stopped into the old Chinese Temple. There used to be a large Chinese presence from the early days and all that is left of china town is the old original temple.

It is now owned and maintained by the National Trust who provides guided tours of the facility. Our guide John was awesome and provided us with all the history of the people and the temple.

We arrived at Mount Surprise, and surprise surprise, there is no phone signal and the slowest Internet ever. So looks like we will be off air for the next three days. The cabin is very nice for being in the middle of nowhere.

Tuesday 5th September:

A side trip today to Georgetown (200km round trip along the Savannah Way), which owes its existence to gold mining. Now there isn’t much there now but there is a magnificent gemstone / mineral collection museum with over 4,500 item. It was collected by the now deceased Ted Elliot who left it to the local community. He was lucky enough to see the museum all set up and in operation before passing away.

Back to Mount Surprise for a siesta before washing the mighty Mazda. Might be her last for a while so pampering her while I can.

 

Wednesday 6th September:

We were picked up at 8:00am today for the deluxe all day Undara Lava Tube tour. After a 45 minute drive in the bus (with 8 other guests) we arrive at the lava fields.

First activity was the walk round the rim of a very old small volcano which is about 400,000 years old (Give or take a few thousand years). Gary our very knowledgeable guide filled us in on the volcanic history of the area. Then we proceeded to visit four lava tubes. Each tube had its own unique qualities and was one of the most amazing things we have ever seen.

There is no lighting in any of the tubes so you rely on natural light or the torches we all carried for some of the longer tubes. We arrived back at Mount Surprise very tired and with a lot of photos.

After a shower and a cup of tea we attended the free astrological show put on by a traveling group on the front lawn of our park. Firstly they have a play that depicts the history of some of the planets and galaxies far far away. Then they have six large telescopes setup for you to view various stars, planets and nebuli.

Thursday 7th September:

Left the lovely Mount Surprise for Charters Towers (400km drive). Arrived midday ish and as our cabin wasn’t ready (2:00pm check in) we made our way downtown for some lunch and a few groceries.

All checked in at 2:00pm and settled in for a relaxing afternoon. Caught up on the blog and facebook postings as we have internet once again. Also planned some activities for tomorrow from the brochures we collected.

Friday 8th September:

Up and off some 10km out of town to visit the Leahton Park Longhorn Stud. Now a cow is a cow but I must say that once we heard the history of the breed in USA and Australia, it was very interesting. Lynda and her husband (who is also a champion saddle maker) have set up a breeding program where by they breed Longhorns (all by AI (artificial insemination)) for sale and also buy in new stock so the breed is not inbred. The sperm is from other breeders from Australia (small breed stock at the moment) and the USA.

Once we finished with the history, it was out into the paddocks to see these magnificent creatures. All the cattle are named and are quite tame as they are practically hand reared. You can walk amongst them easily. Just watch their long horns swishing by.

They have real issues with handling the Longhorns when transporting them. Their horns are too wide for standard cattle loading yards.

JR, one of their prize cattle, held the Guinness World Record for the widest horn span for many years. Sadly he lost the title a few years ago to an American by a few inches.

They also have a few other animals that they have collected / rescued over the years. They have 3 Donkeys, 4 Bison, 5 Water Buffaloes and a ‘pet’ kangaroo.

Went on the Charters Towers Ghosts tours tonight. Our guide Erica was very good (even convincing) at telling the ghost stories while we were in their domain. Very interesting tour.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

 


Day 79 of retirement

September 3, 2017

Click on a photo below for the slide show. The slide show has the descriptions of each pic below the photos. You can also leave comments in this area.

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Hi All

Monday 28th August:

Guy’s mud crab saga resolved. After a couple of phone calls Guy found a seafood wholesaler in Cairns who had two cooked mud crabs left. So after a 2.5-hour return trip we have mud crabs for lunch (And tiger prawns as well). The things we do.

A nice afternoon siesta followed. After the siesta we spent the rest of the afternoon planning and booking accommodation for the next three weeks on the road.

Tuesday 29th August:

Off on safari today to Mossman Gorge, Daintree Forest, Cape Tribulation and a crocodile cruise on a local river. Our guide Ben has been guiding for the last 15 years so was full of very interesting information on all the places we visited.

All extremely beautiful destinations and all world heritage protected. Due to world heritage protection the crocs cannot be fed like in the Northern Territory. This means they will not approach the boat and are quite shy. We did mange to see one large male just across from where we boarded the boat.

A great day out was had by all.

Wednesday 30th August:

Our drive today (3.5 hours) from Port Douglas to the very quaint Cooktown was a very leisurely one. We scored a great Big4 cabin for our 4 nights stay so looking good. Cooktown has a Coffin Bay feel about it for those who know Coffin Bay.

The highlight of the trip was Black Mountain. This was a vertical lave tube a very long time ago. Then all the soil eroded away to expose the granite. It is slowly being decayed away by Mother Nature. Very impressive considering the rocks on the mountain are the size of cars and small houses. There are stories of whole herds of cattle going missing in the boulder fields, aircraft instruments going crazy and strange noises coming from the mountain. It is a very mystical place and you can feel it standing there.

Thursday 31st August:

Had a lazy day discovering Cooktown and planning our next few days / few weeks activities. Now we are booked up till Darwin in three weeks.

Friday 1st September:

Today we visited Laura (Quinkan country), which is famous for its ancient rock art. Quinkan country contains a large and dramatic body of prehistoric rock paintings. These galleries have been identified as being at least 15,000 to 30,000 years old and have been included on the Australian Heritage Estate and listed by UNESCO as being among the top 10 rock art sites in the world. People from many countries visit this remote location to view the rock art and gain some understanding of the Aboriginal stories associated with this magnificent sandstone landscape.

We did a private guided trip with Steve our indigenous guide to The Quinkan Galleries (More ceremonial type art works), which has the most prolific and clear art works. Wowwwwwww. To hear Steve tell us all about the meaning of the art and point out how art has been painted over art several times was awesome.

The trip to get there consists of a 280km round trip on sealed road (Cooktown to Laura) plus 30km round trip on a very rough 4×4 track in the guide’s Land Cruiser. This is one of those trips that will always be remembered.

Saturday 2nd September

Looking to do some exercise before it gets too hot so walked into town from the park and then tackled the lookout! Nearly killed us both but the views from the top were outstanding.

Back to the foreshore where they had the Saturday markets. We found some authentic Pork Adobo from a very lovely Filipino lady so lunch was sorted. Walked back to the park and a siesta was the order of the day.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy