Day 127 of retirement

October 22, 2017

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Hi All

Monday 16th October:

This morning we got up at 4:00am (yes 4:00am) to go and see the “Field of Lights”. Now this is a display made up of 50,000 coloured lights (Solar charged and connected by optical fibre cable) that are placed in a depression out in the desert amongst the natural vegetation. It took 5 weeks and 14 people (Volunteers and technical people) to construct.

In the dark of night you are able to walk amongst the lights (on a set path) and take in all the patterns and colours. Then you finish back on the top of a sand dune over looking the lights and the sun rising over Uluru.

As the sun rises Uluru and the Olgas light up and the field of lights dim. Awesome man made and natural light display all merging into one outstanding display.

Back to the resort and back in bed by 8:00am. We slept till midday so wasn’t too bad. At 2:00pm we were picked up for another tour to the Curtin Springs cattle station (85km out of Yulara) to see Mount Conner and the salt flats.

Lachie, our guide was awesome. He filled us in on life on a 4,000 square km cattle station including the flora and creatures large and small. We finished off the day at Curtin Springs homestead for a three-course steak dinner. The food was excellent. Back to the resort at 10:00pm. A big day was had by all.

Tuesday 17th October:

Left Yuluru for Curtin Springs with a side trip to the Olgas and a final drive round Uluru (220km).

The Olgas are so different from Uluru yet so close to them. We did a short walk up to one of the lookouts and stopped a few time on the way out to get some pics. Very unique place.

We did a lap of Uluru and said our goodbyes to the rock. Back into Yulara and the “Shopping Mall” for a very nice pizza lunch. Caught up on WiFi as we are going to be off air for a few days once again.

Mid afternoon we made our way to Curtin Springs (85km) for an overnight stay. It has a very nice feel about it. It is the homestead for the station so serves a duel purpose.

We settled in under the “pergola” for a drink or two and enjoyed another awesome steak meal. No TV here and the WiFi is very spasmodic but still an enjoyable evening.

When I was at the bar ordering a drink I got talking to Peter the owner of the station. He has been here (On the station) for 62 years. Over some stories of the early years we got onto where I was from. As I told him I was from the Eyre Peninsula in SA he asked where. I said near Port Lincoln from a country town called Cummins. He then told me he has been to Cummins with the Masonic Lodge many years ago. Small world.

Wednesday 18th October:

Had a leisurely drive from Curtin Springs (After a stockman’s breakfast which we shared) to Kulgera (320km). Kulgera is pretty much a roadhouse with a dozen cabins. Cabin was fine just the poor old aircon had trouble keeping up in the heat of the day.

Turned out we were the only occupied cabin for the night. Felt a bit “Wolf Creek” ish.

Just an overnight stop on our way to Coober Pedy tomorrow.

Thursday 19th October:

Left Kulgera and made our way to Coober Pedy (410km and 4 hours later). Have to remember that SA is on daylight saving time so clocks to be turned ahead by an hour.

Booked our first tour for tomorrow at 1:00pm till 6:00pm. Works for us as we get to sleep in then do the tour. Initially we are only booked in for two nights (Big4 Park) but will definitely extend. The “apartment” we are in is five star. Even has a dishwasher, washing machine, aircon that works and “FAST” WiFi. We may never leave.

Friday 20th October:

Went exploring today. First stop was Crocodile Harry’s.

Crocodile Harry was originally from Latvia. He spent 13 years up north of Australia hunting crocs and then arrived in Coober Pedy to try his luck at Opal mining. It is said he was the original Crocodile Dundee.

His underground cave is adorned with his own unique artworks. He was also known for the “wild” backpacker parties he used to throw. Harry loved women and Opal.

Sadly he passed away several years ago.

Explored the rest of the town with our final stop at the Kangaroo sanctuary. Here they rehabilitate roo’s that have been injured or lost their mum’s. They fed a very cute very young Joey (5 months old) while we were there. The rehabilitated roo’s are sent to sanctuaries when ready, as they are not allowed to set them free back into the wild.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 121 of retirement

October 15, 2017

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Hi All

Monday 9th October:

Off on a day tour of the West MacDonnell ranges today. We visited Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ochre Pits, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and Ellery Creek Bighole. Just so much to see and it is all so awesome.

Lots of pics taken and really difficult to select only a few.

Tuesday 10th October:

After a bit of a sleep in we were on the road to the East MacDonnell ranges in the mighty Mazda. We drove out to the Ross River homestead (80km) for lunch, which is also the end of the sealed road.

As we drove back to Alice we stopped in various spots to view the local landmarks. We viewed awesome scenery along the way.

Final finish to the day was watching Jericho win Australian Survivor. Awesome effort and a deserving winner.

Wednesday 11th October:

Rest day today. After quite a considerable dump of rain last night and a cloudy day it was quite pleasant for most of the day.

After a late breakfast it was into Alice to top up our supplies for Kings Canyon and Yulara.

Gave the mighty Mazda a good check over as well. She is doing an awesome job of transporting us round the countryside.

An afternoon siesta finished off the day nicely.

Thursday 12th October:

Left Alice Springs for Kings Canyon (470km and 5 hour drive). An uneventful drive and made good time. Arrived at 1:00pm and our room was ready so unpacked after a quick burger at the local resort pub.

Bit of a siesta then a walk round the resort to the sunset viewing platform. Sadly the clouds moved in so no sunset. We had an early night as we have an early start to a big day tomorrow.

Friday 13th October:

Guy and I enjoyed a full on breakfast (Been many many months since we had a full on breakfast) at the resort this morning. We discovered that our 3-night stay entitled us to free breakfast. Beats a banana for breakfast. So we indulged ourselves and will do for the next two mornings.

After breakfast it was off to Kings Canyon some 10km away. We arrived at 8:30am ready to do the rim walk (6km circular circuit) in the cool of the day. The first stage is up the stone stairs (Felt like 10,000 steps) to the canyon rim top as you start at the bottom. 25 minutes later we were on the top rim.

From there we made our way round the rim. There were some easy parts and some hard parts but it was an awesome hike. The views, rock colours and formations are just breathtaking. 3 hours later we arrived back at the car tired but elated.

Back to the resort for a nice cool drink, shower and an afternoon siesta as we have a gourmet experience under a desert moon tonight (Degustation dinner).

The seven-course degustation dinner under the stars round the fire pit was awesome. We had the best food cooked by the executive chef from the resort explaining each dish as it was being served.

Some of the exquisite food we had was Kangaroo, Emu and Barramundi along with other delectable delights. And with a clear night you just needed to look up to see all the stars. A great night was had by all.

Saturday 14th October:

Quiet morning as we hit the “free” breakfast bar once again and charged ourselves up for the day.

Midmorning we headed back to Kings Canyon to do “the old peoples walk” which is a flat walk up the creek on the canyon floor (1.5km return). After the big walk round the rim yesterday Guy’s left knee was a little sore so we decided to take it easy today. After a very leisurely stroll and trying the free satellite WiFi at the parking lot (It was crap so nothing loaded) it was back to the resort for our afternoon siesta and a relaxing evening.

Sunday 15th October:

Left Kings Canyon for Yulara (300km) after the last of our “free” breakfasts.

Had a good run and arrived at midday. As we couldn’t check in till 3:00pm we set off driving round Uluru stopping at a number of places of interest and doing a couple of short walks. All we can say is wwwooowwwww, that’s a big rock! What an awesome place.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy.


Day 114 of retirement

October 8, 2017

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Hi All

Saturday 30th September:

Left Darwin for Litchfield NP via Fogg Dam (200km). Now Fogg Dam is an interesting story of agriculture gone wrong.

Now somebody thought that growing rice would be good in the top end. So they dammed off a section of wetlands for their water supply. All good so far. Then they planted rice downstream from the dam, which grew very well. All good so far.

Then all the water birds (Especially the Magpie Geese) discovered this beautiful wetland with permanent water with huge amounts of feed (The rice) adjacent to the dam so moved right in. Not so good. It is estimated that bird life ate 25% of the rice grown.

It was then also discovered that we could import rice for a quarter of the cost it was costing to grow here. So to cut a long story short, the whole project failed.

The upside is that there is a huge beautiful wetland reserve for all the bird and croc life to live in happily ever after.

Made it to the Litchfield Tourist Park by 1:00pm and had snacks for lunch. Going to have a large dinner. Rested up in the afternoon with a cup of tea and a siesta. As the last few weeks have been pretty hectic we are going to chill out at Litchfield. We shall seek out a couple of waterfall / swimming holes and just relax for the next two days.

Sunday 1st October:

After a bit of a sleep in we made our way to Florence Falls (60km round trip). Lovely waterfall with rockpool to swim in. Being a weekend and school holidays, it was packed. So after a swim to cool off we made our way back to the Buley Rockholes (5km down the road). Still plenty of “tourists” but we were able to find a small rock pool all to ourselves. Has a small waterfall feeding it, so we had our very own jacuzzi.

Early afternoon and before the hottest part of the day we made our way back for lunch and a siesta.

Monday 2nd October:

A leisurely start to the day as we made our way to Wangi Falls to hike the 1.8km circuit round the falls. The walk takes you up one side of the escarpment to the creek that feeds the falls then back down the other side back to the falls.

We were very hot and sweaty by the time we got back so back to Buley Rock Holes and our favourite pool. After a very nice cool off we had a picnic lunch then back to the pool for some more cooling off. Total trip distance 110km.

Early afternoon and back to the cabin for an ice cream then a very nice siesta.

Tuesday 3rd September:

Left Litchfield NP for Mataranka Hot Springs (400km). Had a stop over in Katherine for some lunch and a quick catch up with WiFi. No WiFi at Litchfield and none at Mataranka so off air for a few days.

Arrived at Mataranka at 2:00pm ish and made our way to the cabin. Now there were a couple of things that bothered us. The aircon was working but just couldn’t keep up in the mid 30C heat. And the TV wouldn’t work. After a few hours wait the boss turned up to try and fix the TV but to no avail.

By this stage we were pretty hot and bothered. The boss was good enough to move us to the cabin next door with a working TV and better aircon unit. Once we relocated it was time to hit the hot pool. And what a relief it was in the 32C water temp.

A nice picnic dinner at dusk on the cabin balcony watching all the flying foxes head out to feed for the night, finished off the day on a positive note.

Wednesday 4th September:

After a bit of a sleep in we went for a drive to the Bitter Springs hot pools just up the road. Not as nice as the Mataranka hot pools. They are a little slimy on the bottom and in the flowing water. Didn’t bother to go for a swim so headed back to Mataranka.

Had lunch at the bar while watching “We of the never never” which was filmed in the local area. The homestead for the movie was built at the back of the car park and still stands today.

After a cup of tea and a lay down we headed back to the hot pools for the afternoon.

Thursday 5th October:

Long drive today as we left Mataranka for Wauchope (Devil’s Marbles) where we covered 670km in 7.5 hours (Had a few rest stops). A very basic cabin. At least the aircon works but no TV here, sadly.

We are staying two nights so that tomorrow we can visit the Devil’s Marbles just out of town. Might have to hit the pool in the afternoon.

Bizarre thing happened outside our cabin. I struck up conversation with a guy and his wife who were also booked into a cabin next door. It turned out he was originally from Port Lincoln which in 70km from where I was born and grew up (Cummins in SA). We both left the area many years ago but mutually knew people from Cummins. Small world.

Friday 6th October:

Bit of a sleep in then off to the Devil’s Marbles just down the road (6km). Awesome place with these huge granite marbles balanced in precarious places. And the red earthy colours in the shade and sunlight are just spectacular.

Then off to Wycliffe Well 20km in the opposite direct. Now Wycliffe Well is the “Roswell” of Australia. The roadhouse is full of “sightings” of UFOs by locals and visitors alike. Sadly we didn’t see anything while visiting. Weird place.

Back to our cabin for a light lunch and afternoon siesta before heading back to The Devil’s Marbles for the sunset. Sunset wasn’t the best due to clouds but when the lowering evening sun hit the marbles it was a brilliant light show.

Saturday 7th October:

Left Wauchope for Alice Springs (400km and 4 hours later). On the way, struck rain of all things for about 50km. It was actually quite heavy at times. The colours the desert produces under the stormy lighting was amazing. All very vivid.

The mighty Mazda got a bit of a wash and I see a few of the bugs were washed off the front bumper.

Arrived in Alice Springs and straight to the Info centre to book some accommodation at Uluru and Kings Canyon. Also looking at some local tours as well. Got quite frustrating at times as trying to coordinate everything was a real challenge.

It has rained on and off for the last week and a lot of the 4×4 tours have been cancelled due to the conditions. Anyway we managed to get a bit of an itinerary together for the next 10 days.

Sunday 8th October:

Little sleep in and then off to the camp kitchen for free pancakes. Each Sunday the management put on free pancakes for the holiday park guests. We got there right on 8:30am (Runs 8:30 – 9:30am) and the line was building. Over 1 hour they typically serve 600 ish pancakes. The record is 920 pancakes made in one sitting in the busy season.

They also had a very nice huge “pot” of tea made with real tealeaves.

The record for most pancakes in one sitting was 13 for male and 10 for female. We had one each and that filled us up.

Then off for a drive round the town (visited Anzac Hill) and stopped for some groceries. Back to the cabin for our afternoon siesta.

Settled in for the evening and Australia Survivor.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

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.

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