Off we go again!
Trip Start Apr 14, 2012
55Trip End Dec 21, 2012
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We left Humpty Doo running a few daze late but very excited about starting the third leg of our road trip. Saying goodbye to ever gracious, and gorgeous, host family of Tracey, Nudge, Zeki and Asha was hard, but with hearts full of gratitude and memories we headed off. Saying goodbye to my oldest and dearest friend Lyndall who we witnessed transform in our time in Darwin was also a little sad. How bravely she faced the breast cancer diagnosis (a week after we arrived on her doorstep!) can only be described as inspiring and life changing. Blessed. And all the other beautiful peeps we hung out with, worked with and met in our time in the tropics.
From Humpty Doo to Kakadu you could feel the excitement in the car – "on the road again" felt so good! We spent the afternoon at Nourlangie- a magnificent rocky outcropping of the Arnhem escarpment with wonderful examples of rock art. It was baking as we ate our lunch and then headed in amongst the ancient rocks, but immediately cooled 10 degrees as we moved into the shaded overhanging crevices and caves. We wandered awestruck by the beauty and spirituality of the place, taking in the pictures and stories of the 'Lightning-man' and his adventures in this area. The kids were exhausted as we climbed the last hills to gaze over the vast floodplains and escarpments, huge storm clouds brewing overhead. As we trundled down, fat warm raindrops began to fall, bring us all immediate relief and refreshment as we wandered back to our car.
We spent the night at a campground near Yellow Waters and went on the boat cruise the following day. The boat trip was lovely, such beautiful country. The kids loved seeing the crocs – big & small! As well as the beautiful kingfishers, egrets, ducks, magpie geese, and the tiny little jacanas that walk on lily pads nick named 'jesus birds’- a daddy with his tiny week-old cotton-ball babies
It is easy to see why Kakadu NP is World Heritage as it oozes natural beauty, timelessness, wildlife and cultural significance.
After a swim in the pool at Cooinda we headed to the south of the national park arriving late arvo at Gunlom Falls. Ahh Gunlom! Having been here years ago with Lyndall I couldn't wait to take my family here – we had tried last time we were in Kakadu in 2008 but it had been closed. But this time it was open, and was as beautiful as ever despite there being more of a trickle than a fall of water.
So if ya gonna break down in Kakadu this really is the place to get stuck!
The next morning we had decided to spend another night there after chatting with a local who told us about a secluded off the beaten track swimming spot. So early in the morning we climbed to the top of the falls and swam in the pools looking out at this never ending country of ours
After lunch we decided to go in search of this secret swimming spot. Half way down the Gunlom dirt track the car beeped and lights flashed and Ant looked down at the dash and oh no we were overheating! Water was spurting out of a broken hose fitting and we were worried we had cracked a head or something really, really bad…A car came along a lovely man gave myself and the kids a lift back to the campground at Gunlom. Ant stayed with Lucy (the car) and did some good ole bush mechanics repairing a broken pipe and filling the empty radiator every 15 minutes until he spluttered into Pine Creek nearly 100 km away.
Back at camp the kids and I swam and I tried not to worry about and Ant and Lucy. Luckily Amon sussed out a new friend called Riley as they talked their 7 year old boy talk – Lego, Ninjago, Star Wars- and that is how we met the awesome family of Leanne, Paul and their kids Riley, Nikita and Archie. For me they were a god-send having someone to, not only tell my worries about the car and Ant to, but also to have company to take my mind off the situation
The next day was long awaiting Ant's return and what better way to spend it than in the plunge pool. There we met another gorgeous family, Kim and her three sons. Turned out she was from Torquay and knows some of our friends in Torquay – what a small world!
Ant arrived back with Lucy 28 hours later (all fixed and with only a minor repair bill) to everyone lounging about in the plunge pool. That night the three families gathered by a fire, played charades and told tales – a gorgeous night under the stars at the enchanting Gunlom.
From Gunlom we drove into Katherine to replenish supplies. From there we drove into Nitlimuk National Park. We hired canoes and canoed down Katherine Gorge for the morning, what fun! Albeit exhausting – as we were going against the wind and the current! But a beautiful morning of laughter and silliness. At the end of the first gorge, we explored several significant rock art sites
Leaving Katherine we finally made the decision to not go to Alice Springs, Uluru and surrounds. Because of leaving Darwin late and the extra days in Kakadu NP we are running way behind schedule. We decided it was best to leave it for another trip when we can spend a few weeks there and really do it justice. As we have to be up near the Daintree for the eclipse festival on the 11thNov it would have been really too rushed. The kids were really disappointed so we had to make the promise to go to Alice another time.
So from Katherine we headed South, and after a quick dip at the surreal coloured waters of Bitter Springs we got to Three Ways then headed east. Then we crossed the border and are now in Queensland. We spent the night in Mt Isa after doing an epic drive, nearly 900km’s, the longest this trip so far. Then another epic drive, and another, and so the road goes on…
Ahhhhh Townsville at last..... So good to be on the luscious, tropical east coast, especially after that dry, arid and desolate drive through the Aussie outback . YAY!