A Travellerspoint blog

Long Way Down Part II

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On the drive to Yulara (home of Uluru and Kata Tutja) you can see in the distance Mount Connor which is apparently one the most photographed red herrings in the world - a big Ayres Rock lookalike mountain. Luckily we weren’t fooled because we could spot it on the map, but on getting closer to Yulara the real Ayres Rock comes into plain sight and it is HUGE. We arrived at the Ayres Rock Resort in the early afternoon and decided to go for a dip in the freezing pool before heading off to catch the rock close up at sunset. We got some good pics from the back of our camper as we got to the viewing point early (we’d set up the bed and opened the back door so we could lie and watch it) but sure enough as it got closer to 7pm a rabble of annoying tourists rocked up cackling, jabbering on in their foreign tongues (probably mildly less irritating than if it were in English to be fair) and setting their video cameras up in front of our van. Rude. One German couple who arrived, set up chairs, both sat down and opened books. Half an hour later once the rock turned red the girl stood up took a photo and then sat back down. 20 minutes later it was too dark to read so they upped and left! Fun!


Nonetheless it was cool to see the colours of the rock changing as the sun went down. I’ve heard it described as a very spiritual place and a moving thing to witness but I don’t know why people feel this (other than Aborigines) because at the end of the day it is just a big rock which you’re staring at with a load of other people who don’t fully understand its cultural significance. We were there at low season and there were still about a dozen cars there with us so I dont know how anyone could feel that it was special to them as an individual. By the end of the two nights we spent there, noticing how everything was double the price and every element of the resort geared up to making you spend money ($40 a night in the camp site but you still have to pay $25 per person to even enter the park where there are scant facilities or information on how the rocks were formed, just constant signs quoting unnamed aborigines in pidgin English ‘this Anagu rock, please don’t climb’ to please the tourists) I think we were growing a bit tired of it and had expected more for our money.


Either way, we had a nice relaxing couple of days and when we went to see the Olgas (or Kata Tutja) to watch the sun go down we got there early and had some dinner looking at them view and they are quite remarkable – more impressive than the famous rock even. Queue action shot photo opportunity. Sure enough as it got to 7ish the tour groups started arriving, began necking their free wine not even looking at the rocks, taking occasional snaps on their disposable cameras, etc. It must have been beautiful to come here before it became a resort - and is still worth a visit – but after spending time at Kakadu and Litchfield (free entry!) and having some really beautiful places to ourselves, we felt a bit too part of the crowd here, which was probably to be expected.


On the day we were due to leave Ayer’s Rock/Uluru we got up early (5am!) to watch the sunrise over Ayer’s Rock. There were less people there this time and we picked a prime spot and got some good photos. We drove back only to find the coach parking area had way better views but we stopped and got some good photos here of the sun coming up behind it. Then we headed off early to Coober Pedy – a good 550kms drive.


Coober Pedy has to be seen to be believed. It’s a big mining town which sprung up in the 30s when a 14 year old boy found there was Opal in them there hills. (There are no hills, it’s a desert). Most people in Coober Pedy live in underground homes because it’s so hot in the summer – we can testify to the heat. Above ground, the town seems to have been built on whatever scrap metal could be found or was left behind by miners but having seen an unground home, they can be made to look very nice, like little caves. (I definitely don’t mean to be patronising – it was nice). There are probably about 200 Opal peddling shops in Coober Pedy and despite Richard being accosted by a Hong Kong born shop owner and taken into the back room of his home, we didn’t buy any. I imagine the town has a nice little buzz about it in high season where there a few tourists around but as it was, it was a little bit dead. No Pine Creek though, to its credit. The strange thing about Australia in general that we’ve seen so far is that because of the heat in some places, no-one seems to be just wandering about to go to the shops or the park, pretty much everyone travels around in their car even to get a pint of milk. We have done the same because air-con just can’t be beaten.


We decided next morning that we’d seen all we needed to see of Coober Pedy, took some last photos of the various little curios to be found and headed off early to get closer to Adelaide, eventually ending up at Crystal Brook, 100km or so south of Port Augusta. We stayed in a quiet and shady campsite run by an ex-Liverpudlian gentleman who looked the part but had no trace of Liverpool accent whatsoever! By the time we’d got there we just had time to make some dinner then hit the sack ready to get to Adelaide at a decent time the next day.


3000 miles driven!

Posted by RichardJoy 13:19 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Long Way Down..

From Katherine to Curtin Springs

sunny 35 °C
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After arriving in Katherine we decided to find a campsite before going into the National Park. We stayed at a site with en-suite which was a little strange to say the least – you park up and set up your deck chairs but have the convenience of a personal little shower and toilet next to your pitch. We purchased an internet card but the connection was terrible so instead we got really drunk on VB, as you do! Next morning we used up our internet time nearer to the reception where the connection was better and by the time we had got to Nitmiluk National Park and the Katherine Gorge it was too late to rent a canoe which was the main reason for stopping at Katherine! So as we were both really hot we decided to stay at the campground in the park as there was a pool. When trying to book in there was no one at the reception and a little sign saying they would come round and collect the fee at 7am so we just went for it and had a dip.

Whilst we were staying there, there were many friendly kangaroos hanging about but one in particular stayed for ages and had a little baby in her pouch! The little roo kept poking its head out and nibbling on the grass, it was quite amazing. The mother roo came right up close to us and we fed her little bits of bread, she was very tame and stayed for about an hour grazing the grass around our chairs.


8am came and we woke up but no one had collected the monies. We decided to wash all our dishes and have a quick swim before heading to get a canoe but got busted by campground staff when in the pool. We promised to settle the balance when paying for the canoes but when we got there decided it was not really in our best interests. So a nice free powered campground for the night!

We rented the canoe and cruised off up the first gorge in the sunshine. It was very serene and picturesque once we got on the water and got going. When coming to the end of the first gorge we dragged the canoe up onto the sand next to some others whose owners had clearly walked up to the aboriginal rock art at the top of the rocks. We had a scout around to see which was the best way across, Richard insisted that the shortest distance was over the rocks to the left (where the boats are supposed to go) whereas Joy advocated dragging it up the ramp to the right. Nonetheless we went for Richard’s rocks idea. We had been told the portage time to the second gorge was 5 minutes and to this day are both sure that ‘portage’ means time spent ferrying your canoe to the other side. However, when we eventually got to the other side of the rocks about twenty minutes later (Joy’s arms having nearly snapped off due to the weight of the canoe and her ankles nearly shattered from being dragged to the other side over the rocks) and paddling along for a couple of minutes, we realised there were more rocks ahead of us and this area to the left was just a stagnant pool, closed off by rocks either side. I think both of our tempers were reasonably frayed at this moment in time after the agony of ‘portaging’ but to add insult to injury, on getting out and scoping out the area we walked down towards the right hand side of the second gorge and saw a dozen green canoes parked up on the sand. It was only now that it slowly dawned on us that maybe we were not supposed to drag our canoe over hundreds of unsteady, slippy rocks but simply dock our canoe, walk for five minutes and pick up another at the water on the other side. Sure enough, on dragging our canoe back over the rocks, two couples of fellow canoers skipped down the ramp on the right and jumped into their canoes to head back up the first gorge. Irksome.


Though we are both clearly idiots, you would have REALLY thought SOMEONE might have mentioned this quite vital piece of information to us at some point before we set off in the canoe. Just a snippet of information about the second set of canoes would have done! A clue! After our initial frustration, we managed to laugh about it and paddled along the second gorge trying to spot freshwater crocs as most of the beaches at the gorge were closed off due to it being ‘nesting’ season. Nice. We didn’t spot any but Richard did see a turtle swimming along underwater after noticing some bubbles to the right of the boat. (Joy didn’t look into the water when she saw bubbles for fear of what she might see – the Estuarine Croc traps set up along the way put her off.) We eventually managed to find a nice sandy beach where we stopped for a break and a paddle at the water’s edge before heading back.


When we returned from the canoeing we were both very tired and sun burnt and had to drive to Mataranka where there are thermal pools at about 34 degrees. We stayed near one called Bitter Springs which is named for the taste of the water due to the limestone content. As it was going dark we decided to chill until the next morning to go to the springs and yep, you guessed it, had a few more VBs and a few more rounds of Shithead!

We were all packed up and at the springs by 8am the next day which is a record for us so far. The Bitter Springs were in amongst a pretty horrible looking swampy area and had a significant amount of stagnant foam round the edges probably due to the lack of current from the lack of rain. It had an otherworldly feel to it but the water wasn’t too bad, a very clear blue colour and not as warm as we had expected. It was a short dip here in the eerieness before we moved onto the Mataranka thermal pool which is a bit more touristy and generally more developed. The pool was used by soldiers during World War II for some R & R and who were responsible for digging a bigger channel for the water to flow through. The owners of the Mataranka Homestead Resort eventually opened it up for tourists and it is now surrounded by concrete and seating but as it is out of season we got the place moreorless to ourselves. The water was completely clear and a kind of sapphire blue with sand at the bottom as opposed to the jaggedy rocks of Bitter Springs. After a very relaxing half an hour we needed to get our groove on as we had a long drive south, over 600kms to get to Tennant Creek, our half way point to Alice Springs.


On the drive down we had planned to stop at Daly Waters as it has a famous and historic pub. Unmissable! We arrived here about 12pm to get some lunch. The pub has been open since 1930 and is basically filled with various objects, new and old which passersby have left behind. The base of the bar is adorned with photos and various ID cards people have left behind. There is a selection of bras, a very large selection, various items of clothing and hundreds of notes in various currency all stuck to the walls. We sat outside where there is a huge selection of thongs (flip flops to us Poms) stuck to the pergola. We both had a Barra burger (Barramundi) which we had wanted to try for a while and it was very tasty indeed. Again we had to leave sharpish to continue our drive south.


After driving for a whole hour without a single curve in the road the next stop was Elliott for a fuel refill and an ice cream and naturally, we had to get a picture of Joy in front of the Elliott sign. On approaching Elliott though, there was a Police roadblock and we were stopped. One policeman scoped out the camper, looking all in the windows and generally snooping, while the other breathalysed Richard and checked his documents. We had a clean break and took the photo on the way out of Elliott a little bit shaken!


The next section of the drive was marked by what is generally accepted as the change from the wet north to the dry south. A town called Renner Springs is apparently where this happens. We were surprised to see the difference in change between 10kms of road. Whereas the scenery in the north has been trees and termite mounds all the way, it now gave way to shorter stumpy trees and eventually savannah. The termite mounds then began to outnumber the trees and there were many more hills and craggy outcrops. The road began curving and climbing with unobstructed views over miles of countryside. In the distance it looked like you could see the sea but we guess this was just a mirage due to the baking sun as this was probably the furthest either of us had ever been from the sea.
We arrived at our destination of Three Ways Roadhouse looking forward to a swim but unfortunately as we are now in the dry south, their dam had run dry and they were having to get water driven in at great cost. Thus the pool was just sitting a little bit stagnant, full of swimming/dying/dead insects. Fairly disapppointing at the end of a long drive – so we had to settle for a beer or two instead.


On our drive in the morning to Alice Springs we stopped at the Devil’s Marbles! These are strange boulders dotted around the land which have formed as a result of magma squeezing through the sandstone millions of years ago, then forming into giant balls of granite rock. After a few aeons, the sandstone has worn away leaving – you guessed it – the Devil’s Marbles. They were fairly impressive because they are just so huge, most of them bigger than our camper and a lot of them are stacked on top of each other in precarious positions. It’s strange to think they have formed as a result of some kind of lava lamp effect which has taken place over millions of years. Madness. Queue touristy photo opportunities!


Ahhh Alice Springs, in what can only be described as an interesting night, we decided to sample some more Aussie beers at ‘Bojangles’ – a saloon style bar with various animal skulls on the walls and a coffin that dispenses monkey nuts. The place was full of young Aussies, travellers, tourists and Cowboys alike and as the night went on the atmosphere just got better and better. It is the first time either of us have seen a man walk into a pub with a snake round his shoulders with barely anyone batting an eyelid. Tables were scarce so we decided to sit with a cowboy as opposed to standing all night (which was becoming harder and harder) and it turned out his name was Craig. He wasn’t really a cowboy, he was infact a miner (‘a single fella’s life, mate’). We proceeded to generally quiz him about his life, Richard going so far as to ask the question ‘So you blow shit up then, yeah?’. He humoured us and we had a rollicking good time chatting and boozing until Joy took a turn for the worse.. Queue taxi ride home and a stonking hangover in the morning.


We did eventually manage to rouse ourselves from slumber and after some extremely hungover shopping (cheesey rolls – here they have cheese on the top and the bottom(!), crisps, sweets, nuts, powerade, novelty postcards to send home etc..) we set off for Curtin Springs - the last cheap campsite before the extortionate prices of Yulara (home of Ayer’s Rock Resort and Uluru). On our way there we witnessed a mini twister roughly 100m away from the road. Joy was pretty scared that we’d get swept up in it like Wizard of Oz (which would have been a bit cool in retrospect) but Richard was intent on getting some photos of it, so he parked the van up on the side of the road!


Curtin Springs – what can one say? Curtin Springs is a cattle station which holds just over a million acres, although we saw no cattle we definitely heard some, we were not sure what was happening to them but it sounded painful. As we had been living an extravagant lifestyle for a few days we decided as penance we should get an unpowered site, which are free at Curtin Springs, which is nice. Luckily in the evenings it is starting to actually get cool so it was a wise decision and good to save a few pennies as everything has been more expensive than we have budgeted for. On arriving, we decided to have a little snooze in the camper but after a few minutes there was a strange, slow tapping on the window. Initially panicking that it was an angry hick, we slowly peeled back the curtain and Joy was heard to exclaim – ‘It’s a dog... no, wait... it’s a (expletive) emu!’ And lo and behold it was an emu pecking at our windows. They are fairly ugly creatures close up with silvery, salt and pepper feathers which look like matted, greasy fur and big inquisitive, almost angry eyes. When they blink there seems to be a milky residue that sticks to the eyeball for half a second before it becomes normal again. Joy probably only noticed this because she was eyeball to eyeball to it though. Eventually it wandered off to annoy some German campers and we mused on how we were happy to feed the cute little yellow birds at the campsite with scraps of bread but not the great, hulking emu, so we have now decided it’s so ugly it’s almost cute, because we feel sorry for emu-kind.


Either way, Curtin Springs was an experience, free camping but probably because the dunnies are made of loosely cobbled together corrugated tin with plenty of room at the bottom of the ‘walls’ for snakes to slither in and haven’t been cleaned since the 1970s. But it was free nonetheless, and a fairly cool evening so we didn’t even need to put our fan on and we felt fairly smug at this fact. We didn’t wake up particularly early, but Uluru was only a short drive away so we hit the road at a leisurely pace (especially as we’d just been stung for petrol at $1.78 a litre!) and cruised down the Lasseter Highway ready for the big rock.


Posted by RichardJoy 06:13 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Litchfield National Park

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On waking with some severe hangovers we decided there was no time like the present and cruised down to Litchfield National Park, stopping the night first at Litchfield Tourist and Van Park on the oustkirts and making the most of its pool facilities. It was this afternoon we saw our first of the tropical rain (of which there is plenty more to come this season) but it was still very warm despite the torrential rain. In the morning we got up early and headed to the park – stopping at the Magnetic Termite Mounds first. Now, to be honest, when you’ve seen one termite mound, you’ve seen them all really but these are particularly special because they build them flat and thin so that the maximum surface area gets heat from the sun to keep them going. So there you go.


After the termites we cruised to Florence Falls, the first of many waterfalls in the park – Litchfield was much greener and lusher and full of life than Kakadu which was fairly deserty in places. There were a fair few people at Florence having a swim so we both got in and messed around in the water. We both wish we had brought some swimming goggles with us so we could see all the fish swimming around at our feet. (Black Bream, in case you’re interested, are abundant in the area.) With so many people there (about a dozen) we thought it was getting a bit soupy so we cruised on to the Buley Rockpools which were a bit more deserted probably because of the mini rainstorm around midday. The rain didn’t last long but it did thunder for a while and Joy did momentarily panic that we were going to be trapped in to park by floods, never to be seen again. A series of little waterfalls and plunge pools surrounded by tropical trees make up Buley Rockhole, they call it ‘nature’s five star spa’ and it was truly beautiful so we stayed here most of the day trying to get action shots of ourselves jumping in. We also got chatting to a Swede who we’ve come to refer to as Swedish Simsy or Swedish Ben Fogle.


At about 4pm we decided to find somewhere to camp up, first stopping off at Tolmer Falls. This area only houses a lookout point because of the rare bats which can be found in the caves at the bottom. Despite the rains that day the falls weren’t too spectacular but you could see the bush for miles around from the lookout which was already looking lusher and more habitable compared to the desert scenes at Kakadu. We eventually decided to camp near Wangi Falls so we could nip to them early in the morning. That night we nearly got eaten alive by Sandflies which we hadn’t encountered before really – it really hurts to be bitten by one of these! It’s like they’re taking a chunk out of your legs, meaning when you walk to the toilet block you have to flail your arms and legs a bit to avoid a munching. Nonetheless we liked the campsite because relatively tame little kangaroos were everywhere, probably nibbling at worms and grubs that the rains had brought up to the surface. On our way there we nearly ran one over in fact – we definitely gave it a fright either way because when it ran across the road in front of us it fell over and skidded a couple of feet on its little face! We both really hope we don’t bump into one while we’re here – they’re such cute creatures and there are lots of young ones around at the minute.


On our last day at Litchfield we did indeed get up early and go to Wangi Falls but unfortunately it was a really overcast day! We never thought we’d complain about it not being hot but we were really looking forward to a dip, despite the fact there are Freshies (freshwater crocs) supposedly in there! We’ve not spotted one yet, apparently they’re quite shy. Nonetheless, Richard had a little swim and then we decided to head back to Buley as it was our favourite area of the Park. A few more people there this time, it had warmed up just enough to warrant a bit more swimming and chilling. We eventually decided to head out of the park and towards Katherine and by the time we were half way there it was roasting again!


Posted by RichardJoy 03:06 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Darwin and Kakadu National Park

In the 4x4

sunny 40 °C

Day 1

We got a taxi to the camper depot at roughly 10.30am and it was here we first experienced the blistering heat of the Northern Territory in the early wet season. We got our 4x4, whacked the air conditioning on high and cruised to the ‘Woolies’ on the Stuart Highway to stock up on food and Castlemaine. We then nailed it straight down to Kakadu National Park. Our first stop was the Bowali Visitors Centre where we found half a dozen other campers sitting in the shade looking as perplexed and as sweltered as we did. On enquiring, we found that Jim Jim Falls was closed but other areas we most wanted to see such as Maguk and Gunlom were still open due to the lack of rain.
On our first night we cruised to Jabiru to stay at the Aurora Kakadu Lodge, mainly due to its swimming facilities, we cooked up a storm of tuna pasta and had a few beers then got an early night for all the action the next day.


Day 2

Next day we woke up and cruised to Ubirr where we climbed up a large rock formation rising from the flood plains and were rewarded by commanding views for miles around us, there were 4x4s driving about setting fire to the grass a trees and also spraying water on larger fires. They actively burn the land here so that if a wild fire does break out it is confined to a relatively small area (small in Australia probably being about the size of Warwickshire) and also to let new growth come through underneath the burnt grass, an Aboriginal tradition the white fellas who once banned the practice have since realised works really well. We then cruised to Nourlangie where there was large caves with rock art and a very steep walk up to another rock formation (a lot bigger than the one at Ubirr). Joy headed back as she couldn’t man the heat as it was midday and 40 degrees, we agreed to meet up later but Joy went into a cave and Richard walked the other way back to the camper. He ended up nearly dying in the bush looking for Joy while she was sitting in a cave watching a Wallaby keep cool under a rock.


After watching the Wallaby for a while which wouldn’t come out from behind the rock despite Richard’s very authentic ‘Wallaby noise’ (the most movement it made was when Richard burped) we drove on to Cooinda which is a had a nice shady resort (complete with the all important pool) and is also home to the Yellow Water Cruise. Got chatting to a nice Aussie lady in the pool for a while who gave us some tips as she’d been on the road for several months.


Day 3

Next day we woke up and got a Yellow Water Cruise around the Yellow River and South Alligator River. The bus that took us to the cruise was driven by a very fat man called Michael and Richard was thinking he was just a fat bus driver but it turned out he was our tour guide. He was amazingly knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna. He showed us loads of birds. We saw the world’s smallest Kingfisher which apparently bird lovers pay thousands to catch a glimpse of. We sat for 10 minutes about a metre away from it. It wasn’t much bigger than a thumb really. Saw the huge Jabiru and its massive nest, lots of birds of prey and then we got onto the good stuff... Crocs!


The first croc we found was in a bit of an awkward position behind some palm fronds but nonetheless we saw it munching on a big bird, flinging it about snapping its wings off and swallowing them whole. Further down the river we saw many more crocs and got within a couple of metres of them which was pretty amazing. Richard’s camera battery died at this point which was a schoolboy error as he had a full battery back in the camper, so the last pics of the crocs we had to take on Joy’s camera which just didn’t have the same zoom. We also saw some buffalo and wild pigs. We were late coming back from the cruise so in a rush but we had another run in with a croc and Michael stopped the boat for us to watch it munching on a huge Barramundi. Quite a sight! All in all a pretty good trip.


After the Yellow Water Cruise we went on our first off road trip to Maguk where there is an idyllic plunge pool and waterfall set in a gorge. There were warnings of crocs there but they do actively trap them and remove them. There were about 6 other people swimming in the plunge pool and we had seen a couple of others heading back while walking there. Surely one of these other people would have been eaten by the time we arrived?!?! Richard jumped in and it was so nice. Big fish swimming around your feet and it got very deep. Joy had a little paddle at the water’s edge and eventually submerged when an aboriginal girl we were chatting to calmed her fears. The girl showed us their croc scaring methods and told us how they catch the snakes with their feet and snap the necks with their teeth. Very nice stuff but apparently it does taste like fish!


We had been advised by the Aboriginal girl at Maguk that the campground at Gunlom had burnt down a couple of weeks ago but we decided we would go anyway. After 40 minutes of the bumpiest off road driving we arrived at Gunlom, where there is another waterfall and plunge pool. We were greeted by a desolate burnt out camp ground which had 7 or 8 wild horses roaming about and a lone Kangaroo (the first we had seen) and not a soul to be seen! Joy was worried that something like Wolf Creek would happen but 2 other sets of campers eventually turned up. The flies here were relentless, diving bombing into your eyeballs and ear holes. It has got to the stage where if they are crawling on any other part of your body other than the eyes and ears then you leave them as at least they are not bothering you too much. After the sun went down we were having a couple of beers outside and Joy was slightly worried as we are hours from civilisation and there are no lights for miles around. It was at this point that Richard looked round with his torch only to have two glowing eyes staring back at him from about 20 metres away. After shining the torch at ‘it’ for a while we worked out it was a dingo as it looked like a lot like a dog. Slightly worrying so we retired to the sweltering camper! When we went in we’d noticed what we thought was a leaf fly into the camper we thought nothing of it. After a couple of rounds of shithead Richard suddenly shouted some expletives and Joy turned round to find a massive cricket about the size of a human hand sitting behind her! We managed to trap it with a pint glass and a brochure and fling it back out of the window. Urk!


Day 4

We woke up about 7am to oppressive heat as we had no electricity and couldn’t even plug in the fan. We both must have sweated out about 50 gallons that night. We took an hours climb up to the top of the waterfall but it was certainly worth it. First were three tiers of rock pools with water running between them before falling steeply down the hundred metre falls to the plunge pool. It was a brilliant sight and despite the fact it hasn’t rained for months there was still a good amount of water flowing. We walked towards the nearest pool and sitting on the edge was a Water Monitor Lizard. It was pretty big, probably a metre including its tail!! I thought I better get a picture before it disappeared but it just sat there for the whole two hours we were up at the rock pools. We sat at the head of the waterfall just looking out for miles around. Here you could really see the destruction from the campground fire and how remote we really were. We then had a dip in the rock pools and Richard slipped on a rock and fell into the pool. Hurting his finger and bruising his wrist. Although Joy found it very funny it was quite painful but amusing looking back on it.


After that we decided to move on closer to Darwin as we had to get the 4x4 back the next day. We stopped at Pine Creek to have a look around but it was a proper hick town, we could almost hear the banjos, so we bought some crisps and made some sarnies and ploughed on to the outskirts of Darwin where we finally set up camp at the Shady Glen Caravan Park. We went for a dip in the pool and met some ex-pats who were originally from Fareham but had moved out to Melbourne 8 years ago. They gave us lots of tips for camping and for general Australian life as they had been on the road doing Western Aus and the Northern Territory for 14 months! They were very friendly and helpful and invited us out to Karaoke bar but we didn’t go, later regretting this as we realised we only had a couple of beers left. During a hunt for some beers Richard trod on something... turned out it was a possum’s tail which ran a few metres away and sat staring at us with a sad face :). Eventually we just passed out from the heat and got up early to take the 4x4 back in the morning.

Day 5

After a successful swap of the campers we decided we deserved a wander round Darwin so that we did, stopping for a jug of ‘Toohey’s’ on the way – a very reasonably priced $9 for a Jug of about 3 pints. We decided to carry on with the tasty jugs of beer but first went off to find a sneaky spot to park the camper in the city so we could bail back there in the evening, eventually settling on a spot outside the ‘Timor Relief’ house (full of hippies so clearly not a big police presence in this area..) We strolled back to Mitchell Street and did a wee bar crawl, ending up at ‘Shenanigans’ where the live music turned out to be the Rock Band game. We found ourselves getting profoundly nostalgic when the Man City v Liverpool game came on the big screen and both sat there pretending to be interested in it for a while. After the first half, no-one had scored so we chipped it back to the camper and got a free night’s sleep!
Managed not to get ‘the knock’ from the police but still woke up at 7am nearly dead from the heat and dehydration so we got cracking, stocked the fridge up and cruised to the outskirts of the Litchfield national park to a nice little campsite (with a pool) ready for a full day’s tour of the Park the next day.

Posted by RichardJoy 02:01 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Singapore Zoo and Sentosa Island

all seasons in one day 32 °C
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The second day was very busy. Lots of walking. We got up early due to our oversleep the night before and decided to head to Singapore Zoo first thing. The zoo was very good, much better than anything we have in England. We spent most of the day there and the highlight was the Polar Bear, although it felt slightly weird as it was in an airconditioned area in a hot humid place. All in all a good day there but not worth going into too many details about it. After that we headed straight into the city and wandered around the Colonial District and went to the Raffles Hotel. We didn’t buy a Singapore Sling here though, it looked a bit too posh for us. We looked at some nice expensive shops around the area and walked around the colonial district in the baking heat. Eventually we decided to walk all the way back to Little India where we were staying.
Later on we decided to head to the Habour Front to try and walk up Mt Faber (although it is just a hill), Joy’s feet were hurting after her sandals had rubbed so we decided to get the cable car up there... it was closed for renovations much to our annoyance. We decided instead to go for a couple of beers and some food along the habour. It was very nice and German! The beer was very good though. We were shattered when we got back at 11pm as we had been up since 2am that morning so we called it a day.

Our last day in Singapore was another busy one, we got up early and went to Sim Lim electronics mall which was quite amazing. Richard was informed that he had spent far more money then necessary on his camera and lens and was offered numerous deals! After that we decided to visit Sentosa Island... It was a very cheesy place and expensive. It felt like Theme Island or something similar. Joy got her Singapore Sling which was a must while we were there and it was nice although not that authentically made as the bar staff had to conferr to agree what was supposed to go in it, you’d think they’d know! Really!

Anyway, with our overpriced drinks we sat on a beach with a nice view over to hundreds of container ships waiting to dock and a huge off shore gas storage facility and processing plant. No one else seemed to notice it was there but then I guess that they are short on space in Singapore! We took a cable car up the hill with some good views and then a luge back down which was more fun than we initially thought. After another bit of wandering the heavens opens and it was pouring down. We decided to head back as we had a flight to catch in a few hours but spotted the National Geographic shop and naturally Richard had to look. It was very good and it was very difficult to refrain from buying anything. Richard would have purchased the whole shop if possible!
We had a nice few beers by the hostel while we waited for our airport transfer and then said our goodbyes to Singapore and went back to Changi airport. Time went relatively quickly here, had a chat to Brit who had been on a cruise and then caught our flight to Darwin moite! Flight was relatively bumpy and we didn’t get much sleep that night. When we were getting close to Darwin we saw a big electrical storm out of the window which was quite amazing albeit slightly concerning... We are now waiting in Darwin airport to go and collect our 4x4 which we are very excited about.


Posted by RichardJoy 01:56 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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