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  • Day80

    This large sandstone plateau has many rivers and therefore waterfalls running off it all year as the stone holds onto the water and gradually releases it over the year. Therefore the water was quite a nice temperature, as it has time to heat up, and even clearer than Eidith Falls. Each river had a narrow boarder of rainforest making some lovely walking, especially between Florence Falls (where we camped the first night) and Buley Rockholes where there were also loads of swimming holes to explore. We spent a couple of nights at Wangi Falls walking, swimming and going to a talk by the rangers about the wildlife and plants. We saw a bower bird displaying his 'nest' which is actually a tunnel of branches and a collection of random white items that he dances next to and a colourful collar rises up around his neck. We also went to another ranger talk about the 6 metre tall magnetic and cathedral termite mounds, up to 75 years old. At night we managed to catch fleeting views of bandicoots scurrying through the undergrowth.
    Leaving here marked the end of our campervan adventure, we will be sorry to see it go. We have driven nearly 10,000km in the campervan and car during our time in Australia and only really touched on what it has to offer. On the way to Darwin we passed large areas of "cool burn" where foliage is cleared to prevent larger wildfires. It covered the roads with smoke and the noise was incredible - I'd hate to be near a proper outback fire. We also kept passing old WW2 airstrips (red dust strips of about 5km long, although the buildings have since disappeared.
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  • Day76

    We came for one but stayed for four days here. We think we have found our inland paradise, here in the North Western part of Katherine Gorge. Lower falls are right by the campground, a km walk up to the upper falls (the best part) and a further 3.5km to Sweetwater Pools (spent most of the hot walk to and from these pools worrying about snakes along the narrow, rocky track!). The swimming was great at all pools although we stuck to the 7am to 7pm swim rule so we weren't in the water while the current 12 resident freshwater crocs feed in the lower pools! Saw a snapping turtle there and a black whip snake right by the path where we were camping. We shared the upper pool with a large water monitor.
    On the way North we stopped in at the Adelaide River War Cemetery where those killed in action in the Northern Territory are buried. As with all commonwealth cemeteries it was peaceful and immaculate. We will learn more about WW2 in Northern Australia in Darwin, but more bombs were dropped on Darwin by the Japanese than at Pearl Harbour. The extent of conflict in Australia during WW2 has been surprising.
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  • Day72

    We have spent a couple of days at the southern part of the park, staying in the campsite here which thankfully had a swimming pool to cool off in as the river is a no go swim/kayak area at the moment due to crocs. We had a friendly kangaroo that enjoyed being hand fed carrots (very naughty to feed wild animals, but couldn't resist those beautiful eyelashes). There was also a cookaburra who wasn't too camera shy. Last night we were amazed when the fruit bats flew over head to go and feed, there must have been thousands of them and was a sight to see. During the day, while resting they are so noisy (like a baby crying but silent when flying). Today we walked for over 10km to get to a couple of viewpoints over looking the gorge and a rockhole, hard work in the heat, 30 degrees or so. Yesterday on our way throughthe town of Katherine we went into the School of the Air and had an interesting chat about the logistics of how it all works. Would take some getting use to, teaching to a class of 17 children who are all on-line! While visiting the bottle shop (the only place you can buy alcohol from in Aus) we were asked by the resident policeman, not the resident security guard, for id. We were overjoyed that we looked that young, till we realised everyoe was asked along with where we were staying. We also went to the natural spring fed crystal clear river of the Katherine Hot Springs. Not only was it lovely and warm, it was beautifully clear. The flow of water and the palm trees overhead made it a lovely place to swim.Read more

  • Day70

    We have been doing alot of driving recently to get towards the northern part of Australia. Campervans have certainly been outnumbered by 4wd's as so many roads are unpaved. We are not permitted to drive on them so try and make the most of the places we are allowed to go. Friday we drove to Doon Doon rest house passing Halls Creek, where alcohol above 2.7% is banned in the entire village. We also saw our first live, wild snake in Aus, as it moved across the road. We reckon it was about 2 meters long and quite thick, called a black-headed python. Saturday we went to have a look at Emma Gorge, from a distance, as the last 2 km was on a gravel road so we couldn't go any closer. This is at the start/end of the Gibb River Road, a 650km 4wd only road that seems very popular. We then spent a couple of nights at Kununarra, by Lily Creek Lagoon, where we enjoyed a night at the Speedway watching cars drift around a dirt track by floodlight. Everyone backs their vehicle up the fence and sits with their picnics and drinking beer (or hot chocolate). Yesterday we went to the nearby Mirima National Park, like a mini Bungle Bungles, where we scrambled across rocks hoping to avoid snakes and enjoying the shapes and coloured banding of the rocks. We then crossed the boarder and a time zone, into the Northern Territory on another long driving afternoon before stopping in a busy little roadside rest area. The terrain has become more interesting over the last couple of days as the flat land has given way to more rocky outcrops and trees. We are glad we timed our visit here for now, the dry season, as most of the highway is also a floodway and would be under water.Read more

  • Day66

    James's Birthday started with bacon sandwiches under the amazing Boab tree where we camped last night. Continuing on the long drive to Darwin we stopped in at Fitzroy Crossing for fuel and provisions, the last petrol and habitation for 300km. We went on a 40km loop to the Geikie Gorge, a limestone river valley that contains some amazing wildlife including Bull sharks, river rays, the tooth nosed Sawfish and many other creatures we never saw! There were however plenty of fresh water crocodiles, the smaller and less aggressive relative of the saltwater crocs (up to 7m long!) that can be in these waters. There were rugged and fascinating limestone towers and pinnacles that get scoured to a white colour when the waters rise up to 10m above normal in the wet season.
    We finished the day at an amazing roadside camping area on a bluff above a gorge, with stunning views accross the plains at sunset assisted by a glass of wine. Met some really friendly 'grey nomads' from the South West of Australia escaping North from the temperatures which are dropping. Apparently it was 2 degrees C in Perth the previous night!
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  • Day65

    The navigation was not too difficult when heading towards Broome, as the photo shows, 493km with no option for turning off! Freshly brewed coffee and biscuits helped the journey pass (as you can see in the 3rd picture!). We just caught sunset at Cable Beach, as we now kmow the sun sets even earlier now we are further north. At least it gets light much earlier though. Had a look around Broome, which has a feel of Asia about it because of the heat, tropical plants and some of the buildings. The Japanese bombed the town and harbour, with a total of 65 attacks just on Broome alone. In one attack 100 people were killed while sitting in flying boats at the harbour, the remains of which can be seen today at low tide. We drove east out of the town today and have started to see the unusual Boab trees, one huge one was where we stayed at a roadside camp.Read more

  • Day63

    We headed back down to the Fortescue Falls and found we had it to ourselves so could resist a swim. We then walked in the opposite direction from yesterday in the bottom of the gorge seeing it all from a different angle. We then drove north for about 400km, stopping east of Port Hedland, where all the mining lorries head to. We saw road trains upto 60m long pulling four trailers. The remoteness shows when we saw that the landing strip for flying doctors is actually a stretch of the road complete with piano key markings for take off and landing! Another road side camp in the bush tonight, complete with a red back spider in the toilet.Read more

  • Day62

    Waking after a chilly night as we are in the desert and a higher altitude than the coast, we walked the short distance from the camp to Dales Gorge. The landscape in this area is completely flat and it would be hard to know the gorges are there. Three gorges meet here with pools at the end of each with waterfalls that must be spectacular in the wet season. After dropping down into the first gorge we went to the circular pool at it's terminus - the way into it is like a movie set from Indiana Jones, completely natural but looking like an ancient fort. After visiting the Circular pool we back tracked and took another gorge, walking along the bottom with towering walls either side. The river crosses several flat rock areas creating more pools and falls. Fortescue Falls has terracing leading down to the blue water and was busy due to the Western Australia national holiday (about 20 people there). We continued deeper into the gorge to the Fern pool past Fruit Bats in the trees and looking out for the snakes we'd been warned about on this stage. As it's not super hot they aren't too aggressive- so that's all right then! The Fern Pool was very quiet and serene with a waterfall at one end. The water was luke warm and the waterfall water was actually quite warm. The blue water is quite deep and has many fish that like to nibble your feet.Read more

  • Day61

    Yesterday we continued driving East and was pleased to see the terrain start to change from the flat desert that we have been seeing alot recently. The main highlight was seeing hundreds of parakeets gathering by a 'river' if it can be called that. We stopped for the night at a campsite in Paraburdoo, the whole town is in existence because of the Rio Tinto mine there. It was interesting to see how the whole town had a military base feel about it without fences. It even had an outdoor cinema!
    We are in the Hamersley Range in the heart of the Pilbara, that is known as Karijini to the local Aboriginal people. Today we visited Joffre Falls where we walked around the edge of the gorge and descended down into it. The waterfalls cascaded over banded iron formations giving it a stepped look into a narrow, steep gorge. It was good for climbing over as well as sitting in the bottom with walls towering above you. We are camping here for a couple of nights amongst the dingos (wild dogs).
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  • Day59

    We awoke yesterday morning to find out that kangaroos are quite inquisitive, as they had clearly examined the table we left out and looked at the front of the van (paw marks left behind)! They came back last night while we were still up and were quite happy eating while we stood next to them. The mother had a large joey half hanging out of her pouch and was eating the shrubs from there. We spent yesterday snorkelling at Oyster Stacks, Turquoise Bay and Kurrajong (where we camped) and saw many more fish, blue ringed rays, wedge shaped rays, green turtles and two octopus, one which was massive. It was a relief to go into the water as there was no wind, just sunshine at heat (30 degrees although it feels hotter with the sun reflecting off the white sand), not bad considering this is the start of the winter. We were up early again, to at least eat breakfast before 8am when it's much hotter, then spent the morning snorkelling. The Ningaloo Reef has certainly lived up to its reputation as a world class snorkelling destination where you can get to from the beach and pretty much have it to yourself.
    This afternoon we have started to make our way inland and are spending the night at a roadside rest area with other travellers. We drove over 200km and only saw about 12 other vehicles so it's no wonder that everyone you do pass waves to you. Looking forward to a shower after three days of salt water in the hair!
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  • Day57

    Yesterday we spent the day snorkelling again at Bill's Beach in Coral Bay then made our way up to Exmouth, passing loads of termite mounds. There was a World War 2 memorial where information boards told of Australia and US bases here, we also had a good view out to a couple of pods of dolphins fishing. Once in Exmouth it became clear that you have to pre-book camping in the National Park, and even though the signs said full there was a last minute available spot at one of the many campgrounds. Not only is it very popular with travellers but it is also filled up with the 'grey nomads' who are like whales and migrate for the winter and stay for weeks at a time (Australia's version of going to Costa Del Sol, but with 25 foot caravans, boats, bikes, tents....). It has the usual, no electricity, a drop toilet and no drinking water but in a great location. We are now in the northern part of the 300km, World Heritage Ningaloo Reef. On the way we stopped a few times, including Turquoise Bay where we went drift snorkelling, keeping a close eye on where we had to get out because of the strong current. There is less coral from the beach, than at Coral Bay but it is slightly different and still plenty of fish. The water is warmer and really clear too. We saw massive Angel Fish, a wedge shaped ray right at the shore edge, a turtle that swam next to us then fed off the grass on the sea bed, not at all bothered by our presence. We then saw the largest fish either of us had ever seen, hiding under a shelf of coral. Its mouth was about 30cm wide and the wide body about 1m long!Read more

  • Day55

    Spnt a whole day on a 'seafari', looking for the various marine wildlife found off the Coral Bay coast, in particular the large Manta Rays that can be found here. Hopefully a chance to use our new tough camera we had to buy after dust broke the old one.
    The first round of snorkelling took us to a deep part of the reef where there was a small canyon to dive down into and find marine life hiding away. Straight away we found two Green Turtles who weren't bothered we were there and allowed us to follow them. Just after we watched as three reef sharks chased a shoal of fish into a huge bait ball and took turns to catch a few. Aside from this the fish and coral (hard coral which makes spectacular shapes rather than soft coral which is more colourful) were amazing.
    As we got back on the boat the spotter plane was circling above trying to locate Manta Rays for us to swim with. It took a while but they found a 3 metre long juvenile and we were able to swim on the surface above it. It was ok with us being there and did a barrel roll in front of us to show off. We swam with it for nearly an hour, by which time 8 people has returned to the boat leaving 3 of us with the Ray. At this point the guide allowed us to dive down and swim alongside this graceful creature that appears to fly through the water.
    On the way to the second reef dive of the day we spotted two humpback whales and followed them for a while before they dove down to feed. Not long after this and just before we got in the water, a 3.5 metre Tiger Shark swam past which did concern us a wee bit. However the guide explained their dietary habits and got in the water to take some photos!
    The second snorkel was around coral stacks where you could dive down and swim through canyons and gullies with the shoals of colourful fish.
    An amazing day with two very tired travellers by the end of the day!
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