Saturday, 31 August 2013

Mataranka / Katherine 26/8/2013

The kids were up early, racing around on their bikes, so we decided that we would drive to Katherine for the day and do all the shopping and replenishing we needed to do. On the road to I decided that my feet probably needed a bit of tidying up. I scrubbed them as best I could with baby wipes. A couple of weeks in the bull dust and my shoes and feet were wrecked. One of the things on the list was definitely a replacement pair of thongs.

We drove down the main street of Katherine to see what shops were where, and then parked up. First order of business was to go to the Land Council to pick up our permits for Gove Peninsular. That done we went into woollies to get a few groceries. It is really difficult to stick to exactly what is on the list when you are used to unlimited space. W shopping and then had to put some stuff back as we didn’t think it would fit in the fridge. Iain stood in the queue and I went to Target to get a second duvet cover. I picked up the bargain of the century - $20 for a queen size and good quality too! On the way out we stopped in at a little shop and bought Iain a man sarong and a pair of tie dye shorts for me. We decided Iain needed a sarong as our microfiber towels are just too small to wrap around him when he comes back from a shower – I turning him into a hippie, one thing at a time.

We were both starving by now, and we have come to realise that we are both very grumpy when hungry! We packed away the groceries and headed for Coffee Club, for some lunch and to catch up on our blogs and all things internet. We ordered food and sat down with the laptops, iPad and mobiles  - we certainly got some very strange looks. Two hours later and a few cold drinks under our belts we decided it was time to find somewhere to stay, I fired up good old wotif and found a place called Knots Landing resort, I booked two nights and we packed up and we left.

Iain needed to get another swimming costume – his is looking worse for wear, and I still hadn’t  found any shoes. We saw a shop over the road that looked promising, so we went on over. It turned out to be a little gem, they had racks of Crocs and Havaiana’s. I had seen a pair of Croc thongs in Bowen that I liked, but haven’t been able to find my size anywhere. They had such a big selection that Iain made me buy 2 pairs. He got his swimmers and some shorts, and as soon as he apid he made me change shoes. When we got back to the car he got my Orthoheels and thongs and put them straight in the bin!

We left town and went to check into the resort, I am always a little sceptical here as my version of resort is not always the same as the outback version. We were pleasantly surprised, it was quite nice, the cabins were basic and quite old but very functional and clean. The bathrooms were separate and down a pathway, but each cabin had it’s own one so no sharing. Iain had the great idea of unpacking the whole car so we could sort it out and re-pack it. Needless to say the room looked like a bomb had hit it.

We had booked into the restaurant for dinner, so Iain had to climb on the very dusty roof to retrieve some fancier clothes from the spare clothes box. It felt really nice to be dressed up nicely for a change. Dinner was very nice, although service was a bit slow, we only finished at around 8.45pm so went to bed with very heavy stomachs.

Limmen National Parl / Mataranka 25/8/2013

 We had a peaceful night with no sign of the Dingo. We had packed most of the stuff away the night before as we didn’t want to take any chances or give any creatures a reason to come and visit. We got on the road pretty early and set off to find some side tracks to explore. We soon realised that as the area had been declared a National Park the year before, they had gone through and gated all the  tracks, and closed off the places we had seen last year. We were becoming more and more disillusioned with the area, so decided not to stop over again and just push through to Mataranka.

We stopped off at all the designated camping areas just to have a look and see, and while they were nice and the facilities OK – toilets, no showers – they were not really anything that special. We came across a sign for a camping area we had not seen before, and as we approached we could see it was enormous. We pulled in to have a look, and ended up chatting to the ranger, apparently they don’t have the funding yet to open up all the places we had seen before, so perhaps in the future it will get better.

We were about 20km from the camping area when we went around a corner and there was a car sideways in the middle of a bull dust pit, with people standing around it. We realised there was a problem so pulled up, there was a poor guy kneeling next to his camper trailer that was completely minus a whole wheel. It had sheared off at the axle. They were a young couple with 3 young kids and you could see he knew they were in a world of trouble. We convinced him to pull it off the road, and park it up. He wanted to unhitch the car and drive to Roper Bar 20km away for help. We managed to convince him it was better for them all to stay where they were, as we were heading for Roper Bar anyway and could send help. We got their sat phone number and headed off. When we got to Roper Bar, which is a small Aboriginal shop and roadhouse, we realised it was Sunday, none of the guys in the workshop were there. We got the number of the local police and called the couple on the sat phone to let them know what was happening and give them the number for the police. We area ite decided that while we were there we would take a look at the Roper River and the crossing that gives the 'town' it's name - the Roper Bar.

We got around 100km from Mataranka when we saw a flatbed truck heading towards Roper Bar, we sent them a text message letting them know. We never heard back so hopefully it all worked out ok – a very expensive holiday it will have turned out to be!

We continued on stopping off a t a lay-by, and using their water tank as a prop for another photo-shoot.

We decided we were going to stay at the National Park camp ground in Mataranka, when we got there it was quite busy, but everyone was spread out enough that we weren’t on top of each other. We got ourselves set up and settled in with a cup of coffee, when the biggest mosquitoes arrived. We got the bushmans out, and long pants and shirts. It was otherwise a relaxing evening, until it got dark and the campers just down from us got started. The kids were going nuts and the parents just let them run wild, eventually they went to bed and peace reigned. For about 10 mins – then the adults got started. From the conversation we heard that he had got some disability so they were on holiday!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Lorella Springs / Limmen national Park 24/8/2013

Talk about freezing, it was so cold during the night. I woke up shivering and rummaged around to find one of the blankets to wrap around myself, as I was trying to put it over me Iain kept on grabbing the corner to put on himself – needless to say I was not giving it up and made him find his own blanket! It’s ironic that we are in a nudist camp and we were wearing more clothes than any other day on the trip. It didn’t take long to warm up once the sun was up, so Iain went and lit the donkey so we could have a nice hot shower.

We decided that we would spend the morning just relaxing, and packing up slowly, and then making our way to the Lost City in the afternoon. After a leisurely breakfast and coffe, we went and had a nice hot shower, it of course turned into another photo shoot. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a rustic corrugated, almost outdoor shower. I took the decided with nice hot water I would wash my hair – probably shouldn’t have bothered as we found out it was just river water!

We packed up, and by the end of it were very hot so we drove up to the main area for a dip in the hot springs. Being a Sunday, the owner and all the workers were at the bar having a relaxing day and a drink. We got chatting and soon got talking about Unimogs. Iain got the laptop out and we spent a while showing them pictures and chatting about places we would love to visit. Rhett (the owner) was very keen for us to come back and try out some of the new tracks he is planning.

After a swim we headed out on the road to the Lost City, we got there earlier than planned and as it is very hot there with not much shade, we decided to do a few pics and then move on to Butterfly Springs. The Lost City was quite a bit different to what I remember it, we are here 2 months earlier, so it is still very green and not quite as dramatic. We walked into the rock formations, and as there had quite recently been a fire, we got filthy very quickly, so Iain being creative got some charcoal off the trees and put dirty stripes all over me, we did some photo’s and then headed back for the car. 

It was still early enough to move on and as there was no-one else there we liked our chances of getting a good spot at Butterfly Springs. We made the 40km journey, pulled in and to our horror it was jam packed with people. We did a u turn without even bothering to go any further and headed back onto the main road. It was getting late now, so we were keen to find someone to camp for the night. Just past the rangers office and the airstrip we spotted an old road so turned down it, to our delight it was a he gravel pit that had been long abandoned and was starting to self-regenerate. We parked up and set up for the night. 

We were just about to start cooking when Iain, looking back down the road spotted something, sure enough it was a Dingo. He was very interested in us which was a bit of a worry, Iain got his catapult and marbles out (we had bought them specially for such an eventuality) and tried a few practice shots, but he still stood there. Being a bit of a ninny, I started to worry a bit, he moved off into the bush but we could still see him. Iain decided to get the camera out and see if he could get a decent picture. He walked down the road and took a few shots, nnot thinking he had anything  - until we downloaded them – WOW, he was an amazing specimen. He made off and we never saw him again.

I must say I kept the torch very close that evening, every now and then doing a wide arc to make sure there were no eyes watching us!

Lorella Springs 23/8/2013

It has been surprisingly cold during the night, down to around 10 degrees. Thank heavens I brought our lap blankets as well as the duvet. I was still a bit tired when we got up in the morning. Iain suggested that I make some salmon fish cakes, as the zucchini I had, had fallen to the bottom of the fridge and frozen. I made up the recipe as I went, finely grated carrot, zucchini and potato (I squeezed all the juice out of the potato making it quite dry), a can of salmon, an egg, some rice crumbs mixed in and then eat cake rolled in rice crumbs. I pan fried them slowly in a little oil, and put them in the freezer for later.

Adrienne and Guy had decided to move on, so after packing up for the day we met at the reception area to say our goodbyes. Tristan at the front desk gave us some tips on where to go, so after ordering some  bread, we headed out. One of the older guys working there built himself a wood fired oven and makes bread to order – calls the bakery ‘Crusty Dicks’.

Our first destination was a place called Teardrop Falls, it didn’t seem as far away as some of the other places we had been to, but the road was pretty rough so it took us around 1.5 hours to get there. We parked the car and walked about 500m from the end as the track got a bit too rocky and we were worried we were a bit top heavy for the side slopes. We arrived at the first hill as Tristan had said we would and found it to be very unappealing, he said that there was a bit of a climb to the top of the hill to get to the other pools, but it was worth the climb as the views were fantastic. There was no path marked, so we just found the most likely place and started to climb. It was really tough going, very steep and lots of loose rocks and stones to slip on.

 We eventually got to the top, and the found we had to do some very creative navigating t to find the next pool. We had to climb down a pretty steep embankment to finally get there. We were by now very hot and sweaty, and I must say that neither of us were particularly overawed by the rock pool. I think we had been far too spoilt by the last ones we had seen, and being late in the season it was not at its best. Nevertheless we got into the water and had a very refreshing swim. We did some more photo’s, and I kept on feeling something  touching me. I looked down and there was these tiny little shrimps on me. Encouraged by the cuteness we carried on shooting – until I looked down and there was a leech crawling on my arm. The photo session didn’t last too much longer than that.

We made our way back to the have a look at the middle pool, that was quite far down, and as Tristan said if you go in you were only getting out by rescue helicopter! We did a few photos and then made our way back down the hill. 

By now we could both see the benefit of the very daggy looking cotton boot and ankle covers, we were covered in cuts and scratches. We got to the bottom and did the long hot walk back to the car.

We were dying for a swim, so decided to make our way to a place called Nudie Springs, a thermal pool that comes out the ground at 50 degrees. It flows to a pool further down that is a much more reasonable 35 degrees. This used to be the site of the original nudist camp, but it was moved back to the homestead as he found that nudists also like to socialise with fully clothed people lol. As it is called nudie springs we stripped off and went for a swim – surprisingly although it was warm, it cooled you down – I think it had something to do with the wind that was blowing. We did a few more photo’s and then headed back to camp.

We called in at reception to sign back in and collect our bread, we noticed a sign for drumstick ice creams, so decided we deserved one each. We had to giggle when we got them, they had certainly seen better days, I think they had melted a little on the trip from Darwin in a ute! We went into the bakehouse to choose our bread and it looked fantastic. We couldn’t wait to set up camp to have cheese and bacon sandwiches for dinner.

We had been joking around with the owner about not wanting tan lines, so he invited us to test out his new nudist camp – we decided to give it a try just for the hell of it. It was brilliant, the place was empty so we had the whole campground as well as a brand new shower block all to ourselves – and we didn’t need to wear any clothes!

Lorella Springs 22/8/2013

We got up early and packed up what we needed to for the day, and put the rest in the beach shelter. While we were busy, Guy came over to find out what our plans were for the day. As we had similar plans we decided to head out together to do a bit of exploration, and swimming. They are still learning as they go along, so we tried to give them as much help and advice as we could. Turns out they are very similar to us and really enjoy getting out and walking – what a bonus. 

We decided while it was still early to explore the scenic places we had chosen to go to, and then end at a waterhole when it was hot. We went to a place called the Arches, a bit of a walk but the views were magnificent. We explained to them that we were doing a series of photo’s called ‘Naked in The Outback’ and they were fine with it, so we did some photo’s while they explored a bit. 

We moved on to a cave called musterers cave, a very narrow entrance leading into a fairly large cool cave. There were still bits of what appeared to be an old saddle there, a fascinating piece of history.

Next stop was a water hole called the water slide, the kid in me was intrigued. We arrived a little after Adrianne and Guy as we had explored a little more around the cave. We had our Garmin GPS UHF handheld radios with us, one of which we had given to them. Turns out to have been a fantastic idea – we all started following a path that turned out to be the wrong one. We decided to head back in the opposite direction to have a look around while they kept looking in the general area they were in. We managed to find the right path, then had to use the radios to guide them back to us. It took a while but we stopped for some refreshment in the shade before moving on.

Tip of the day: If you have canned fruit, put it into small containers or buy it in small containers and then drop it into the freezer – makes a fantastic cold snack when you are really hot. It works really well with fresh fruit too – especially very juicy ones like oranges cut into wedges

The walk was only 500m, but we had been warned it would feel a lot longer. We had to find directional clues along  the way which turned out to be a lot of fun. It was a real hike climbing over boulders and through gaps between rocks, we had a few surprises along the way too. At one point we walked around a corner and a mass of butterflies took flight, an amazing sight.

 Iain was leading the way with me next, then Guy and finally Adrienne. He stepped down from a rock, turned to me and said ‘oh wow there’s a green snake’, knowing that green snakes are usually OK, I asked where, he said it had retreated under a rock. Confidently I stepped down when I saw a BROWN snake heading straight for me, I realised his polarised sunnies had tricked him and this wasn’t a harmless snake. I think my feet grew instant wings, I ran back up the rock so fast yelling ‘Oh God it coming straight towards me’ this caused poor Adrienne to also turn and run. It headed for rocks away from us and with my heart still pounding we resumed our hike!

 When we reached  the pools we were amazed and very happy to have taken the time to find them. The waterslide was definitely not in it’s prime , but there was enough water going down to have a whole lot of fun. We all had a go, and then went back for more! After about the third time I realised that doing it in a bikini was probably not the best idea as I had developed rock rash on my bum – it was worth it though!

We swam and chatted for about an hour, then Iain and I did some photo’s for the Naked in The Outback series.

 We then headed back to the car for some lunch – very late lunch. It was very hot and on the way back down, I started to feel quite unwell. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had not drunk nearly enough and the combination of low blood sugar from not eating , was a recipe for disaster – lesson learnt! After drinking a litre of water and half a litre of milk in combination with cheese and biscuits I started to feel good again. Mother hen Iain kept trying to feed me more and was generally fussing over me. 

We decided to part ways with Adrienne and Guy, we had one last place to go to that had been highly recommended, but it was a long way and they had had enough adventuring for one day. We headed off and arrived at a place called Nanny’s retreat, a new adventure only just opened up. As we got out of the car I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, and there was a pitch black snake slithering along a couple of metres from the car. It was far enough away and not heading in my direction, so I turned to get my camera, when I turned back I couldn’t see it any more. Suddenly there was an explosion of movement, it had been stalking a lizard and had struck it, the lizard took off and the snake took off after it at an incredible speed. I was a little shaken, but was trying to act brave. When we found the ‘track’ it was literally a pathway of trampled down long grass.

 With the memory of snakes fresh in my mind we set off, but it was a challenge, my boundaries were being severely challenged and it turned out to be a rather long walk, probably around 1.5km.

 It was getting late when we eventually found it, but what a site it was truly magnificent. I was sorry that we hadn’t spent the whole day there – it was certainly worthy of a whole day. We did a quick photo shoot and then headed back for the car.

We got back to camp at around 7pm and when we told them what we had done for the day, they didn’t believe us – until we could describe some of the landmarks, they were quite amazed. We set up for the night, Iain made mince for dinner and then we collapsed into bed exhausted!