Friday, September 2, 2011

Travelling through the NT

Many people ask our family what their favourite places in Australia is, and all of us answer with “the Northern Territory!” We love new discoveries around the NT and this trip was to be no different.

After we left Darwin, we headed south and stopped at Douglas Hot Springs for the night. WOW! what an experience. The Douglas River meanders slowly through the bush, where it is joined by a hot thermal spring, where the water comes out of the ground at 60 degrees Celsius. The spring itself is a sacred aboriginal site, so access is restricted, but wandering up the river bed allows you to choose what temperature water you would like to swim in. At 60 deg, the water is scalding hot, but there are several pools further down that are cool enough to feel like a warm bath. At one point, the river waters meet the spring water, and we managed to lie on the river bed like stranded driftwood, our feet freezing cold and our chests warm and toasty. It was an unusual feeling. We are travelling with John and Lyn Hobbs again, our good friends from the Sunshine Coast, and they also enjoyed the hot springs and the quick visit to Butterfly Gorge.


I spent ten minutes fishing, before losing a lure on a submerged tree. I jumped in and swam around looking for it, but the dark shadows approaching me through slightly murky water downstream became a bit too freaky, and I gave up the hunt. As I got out of the water, a woman fishing on the bank asked me if I saw the large freshie that lives there?

At the Territory Wildlife Park we visited Ooloo Lagoon and the guide told us “If you ever find yourself in the area, visit Ooloo Crossing” the namesake of the parks display. As we approached the crossing, the full force of the Daly River became apparent. This river is huge! and in the wet season, it becomes absolutely ENORMOUS! The road crossing across the river would be adventure enough to stop most people – a steep sandy bank and a hard right turn into the fast flowing water, across the loose, rocky bottom to the other side and then fight your way up the steep sand bank to continue the journey. Just the thought of it was too much for us, so an attempt was always unlikely.


Our next stop was only 150km away, but we still managed to arrive after dark into Edith Falls. On our last venture to the falls, we only swam at the bottom and did not have time to complete the walking track to the top. This time, we were determined to investigate the rest of the area.

Early in the morning, we began the ascent to the top of Edith Falls to encounter one of the most picturesque swimming holes we have ever seen. Crystal clear water dancing across the rocks and falling off several small waterfalls, through deep clear and inviting pools before continuing their dance to the lower pools and waterfalls. It was stunning, and just a little bit cold! We stayed at Edith Falls for two nights and made several trips to the lower swimming hole as well, thoroughly enjoying ourselves and relaxing as best we could.


Rosa and Leisl were swimming near the edge of the main pool when a small snake decided to venture near the scary people and sun itself on the rocky step. We are still trying to work out who was more scared, the girls, or the snake, which took off because the noise level was too great for him. We also saw a water monitor swim past, and several large fish. Fresh water crocs are said to inhabit the swimming hole, but we didn’t see any during our time there.


I had arranged to visit a cattle station 250km from Katherine to complete some long awaited electrical work, so Gilnockie Station became our next destination. Although we planned for about one week on the station, there wasn’t much work to be done, and we only spent three days. The Armstrong’s are very nice people and looked after us well. John is a helicopter pilot, and watching him land the aircraft one afternoon gave us an appreciation of his skill level.


We all decided it was time to head for WA and Kununurra! Stopping for lunch in Timber Creek, we utilised a picnic table in front of the Wirib Caravan Park. Our prayer that day was for work, as we needed some income to continue the journey. During lunch, we had a visit from the Caravan Park groundsman, who was interested in John and Lyn’s motorhome. I rang all the local cattle station owners that I could find numbers for, and could not organise any work, anywhere. Then we set off to the Big Horse Creek Camping Area for the evening.

The next morning we returned to Timber Creek to investigate the hilltop lookout and the old Police Station museum. Both were very interesting, but neither paid well… So we decided we would head for Kununurra, there’s bound to be some work there.


We didn’t get far when Troopy objected and the temperature gauge went through the roof. Back to Timber Creek, and the only person we knew was the caravan park groundsman, Ron, so we called in to see if he knew someone that could assist us. As it turned out, 18 months of travelling many dirt roads had resulted in the cooling fins of the radiator being full of dust, mud and insects. After a quick flush courtesy of Ron and the garden hose, and we were ready to go again. Except, we figured that God had stopped us here for a reason, and we should stick around long enough to find out what it was. We booked into the caravan park for the night.

The next day, Ron informed us that he had found some people in town who needed electrical work, if we wanted to stick around for a while. When you consider we prayed for work at the picnic table right at the front of this caravan park, its seems our answer had been delivered.


We stayed in Timber Creek for one week, and Ron turned out to be an excellent host. He took us for a croc spotting tour (freshies) in the creek at the back of the caravan park, took me fishing on the Victoria River twice (to no avail), and organised some freight for John, so he could save about $5000 on his next Solomon Islands venture. John and I wired up some lights and power points for a local businessman and then completely wired up a four bedroom house, where the owner, Newton, had been waiting months for an electrician to return his phone calls.

We managed to set some traps and catch a few cherubim (fresh water prawns) in the local creek, and visit the Gregory Tree as well. The parks swimming pool was large enough for everyone, and being quite cold, not that popular – the kids loved it though, a welcome relief from slaving over their school books on hot days. Every night we watched kangaroos and cockatoos come to the creek to drink, as well as a myriad of other birds that inhabit the area.

On fathers day we ventured back to the Victoria River for some more fishing attempts. As we arrived at the river side, an enormous saltwater crocodile swam past the fishing spot. “Aaaahhh, kids…….how would you like to stay in the car, and play with your game consoles???” It kept them away from the waters edge, and safe from the 7 metre specimen. Still no fish!P9049889

In everyone’s life, this was a win-win situation. We received the much needed funding to continue, John was blessed for his Solomons Islands trip, Ron had some company for the week and made some new friends, and Newton got his house wired up. Even the fish got to live another day.

Timber Creek was an excellent diversion for us, but it was time to head west again, and get on the road to WA.

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