It feels like a long time ago that we were here! A short but sweet visit to the Mataranka Hot Springs as well as Bitter Springs (a short drive from Mataranka). I don’t have any photo’s of Bitter Springs, you’ll have to imagine it similar but a little more rustic, there were a few staircases to get into the water, otherwise it was as you found it, untouched. The water flows a little faster and “floating” down stream with a noodle is definitely the way to go!
We stayed at Mataranka Caravan Park, which meant a short walk to the springs, convenient for us with Esther. Although there are a few “Stockcamps” nearby that we have heard great things about. The famous whip cracking legend (Nathan Griggs) was showcasing his tricks at the Caravan Park and was very entertaining!
Although visiting a hot springs was loads of fun, you definitely don’t go in to cool down, with the weather at 32 degrees during the day while we there, the closest to ‘cooling off’ was when you got out of the water!!
Kakadu is like no other place we have ever been to. The scenery is spectacular, the landscapes are vast and there is a wealth of Indigenous history.
A lot of people we spoke to said that Litchfield National Park is better than Kakadu but it is so different, you can’t compare the two. Litchfield was awesome, with waterfalls and swimming holes you could park close by, whereas Kakadu has untouched wilderness, views you can see for kilometers, Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocs, loads of billabongs and hikes to get to a waterhole/waterfall.
We spent a week exploring Kakadu and I took lots of photo’s:
When we got back to the carpark (with only 4 cars in the whole carpark) a car had parked so close to us we have no idea how they got out.
We were parked next to a tree with a very healthy family of green ants. They totally invaded our mat. The day we left Esther didn’t eat all her egg for breakfast and Dan threw a piece to the base of the tree, this was the result. I was impressed.
Green Ants taking Esthers breakfast!
Then just before we left, look where they had transported it to!
One of the benefits of warm weather is making a mess outside!
Yellow River Cruise Wildlife:
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For those who are currently travelling and want to visit: We preferred swimming at Maguk, than Gunlom and the views at Gunlom over Maguk. It was mid August and the water at Gunlom was a little stagnant compared to Maguk. Also the drive to Maguk was only 10km off the beaten track compared to approx 30km to get to Gunlom.
Museums: There is an Aboriginal Cultural Centre near Cooinda that has interactive displays and well worth the time to visit.
We are now in QLD and have a few weeks to update. We were fortunate enough to secure a last minute house-sit about 25 km out of Darwin CBD, the idea of a house sit is that we look after someone’s home (and/or pets) in return for a place to park our caravan.
We looked after and became fond of the following pets:
2 x miniature donkeys,
1 x pony
5 x geese,
10 x birds
2 x dogs,
1 x cat
Esther loved her morning walk with Dad waving to all the pets.
For memories sake here are photos of the pets:
We’re no longer friends
This goose gave Dan a love bite!
They were the cutest!
Nacho & Tabasco
Princess – The pony
Esther is now sleeping through the night again!
You may remember I mentioned Esther not sleeping well in the caravan… she started waking up anywhere between 2-6 times per night. As you can imagine it started wearing thin, at one point Dan offered me a “girls night out at a hotel” just Esther and I… So he could have one night’s decent sleep ha ha! We tried everything we could think of, including all the ideas in Jo Ryan’s Book “Baby Bliss”, which I’ve found really helpful since the beginning. So we ended up paying Jo to give us a consultation over the phone. Best $100 we have spent… And the phone consultation was cheaper than a night at a hotel and had longer lasting results! After one night of tailored advice she was sleeping through and has been (mostly) ever since.
We think we know where her disrupted sleep pattern stemmed from. When we first started traveling we experienced still quiet nights that were so peaceful! However it was the change in temperature from 34 degree days to 16 degree nights, in a poorly insulated caravan in un-powered campsites that made it a challenge to work out how to dress Esther for bed. We were at the mercy of the outside weather predicting the inside temp of the van. This meant she would wake up cold and we would jump up and try to soothe her, with such stillness outside I was worried she would wake up the whole of the park with her crying. This then became a pattern that we would intervene with anything to ensure that she would be quiet (yep.. I did it, Dan was not impressed, one night I brought her into bed with me… After 3 months I was worn down and I just wanted her to sleep).
After one blissful week of us all getting to sleep through the night and 5 nights into our house sit… the German Shepherd barked constantly from 0200-0630 (with other dogs in the street). After Daniel checked on the dog mutliple times, we lay there defeated… while Esther slept! The irony was profound.
Then the next day we found this note on the fence:
Hahahahaha…. we know!
We really enjoyed our time in Darwin and found it hard to leave, there were still a few things we could’ve done, we have just finished reading a book called ‘An Awkward Truth: The bombing of Darwin February 1942’ by Peter Grose. It’s a well researched, easily read book! I’ve been reading aloud while Dan drives and Esther sleeps, so even though we have physically left Darwin we can now picture many of the places he describes and it makes the account all the more meaningful. It is an ironic read given the news about current overseas conflicts.
I also recommend this book and “All quiet on the western front” a book about WWI we read when we travelled through Europe on our honeymoon. I find I absorb best through this style of reading. Either that or these writers are better than textbook history writers!
On our honeymoon we visited a WWI museum on the western front in Belgium, at the back of the museum there is a huge banner, with the inscription “WWI: The war to end all wars:” followed by a list of all the wars since! It’s astounding that we are slow to learn or quick to forget.
Dan LOVES museums, we visited the War Museum, the RFDS museum, the Museum of NT and Art Gallery, the WWII oil storage tunnels and Daniel also visited the Aviation Museum (home of the B52 Bomber).
This quote really affected me; written by John Flynn, who founded what became the Royal Flying Doctor Service:
We are where we are today because we stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before us, in one way or another!
Here are some photos of our visits to the Museums… and where Esther got to crawl all over the floor.
The first time we visited the RFDS Museum (which also includes “The Bombing of Darwin Harbour”) was a very well planned day, we went to Rhyme Time at the city library after her morning nap, then had lunch before heading to the museum where we naively thought Esther would nap beautifully in her pram, while we perused the displays… The museum is really interactive involving Air Raid sirens and holographic displays. She didn’t sleep. She cried. We left. We were given a voucher to come back. So we did, when she was not due for a nap!
Darwin was warm and humid, which made for seeking out places to swim. We were fortunate to have friends of friends in Darwin, which we have now claimed as our own (Thanks Michelle & Emily) and caught up with them down at the Darwin waterfront, a really nice place for swimming as crocs, stingers and sharks infest the ‘Top End’. Emily & James also have a little Esther!
There is also a wave pool for those with older kids, although didn’t suit us with Esther. Lots of cafes and restaurants, along with an ice cream shop 🙂
Have you ever left something somewhere you never planned on going back to? We accidentally left Esther’s bathers and pool floatie at Berry Springs a 25 min drive from where we were staying.. They were still there when Dan drove back almost 2 hours later! phew!
All in all Darwin was a place I knew nothing about and thanks to Dan’s passion for visiting museum’s have now left understanding a small part of it’s rich history!
Litchfield National Park is about 250km from Katherine, Batchelor is the closest town, just 236km from Katherine, so a pretty easy drive for us with Esther. We spent the first half of the day slowly packing up… we’re yet to be one of “those” caravanners who are leaving the caravan park at 0700, that’s when Esther normally wakes up so we are getting our last bit of shut eye then too… ha, there have been lots of times when we wake up and all our neighbours have already left! In fact we’ve met some couples who were so fast at setting/packing up and getting on to the next stop, they will have finished their trip around Australia by the time we make it to Cairns and they’re retired!
Anyhow, we headed to the great big “Woolies” in Katherine for a shop before heading out to the national park where there isn’t any shops, then one last stop:
What’s the significance? Well we had a tip off that it was there (I met a lady at church in Broome who had a sister cousin in Kununurra who was a Beebe, so I contacted her on Facebook and we’re slowly trying to work out how we are related, she let us know that this statue was here and has something to do with Beebe’s)… after walking around the statue looking at all the names on it, the last plaque I looked at had it: J W Beebe… now I just have to work out what it all means!
We based ourselves at a caravan park just out of the town of Batchelor, it is quite warm up here and the caravan without air con gets even warmer, so as much as we would’ve liked to stay in the National Park (without power), with easier access to the different sights, we have yet to succeed at making the caravan comfortable enough to have an afternoon nap in! So caravan park it was. It was a smaller park, a little run down, but nice and cosy. We made a few friends (well Esther normally does) and they even generously gave us some squid they had caught! We have experienced so much kindness out here and hope we can catch our own fish to share soon… that elusive big barra!
Here are the beautiful sights of Litchfield National Park (that we saw):
Wangi Falls – Where we found some stragglers!
When visiting Zebra Rock for the day a few weeks back, I saw someone who looked familiar and he, me. Turns out Trevor and I know each other from work! He and his wife Lesley are travelling up here too and we have managed to follow each other from Zebra Rock to Timber Creek, to Katherine and now to Litchfield, where unfortunately it really will be the end of the road for our catch-ups as they head south and we head to Darwin.
It has been so nice catching up and getting to know each other, something that unfortunately we probably wouldn’t have done back home and Esther has loved the attention. That has been one of the greatest joys travelling so far is having time, time to stop and chat, time to catch up with people, no agenda and really no hurry… except when Esther needs food or a nap! I found at home I struggled with feeling like I had things I needed to do, or places I needed to be, and the truth is I did, but perception is everything. Being out here is helping me to slow down.. albeit taking a long time to adjust! So yes, spending time with people has been one of the highlights for me so far. (Daniel’s is still visiting museums!).
Wangi falls really is a grand place to visit, the photo’s don’t do it justice. When you enter the water you are surrounded by the cliff faces with these gorgeous water features.
Bamboo Creek Tin Mine:
This was a Daniel haven, he could have spent hours here if we had more time… no baby… ok if he was by himself! An old abandoned Tin mine closed in the 1950’s.
Magnetic termite mounds:
I found these really interesting to learn about, in essence, the termites build so that they have the least surface area facing the sun, to keep the mounds at an ideal temperature. So their mounds are quite narrow and the large area you can see faces North/South. Smarty pants they are!
This was a 4WD track only, with an awesome river crossing which was on a bend, so you couldn’t see the other side.. I did video it, but it isn’t as exciting as the real deal.
As for the history of the homestead, you really get a feel for the trials and tragedies of remote pioneering life! There was a story about one of the son’s who partially amputated his foot, he made his own tourniquet and the others at the homestead made a stretcher between two horses for him to travel to the train. When they got to the river crossing (the one we came in on) it was really high and there were reportedly large crocs in the water, the father was waiting on the other side to take him to the train, they braved it anyway and he made it safely to the other side, took the train to Darwin but unfortunately died the next day! There are so many stories like this, and it is reassuring to know people have much better access to medical help today!
This is a very family friendly “waterhole” it is a series of small cascades with lots of little waterholes, consisting of deep and shallow sections, we wish we’d come here earlier in our trip as it would’ve been the perfect place to chill out, with Esther being able to splash about in the beautiful clear water and shade.
We have now been travelling for 3 months… 13 weeks to be exact! Time has flown although some nights with little Miss E have dragged on hour by hour. Our perfect little sleeper is now… well… not!
We are currently in Katherine, we arrived last week and have visited Edith Falls (in the Nitmiluk National Park) and the Katherine Hot Springs, both of which are gorgeous natural pools and as you’ll see below way more enticing than going to the local swimming pool. I have also had the chance to meet up with one of the missionaries I served with in Sydney, Elder Richardson! After posting our whereabouts on Facebook he let me know he and his family live here in Katherine. We caught up at church and then they had us over for a roast dinner which was so nice on both accounts. Esther made a new friend in Zara, as she army crawled around the house and played with duplo!
We started the hike when we first arrived, hoping to do the 8.4km return trip to Sweetwater Pool, but after an hour of hiking in the heat we found ourselves at Long Pool.
Esther enjoyed a swim in the water, followed by a “nature” play in the sand!! She loved every second of it and wasn’t too happy to have to redress and start the hike back.
When we finished the hike, we had lunch with a Black Whip Snake, an apparent resident of the campground. Okay there is a story to this, I went to go to the toilet block and there were a group of about 8 people (early twenties) standing in front of the toilet, directly where I was walking towards, they were staring at me, as if they were waiting on me to join them, so they could go, which was really weird… until I got a metre away from a 2m black whip snake, which I unintentionally startled as I walked towards it (focusing on the weirdos looking at me) when a guy (around the blind corner of the toilet block) also now a metre away from the snake trying to take a photo of it said “watch out snake”… those “weirdos” were staring at me because I was walking towards the snake! Who let’s someone walk towards a snake? We then went to Edith Falls Pool. It was so much bigger than I expected, Gorgeous! Rumour has it that at the beginning of the season they removed a 3m Saltie!
Esther loovves to go in any temperature water including water cooler than I’m keen on… but she hated the blow up pool ring! So after attempting to swim out to the falls, trying to convince her that she liked it we swam her back, with her crying all the way 🙂 Hopefully she’ll get used to it.
After a much needed day (for me anyway) preparing some meals to freeze we went out to Katherine Gorge with the Richardson’s. I had picked up a map with the walks on it from the Katherine Tourist Information Centre and was looking forward to going to “Southern Rockpool” roughly 2.5 km from the Visitors Centre. I even wore my bathers and packed Esther’s. After seeing some gorgeous “rockpools” and “Waterholes” I was sooooooo disappointed after hiking (with Esther on my front) an extra “0.5km” (whatever, I think they misplaced the dot point), straight down the Gorge to find a not so swimming hole 😦
Just prior to this we went to Pat’s lookout. What a spectacular view. This was definitely worth the hike.
We’ve had a great time in Katherine, all the better for the company we shared. I must note 7 yo Zara walked the whole thing! Such a champion.
To finish here are the most recent photo’s of our 10 month old baby girl we love…