Western Australia’s second largest National Park, filled with beautiful gorges carved out of red rock. We headed to the Eastern side of the park, near Dales gorge and Fortescue falls. A fire had passed through the summer before we arrived (December 2016) and it was burnt out. Photos below show little foliage which meant little respite from the hot sun in the day. Dan recalls us using the generator so I could cook a chickpea curry in the thermomix, one of only two times we actually used the generator, we could’ve made other dinner arrangements.
We had a short stop in Port Hedland, refuelling the fridge and the car. We struggled to find any green grass at the caravan park, but we did find a really nice cafe/restaurant for dinner, where the service provided was so above standard we went out of our way to leave a facebook review! We spent the day perusing the town, walking along the foreshore, visiting the art gallery and South Headland library.
The drive into Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is a long gravel road, which we took nice and slowly, limiting the trail of dust we left behind. As we reached the caravan park there was a caravan high on the hill advertising for sale, we came over the hill and along with views of the beach was a beautiful green grassed caravan park. After parking the caravan we made friends with other residents, so fresh and excited to be on this adventure and with Esther on board, it was easy to connect… her cuteness even scored us a freshly caught and filleted threadfin salmon, as she won over the caretakers of the caravan park who we chatted to on the beach. Esthers’ first experience eating fish… fresh as fresh could be. She loved it and still does. Spoilt!
After a short drive we arrived at Port Stephens, it was school holidays and this was the closest we could get to Nelson Bay. For the most part we have not booked ahead and haven’t had any issues, always being able to still get one or two nights, but this time we ended up 40 mins away from the bay we wanted to visit, so we decided on one day trip. At the caravan park we took Esther swimming in the pool, I practiced my Physio stretches (as my Sacro-iliac Joint was playing up, newly pregnant) and Esther discovered she has her own table and bench seat:
Tomaree Mountain Walk:
At the recommendation of our friends from Newcastle we went and did this walk in Nelson Bay, it had beautiful views as you’ll see below.
Lake Macquarie: (Apparently there are sharks in the lake… but no crocs!)
In late 2006 I volunteered as a missionary for my church and was in this area. I met loads of people and was able to catch up with a lovely couple and their family while we were there. We also went looking for the house I used to live in, in Toronto. I showed Daniel “the” house.. 3 times until I finally found the one I actually lived in. Turns out 11 years on things are not as familiar as they used to be.
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.