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THE SAVANNAH WAY

This is a Caravan Odyssey. We travelled from Broome to Cairns, and followed the bitumen.
There is around 5 hours of video, there is a lot more on the cutting room floor, and there is a lot that we didn't see.

We have split the trip into Three DVDs, covering the
Western Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland
sections of the journey
.
Whether you are a Grey Nomad, Geriatric Gypsy, or a NOT so Grey Nomad,
This is a taster of what to expect if YOU are contemplating doing the journey

.Click on the cover for Preview

$39 including postage.
Order Here


Savannah Way 2013 Trip Diary - Part Three - Darwin - Kakadu

DAY 54 5.8.13 We would decide what we would do today after we had tried to get our awning fixed. So I strolled to the office at the caravan park to enquire about a repairer that they had told us about on Saturday, and was informed that today was a public holiday - Darwin Cup Day it seems falls on Picnic Day. And so that determined that we would hit the road and make our way towards our Northern most city.

Pine Creek was our first port of call, and again, we decided that we would inspect the town and surroundings on our way back. We called into Mayses Cafe, had lunch, and then headed for the highway once more.

During WW2, Australia was extremely vulnerable to invasion from the Japanese, and so a network of airfields manned by Australian and American troops were established throughout the NT. The idea was that the airfields would be strategically placed so that they would be outside the range of Japanese bombers. One such airfield was Macdonald Airfield, and the sign indicating itís close proximity loomed on us, and we chose to take advantage and come and have a look. When I was up here in 2005, I wasnít hampered by a caravan, and so was able to explore quite easily. This time, with the ďHotelĒ in tow, it wasnít quite so easy. The road in is paved, and the airstrip eventually runs alongside the road. These airstrips are popular amongst caravanners who are prepared to come and explore, because they are clean freecamp sites.

We did the obligatory run down the strip, noting that it is 1.6 kms (1 Mile) long. This one is bitumen, and after 70 odd years (mostly without use) is still good enough to land a plane on.

We found an RV at one end of the strip, and found a spot with shade at the other end, which we decided would be an ideal place to camp the night ..... and it was only 2.30 pm. Might watch last nightís NASCAR race soon.

Damn itís a hard life out here .........

DAY 55 6.8.13 It was night time, and a helicopter was coming straight for me with its landing light shining in my eyes .......... and then I woke up and was blinded by the sun streaming in through my window on the caravan ......... it was just after 8 am .......

It had been a beautiful night, even I had collapsed fairly early, and we had both had a wonderful nights sleep. We got up, and had a leisurely breakfast, the RV from the other end of the airstrip rolled past us and back onto the road, and we contemplated what we would do today.

Now back in signal area, I researched the airstrip we had camped on, and found that it had been built in March 1942, and abandoned in 1945. Originally known as Burkholder Field, it was renamed MacDonald Airfield in honour of Wing Commander JRG McDonald of No. 13 Squadron RAAF who was killed at Laha on 10 December 1941. Beside where we were parked was what looked like a mound of dirt, but on closer inspection, was what was probably a machine gun placement, with 44 gallon drums filled with sand lying on their sides, tucked side by side and held in place with the dirt mound, thus making it bullet proof.

We rolled out and back onto the main road, cruised past Emerald Springs, and then stopped at Hayes Creek Inn, which claims to have the best pies in the NT. Well, we had to check THAT out, didnít we. They werenít bad. Made on the premises, looks like a stew with chunky steak and real veg in gravy and pastry. Not too bad.

Further up the road, we were faced with the option of straight on or scenic route. No brainer really, gotta be the scenic option. Well the road was bumpy, and for the first forty kms, not too scenic until we found an eagle that just had to be filmed. And then as we approached Adelaide River, we were into hilly country that I recalled from 2005, and then the turnoff to Robin Falls. The drive in is nice, it runs beside the creek, and there are numerous lovely camping spots. And then you get to the turn around, which wasnít designed to accommodate a caravan that is 30 foot in length. Well, we left the tree unmarked, but the cigarette paper would be useless ....... it wasnít THAT close really, but did have me a little worried for a moment or two. And then, it was so dry, that a trickle was all that was being produced at the waterfall.

And so we progressed on to Adelaide River, and turned into the show society ground. which is the towns alternative caravan park. $27 night, and plenty of space. In town, the other park is well set up, very shady, and TIGHT. But also cheap at $28 per night. The show ground is also the race track, apparently the ONLY grassed race track in the NT.

Later this afternoon, we took a run into town, and had a look at the War Cemetary. If you are ever up this way, this is a MUST. Not only service personnel, but also civilians killed in the Feb 19th, 1942 bombing by the Japanese are buried here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_River,_Northern_Territory

Then I recalled a park that was around the back of the town. We went looking and sure enough, the park WAS where I thought it was, and there were what must have been over a hundred wallaroos all grazing on the grass. The locals donít seem to have a problem, because these animals have been grazing there for years.

Tomorrow is a day trip to Litchfield NP.

DAY 56 7.8.13 We were on the road fairly early for us this morning .... mind you most of those moving on from the caravan park had already gone, so it couldn't have been THAT early ..... but early enough. We found a new shortcut across to Batchelor, and it wasn't long before we turned onto the Litchfield National Park Road. Almost immediately, there was a dirt road off to the left that went to Rum Jungle Lake. What a delightful surprise first up, and we found a bus, trailer, a heap of canoes, and a bunch of happy schoolkids, who were on camp from a primary school in Darwin, and were being instructed in how to sink each other by their teachers ...... well maybe not, but they were having a load of fun.
Back to the main road, and the first port of call was the Termite Mounds. The Magnetic Termite Mounds are amazing architectural feats complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers. The mounds are aligned north to south to minimise the exposure to the sun. There are hundreds of these structures all in what seems to be one paddock.
And then there are the Cathedral Termite Mounds. These can be as tall as 6 metres, and the example at the Termite Mound viewing area is very close to that.
Then on to Florence Falls. A very impressive waterfall, dropping into a plunge pool that was fairly well populated by the time we got there. The lookout is a 100 metre walk from the carpark. Buley Rockhole was our next port of call, and the sign says if the carpark is full, the pools are as well, and to come back later. We did a couple of bog laps around the parking area until we found someone leaving, and held up all traffic until we got the spot. Annette was enthralled, and jumped in fully dressed. She reckoned she could always claim she was pushed......... This area is in fact a number of pools tumbling downhill into each other, and is a great swimming/picnic spot.
The road to the Lost City loomed, and before I had chance to even think about it, the cruiser had done a hard left and we found ourselves on the 11km drive over a corrugated two wheel track into this interesting place. As if out of nowhere, these rock structures reminiscent of an ancient city appear. A wander through them, and you marvel at how these things can have some sort of magic, when architects can only design cold sterile buildings without soul ......
It took a couple of hours to get in, wander about, have lunch and return to the main road, and we decided to head for Wangi Falls, before returning to Tolmer Falls Lookout. Wangi is just gorgeous - a twin waterfall tumbling into a large swimming hole surrounded by lawns and picnic area. They told me in 2005 that during the day you had hundreds of tourists swimming in the pool, and by night, if you shone a torch, you would find all these beady little red eyes peering back at you ......... :-)
We returned to Tolmer, and the 400 metre walk to the lookout, where the water was tumbling about 100 or so feet into the plunge pool so, so far below us. This pool is closed due to protection of bats living in the caves and trees.
By now, we were tuckered out, and it was time to head home. I was trying to work out why the cruiser kept feeling off balance around many of the corners on the Parks twisty Road, and then realised that there was little to no camber on the corners. Maybe this is to try and force people to adhere to the 80 kph speed limit, but it was a bit unsettling at times.
Back at Adelaide River, and totally stuffed after a great day in Litchfield National Park.

DAY 57 8.8.13 Today, we decided on a rest day, a day to get ourselves organised for the next week. We need the awning to be repaired, and we need somewhere reasonably priced to stay. First thing I did was look up the Top Tourist Parks in Darwin, and waited for the inevitable high price that we had been warned about. No problem sir, we can get you in tomorrow, and $36 per night less your Top Tourist discount....... Did I hear right? People have been telling us between $50 and $60 per night. And this place is not far from town.

OK, the awning. Rang a repairer, who after a brief discussion, I said I would send photos of the damaged part ....... reply tonight, all good, will fix it in the park on Saturday. Couldnít be better.

Annetteís brother has just moved back to Darwin from Adelaide, arrived this week in fact. And so our timing couldnít be better.

I had seen this cute little trailer in our caravan park in katherine, and so I had asked the owner if he would mind telling me about it on camera. Seems he has been an Austin fan for most of his life, and had built the trailer to tow to Perth behind his Austin A30. I used to own one of those when I was a kid, and so knew the tow vehicle he was talking about. I decided to edit the video today and post it on our YouTube channel. He had started from the ground up, and designed and built this lovely little trailer from the Austin A30 wheels to the chassis, the wooden sides and top, in fact it took about 6 months to build, and itís a ripper. Have a look at the video here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HAr55IMsyQ&feature=c4-overview&list=UUtAmNBTEzz_dJHCCsD0VlgA

Much of the day was otherwise spent resting a weary back, and reading. Tomorrow, we are back on the job.

DAY 58 9.8.13 we were rested, but the back wasn't a lot better, but, you either get on with it or sit and contemplate your navel - and that ain't a pretty sight.
We hooked up and headed for Darwin. We arrived around midday, booked into the caravan park, and got ourselves set up. Then time for a quick tour. The nearest shopping centre is Palmerston, and wow, has THAT grown since 2005. We raided the RSL club there, obtained our visitors tickets, relieved them of a Barra Burger and a chicken salad, and then Annette dived off to relieve them of some money on the pokies ........ she failed.
We drove around a bit more, got a feel for the place, and then hit the highway into town. We reached the Stokes Hill Wharf, where the memorial to the people killed in the Feb 19th, 1942 bombing of Darwin stands. There are food outlets and an ice cream parlour that just HAD to be sampled. Then we basically followed the coast around to East Point Reserve, before returning to our caravan park, some 25 kms from the city centre.
Our caravan park doesn't have a dump point - I have made my comments elsewhere - and the nearest public access point is 18 kms away....... and so a 36 km round journey was enacted to empty our cannister. I was literally pissed off one might say.
For all that, we have a nice shady spot, all be it feeling a bit like a sardine, but we are here, and have until Wednesday (if we don't extend) to enjoy this town.

DAY 59 10.8.13 Nothing much to report today. We headed down to Palmerston to replace my aging $20 kettle I bought from Woolworths 5 years ago, and upgraded to a $20 kettle from Betta Electrical. Big spenders here. Then to Bunnings to pick up a couple of hose fittings and some cable ties, and back home to await the caravan repair man.
Dave turned up a few minutes early, and had our awning sorted in no time at all. If you are in Darwin and need some caravan work done, Daveís your man. A1 Mobile Caravan Repairs - 0439 432 343.
And his truck sounds like a V8 Supercar. Itís a Landcruiser, with a tricked up Toyota V8, including 3Ē exhausts.
The rest of the day was spent lazing, whilst Annette availed herself of the Pokies in the pub at the front of the Caravan Park. Went in with $4, and came home with $15 (playing 1 cent games).
After dinner, she dropped $4 out of her winnings on the bench, and went back with the rest to have another go......... and came home with an empty jar. An afternoon of fun relaxation that ended up costing her nothing.

DAY 60 11.8.13 You canít go to Darwin and not visit a market. We missed the Mindll Beach market on Thursday, and so decided to have a look at the Rapid Creek market this morning. The population of Darwin is around 169,000, and I reckon most of them were packed around this popular little market venue. I gave up looking for a parking space and headed for the solace of a nearby park, whilst Annette took on the crowd. This market is mainly a fresh vegetable market, I am led to believe, as well as an outlet for all sorts of fast food from a dozen different cultures. Annette attempted to have a look first to see what was there before going back to purchase - she found however that she was caught in a human tsunami, and was being swept along with the crowd, and so very quickly changed tactics and bought on the run ... so to speak. I got the call to pick her up, and was greeted with a bundle of hot food samples that were delicious.
The vintage car club mob up here are housed in the old Qantas hangar, that sits in itís original spot, now in the middle of a housing area. When I was up here in 2005, Shannons had just had a showing of their classic car collection, and they were also in the hangar awaiting transport out of town. The restoration group also allowed visitors to have a look at their work. So it was with some anticipation that we headed around to the hanger to have a look ...... and it was closed.
Oh well, just around the corner is the old Fannie Bay Gaol. The buildings are tin and wire cages essentially. The laundry got blown away by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. The only stone building was the infirmary. Rather ironic that the only building of some substance was the one where you would lose your life to the hangmans noose.
Time to sit down to an ice cold coffee, so we asked the GPS to take us to the George Brown Botanical Gardens, and wound up at Mindil Beach. Something wrong here, so dialled in Darwin Botanical Gardens, and found ourselves at THE George Brown Botanical Gardens. If you are using a Hema HN6 Navigator, note.........
These gardens didnít appeal to us either, and so we headed back into town to the Information Centre. There is no specific visitor parking here, but we eventually found somewhere to park the car, visit the centre, and then walk across the road to the Mall, where we had a delicious lunch, Iced coffees, and a bit of a wander up and down the street.
We were meeting Family at Nightcliffe Pier at 6pm, and it was now just after 3pm, and so we figured letís go and find this place and chill out for an hour or so. The family arrived, we set up on the lawn, and watched a spectacular sunset, helped by the odd hazy/cloud type sky. Much nattering, telling of lies and all that stuff before returning to base and hitting the sack.
A good day in all.

DAY 61 12.8.13 Another Lay Day today. I needed to finish the basic Edit to DVD 1 of this trip to send to my Number 1 critic. We also did a bit of shopping, haircut, blood test ..... boring stuff really. I've just finished that basic edit. Still got a bit to do, but the main idea and video is there now. Maybe a few more cuts and a bit more narration. I'll let you off with a short report tonight.

DAY 62 13.8.13 Our lasr day in Darwin today, and I really feel as tho we havenít achieved much. But then, neither of us really enjoy the urban environment anymore. And so we are looking forward to heading out tomorrow - we are not sure where yet, there are a couple of options, but Kakadu is probably the main one.

Today, Annette chose to stay home whilst I headed down to the harbour to do a bit of filming, and then to the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre, to take some footage there as well. It is 8 years since I was here last, and they have added an F111 to the collection headed by only one of two B52 Bombers housed outside of the USA. For all that, The air museum at Oakey in Queensland is currently top of my list.

Down at the harbour, it is hard to imagine as you look out over this beautiful waterfront, what the scene must have been like when 242 Japanese aircraft attacked and bombed the harbour and two airfields. These were the same aircraft that had attacked Pearl Harbour ten days previously. There were actually more bombs dropped on Darwin than there were on Pearl Harbour. There were approximately 300 people killed in the raids - there is some conjecture as to the accurate count. There were nearly 100 raids on Australian Soil in all during the war.

We did our shopping this afternoon, before heading out to Annetteís brother house for a barbeque with the family. An enjoyable night, and home tucked up in bed by 10pm. Good night all .......

DAY 63 14.8.13 Oh, we are much happier - we are back on the road again. First job this morning was a 38km round trip to the Dump Point AGAIN, and then on our way.
We found the turnoff to Fogg Dam, and as we reached the road in, realised that it was 12.05pm, and that the Jumping Crocs just down the road had a tour on at 1pm. And so, change of plan and we headed for the river. The tour is $35 each, PLUS 2.5% credit card charge........ Up here, if you use a credit card, they charge you a fee - I guess itís the same all over, but 2.5% ......... I wonder if it is an effort to get you to change your mind and pay cash ...... much harder to trace cash, isnít it?
Anyhow, we boarded the boat, and it didnít take long to find a couple of female crocs to tease into jumping for their treat. Then a small one who was surprisingly athletic. And then we headed back upstream to dig out Brutus...... Now Brutus is a BIG guy, much bigger than the freshies Annette went swimming with in Lake Argyle, in fact he is estimated to be about 5 metres long. And when he hits the side of the boat, it stays hit. He put on his little show, accepted his reward for being teased, and then followed us up the river as we went looking for more victims. Another couple of girls, and then another big guy, who was devoid pretty well of teeth. He could still wrap his snappers around the piece of meat being dangled for him to play with. Finally, the resident Whistling Kite, who caught meat being tossed into the air, picking it up in full flight off the river, and a perfect snatch and grab off the back of the boat before we arrived back at our landing point. These were pretty much the same crocs I saw 8 years ago, performing the same tricks, and no doubt not members of the union ...... But it was fun, we got our video, and escaped with all arms and limbs intact.
Back to Fogg Dam. I did a brilliant job of backing the van into a vacant parking space, then we inspected the notice board which told us that the walk had been cancelled due to crocodile activity, and that we should only get out of our vehicles at the hides on the wall ........ you can DRIVE across there? ...... I was under the impression you could only walk, and so, we jumped back in the Cruiser, and headed across the dam, caravan in tow. 8 years ago, there were practically no birds to speak of, and it having been a dry wet season, I was expecting the same. The place was teeming. It was lovely...... and it was hot. The last few days have suddenly become very humid, and Annette, Laurie and humidity are not a good mix.
We decided it was time to start looking for somewhere to stay for the night, and the rest stop that came up in the Camps 7 book had only one tree, and that had already been snaffled. And so we decided to continue, and got into a conversation with a truck driver, who was waiting patiently to overtake us, and he told us about Leaning Tree Lagoon. A quick look at the tourist book - yep, you can camp there - the sign at the gate said no camping ... at least I think thatís what it said, because I didnít really see it as we were reading the tourist book .... officer ......
What a gorgeous spot. We set up about 100m back from the lagoon, and watched the birds as they arrived with the sun starting to go down, and then the wallabies - there would have been over 20 slowly emerge from the surrounding trees and move to the waters edge. That was until one decidedly stroppy Egret suddenly chucked a wobbly, making a hell of a racket and screeching, which apparently upset the wallaby population, because just like that, they were gone - hell for leather back to whence they came, and scattering in all directions.
Annette disappeared, and then the gentle sound of snoring emerged from the bedroom, and I knew that all was well..........
Itís been a great day.

DAY 64 15.8.13 We woke up to mist/fog on the lagoon this morning, which was a surprise, being that it was a warm night. But it was also humid, and obviously, the damp atmosphere had its effect. We also had a car doing a couple of laps around the lagoon last night, and as they didn't bother us, it was obviously not the ranger. One can't help wondering what they were up to tho ..... a bit of moonlight netting maybe?

On the road around 10 this morning, and called in to have a look at Bird Lagoon. The drive to the carpark is 4 kms, and then it is a further 4.5 km return walk to the lagoon. Time for an observation.... it's ok in cooler climates to have walking trails to points of interest, but unless you are here at 9am, or 5pm, it is just too bloody hot and humid to do long walks for the average person up here. By all means, put a nature walk option in for those who want it, but please put the carparks closer to the destination. Definitely no Occupational Health and Safety here. Did you gather that we DIDN'T do the walk.

We did however carry on to the Mary River Billabong, which is but 30m from the carpark. However the walking trail around it is a track where you are battling overhanging bushes whilst beating off the bugs. No swimming, the resident crocs don't like it ...... or maybe they do.

Our next port of call was the Bark Hut Inn. This place is full of buffalo hunter type memorbillia, has a great atmosphere, and produces a mean home made sausage roll. We had a look at the emus penned up outside, said hello to the resident buffalo (plural - 2 of), before climbing back into the air conditioned comfort of our chariot.

We were rocking down the road and crossing a creek, when Annette spied a croc on the bank just beside the road. We turned the van around and returned to the bridge, but the critter had slid into the murky depths and disappeared.

Onward to the Aurora Kakadu Resort, which is where we purchased our 14 day passes into the park. It is $25 per person for non territorians and kids over 16 years of age. We got our maps of the area, and again retreated to the coolness of the Cruiser. Just a few kms down the road is the Alligator River South, and an elaborate boat ramp launching area. We searched for No Camping signs and didn't find any, but then decided it was too hot to set up at that time of day, and once again we hit the track.

Mamukala Wetlands wasn't far along the road, and we called in to have a look. Apart from a million ducks, and a couple of egrets, the place was devoid of birdlife - another couple of hours and it could be a different story, but mosquitoes the size of helicopters got us moving again.

At this point, we decided that we would make a beeline for Ubirr, spend the night there, have a look at the local attractions first thing in the morning, and then start the trek back through Jabiru and down the Kakadu Hwy towards Pine Creek. The road into Ubirr is brilliant. The drive through the obvious wet season watercourse, and then the incredible rock formations in the hills beside the road. Once at the Ubirr location, get in and grab your campspot in Meri Campground. There are generator and non generator areas, it is bush camping, and is first in best dressed.

Another beautiful - if hot - day in the Northern Territory. I believe they were expecting snow on the Stirlings and 100km winds through the Great Southern region of WA today ..... boy I miss that ..........

DAY 65 16.8.13 We woke to a warmish - getting hottish day in Ubirr. We stepped into the car, turned the key, and in a matter of moments, My Tyre Pressure Management System started telling me that something was wrong, and my LHR Tyre was deflating. You may remember I reviewed the system a month or so ago. Really didnít need that, and so the first step was get the pump out, pump it back up and judge rate of deflation.

Then around to the Ubirr rock art site. Now I am not overly fussed about art of ANY sort other than good landscapes , portraits and the like. And I had seen it all before in 2005, but it was new to Annette. What I was looking forward to was getting back to the viewing platform and the beautiful view that is overlooking Arnhem land and the flood plain. Now remember that I have a dodgy back, no strength in my right leg, and am no longer as agile as I once thought I was. And carrying a Tripod and Camera wasnít helping the cause. And to get to the viewing area, meant moderate rock climbing. We achieved it, and the view as always was breath taking. But you are on rock, surrounded by rock, and rock reflects and holds heat, and it was bloody hot. After looking at what we came up here for, we managed to scramble down without incident, and sat to recover some of our sensibilities and drink some water, before returning to the car park, and the civility of the air conditioner.
The tyre was still at the pressure I had pumped it to a couple of hours earlier. So far so good.

Now we headed for Cahills Crossing. Ubirr is on the border of Arnhem Land, and you donít get in there without a permit. Cahills Crossing is the entry point, is populated by crocodiles, and the sport is to fish from the crossing without being chomped on by a big lizard. There were a couple of white guys and I presume a local, fishing from the causeway. As a lazy big croc floated down the river, a supply truck appeared from the other side of the crossing. The white guys got out of the way, whilst the local nonchalantly got on with the job at hand, which was presumably to provide dinner.

Back to the car, and by now, Annette was really feeling the heat and was in dire need of sustenance. And so to the store, and sandwiches for lunch. Her feelings of nausiness faded, as we headed for Jabiru. We decided that rather than push on, we would book into the caravan park, and rest in air conditioned comfort and recover from the mornings efforts. The A/C struggles in the van in the sun, and today was no different. We saw the line of traffic lined up at the Kakadu Resort, and headed around the backstreet to the less popular Lakeview Park ......... No lake that I have noticed so far. We secured a powered site with en-suite for $40 - there are no other options. Itís a clean park and undergoing further additions. A nice cold shower, and hit the sack for a couple of hours ...... so good.
And yes, the tyre is still at the pressure I pumped it to. We had the Genny going for a while last night replenishing batteries and running the a/c - in a generator area I add ....... Do I suspect foul play?

You may remember that a couple of days ago, I was critical of the authorities putting carparks some distance from attractions in this part of the world (Kakadu and NT), and expecting people to walk in the heat to reach them. The problem with walking in the cool of the day is that it is already hot ....... does that make sense.
What is my point this morning. We did the Ubirr walk yesterday morning, (and the carpark IS close I must add) and Annette was feeling nauseous at the end. We had something to eat and drink, and decided to stop at Jabiru, park up and give her some time to rest and recover. Last night she was and still is suffering from Diarrhea. We tried to work out what she had eaten that was different to me - a chicken sandwich maybe. This morning it suddenly struck me and I checked out the old google thing, and I fear that my lady is suffering from Heat stress. Annette is not good in the heat.
And so a warning, if you are in these parts - or anywhere where there is extreme heat, please drink more fluids than you sweat, and a genuine sports drink is far better than water apparently.

DAY 66 17.8.13 We called a Lay day, as Annette was struck down with Heat Exhaustion. I decided that we would stay on in Jabiru, shut the van down, pull all the blinds, run the A?C and let her sleep after force feeding some Powerade into her to replace the electrolytes lost on Friday. We had been doing reasonably well up until now, but this has forced a re-think on how we cope with the heat up here.
I spent the day reworking and editing the first DVD footage from this trip, trying to get the audio right. Still a way to go, but having a studio setup in the van is very helpful. We are only running two cameras, but downloading video and sorting into the right order is much easier if done on the run than sitting done a couple of months later and trying to work out what went where. These blogs are a great source of information to me at a later date, because they are in effect my diary of the trip.
We'll see what Sunday bringsÖÖÖ..

DAY 67 18.8.13 It was Annetteís call to leave Jabiru behind. She wasnít on top of the world, in fact far from it, however she was much better than yesterday. We did a tour of the town, where the living area is a couple of kilometres from the town business centre, down around the lake area. Lake Jabiru is the centrepiece of a park area, and has its share of waterbirds. There is the threat of Crocs tho, and swimming is best left to the pool.
Had to laugh when the GPS took us to the towns dump point. Wanda (my trusty GPS - so called cos we wonder where sheís going to take us next) proudly announced that we had reached our destination on the left. The dump point was actually on the right, and the road on our left ran 100 metres to the cemetery. My twisted mind recognised the irony and the humour in the situation........
We still had a leaking tyre, albeit a slow leak, and so I again gave it air when refuelling the Cruiser, and we headed out of town.
We had a look at a couple of camping areas, and again walking was the go to nearby lagoons and the like, but we took Annettes health into consideration, and moved on. Then we arrived at Nourlangie Rock.
There are a thousand rocks and hills in the north, but this bloke has a majesty of itís own, and it had the tourists scouring over it like a nest of ants. We couldnít find a spot in the carpark - caravan bays being occupied by two cars at a time, and the buses were in ...... we drove down the road a tad, stopped, took a bit of video, and then moved around to the lagoon. I donít remember it being so populated with birds last time .... but then again, I donít remember much at any time. I spent a few minutes with the camera, again risking life and limb from marauding crocodiles, who I imagined would make a rush from the lagoon ala Crocodile Dundee ........ well, it makes for imaginative reading ......
Back on the road, and we called in to have a look at a couple of billabongs, that I suspect are all part of a bigger river system. We called into the Mirrai Lookout carpark, but with a stiff climb and soaring temperatures, it was agreed that we would give it a miss.
Then Cooinda turnoff loomed and this place I donít remember at all. The cultural centre was loaded with the usual tourist oriented merchandise, and we were just entering the theatre when Annette called quits, and we got her back to the car.
A digression ..... these places are all owned or controlled by the aboriginal elders and tribes, albeit under federal control is my understanding, and please correct me if I am mistaken. I understand that the financial and managerial roles would probably be taken by suitably qualified white people. But wouldnít you think that if you had a query or questions about the cultures and explanations of meanings of art and the like, that an aboriginal person would be the best qualified person to talk to. And even where the stores and eateries are concerned in places like Ubirr, that you would be waited on by local people. But we found ourselves being served in all areas by white people, and in some cases possibly backpackers earning their visa extension stripes.
Back to Cooinda, and we found we had signal, there was a tourist park, and a bus station to jump on courtesy buses to the various local attractions, like Yellow Water.
We took a run right down to the water so that Annette could get a bit of a look at what was there, before parking the rig under some trees, and leaving the engine running for her comfort, whilst I hightailed it back to the pond with camera and tripod in tow. The wetland is beautiful, covered in lilies, and there are metal walkways that allow you to walk above the water. A clue that there was more to this than what the eye could see, was the four tour boats moored at the jetty.
This from the Gagudju-Dreaming website
ďYellow Water Billabong is Kakadu's most famous wetland, and is located at the end of Jim Jim Creek, a tributary of the South Alligator River. The river system, which is the largest in Kakadu, contains extensive wetlands that include river channels, floodplains and backwater swamps. About one third of Australia's bird species are represented in Kakadu National Park, with at least 60 species found in the wetlands. Whistling Ducks and Magpie Geese are the most abundant. All five species of kingfisher can be found in Kakadu. One species is only 2 cm tall. There are plenty of crocodiles in their natural habitat, and buffalo on the floodplains. A huge Jabiru's nest is nearby, and depending on the season, Brolgas can be found dancing.Ē
We called into the Bukbukluk Lookout, and did the 200m walk to the point where you can look out over some very rugged countryside.
By now, Annette had just about done as much as she could for the day, and so we hightailed it for the Mary River Roadhouse, where we would leave the park and could start looking for somewhere to camp the night. And then, 27 kms from Pine Creek, a rest area appeared off the side of the road, and we joined two other caravans, and eventually a bundle of backpackers who turned up just before and just after dark, and settled in for the night.
I watched with interest as Annette wolfed down a toasted sandwich, and felt that my girl was returning to us........

DAY 68 19.8.13 You go to bed and it is quite warm .... 11 pm when I finally got there, and off to sleep with just a sheet. And then about 3am I guess, we are both dragging the doona up and over us as the chill hits us. All the windows are open, so the cool outside air has easy access to the van.
7 am and I was out of bed, teas and coffee made, and back into the editing from the night before. I took a look outside to find that about 3 or 4 vehicles had joined our camp during the night. The NASCAR race had recorded successfully ....... it was so far so good ..... now it was just waiting to see how Annette emerged. We took our time getting everything packed up, and wound our way into Pine Creek. I had done just a quick look when we came through a couple of weeks ago .... or however long ago it was ... and so I did a bit of filming while Annette caught up with family on the phone.
We eventually moved out of town, and by now, I was getting an earful of cheek, I had copped a blow to the side of the head - accidental of course I am assured, and I am happy, the girl is definitely back.
And then a car on the side of the road with the bonnet up, and a decidedly distressed young lady standing there beside it. We pulled up, found out that something had gone bang, it wouldnít restart, the battery had flattened trying, and she was due in Katherine (from Darwin) to take over temporary management at a Katherine company at 12 noon. It was now 12.15, and no-one had stopped to enquire or help. It was bloody hot as well. Fortunately, she had cruised to the shade of probably the only tree within a couple of hundred metres of where she had stopped. She had no water, and so we put that right, turned the car and van around, nosed up to her ute, hooked up the jumper cables, and nope, it did not want to start.
We decided that it was worth a punt to leave the car (we were 46kms from Katherine) and take her into town where she could organise a truck, and get herself settled.
In Katherine, we rang the Shady lane Tourist resort, got our old spot, and set up camp.
the next job was get the tyre leak sorted, and take the advice of my son, who suggested that a fan would be a good addition to the weight of the van. I have one, but it is 240v, and so into the local camping store, and yep, a great 3 speed 12v fan with 10Ē blades is whirring away in the background.
Initially, we had planned on doing Edith Falls on the return to Katherine, but our encounter with our stranded motorist had us rescheduling that idea, and it is on the list for tomorrow.

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Katherine to Mount Isa

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Updated 6-7-2013

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