Its been a while since i posted anything and almost as long since i really sat down to write anything. my grandma got sick very quickly and passed away after a few days of being basically comatose. while we have been expecting this for some time now, it still came as a shock and has knocked me around a fair bit. not being in a position to be able to attend grandma's funeral has also added to the weight of emotion and travel writing really hasn't held much interest for me. i'm back on the wagon again now and will hopefully be adding updates a bit more regularly.
here's something of a synopsis of where we've been and what we've done in the meantime.
purnululu lead to several days in kununurra. i was fortunate enough to be able to do a flight with slingair which took in much of the countryside around the town, as well as a significant amount of time flying over purnululu. seeing the bungle bungles from the air after seeing them from ground level just a few days before was truly amazing. the few spots you visit from the ground shrink into insignificance when you see how vast and complex the place really is from the air. i took the 6am flight which gave great views of the bungles with the sun rising over them which you don't properly experience at ground level because the sun comes up on the wrong side of the range.
whilst in kununurra we also checked out the zebra rock gallery, the diversion dam and a bunch of small galleries and the weekly markets in town. it was a pleasant stay and we managed to get a bit of rest and relaxation in as well.
as we were preparing to depart on our last day the car refused to start and that cost us a new battery and 3 hours fluffing around getting reorganised.
leaving kununurra we headed east for the border with the northern territory, advanced our watches by the hour and a half required and suddenly were nearly 5 hours behind schedule for the days plans. the day was stinking hot into the bargain, so arriving at timber creek we chickened out of camping and grabbed a night in a motel room.
mum and dad rang that night letting us know that grandma was very ill and not expected to survive the night. true to form she did survive the night and fought death off with a stick for three more nights before succumbing...
timber creek passed into katherine which was pleasant but quite hot. on arriving in katherine we went straight to the springs in town which were lovely. after a swim we headed into katherine proper and had a look around town, visiting the vistor's centre and the local library before attempting a cache (unsuccessfully at first) and then visiting a bunch of caravan parks before settling in for the night at shady lanes. we had intended to stay at edith gorge, but with news immenent regarding grandma we decided to stay in town where we could guarantee phone reception.
Kakadu and Darwin
We headed out from Katherine and stopped in at Edith Gorge on the way to Kakadu. It was amazing. the pools and gorge were ok but the grounds were all lawn and green and brick paving and fences. it looked like a resort not a gorge!!!
on to pine creek for a quick cache and then into kakadu. we stayed at the cooinda resort / lodge place which had camp grounds as well as cabins and rooms and the like plus a pool and a bar and several restaurants. all very swish... the campgrounds were ok but they did seem to have a fetish with watering everything all the time. obviously no water restrictions in kakadu.
kakadu was amazing and we only did the easy bits. ubirr (oo beer) was the highlight for me with aboriginal rock art and a view to die for. you could see for miles and the view took in everything from rainforest to swamp to rocky outcrops to dry arid land. i wrote about it in the piece we wrote for grandma's funeral. a bit of heaven here on earth. ubirr has now officially been added to my list of all time favourite places. btw there was a cache to do there too.
for the rest of our stay in kakadu we climbed things and swam in things and watched crocs swim in things and did caches and visited visitor's centres and etc etc etc.
on the morning we were leaving kakadu to head for darwin we received a call from my mum and dad to say that grandma had passed away. we did a cache on the way out of kakadu which we dedicated to grandma and then basically drove straight to darwin.
i couldn't face camping just then so we splashed out and upgraded ourselves to a cabin for 5 nights so we had a place to be on our own and quiet if we so desired.
darwin was good for us. there was plenty to do to take our minds off the sadness and we had a great time there. we visited the wildlife park, did a jumping crocs tour, went into the city and on sunday night we went to the mindil beach markets. the markets were marvellous. arts and crafts and food and junk jewellery and food and music and food and did i mention food????? and people..... there were heaps of people there - tourists and locals alike all happy and having a ball at the markets at the beach - huge!!!!! we also did a couple of caches on our last day. they were all micros and we found them all too. yay.
Darwin to mataranka was next. a quick one nighter to drop off our trailer and say gday to yvonne, the owner, who used to work at the tafe college in albany where i work (when i'm not holidaying my heart out).
Nhulunbuy (New-Lun-Boy) was a great adventure. 720kms one way, with 600 plus of gravel road, corrugations and river crossings to get there and then 4 full on days of 4wd ing, camping, boating and fishing, all the while in the company of our good friends the Walkers. We got to see dolphins herding and feeding on fish jumping from the water at Cape Arnhem, water buffalo grazing on the dunes near the coast, and long toms skipping across the bay on their tails. I caught a largish striped spanish mackeral which was a great fun catch and almost as good to eat and we spent two nights camped out at a place called Scouts lazing around a beautiful billabong, swimming and reading and sleeping and eating - very close to perfect.
Our last night in town was out at the local golf club for dinner which was incredibly busy for a sunday night even if it was fathers' day, but the food was served quickly and was very very enjoyable. i had a thai green chicken curry which was awesome.
after having spent the first 6 weeks or so of our trip being bagged by various people for having a pretend 4 wheel drive, i'd like to take this opportunity to say tthhhhhhpphhhhtt. our baby 'escape' has been to the bungle bungles, branco's lookout at el questro and the water's edge at cape arnhem. rough roads, steep high clearance tracks, miles of sand and beach and the little baby pretend 4wd never missed a beat and only ever complained once when we had to stop because the car in front got stuck first..... onward and upward i say...
after our time in nhulunbuy we headed back in to the main road and once again headed south, back to spend a few days hanging out at the territory manor as the guests of yvonne and darryl martin. yvonne used to work at great southern tafe sharing her time between external studies and the footy tipping department. our stay was great with cool nights and warm days. we spent our one whole day there swimming at the mataranka thermal springs. even liam our non-swimmer was acting like a fish. the flying foxes had been there about 4 days when we were there and the noise and the small was beginning to build. we met some people a few days later who had been at the springs three days after us and said that the smell had risen to unbearable by then so we obviously were there just at the right time.
we watched darryl doing his barramundi feeding and catching show and ate at the restaurant there. a very pleasant stay indeed.