A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: buttermenthol

WA – BROOME (Sherrie and Julie have arrived)

7 August, Wednesday

sunny 30 °C
View SWIFTY GOES TO BROOME AND BACK on buttermenthol's travel map.

We drove the last 900 ks from Kununurra to Broome with only 2 sleepovers. First stop, Halls Creek and last stop Fitzroys Crossing. Not a lot in between these small indigenous towns except red dust and termite mounds.

Happy tears seeing Danielle, Daniel and Stew. So very wonderful to be here. I have never been to Broome but felt a sense of coming home as we entered the town.

Sherrie and I ended our 101 days on the road together (just over 14 weeks) with 15,257 ks on the clock. Big drive. Big fun. !!!!

Our journey has been more than just driving from town to town, state to state it has been a journey of personal growth as well. When we first picked up Swifty from Jayco, Sherrie and I had never hitched or towed anything before and we pretty much just stared at the draw bar on the van and the tow bar on the KIA in fear really. We are so very proud of ourselves now, hitching, towing and parking Swifty in all weather conditions across all terrain. We are really very good at this. And we had to get good at it immediately as it is just outright dangerous out there on the open road. The best decision we made was enroll ourselves in a Tow Ed course before we left. We spent a day out at the Western Sydney Equestrian Centre learning from the professionals. During the course a couple actually smashed their 4wd and caravan whilst doing the cone driving manouver. They left in tears and Sherrie and I stared at each other in disbelief. We realized at that moment just how good we had to be to make this trip happen. Before we left, I also did a bush mechanics course out at Lithgow and a first aid course so I felt really well prepared. But the skills we acquired actually on the trip were countless. Too many to go into detail but I love that Sherrie has bought a laptop and is now quite competent at loading software, sorting files and photos and hot spotting her iphone so that her laptop has internet access. I also love that Sherrie can now crochet too. And she is very good at it too. A blanky is in the making.

Sherrie and I have always had an amazing and strong friendship. We met in Kindergarten and have adored each other ever since.
I really just have to share something with you now about our trip. When we were kids, Sherrie and I both had parents with caravans. I would go with Sherrie on family caravan weekends up to the Entrance and she would come with me on family holidays to Taree. That’s how we grew up. Beautiful. We starting planning our own trip around Australia when we were about 8 years old. We would secretly save our pocket money and I remember that when I learned how to knit the first thing I made was a pot holder for the caravan we would have in the future. I was so proud of it when I showed Sherrie. We were always whispering about our plans in class and in the school playground and once when the other kids pestered us into telling them what we were always talking about we said “nothing just these buttermenthols” that we were sharing at the time. Since that moment we always referred to our trip planning as buttermenthol so the other kids wouldn’t know what we were talking about. Silly really but we were only 8. We later joked about it with our own kids when we reminisced about our school days whilst in their company. Our kids were in their teens and we were still saying we can never tell you about buttermenthol it’s a secret ha ha. If we tell you we will have to kill you, we’d say. When we finally told them they just thought we were stupid. Probably because we were. Ha ha.

Well now we are actually doing Buttermenthol. We can’t believe it ourselves. And of course we still share our actual Buttermenthol lollies with each other. Sherrie constantly dashed into petrol stations to top up our console stash of Buttermenthols for those long drives. Cute.

Thank you to everyone for your enthusiastic following, your interest and especially your encouragement. Our blog will be dormant for a while as Broome is our half way rest point. Our trip is not yet finished as we still plan to drive the KIA and Swifty back home again to Sydney. We will travel home via the bottom end of Australia for the return trip. However, Broome will be our home for a spell while we work and save some dollars to fund our trip back. Danielle and Daniel (my daughter and her fiancé) have lived in Broome for 2 years now but have decided to surrender their life here and travel back home with us. Sherrie and I feel not only feel lucky to be on this trip but lucky to have had family and friends come along here and there to share it with us. Fiona flew to Brisbane to stay with us then flew again with her hubby Bruce to Cairns and to Darwin. They will also join us in Broome. Cherelle and Ellen flew into Cairns and travelled with us for 5 weeks to Darwin. Janelle and Colleen flew in to Darwin to stay with us. Plus we called in along the way to see family and friends all of whom made us welcome into their homes. Sherrie and I have truly loved every second of our trip together. Stay tuned for the return trip………………..

Posted by buttermenthol 23:46 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

WA – KUNUNURRA

29 July, Monday to 4 August, Sunday

32 °C
View SWIFTY GOES TO BROOME AND BACK on buttermenthol's travel map.

We crossed the border into WA!!!! Woo Hoo. Big moment for us.

NSW, QLD, NT and now we are here in WA. 14 weeks on the road and almost 14,000 ks on the clock. YAY us.

Crossing a state border has been uneventful generally but not here in WA. Massive checkpoint. Quarantine Officers are on duty at this checkpoint 24 hours a day. They search cars and caravans for honey and all fruits and vegetables. We didn’t expect this at all and were fully stocked for the big drive from Darwin. We had to wind swifty up so we could access the vegetable basket then surrender it to the officer. Bummer. So that was our welcome to WA. Very serious stuff.

Kununurra has been lovely though. We camped right at Lake Kununurra. A shimmering lake with lily pads, reeds and green grassy banks with a rocky mountainous backdrop.

The caravan park and the town in general is home to these amazing boab trees. Large trunks and small tops. For this reason I feel a real connection. I have been laughing with Sherrie saying my new name is now Julie Boabsboom.

One of the boab trees in our caravan park is 2,000 years old. These trees look like they are straight out of a storybook. Sherrie and I imagined that Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree looked like one of these Boab trees.

We did a few day trips out from Kununurra during our stay. One trip we made was a 100 ks north to a town called Wyndham. Not much there but it is WA’s northern most town so we felt compelled to drive there as we were ever so close. A large 20 metre fibreglass crocodile greeted us as we drove into Wyndham. Quite impressive. Apparently 5.5 Kilometres of steel rod was used the make this monster. Naturally we stopped to take photos but there was no way we could insert any of our limbs into its jaws because we just couldn’t reach up that high. It was a big sucker. I know you are all disappointed about not seeing us fighting for our lives again. Ha ha.

At Wyndham you can drive up to a lookout and actually see where the 5 major rivers in WA meet the Cambridge Gulf. The Ord River, Durack River, King River, Pentecost River and the Forest River. AMAZING. We felt quite small up there looking down at the vast rivers systems. We loved the bronze map up there that showed how far Wyndham was from major cities / countries. Hard to believe that only 712 kilometers from where we stood was Timor. Heck we have driven that in a day so that is really close.

Apart from a small harbour, a deserted pub and a street with very few shops that’s it for Wyndham. Lots of aboriginals sitting around in groups here and there in parks etc. We didn’t spend much time there at all. Pretty much a drive in, quick drink at the pub, then out again.

We did stop and look at the Prison Tree on the way out of Wyndham. We drove about 50 ks return on a 4WD track to the middle of nowhere to see this tree. A large Boab tree that was hollowed out and used as an overnight cell to hold prisoners. The tree had a small window carved out of it. The tree is of course dead and has been quite badly damaged by tourists carving their names into the tree. Should have really given this one a miss but the lady in the petrol station at Wyndham said to go and that it was great. Hmmmm.

We had some fun nights out in Kununurra. We went to the pub for Karaoke one night. Everyone in the town goes and everyone in the town sings. Of course none of them can actually sing but they all get up anyway. Sherrie sang Lauryn Hill’s version of Killing me softly and bought the house down. She’s good. I had quite a hangover though the next day and had to go back to bed mid morning with some panadols. Sherrie said she didn’t have panadol’s when I asked but did have the genetic brand. I told her I was pretty right for DNA but would happily go the generic brand of headache pills that she had. Ha ha.

We also put on our checkered shirts and boots one night and took ourselves off to the Kununurra Rodeo. Sherrie had never been to a rodeo before so it was a must do for us. The bar was open for drinks and we bought some hot chips and hot dogs and sat in the grandstand riveted. Loved the guy who decided to streak across the showground in the break. The crowd was just silent through it all despite his best efforts to fling his arms up and do the big twirl. There were at best a few chuckles and then he climbed out of the ring and disappeared into the car park. So that sort of stuff happens at rodeo’s too. Ha ha. Poor guy, what an anticlimax getting absolutely no reaction from the crowd. The rodeo was good. Couldn’t believe they have under 12’s. They call them potty riders and they ride the calves. The youngest was just 6. What’s up with these parents? Crazy. After the rodeo we went to the pub to have a drink with Tash. Tash is on a roaming holiday like ours except she works along the way. In Kununurra she’s a barmaid. She and her hubby and kids are in a similar van to swifty and were camped close to us. We clicked straight away when we met her and have enjoyed her company whilst we have been here. Her next stop is Broome too so we will definitely meet up again there.

The best thing we did here was take a day trip to Emma Gorge. It’s about 100 ks from Kununurra accessible from the Gibb River Road then an hour hike from the picnic area / car park. I think it could be the most beautiful water hole we have swam in so far but we are just so overloaded now with beautiful places that it is just so difficult to rate anymore. It’s the dry season now so there was no water fall but there was water dripping from the overhanging gorge rocks like rain. A constant steady rain. It apparently takes a very very long time for rain to seep through theses rocks and eventually drip out through the bottom into the water hole. Sherrie and I swam the perimeter of the water hole stopping for a chat with fellow travelers here and there. People are always so friendly at these places. Guess we are meeting like minded people who just love this country and this life as much as we do.

Really enjoyed our stay at our caravan park. On our last night we dragged our camp chairs down to the lake at sunset and listened to a local aboriginal singer / guitarist play for us. He was struggling a bit with a sore throat and asked if there were any singers in the group. I put my hand up and volunteered Sherrie. I'm good at that. ha ha She sang Lionel Ritchie’s EASY and the crowd loved her. It was her best ever singing I thought. A little later he called her up again for Elvis Presley’s SUSPICIOUS MINDS. Awesome. She’s quite well known in the town of Kununurra now after this and her sensational singing at Karaoke. We kicked on at swifty for a bit after sunset with Tash. Then it was time to say goodbye and move on.

Getting closer to Broome. Very exciting.

Posted by buttermenthol 02:19 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

NT – DARWIN

15 July, Monday to 27 July, Saturday

sunny 33 °C
View SWIFTY GOES TO BROOME AND BACK on buttermenthol's travel map.

A big 2 weeks in Darwin. This is the longest we have stayed anywhere on our trip so far. We have not stayed longer than 3 nights anywhere, therefore having 2 weeks here was amazing. It felt like home, we considered buying a lawn mower and planting some lettuce and herbs around Swifty. Ha ha.

Well we should feel rested due to our stable home but oh my goodness what a crazy 2 weeks we have had in the big city. We did so much here that I really don’t know where to start. Our party of 4 grew as Fiona (FIFO) and Bruce flew in with Tanya to join us for 4 nights and Colleen and Janelle flew in to join us for 6 nights. We all stayed together at the same caravan park, Swifty on a powered site and the gang scattered across 2 cabins here in the caravan park.

We made day trips out of Darwin to the Litchfield National Park and Berry Springs and swam / snorkled in some beautiful waterholes. Berry Springs was my favourite. Warm water with some serious aquatic life. I borrowed Janelle’s underwater camera and didn’t surface for hours. Only put 2 photos up on the blog but could have kept going. It held as many varieties of fish as the ocean and I just about caught a turtle there with Ellen when we were paddling upstream but quickly changed my mind and let him go after remembering the rather sore turtle bite I suffered in Townsville.

We absolutely loved Darwin’s Sunset Markets at Mindhil Beach so much we went there on 3 separate nights. Fantastic food stalls there and great quirky gift stalls and terrific hippy clothes. It was a great opportunity for us all to buy gifts for our loved ones at home. Just before sunset the entire market crowd migrates to the beach to witness its beauty. There are so many people on that beach its equivalent to a concert audience.

With Cherelle’s influence we explored the Darwin Art Gallery and Museum. If definitely added a bit of culture to our Darwin experience.

We also celebrated Colleen’s 50th birthday at the Darwin Casino. It was a special moment with lots of food, drinks, laughs, and then gifts with happy tears, followed by a stint on the poker machines. Big fun. Colleen’s birthday wish was to go to the wetlands to see crocodiles in the wild. We all piled in the car after our Casino buffet lunch and drove about 100 ks out to the wetlands that lie between Darwin and the Kakadu National Park for a crocodile spotting sunset cruise. Despite driving fast we just made it to Corroboree Park with about 15 mins to spare. Phew. It was fantastic. Lots of croc’s, water lilies and birds. Our boat driver picked a massive Lotus leaf and gave a bit of a talk on it then said it would also make a great hat. Janelle said well actually its Colleen’s 50th birthday today. It was only seconds later that Colleen was wearing the big leaf hat and everyone on the boat was singing happy birthday to her. Very funny. When we got back to the girl’s cabin we put on our pink party hats played some music and got out the nibblies and Bacardi again. It was midnight when we hugged the girls goodnight. What a lovely day we had with Colleen and Janelle. Happy 50th birthday to you Colleen.

Sherrie was in her element at a city pub that hosted a karaoke competition. We cracked open a bottle of Bacardi and the beers in our cabin and were very merry by the time we all piled into a taxi to get Sherrie in there by 10pm which was when it started. She got up and sang 4 songs hoping to win the $200 prize money. We later found out that the prize money was offered more on a raffle type setup for all the entrants rather than the best voice. Pity because she would have cleaned up if it was based on the best singer. The pub eventually kicked us out on closing at 2am. We noticed a nightclub further up was still open so we stayed there until they kicked us out on closing at 4am. It was a great night. Lots of dancing and lots of drinking. Janelle and I managed to get up on top of these rather large speaker boxes and dance up there side by side. Kind of the do-up girls. Hmmm. The things you do at 4am. We stayed up there dancing for a really long time purely because we just weren’t brave enough to get down. Silly us. Well the night ended in a frenzy of Doner Kebabs. Darwin has Doner Kebab shops open at 4am located close to nightclubs too ha ha.. It was kind of breakfast by the time we made our way down there and ordered.

Deck chair open air cinema was another favourite here in Darwin. Big canvas hammock type chairs under the stars, with fire flies and bats swooping over head. There was even a snake near the toilets. Very out there. They served hot meals, snacks, alcohol and tea and coffee. They also handed out pillows and mozzie spray. We really loved it there and went twice during our stay. Once to a double feature with Cherelle and Ellen and then again with Colleen and Janelle to see Life of Pi.

We also enjoyed our stay here at the Hidden Valley Caravan Park. They ran a BYO café that was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A solo singer guitarist would play at the café in the early evening. And yes as you would expect after a few wines, Cherelle, Sherrie and I were up dancing to Brown Eyed Girl. Felt a bit like all eyes were on us but others got up as soon as we did so secretly everyone loves a dance, even the kids. The pool here was a great way to cool off which we did sometimes right up till 9pm.

Sherrie and I went to the airport here in Darwin a few times. Seeing our friends off. Cherelle and Ellen reluctantly went first. It was hard for us to separate after 5 weeks on the road together. They were sad too. Next to leave were Fiona and Bruce. We didn’t have much time with FIFO but will catch up again in Broome when she flies there to meet up with us again. Then finally the last of our friends to leave were Colleen and Janelle. We stopped on the way to the airport at the Boat Club for a final send off lunch. The big deck there overlooks the beach and we ate posh food and enjoyed a last farewell drink together.

So now it’s just Sherrie and I again. We were going to head straight off on our trek to Broome until we discovered that the Annual Darwin Royal Show was on. Very close to our Caravan Park too. We paid for another night so we could head across and soak up the last little bit of Darwin that we could.

Posted by buttermenthol 16:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

NT – KAKADU NATIONAL PARK

10 July, Wednesday to 14 July, Sunday

sunny 31 °C
View SWIFTY GOES TO BROOME AND BACK on buttermenthol's travel map.

We were lucky enough to stay 5 nights in the Kakadu National Park. Including 2 nights in Cooinda and 3 nights in Jabiru. The very first thing we did after check in and setup was book a wetlands cruise at reception. Later that afternoon, we were taken by shuttle bus from reception to the water’s edge where the boats awaited. The cruise was superb and nicely timed right at sunset. The sunset was striking but not as striking as the emerald green grasses of these wetlands. We felt as though we were in the middle of a David Attenborough documentary with flocks of birds flying in and all around us. So much so that Sherrie once again did her crazy David Attenborough impersonation. God we laughed. She comes out with the best made up facts you could imagine and all with a posh English accent, pausing every 3 of 4 words, as he does. One time she did a David Attenborough commentary on the boat load of people coming towards us saying that this was a particularly strange species approaching, all of whom ritually consume several lagers around sunset each day and on and on she went. Very witty and very funny.

We saw lots of crocodiles on our cruise but my goodness the bird life was amazing. Our cameras worked overtime zooming in and out constantly on wild ducks, crocodiles, egrets, eagles and my favourite bird here, the Jabiru. As I was zooming in to take a photo of a Jabiru with his magnificent silvery blue head, I thought it reminded me of the cassowary we had spotted at Mission Beach. Just then Aunty Mandy (our aboriginal boat driver) told us that the Jabiru and Cassowary are related. Interesting fact. Then Ellen reminded us of an interesting fact we had learnt at Winton. The dinosaur that they’d found there appeared to be related to the Cassowary as well. It has giant bird like feet similar to a Cassowary. We really know stuff now. For instance, what happens to a male Barramundi aged between 6 to 8 years old. It changes to a female. What the!!!!!

Our time generally in Kakadu has been lovely. We discovered an amazing billabong at Anabangbang and we did loads of walks through interesting rock formations, along rivers and billabongs, and we climbed many of kakadu’s rocky summits for breathtaking views. And of course we stopped to admire the aboriginal paintings along the way, many of which were 5,000 years old. Some of the paintings were really high up too. We learnt that the aboriginal people believe that spirits called “Mimi Spirits” lifted these giant rocks down for the tribe to paint then lifted them back up afterwards. That is the only explanation they have. Myself, I think a bit of log scaffolding may have taken place. Sherrie reckons a bit of Moscow circusing went on with men balancing on the shoulders of other men. I guess we will never know.

Our campsite at Jabiru had a great pool, restaurant and bar area. We loved cooling off there after our walks and one night I was still swimming at 10.30pm. So hot up here in Winter. 30 + degrees. We all agree that we would perish here in the Summer heat though.

On our last day in Jabiru, we opted to spend the entire day at our pool just reading, blogging and crocheting. We were all Kakadu-dood out. I just couldn’t look at any more rock art, Ellen was over the long hot walks, Sherrie is now wearing a knee brace from all those steep climbs and Cherelle really struggles in the heat of the day. A bunch of light weights really ha ha. So we rested and a wonderful thing happened. We taught Sherrie to crochet. Those that know her may have to sit down and take a moment to let that sink in. Yes Sherrie can now crochet. Over the past couple of weeks Ellen, Cherelle and I have been obsessive over our trip blankey. Always talking about different wools, chain stitches and trebbles. Finally Sherrie said “Can you all stop speaking Croation I just don’t understand what you are saying”. I said once you pick up a crochet hook you will be as addicted as we are. I was right. You can’t take the wool out of her hands now. When we hit Darwin we are taking her to Spotlight for more wool. Looking forward to Darwin. A bit city after a long trip from Cairns. Shopping centres, bars, clubs, cinema’s. Yay!

Posted by buttermenthol 02:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

NT – EDITH FALLS

9 July, Tuesday

sunny 30 °C
View SWIFTY GOES TO BROOME AND BACK on buttermenthol's travel map.

We camped right at Edith Falls which is on the other side of Katherine Gorge but still within the Nitmiluk National Park. We all loved Edith Falls. It’s on my come back to list as well. Edith Falls is in a national park that has only unpowered campsites on offer, so we had to rough it again. I loved the “check in” method which was simply an honesty system for payment and site allocation. You pick your site then complete an envelope with name, address, site number and then pop $6.60 in per person inside the envelope and slip it into a letter box safe which is bolted to a pole at the entrance to the park. Quite primitive really. After we set up swifty, we blew up our air beds and walked a short 500 metres to the most amazing swimming hole, complete with a glorious waterfall. It was a massive waterhole with a pebble island in it. We waded across to the island with our gear balancing on our air beds. The swim out to the waterfall was truly memorable. Unforgettable beauty just lying there on our airbeds gazing up at the enormous gorge walls surrounding us in the waterhole. We all felt really lucky to be there. There has been a lot of firsts for us on this trip and paddling across on air beds to a thundering waterfall was just another great one for us. Plus we did it all with the threat of being eaten by crocodiles. Ahhhh. Each of us have had our fair share of crocodile nightmares since entering the NT. There are signs up every direction you look warning us of crocodiles.

Well we really thought we were in heaven in that water hole until……….we hiked about a kilometre up to the top of the gorge to the upper pools. Oh my lord what we saw when we reached the top was the reason Edith Falls is on my come back to list. The upper pools are a series of linked water holes. Once again deep clear pools but this time with shallow sandy pools all around the outer edges. We swam all around the pools but our favourite was the pool that had the waterfall blasting into it. The force of the waterfall pushed us out along a gentle current through a gap in the rocks to another pool. Big fun.

If I could extend our stay at all it would be to spend more time here. Loved it, just loved it.

Posted by buttermenthol 21:22 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 37) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »