This is where the wheels fell off - almost literally!

Ok, we set off from Daly Waters, heading for a little place called Longreach Waterhole, near Elliott (which is halfway between Darwin and Alice Springs).  On the way there, we stopped for fuel, where someone asked if we had the van handbrake on, as they could smell the brakes burning behind us.  Trevor checked, and there was no problem, so we continued.  

We arrived at Longreach Waterhole, which was off the road along an 11km dirt road, and it was just beautiful. However, Trev noticed that one of the wheels on the van looked a bit 'scrubbed' so he went to change it, put the jack on, and as he did so, the whole of the van moved backwards instead of upwards!  On further inspection he found that the axle had totally come away from the chassis, and had pulled the steel away from the chassis!  Not good at all - in fact, very serious!

We realised we had a real problem, and that our little van was not going to proceed any further.  We drove into Elliott to see if anyone could bring the van out and fix it.  We found a vehicle repairer with a tow-truck, Bob from Elliott Mechanical - he agreed to 
come out and have a look at it the next morning and tow it into Elliott if necessary.  We slept in the van that evening, after witnessing a spectacular sunset over the water, with lots of birdlife around.  Next day, Bob arrived and took our little van away - he had a look and said that this was not a problem he could fix, and we ended up contacting our insurance company.

After speaking to them, paying our $200 excess, they gave us a claim number and said that they would be in contact and they would possibly write off the van, or arrange for it to be transported to a location where it could be fixed.  We spent a further night at Longreach Waterhole in our tent, but it was one of the windiest, coldest nights so far of our trip, so we were not very happy next morning.  Next morning, we went back into Elliott (we had no phone reception at the waterhole) to again contact the insurance company to find out what our next step would be.

We finally got onto another claims person (each time we called we got a different person and had to go through the whole scenario again), who then threw in the fact that they were neither accepting nor denying that there was a claim, until an assessor had seen the van.  Needless to say, this did upset us somewhat!  Up until then, we had no qualms that there was indeed a claim, and it was just a matter of time until it was assessed and determined what the outcome would be.

We decided to leave our van at Elliott and head south, and our whole way of travelling had changed - we now had no van, no home, and had to decide what we could take in our Disco, and what had to be left in the van.  This was a huge job, and quite upsetting.  Our Disco ended being packed to the rooftop (and beyond), with our clothes and essential belongings shoved into whatever bags we could find.  A total mess, really!

Carole and John decided to head east, as there was no point staying with us, as we would now be staying in hotels/motels rather than camping areas.  So off we went to Threeways Roadhouse where we stayed for one night in a pretty poor 'motel room' for $115pn.  It was very ordinary, and a bit dirty, but it was the only spot around.

Next up, we arrived at Alice Springs, where I had booked 4 nights at the Desert Palms Resort, so we could at least have a good look at the Alice and the MacDonnell Ranges while waiting for info from the insurance company.  Alice Springs is an interesting town, with lots to see and do, and the backdrop of the ranges is brilliant.  We made the most of our time there, while still waiting for the bloody insurance company to let us know what was happening.  

We went out to the East MacDonnell Ranges one day, took in Emily & Jessie Gaps, Trephina Gorge (which was lovely) and did a really good 4WD track out to Ross River and N'dhala Gorge.  

Then we had to do a very quick trip back to Simpson's Gap in the West MacDonnell Range to go on our Sunset Camel Ride (which we'd booked previously).  Got there just in time, and it was great.  First time either of us had been on a camel, and I was amazed at how far off the ground we were - it was a long, long way to fall!  I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, despite that the fact that I ended up with blisters on my behind.  And the ranges in the background at sunset were just beautiful.

Next day, we tried contacting the insurance co yet again, and still got no joy.  As far as we knew, the van was still at Elliott, and no-one had yet seen it.  This was getting sooooo frustrating.

We went for a drive out to the West MacDonnell Ranges, drove all the way out to Glen Helen, and found that there were helicopter flights available there.  So, off we went - a 20 minute flight over Glen Helen, the ranges and Ormiston Gorge for $149pp - it was brilliant, and the views of all the rock formations were spectacular from the air.  On landing, we went for a walk to the Glen Helen Gorge, then drove out to Two Mile Camp (a free camp on the river which had been pointed out to us by our helicopter pilot).  It would have been perfect for us to stay there if we'd had our van, but we made do with having lunch there, overlooking the river with the MacDonnell Ranges as our backdrop.  Pretty special!

On the way back to Alice we stopped off at Ormiston Gorge, the Ochre Pits (brilliant colours ranging from purple to red to orange to yellow), Ellery Creek Big Hole (wonderful swimming area) and Simpson's Gap.  It was a great day out, and took our minds off the problem of our van for a little while.

We booked another night in Alice Springs at the Swagman's Rest Apartments, and the next way we visited the Old Telegraph Station which was immaculately preserved and most interesting.  We also went to the Desert Park (a bit expensive at $25pp, and they wouldn't take National Seniors cards), and this was really good too.  The nocturnal house was excellent, and I saw many native Australian animals I had never seen before - quolls, bandicoots, bilbies and many more).  We listened to a talk on dingoes, and watched the 
free-flying birds show - whitling kites, boobook owl, wedge-tailed eagles, stone curlews - they flew so close to us, and the ranger was most knowledgeable.

Our stay in Alice Springs has been most enjoyable - it's a great little town, and there is still so much more to see and do - we'll have to come back on another trip.

After 5 nights in Alice, we set off for Coober Pedy.  We have booked into the Underground Motel, which is really quite different to anything we've stayed in before.  Our room is basically a cave hewn out of the rock - we have a little bedroom area, with a lounge/dining/kitchen area and separate bathroom.  It's very solid, and although the wind is howling outside and very cold, we are very snug inside here and can't even hear the wind!  We had dinner at John's Pizza Bar and Trev order the 'Coat of Arms' pizza - yes, emu and kangaroo - and it was delicious.  I had a very good chicken fettuccini.  

Over the past few days we have been in and out of phone contact, but have tried to find out what's happening with our caravan claim - it has now been 8 days since our problem, and we are still waiting for clarification - to say we're getting a little angry is an  understatement.  We'll have to see what happens tomorrow......

Douglas Springs to Daly Waters Pub

We caught up with Carole & John at Douglas Springs campsite - a very large, dry, dusty camp.  But the springs were HOT.  And I do mean hot!  Around 40 degrees in some spots, and they were in a lovely bushland setting, with lots of birdlife around, and plenty of good-sized fish in the water.  We only stayed one night, before heading down the road to Katherine to restock.

Unfortunately, we had a car problem at Katherine - Trev had a warning light on his alternator, so we had to book into the Riverview Tourist Park so he could check it out.  He found it was serious, but fortunately he had a spare alternator that he'd brought along, so with John's help he was able to pull it apart (after several hours of fiddling and cursing) so he could reinstall it the next morning.

After fixing the car we set off to revisit Bitter Springs before going on to Daly Waters. Again, Bitter Springs was delightful, and this time we had a 'noodle' to float down the river on - wonderful.  Along the way we passed heaps of trucks transporting enormous tanks up towards either Katherine or Darwin, and we were forced to move off the road and down into the culverts at the side of the road on several occasions - not easy when towing a caravan.

We finally met up with the others at Daly Waters Pub, where they had also caught up with friends Les & Gill, and their friends Celia and Steve.  We booked into the very dusty caravan park for the night, and ordered a 'Beef and Barra' dinner at the pub for that evening.  Trev and I went over to the pub for happy hour, for $3.50 drinks - not bad.  Our dinner was served at 7.00, it was very good, and we had entertainment for the evening.  We even got up for a dance, and finished off with 'Nutbush City Limits'.  What a good night.

Litchfield National Park - compact and fabulous

Carole and John had moved on a day before and held a spot for us at Florence Falls campground.  They had tried to get the more popular one, Wangi Falls, but it was way too busy so ended up here.  And it was the perfect location from which to see most of Litchfield.  It also had flushing toilets, hot showers for $6.60pp per night, so can't complain about that.  

On the way into Litchfield we stopped off at the Magnetic Termit Mounds - so called because all of the very thin mounds are aligned North-South, so that at all times one of the sides is in shade, giving the optimum living conditions for the termites.  Very clever. They also looked a lot like gravestones.

After setting up camp, we walked to the Florence Falls viewpoint which was quite spectacular - a series of three waterfalls dropping into a large plunge pool.  Then we walked down to the pool to cool off - 126 steps down and back, but well worth the effort. The water was cool and refreshing, and there were huge fish all around us.  It was quite rocky in the water, but wearing watershoes made all the difference.
Back at camp, travellers were coming in thick and fast and fighting to get a spot - so much so that a group of young French people asked us if they could pitch a tent in our area, as no-one else would allow them to.  We said yes, of course, and they joined our little area.

Over the next couple of days we visited Buley Rockhole, Tabletop Swamp, Blyth Homestead, the Tin Mine, The Lost City, and Wangi Falls.  

There were some spectacular swimming holes, and all of the waterfalls were flowing, unlike Kakadu which had lots of dry falls.  

On our last two nights there we shared our camping area with a young Dutch couple, Emma and Moos, who had been travelling Australia for about 14 months.  They were great fun, and on our last day there (Carole and John had moved on to our next spot) we took them for a trip into Blyth Homestead and Tjaynera Falls, which were on a 4WD track.  They were travelling in a rented motorhome and they were excluded from driving on designated 4WD tracks, so they were really happy to hitch a ride with us.  The road to Tjaynera was winding, corrugated, and had two quite deep water crossings, so they were most impressed.  The walk into the falls was 3.5km return, but quite easy, and the falls and swimming hole were gorgeous.  It was a great day out.  Our last night we also shared the camp with a French/Belgian couple, who built a fire, and we had a really interesting little 'united nations' evening with them all.

Litchfield was quite different to Kakadu in that all of the places we wanted to see were within easy reach, lots of waterfalls, but not as much wildlife to be seen.  Using Florence Falls as our base was a great idea.  Next up, we were heading to Douglas Springs.

On to Darwin

We booked into the Oasis Caravan Park for 2 nights, about 35kms out of Darwin, as there were no real options closer to the city.  It was a small, friendly park, and it was fully booked, but they managed to find two sites for us.  As we arrived in the afternoon, we didn't venture into the city that day, but stocked up on groceries etc at the local shopping centre.

Next morning we drove into the city, drove to Stokes Hill Wharf, and saw a huge US warship at the harbour with helicopters and aircraft on the deck.  It was certainly impressive, and it seems that that the marines were in town - lots of them!  They were everywhere, and carried themselves well, were neatly dressed in civvies and very polite.  

We had fish and chips at the wharf, then headed into town to check out the visitor centre.  We bought tickets on the 'Hop-on-hop-off City Tour Bus'.  It cost $30pp, and is a good way to get a feel for the layout of new places, as well as listen to a commentary on the history of the city.  We stopped off at the Darwin Museum, which had some excellent exhibits, in particular the Cyclone Tracy and the Ocean Mimic exhibits.  And there was a display of paintings by Ben Quilty, who went to Afghanistan for about a month as the official artist to document our soldiers - it was very powerful and moving, well worth seeing. 

After finishing the bus tour we went to have a look at the 'wave pool' at the esplanade area, then had a drink at one of the bars overlooking the swimming area, killing time until the Mindil Beach Markets started.  We caught up with Carole and John at the markets, wandered around and had some good food, enjoyed the entertainment, and missed - yes, missed, the sunset!  We were too busy buying things, and thought we had plenty of time. Ah well, there's always another day.

I was desperate to get my hair done, and Trev had seen an ad at the laundry area at our caravan park, so I called Janis, who lived just 3km from the park, and she squeezed me in.  She was lovely, did a great job, and gave me lots of info about Darwin.  She recommended that we try Seafood on Cullen Bay, where we could watch the sun set over the sea while dining.  

We took her advice and tried it that evening.  It was a huge restaurant, with wonderful views, and the food was great, too.  Yes, we both overindulged (translate that to 'pigged out') on lovely fresh prawns, spicy mussels and octopus, crab, salt and pepper squid, as well as tender pork with scrumptious crackling, and a variety of other options.  And - they had a chocolate fountain!  I had a banana covered in chocolate and it was delicious.  All of this for only $39.95 per person - what a bargain.  And I did get to watch the sun set over the ocean!

Next day we were off to Litchfield National Park to catch up with Carole and John who had left the day before.

Wildlife and Culture - Yellow Water Cruise and Nourlangie Rock Art

Well, 5.45 the alarm went off, and we were up and out to the boat ramp to start our SUNRISE cruise on the Yellow Water.  It was cool and there were banks of fog on the water when we arrived, and our guide was concerned that we wouldn't see too much activity on the water if the fog didn't lift.  But, fortunately, he was wrong.  

I got some beautiful photos of dense mist on the water, the glowing sunrise through the fog and the trees, and plenty of birds. We saw magpie geese, jabirus, brolgas, jacanas (the little birds that dart about on the top of lilypads), white sea eagles, cormorants, a multitude of ducks, cranes, and many others I can't remember the names of. 

And the crocs - well, I stopped counting after six.  They put on a very good display for us, and I have some wonderful photos of them, too. 

The cruise was about 2 hours long, our guide was knowledgeable, and it was a serene and tranquil start to the day.  Afterwards, we went back to Cooinda Lodge where we had a full buffet breakfast which was included with the cruise.  We dropped into the Warradjan Cultural Centre on the way back to camp, and it was very interesting and well done.

After lunch we took a drive out to Nourlangie to have a look at the rock art in that area.  It was amazing, and has to be the best aboriginal rock art that I've seen.  It was respectfully presented and protected, and is jointly managed by the National Parks and the local indigenous people.  All of the stories are explained on boards around the walking trail.  Fascinating.

Jim Jim Falls - Corrugations and Boulders

After leaving Maguk we drove up to Cooinda to get some information about Yellow Water cruises, Jim Jim falls and other places of interest in the area.  Trev and I booked a Yellow Water Sunrise Cruise for the next morning at $99pp (including breakfast), then we drove 10km down the road to Mardugal Campground to set up.  Good campground, $10pp pn with good clean showers and toilets.  

After lunch we drove out to Jim Jim Falls - 50km of serious corrugations, then 10km of winding, deep, sandy 4WD track to arrive at the beginning of the walk into Jim Jim.  The first part of the walk was relatively easy, then we came to the interesting part - huge boulders crossing the river, many of them shiny and slippery with sand on top of them.  It was really difficult, especially for those of us with shorter legs!  And this walk was done in 30 degree heat - not pretty.  We finally made it to the lower pool where we all had a swim, while looking up at the towering rocks in the gorge.  There were large fish in the pool, and Trev and I took some movies with the little gopro waterproof camera.  

We still hadn't arrived at the pool directly under the falls and Carole and I were feeling very tired after our walk over the boulders, so Trevor and John continued on through another boulder-filled pool, climbed up yet more black slippery boulders to arrive at the crest, looking down into the last pool.  They both raved about how amazing it was, so I had to go, didn't I?  I swam/crawled through the rocky water, then clawed my way up through the rocks to meet Trev and John at the top.  I must say, I was very proud of myself, and I'm glad I made the effort.  The final pool was huge, in a deep, dark cavern against rich red rocks.  It would have been even more spectacular if the falls had been flowing, but it was still very impressive.  Meanwhile, Carole was back in the lower pool, and slipped over while taking a movie, giving her camera a wash and her hip a nasty bruise and graze.  Hopefully, her camera will recover.

The walk/climb back was just as difficult as it was on the way in, and by the time we got back to the car we were all hot and sweaty again.  Just as well we had some cold water in the car-fridge.  On the way back, poor Trev was driving directly into the sun, following some slow vehicles along the corrugations, and finding his way through their dust.  As we neared the end of the road, we had to pull up sharply as a couple of vehicles had stopped in the road - they were trying to move a large olive python (around 3m) from the side of the road, to no avail.  He wasn't interested in moving, so we continued on to camp.  Next morning we had to be up early for our cruise.

Kakadu - Gunlom Waterfall then Magic Maguk

We're finally heading into Kakadu National Park.  We stopped at Pine Creek on the way to refuel and pick up some wine, passed through Mary River Roadhouse, then picked up some information from the Ranger Station where we paid park fees of $25pp (for 14 days), then went on to Gunlom (pronounced Goonlom) Waterfall.  This is where the infamous Crocodile Dundee scene of the crocodile pulling Linda Kozlowski into the water was filmed.  It's also one of the iconic views of Kakadu, with the infinity pool at the top of the range overlooking Kakadu. I was really looking forward to this.

The road in from the highway was about 35kms of dirt road, and had some serious corrugations along the way - we were even stopped on our way in by a couple towing a caravan, who said it was the worst corrugations they'd ever been on and had turned back. But after our trip along the Roper Bar road, we didn't think we'd have any problems, so we continued.  And we're so glad we did!

Our site cost $10pp per night, and the camp had showers, toilets and good basic facilities. After setting up, we decided to brave the climb up to the falls.  This was a 2km round trip over a rocky path which was basically vertical.  I definitely needed my hiking stick here, and Carole also had hers.  It was a good climb, with a fantastic reward at the end. The pools at the top were just beautiful, and yes, there was the infinity pool.  We couldn't wait to get in and have our photos taken at that spot - again, it was a little cool, but after our climb we needed to cool off anyway.  We spent a lot of time here before attempting the walk back down - I think it was harder than the walk up, as you really had to watch where you were placing your feet so that you didn't take a faster trip down than expected!  

At the bottom of the cliff there was another walk to the Gunlom Billabong - through a pandanus and paperbark forest which opened out to another gorgeous body of water, with majestic cliffs rising above. The reflections of the cliffs in the water were beautiful, and Trev and I decided to come back here at sunset with a glass of champagne, to watch the colours change on the cliffs.  Very pretty.

At the Ranger Station we were told that we should definitely visit Maguk (Marguk) as it was the smallest but prettiest of the waterfalls in Kakadu.  Carole's friends had also said the same thing, so it was on our list.  

We set up camp, then discovered that we had to walk about 1km to the beginning of the track into the Maguk Waterfall, which was then a further 1km.  So off we went - the first 1km was a pretty ordinary walk, but when we got to the beginning of the track it was lovely.  Again, lots of pandanus, paperbarks and eucalypts, then clambering over rocks and sandy spots till we came to the first big waterhole.  It was very tempting, and I wanted to go in there and then, but we continued on to the waterfall.  Ohh, it was magic! And there were huge fish in this clear water, who obviously knew no fishing was allowed. They just swam around us, with no fear.  The water here was the warmest so far, no problems at all diving in and swimming over to the waterfall.  I had a nice shower under the falls, then sat on the rocks for a while taking it all in.  Even Carole, who doesn't swim a lot, swam right over to the falls with us and thoroughly enjoyed it.  On the way back I also had another swim at the first hole - couldn't resist.

After dinner John and Trev got a good fire going - not that we needed it, as it was a beautiful evening. But it was a great ending to another beautiful day.

Edith Falls - walks, swimming and R&R

Just 62kms up the road from Katherine is Edith Falls.  We managed to get one of the last sites available at the National Park, and booked for 2 nights - shortly after we arrived, they put the boom gate down to close it to campers.  Whew!

We set up camp, had some lunch then tackled a 2.5km walk to the Upper Pools then back down to the plunge pool back at the camp.  It was a lovely walk, the pools were very pretty against a brilliant red sandstone backdrop with two sets of waterfalls coming over.  Lots of young backpackers were plunging into the water, only to come up screaming as it was so cold!  Very funny to watch.  We spent a lot of time up here, clambering over the rocks to get different views of the  pools and the gorges, and of course to take a photo or two...(hundred)!  The trail back gave us lots of different views and angles of the falls and my camera was working overtime.  When we got back to the base, Trev and I both took the plunge into the water which was most refreshing - translate that as 'yes, quite cold'- but we enjoyed it.  Trev even went first, diving in, which was most unexpected.

After dinner, we played another game of 'Sequence' which Carole has introduced us to - Carole and I are partners, versus Trev and John.  We've played it 5 nights now, and while Carole and I started poorly, being trounced by the guys on the first 2 nights, we have now got it under control, and have soundly beaten them the last 3 times - yayyy!  Not so much crowing going on from the guys now - but of course when they get beaten, they must have got bad cards!  Funny how that excuse didn't work for Carole and I initially????

Next morning, Trevor, John and Carole went for another walk while I stayed at the camp to relax and catch up on my blog.  After lunch, John and I went for a quick dip in the base pool which again was very refreshing.  We enjoyed our couple of days here, and will be heading to Kakadu tomorrow.

Soothing Springs to Gorgeous Gorges

The drive to Mataranka was a pleasure after 300kms of corrugated dirt roads.  We booked into the Mataranka Homestead Caravan Park which had its own thermal pool on the property, just a short walk from our van.  The water is a constant 34 degrees, which is very pleasant.  The swimming hole was quite large, crystal clear with a blue tinge to it - it was also full of many grey nomads and young families.  We had a relaxing soak and a chat with other nomads, walked down a walkway where we spotted a small freshwater croc (on the other side of the river), then came back up past a group of wild pigs - this place had a bit of everything.  

The caravan park had a pub, a restaurant, and live entertainment most evenings.  Trev and I had dinner at the restaurant, while listening to a couple of singers, who were the preview to the main event - a whipcracking show by Nathan Griggs, who currently holds the world record for the most whipcracks in one minute.  He was a terrific young guy who was quite funny, and did some amazing tricks - my favourites were the lightning whips and the grand finale, firecracking.  Quite spectacular.  You can visit his website at

Carole and John had decided to go on to Katherine the next day, and we would meet them there, but first we would visit Bitter Springs, which was highly recommended by our friends Lai and Garry.  We had a look at the National Parks campsite about 20kms down the road - it was pretty good, well set out and was cheaper than where we were staying.  From there we went into Mataranka township, had a look around, then drove out to Bitter Springs, another blue crystal thermal pool at the end of a pandanus palm forest.  This was just magic, and was more of a river than a pool.  There were lots of people here too, but you climbed into the pool and just floated with the current down the river - and because we all floated down at different times it wasn't as crowded.  I tried using our little waterproof 'gopro' in the water, and it worked really well.  I thoroughly enjoyed this place and really didn't want to get out of the water.  

Our friends set off for Katherine, and we went to see the barramundi feeding at Territory Manor.  We had a bottle of cider while we waited for the feeding to start - but it was a little disappointing.  The barramundi weren't terribly interested in being fed, so basically we didn't see anything.  We left and had lunch at the Stockyard Gallery in Mataranka - roast beef, cheese and onion toasted sandwiches - very nice.  We decided that we had done most of the things we wanted to do around Mataranka, so we went back to the caravan park, packed our van and headed out to Katherine to catch up with Carole and John.  I drove this time, only about 110kms, and I really don't know why Trevor was so tired of driving - maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was blacktop all the way, 130kph speed limit (not that I got up to that, of course) and very little traffic???

We caught up with Carole and John at the tourist information centre in Katherine, got some info about the region, then followed them to an 'interesting' little caravan park they had booked into.  It is basically on the property of an older couple, not terribly well organised, has some interesting permanent residents and buildings, and people put up their vans just about anywhere - but it does have decent showers and toilets and only costs $20pn. 

Next morning we drove out to Katherine Gorge (about 20kms away) in our car to do a walk and perhaps a cruise.  We got some info from the National Parks office, booked a Nitmuluk River Cruise for 2.00pm ($84pp) then did the short Barramei walk (about 2hrs round trip) to a lookout over the gorge.  The gorge looked beautiful, and we watched one of the river cruise boats go past.  We had lunch at a picnic area while waiting for our cruise.  Our tour guide, Dave, 'call me Oyster', was most informative, with a wry Aussie sense of humour.  We cruised two gorges, with a 500m walk from gorge to gorge, and it was lovely - we saw three freshwater crocs and some aboriginal rock art.  Top day, excellent walk and cruise.

We booked in for a further night so we could have a bit of a 'rest day', do some restocking, and go to the Katherine Show and Rodeo later in the afternoon.  Trev and I found the Katherine Springs, had lunch at the picnic area then wandered down for a swim.  Again, the springs were lovely, clear and relaxing, although the signage was a bit misleading.  Getting out of the warm water wasn't so much fun, as it's still a bit cool and windy up here for this time of year.  All the locals are complaining about how cold it's been, with temps only around 27 degrees (which we think is wonderful), and cold nights - we are still using a doona at night, which is very surprising this far north.  We are pretty well as far north as we can go.  Still, not complaining, because it's still better than freezing in the wind and snow around Canberra.

The Katherine Show was only $10 entry for seniors (take note, southern states!) and was fun and interesting.  The food on offer was pretty good (I'm not a dagwood dog fan), and it was definitely more of a country feel.  We watched some of the showjumping, then found a spot on the hill to watch the rodeo in the evening.  Now I know I'm in the country - lots of young men in their wrangler jeans, boots, fancy shirts and cowboy hats, with lots of young women wanting to have a chat with them.  They looked great, and were mostly well-behaved, apart from a couple of drunken louts standing just behind us.  The rodeo was great, but I particularly liked the horse-and-rider pick-up teams who worked to protect the rodeo rider once he'd fallen off the bull/horse, and also to shepherd the animals back to the corrals - poetry in motion.  I really admired their horsemanship, it was pretty to watch.

We stayed 3 nights in Katherine at this very average caravan park - I still ended up with a cool shower, there was never any toilet paper in any of the toilets, and there were no garbage bins provided.  At $20pn it was overpriced.  Certainly wouldn't stay here again. But we have enjoyed staying in Katherine.

Sandflies, Mosquitoes and Corrugations....

Insects just love me... I discovered after staying at Batten Point that I had many, many sandfly bites, which came up in big welts all over my body.  I tried taking anti-histamines and using dermaid cream to combat them, to no avail.  

So, off we went to Southern Lost City which is a group of spectacular red rocks in the Limmen National Park. This was really the beginning of our corrugated dirt roads along the Savannah Way.  Miles and miles of corrugations.... Carole and John were a bit concerned about taking the Ford Transit along this road, but it coped very well.  But there were some really, really rough patches, with intervals of relatively OK patches.  Trouble was, you'd get up some speed over the relatively OK bits, then come crashing back to reality when you hit the rough patches again, and it was difficult get back up to speed.

Southern Lost City was lovely - we went for a walk around the loop which took an hour and a half, just on sunset, with the sun shining onto the brilliant red formations.  I did take a few photos, then we set up our camp and had dinner.  Price per head at the park was only $3.30 - NSW and ACT parks take note!  The park had drop toilets, but when I lifted the lid to use one, a million mosquitoes flew out - yuk!  I took over some insect spray, and gave all of the toilets a really good going over.  But still they came out.  Eventually, I did have to use one of the toilets, and I'm sure the mossies took one look at my lily-white bottom and just attacked!  I ended up with many more mosquito bites to go with my sandfly bites.  Loving this!  I put antihistamine cream on that night, and lost count at 35 bites.  Not happy, Jan!

Next morning Trev and I did another quick tour of the Lost City and I took some sunrise photos.  Then we packed up and headed to our next stop about 30kms up the (corrugated) road to Butterfly Springs for a swim in the pool (a little bit cool - well, cold really).  There was no waterfall, as the last two years up here have been a 'dry wet', but it was still lovely, surrounded by paperbarks and orange feathered grevillea.  We enjoyed the swim then had lunch and moved on again. 

Back onto the corrrrrr-ruuuu-gaaaa-tions and up to Towns River, another popular fishing spot, for the night. Again, it was only $3.30pp per night.  This is where we spotted our first crocodiles.  In the middle of the river was a little sandbar - and there, sunning itself, was a reasonably-sized (2-3m) freshwater crocodile.  A little while later a smaller croc joined him.  The water was so clear and inviting, I really wanted to have a swim, but my mum will be pleased to know that I resisted the urge.

We had dinner then took another walk down to the river after dark to see if we could spot any crocodile eyes.  Yep, four sets of eyes over on the sandbar and the far bank.  How exciting!

We had been told to visit Tomato Island (which is not an island) by other travellers, so we headed there the next day.  It was only about 70km from our previous stop, but took about 3 hours to drive there over these wonderful corrugations.  Trev is loving it - well, maybe not???  It is hard work, takes lots of concentration, and you have to watch out for bends, oncoming vehicles, overtaking vehicles, but thankfully not a lot of wildlife on this stretch.   Tomato Island is a ranger station, a big fishing spot, and is huge and well laid out.  Cost here is $6.60pp per night, but the facilities are excellent - lots of toilets and showers, gas bbqs, hot water for washing, and Telstra service. 

Next morning it was off to Roper Bar to refuel, restock at Ngurkurr Community Store, have a look at Roper Bar, which is really just a little ford and waterfall across the road, then we finally got off the corrugations and onto the blacktop (Yayyy!) to drive to Mataranka.  I think we are all very happy to have finished with that section of the road - we can relax a little now.

Meanwhile, I just keep getting mosquito bites to add to my collection :-(