In the last post I mentioned that we had finally experienced our first border crossing. To many people, especially those well-travelled, this would just be an accepted part of the journey. For me it made this whole experience seem REAL, we are not just having a nice family holiday – we really are on the road travelling Australia! It’s amazing the significance that one little sign had. I was so excited to see it and even had butterflies in my stomach. It was funny because when we were talking about things afterwards I discovered that the whole experience was a bit of a let down for the kids. The boys described what they were expecting and it sounded like they were anticipating some kind of Checkpoint Charlie scenario – guard dogs an all! (ok, so I exaggerate but the contrast in significance and expectations really were quite polar)
After a 216km drive (from Kununurra) our first over night stay in the NT was in Gregory National Park where we set up at the Big Horse Creek Campground. The family rate was a very reasonable $7.70 for a nights stay, water was available as were a couple of long drop toilets. There was also a boat ramp going into the Victoria River, which looked very beautiful. A few blokes were trying their luck fishing but were wary about going too close to the edge due to the presence of a large saltwater crocodile in the area. I may have scared the kids a little with all the croc talks and warnings because although the caravan was over 100m away from the water I was a mortified to find out that when needing to go to the toilet during the night Ben (convinced that hungry crocs were waiting for him to make a false move) actually stood in the door of the caravan and did what he had to from there. Us Cusworths sure are classy, our van’s got its own water fountain!
The following day, after passing through Timber Creek and Victoria River, we pulled in for another night of free camping at Vince Connolly Crossing, about 58 km outside of Katherine. Once again, water was available – although not suitable for drinking – there were a couple of toilets, a shaded picnic area and fireplaces scattered around. It was here that we met some people from Victoria that plan their escape from winter every year by spending a month in Noosa then driving for ten days and spending the next two months in Broome. Nice!
The kids were content to ride their bikes around then after dinner we lit a fire and using the laptop, we had our very own deck chair cinema, with popcorn and all!
It was a straight forward 120km drive to Edith Falls the following morning, where we were to spend the next two nights. We stopped briefly in Katherine on the way through to do a shop and follow-up a few emails. We will pass through Katherine again when we leave Darwin and have a proper look around then. We did manage to remind the kids how awesome we are by shouting them McDonalds for lunch, something not experienced since Perth.
Edith Falls (Leliyn) is in the Nitmiluk National Park and we all loved our time there. The cost was $19.50 for a family per night and the campground was fabulous. There are a couple of amenity blocks with flushing toilets, washing machines and hot showers. There was also a kiosk selling drinks and snacks.
From our camp there was a short walk to the lower plunge pool which is quite big. The others jumped in for a swim but there is something about large bodies of water where you can’t see whats in it that gives me the heebie jeebies. Particularly when there are signs saying that crocodiles are ‘managed’ in the park. Hmm, does this mean that they have managed to remove all crocs or that crocs might have managed to get in?
On our second day we took quite a steep walk to the upper pool which was just magical. I felt much more comfortable swimming here, there was a large water fall that we all swam to and while climbing on some rocks it was here that we saw our first Cane Toad. There were also other curious creatures there known as Testosterone Engorged Homo Sapiens. Many of the male variety could be seen throwing themselves from sheer rock faces into the plunge pool! It appeared as though they were carrying out some kind of crude ceremony to determine who was the alpha male of the pack by jumping from the highest point possible. I don’t think this was a mating ritual of any kind though as I did not witness any of the female species seeming to give a rats!
In the evenings we enjoyed sitting outside the van and watching a wallaby make its way up to our campsite. It didn’t come right up to us but was content to nibble on the grass right next to where we were sitting. To keep the mosquitoes away we lit some citronella tealights and Paul was a bit perplexed to find that these had disappeared by the morning. After an investigative walk through the bush he stumbled upon a bower made by one of the Bower Birds that we had seen hanging around the campsite. Here, not only were two of our tealights found but also six of Ben’s little figurines he had been playing with outside the van! I wish I had thought to take a photo. It’s moments like these I really enjoy, not only did the kids get to learn about Bower Birds and their habits but it is also a great story they have enjoyed telling many people.
Reluctantly leaving Edith Falls we headed North to Douglas Hot Springs. After Zebedee springs we were really looking forward to this but were a little disappointed. The campground was very average (same fee as Big Horse) and the springs ok. It wasn’t like Zebedee, more like a running creek with areas of hot water. Trying to find a spot with a nice even temperature was a bit tricky, although we did find some water that was so hot it was actually bubbling. We all got a laugh watching Paul do a run through it, in a hot coals walking kind of way, only a lot faster and not so coordinated. This time I did have the camera ready and actually video taped it. It is very funny and when I figure how to, I am going to upload it so you can all have a laugh too. I might even include some Benny Hill kind of music!
Whilst sitting at the van an older man walked past and he was so excited. He had just caught his first ever Barramundi. The gorgeous fella was literally shaking and I think he managed to show just about every other camper there because soon after we spotted several other wannabe fishermen heading down to the water!
It was interesting when talking to another lady at Douglas Springs, she said she much preferred Douglas Springs to Edith Falls – a complete contradiction to our view. So, don’t take my word for it, check them both out for yourselves! Then you can let me know what you think.
From here we headed to the amazing Litchfield National Park where we see our first snake in the wild before eventually reaching Darwin where, once again, Stan and I find ourselves all alone!
I have set up a Cusworth Caravan Page on Facebook. I have done this for a couple of reasons – uploading photos here is quicker than on Flickr (which I will still continue to do) and many of the people we have met on the road use this forum to stay in touch. So, if unlike Paul you don’t have a FB allergy I invite you to take a look (and like, if you like!), check out the photos and maybe leave a comment or two!