A Travellerspoint blog

Darwin and Surrounds

April 26- May 12, 2011

Hello to everyone,

Well we have been in Darwin for just over a month now and we are having a great time. We have spent our time evenly between relaxing, sightseeing and of course job hunting. Ken has been sent on a tour of duty to the wilds of South Australia for a month and Sam was kind enough to invite us to stay with her while he is away.

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We have been taking in the vast array of history and enjoying the many and varied dining experiences in Darwin and surrounds. We have eaten crumbed crocodile and barramundi which contrary to popular belief is not standard fare for the average Darwinian neither is the giant 2L Darwin stubby – but I guess I will have to experience that as well. I even went on a fishing charter with Ken and managed to catch a dozen of the northern equivalent of Snapper, which was great but cleaning them really took some doing after a big day at sea.

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We have to make special mention of the Arafura games which is on at the moment. The games are used as a qualifying event for 2nd and 3rd tier athletes trying to better their times etc to get them into other bigger events. There are representatives from 40 countries with most coming from Australia and Indonesia. We went to the opening ceremony on Saturday night which was huge. The event was opened by Quentin Bryce with performances from Jessica Mauboy and Icehouse. It was worth sitting through Jessica just to see Icehouse perform Great Southern Land.

We have spent some time looking for work which has been interesting to say the least. I have applied for 3 positions and was offered them all, one at the Darwin City Council, one at the airport and finally one in the city at GHD which I have accepted and am due to start on May 23. Jacqui has also applied for a couple of jobs and is waiting on a reply – nothing seems to happen in a hurry up here.
This weekend we are off the Mary River for a look around and to take in some of the ‘jumping crocs’ at Adelaide River. Looking ahead there is a lot on our social plate; the deck chair (outdoor) cinema, Litchfield National Park and also the Darwin Cup which we understand is the pinnacle of the fashion in NT. I have to go as Jac wants to get onto eBay to put in a bid for Princess Beatrices’ ‘Pretzel’ fascinator.

Till next time, take care.

Posted by jacanddan 19:03 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Easter at Nitmiluk

Thursday, April 21st- Tuesday, April 26th

Hi Everyone,
Hope you enjoyed your Easter Break. We spent a very relaxing 5 days in the Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) with Sam and Ken. The campground is beautiful and has a great pool which proved to be a welcome relief most days. We spent one restless night in the company of several hundred screeching bats but we then moved as far away as we could from the amenities block and that reduced the noise level considerably.
Here are a few snaps from the weekend.

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We splurged on the 3.5 hour dinner cruise which was well worth it. We toured the gorge for a couple hours and then moored on the bank for the 3 course banquet. There is something magical about having dinner on the water as the sun sets and the stars come out (although I would recommend you remember the insect repellent if you are planning on being outside at dusk)!!

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We were lucky enough to come across this crocodile and Danny and I had the front two seats so we got a great view of it. We were hoping to hire a canoe for a day but the gorge had not been swept clean of salt water crocs after the wet season so canoeing was off the agenda (and we were taking the whole relaxing thing to a new level so I'm not sure we would have had the energy for it anyway)!

We went to Edith Falls Waterhole on one afternoon. It involved a bit of a hike but it was well worth it being able to splash about it in the cool of the water for a while.

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And we still managed to find plenty of time to relax under the awning, reading our books, doing the jigsaw, drinking, chatting and playing cards. Despite what it might look like this was not a game of strip poker- we were just keeping cool as best we could! (We never managed to fit in a game of scrabble)!

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There is another long weekend coming up- how handy is that?! :) It means the job hunting is going slowly so not much to report there as yet. Dan is heading off tomorrow on a fishing charter so hopefully he will have some photos for the next blog entry.

Posted by jacanddan 22:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Too Wet for Ducks

Fri, Apr 15th, 2011

Well we have arrived in Darwin and have settled ourselves into a caravan park near Palmerston. We have a lovely spot beneath some palm trees and there are a couple of pools here that we have been frequenting often. We did go for a swim one night at 9pm and had a few cane toads watching us but generally we don't see them during the day. We don't have too many neighbours as yet, in fact we are looking out over empty caravan sites as far as we can see but we are told it will be completely booked out in the coming weeks. For now we are enjoying the empty shower blocks and being able to get into the laundry whenever we want.

It is getting towards the end of the wet season up here and as I sit here we are having somewhat of a drenching tropical shower. We had plenty of rain on our way up and at Daly Waters Danny took this snap of a couple of ducks who looked like they were a bit tired of having wet feet!

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We also found these crabs at Daly Waters. The girl in the roadhouse told us they haven't been around for a few years because it hadn't been wet enough. They were a long way from the beach!

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We have been enjoying our few days in Darwin and think we will stay put for a while. We have been looking around in the 'NT News' for jobs and Danny has even gone so far as to apply for a couple. We'll let you know how it goes.

Posted by jacanddan 20:46 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Straight up the Middle

Wed. March 23rd- Mon. April 4th

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Wow. It has been a really busy couple weeks. So much to see and do and so many BIG things to tick off- the Big Winch, the Big Beer Can and of course the Big Rock! And then there was also the very Big Road Train with 86 wheels that we think could well be added to the list.

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We arrived in Port Augusta last Saturday and decided to head north after a brief stopover in Jamestown to collect several weeks worth of mail. We stayed the night in a rest area on the side of the road which was not the most interesting camp spot but we did have a couple of road trains pull in and keep us company for the night.

Coober Pedy was a fascinating place. We stayed on Albert’s spare block. He is happy to provide free camp spots for members of the CMCA (campervan & motorhome assoc.) which was great for us. There was one other guy there who had been staying in Coober Pedy to fossick for opal. He gave us a small bag of opal and a few tips on how to find our own fortune. He also gave us a really interesting DVD about the opal fields although after watching it, we were more than happy to leave them to it.

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Uluru was great and we enjoyed the sunset from beginning to end. We were first to find our spot and we set up our bbq for tea, watching the sunset from our deck chairs. We were almost the last to leave too when all traces of red had left the rock and the stars had come out which was in itself another fascinating view of it. The weather has been terrific and we have been fascinated with how green it has been in this leg of our trip. The Red Centre is indeed looking very green! The flies were pretty intense though and after a while those silly fly nets actually started to look fairly appealing. On the way out of Yalara (the campground at Uluru) we filled up with fuel and was served by an ex student from school- surely it was only a matter of time before we ran into someone we knew.

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We spent a few days in and around Alice Springs staying with Rick and Julie (and the kids). They were actually on their way back from Adel when we arrived so we just moved in and made ourselves at home (and it was probably just bad luck that the washing machine broke down when we used it although it didn’t stop us from feeling guilty about it)! We had a great catch up and promise to get back to Alice to spend more time there. There is a bit of a mice plague going on at the moment and we did pick up a couple mice at Ormiston Gorge. It made for a hysterical night chasing the blasted things around the wagon. Danny caught one and the other seems to have been shaken out on the bumpy roads (or so we hope)!

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Angus, Danny, Julie, Rick and William

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Tonight we are camping at Daly Waters which is a pretty apt name after the 4 inches of rain they had on the weekend. The campground is mud so we have sidled up next to the outdoor kitchen because it has a firm gravel base. We drove through several spots today where the water was flowing over the road and we passed a couple who are riding their unicycles from Darwin to Adel (something for you to aspire to Richard)! It just seemed like way too much hard work and they would have had a head wind the whole day. We also stopped and had a chat to a guy from the UK who is cycling around Australia for 9 months. We found him having a standoff with a large Brahman bull that was reluctant to let him pass. We drove between the two so that the bull could not see him slowly sneaking by.
There is a definite change in the humidity level tonight and it seems like we will be in for some more rain as we travel north. It is starting to look a little more tropical and we are looking forward to more adventures tomorrow.

We've added a few other photos to the gallery so don't forget to check them out as well.
Bye for now,
:)

Posted by jacanddan 04:30 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Life on the Road

Thurs Mar 10th- Tues Mar 22nd

It is hard to believe that we have been living in our wagon for 12 weeks already. We had a great time at the Melbourne Caravan and Camping show and could have quite easily sold both our houses to upgrade to some of the amazing motorhomes that are about. But in the end we decided we are very happy with the one we have and this week I thought I would give you a bit of a virtual tour so you can see what it is like living in a motorhome (Sue, this one is especially for you because you never got to see it before we left)!

Our bed is above the cabin which means we have to be shimmy up and down a ladder (and yes this is a bit of a struggle at 3 am with our eyes half closed but it means that we have much more living space). On one side of the wagon we have two club chairs. There is a small bench there (to rest a cup of tea on) or a larger table can be pulled out from the wall. This is usually where we eat (and play scrabble).

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On the other side is a 3 seater sofa, the fridge and the microwave. This whole section of the van can slide out at the push of a button which gives us much more room for moving around. It only moves out about 500mm but it makes a big difference to the amount of space we have and this was one of the big selling points for us. The sofa can fold down to a double bed and underneath that is storage room for our deck chairs and another table that can be set up in front of the sofa. Danny has added a drink shelf so he can rest his glass of wine while he’s watching tv. The fridge is rather clever. It can run on 12 volt (when we’re driving along), on gas if we are free camping somewhere or on 240 volt if we are plugged into power at a caravan park and it can work out for itself what to run on.

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The kitchen has a 3 burner gas cooktop and gas oven. We can carry 100L of water on board and that usually lasts us about 3 days. One of our biggest challenges is finding water that is ok for us to fill up with. The kitchen seems to have plenty of cupboard space although we might have the world’s smallest Tupperware cupboard!

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When the weather is warmer we tend to cook outside on the bbq. There is a gas socket that the bbq plugs into so that we don’t have to carry an extra gas bottle for the bbq.
The bbq sits in the shower when we travel which might be a bit quirky but it fits.

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Outside we have an awning that rolls out to provide shade. There is also a cd player and a couple of speakers but we really haven’t spent too many evenings outside yet. Hopefully that will all change when we get a bit further north.
There is also a shower outside- complete with hot and cold water which we thought was a bit odd but its handy for washing our feet when we’ve been to the beach. Not sure what else we will use it for.

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We have reverse cycle a/c that only works when we’re plugged in and ducted heating that runs off the diesel tank from the truck which was a blessing in Tassie.
And that pretty much wraps it up.
We are heading north from here and hope to be in the NT in the next couple weeks. We’ll keep you posted :)

Posted by jacanddan 19:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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