A year on the road – highs and lows – the road home

So it seems like there is a lot of highs; it was an incredible year and looking back pretty much everything was great fun.  From Gem Tree we tracked North East into Queensland and on to Cape York

Lawn Hill – in the middle of nowhere between Mt Isa and the Gulf, this is a fantastic oasis; swimming down the gorge to camp is awesome.

Mt Oscar – taking the back road to the Savannah Way; it is true that the road less travelled can give the best experiences, like coming across the station mustering their cattle – sure it held us up for a bit but why rush?

Leichardt River – again just a free camp, but such a location overlooking the river nestled down in the gorge below

Undarra Lava Tubes – Deservedly this place is a geological marvel, walking through the tubes left behind from ancient lava flows, underneath the roosting bats

Chilli Beach – For many this is the start of Cape Yorke, before doubling back and heading north along the Development Road or Telegraph Track.  Such a tease, a white sand beach where you can’t swim; tropical paradise apart from the crocs!  The bush turkeys definitely like coconut, as did the girls

 

Palm Creek – the first crossing of the Telegraph Track, a damn sight deeper and steeper than the Hema book makes out.  The rain shower didn’t help, making the climb out slippery enough to need winching (a big thank you to Fifty Toes Walkabout).

Gunshot Creek­ – One of the icons of the Cape, need I say more.  In the interests of common sense we didn’t drive this, one for a future boy’s trip…..

Fruit Bat Falls – just north of where the Development Road crosses the Telegraph Track, the falls are just incredible.  A brilliant spot to stop and chill whether you are heading up or down the Cape.

Elliot Falls – Just a short drive to the north of Fruit Bat, just the matter of a fairly deep water crossing along the way.  The falls here are not so practical for swimming, but make up for this in beauty.  Early in the morning the mist over the water was just gorgeous.

Five Beaches Drive – this departs Somerset Beach, a lovely little camp on the NW tip of the Cape.  The drive itself is not that hard, crossing some wonderful remote beaches – just watch the tide times.

Tip of the Cape – the most northerly mainland point.

Punsand Bay  – Another beach that you cannot swim at.  However it is a beautiful spot; add a pizza oven and a (small) swimming pool and this is a lovely place to relax after the long drive north.  The beachside spots are the pick, book ahead.

Ussher Point – a wonderfully remote spot.  However, saddening to see the amount of rubbish washed up on the beaches, one glance at more recent arrivals leaves no doubt, it is washing down from Asia.  Best camp oven cake of the trip, with freshly picked coconut!

Pennefather River – top spot for some more isolated beachfront camping.  Quirky DIY swings, climbing frames etc. made out of whatever has washed up on the sand.  A shame the fish weren’t biting.

Mapoon – just a short drive north of Pennefather, another beachside camp.  No facilities but who cares when the fish are biting and horses wander along a pretty beach.

Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary – A short drive north of Cairns, up into the rainforest.  A very calming place.

Great Barrier Reef ­ – OK, probably on everyone’s best list, but there is a reason for that, hopefully that reason hasn’t been lost in the recent mass bleaching.

The Daintree – incredible rainforest, with equally incredible 30%+ gradients, not a drive for a rainy day.  The Lions Den at the north end is a top spot to pause and soak up the history.

Wallaman Falls – the loudest cicadas I have ever heard (think ear pain), the tallest falls in Australia, and the coldest shower of the trip, well worth the drive

 

Bowen – great fun to see the annual parade, and then some improvised Halloween games back at camp

Eurimbula – Just to the west of Seventeen Seventy (awesome name!), a lovely spot amongst the trees next to the beach

 

Fraser Island – the last big adventure of the trip, and just incredible.  Beach driving, rockpools and creeks, inland forests and lakes; this place has it all.  We will definitely return.  The weather was mixed, but a bit of rain helps firm up the sand.

 

Noosa – a wonderful town, the waterways are amazing and a great place to paddle board.  Just north, a short ferry ride from Trewantin is a wonderful campside just behind the beach – just be careful of the rips (and the wandering kangaroos)

Australia Zoo – such an icon, and outside of the school holidays such a relaxed day.

Captain Logans – on the shore of Lake Wivenhoe its commercial but get the right spot near the water and its great

Seal Rocks – less remote since the road was sealed (some places should be left a little rough at the edges), but still a great spot for a family holiday.  After almost 12 months travelling it was a relaxing change to stay put for 3 weeks, even with some wild weather mid stay.

So were there any lows.  Not really.  Being towed out of Old Andado was unfortunate but with hindsight also probably not necessary.  A major regret is not heading into Arnhem land – it wasn’t something we had considered when planning the trip, and by the time we got there it was too late.  Oh well, something for next time.

A year on the road – highs and lows – continued

Onwards!

Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) – an extraordinary place, gorges and incredible beehive rocks.  Cathedral Gorge is just amazing, would be incredible to see in the wet season.

 

Sawpit Gorge – just a bushcamp outside of Halls Creek, but what a lovely place to stop

Zebra Rock – not only a unique type of rock but a lovely family run campsite; great fish and chips fresh from the lake, amazing wetlands and top fishing trips

 

Lake Argyle – once you get past the iron curtain style management it is a lovely spot for a cruise on the lake, and the best (but coldest) infinity pool in the region

 

Katherine Gorge – a bit too commercial, but some fine walking along the edge of the gorge

Gunlom Falls – the first stop on the way into Kakadu from the south.  Nature’s own infinity pool high in the sky

Yellow Waters – the best time of day for a cruise is sunrise when the light is magnificent over the billabongs, the crocs are warming up on the banks and the birds are everywhere.  Just an incredible experience.

 

Nourlangie – amazing rock art, and ranger tours explaining what it is all about (well, as much as you are allowed to know, not being initiated)

Ubirr – more incredible art, plus watching the sun set over Kakadu, this is something special

 

Kakadu track – running from the north down to Jim Jim road near Cooinda it makes you think what Kakadu must have been like 50 years ago when all the road was just a dirt track.

Adelaide River­ – On the road from Kakadu to Darwin.  Perhaps not somewhere to take a tinnie, these crocs jump for their meat

Litchfield – despite being a relatively small area this really packs it in.  Waterfalls, lost city rock formations, river crossings and magnetic termite mounds all within drive of the same campsite

Bitter Springs – Mataranka, on the road to Alice Springs.  Incredible clear, warm water; go early to beat the crowds

Devils Marbles – intriguing balancing rocks, caused by erosion and weathering despite the exciting name

 

Ormiston Gorge – into the West Macdonnell Ranges now, with a great walk along the gorge then back along the river bed

Finke NP (Boggy Hole) – amazing drive along the Finke River from Hermannsburg, with beautiful camping halfway, this is a fantastic place to get away into nature

Kings Canyon – about the best canyon walk on the trip, wonderful to see that OH&S hasn’t interfered and had the whole place fenced off.

Uluru – what would a trip be without a stop here?  If you have bikes with you you can ride them around the base.  Weathering at one end looks oddly like a skull….

Kata Tjuta­ ­– A great walk into the landscape (and history)

Chambers Pillar – A historical landmark in the early exploration days, with the explorers carving the rock to show they had been there; still a fascinating place to explore.

Dalhousie – perched at the edge of the desert, the spring is so relaxing.  The nearby homestead (ruined) is a testament to fortitude (or folly), in the middle of such a desolate place.

 

Ruby Gap – At the end of a 2hr dirt track, at the far end of the East Macdonnell Range, along a river bed, you can’t much more isolated; fantastic.  Shame for the miners the rubies turned out to be garnets

Gem Tree – Amazing outback history told over a wonderful camp oven dinner after a day garnet fossicking, a great place

Coming soon, the rest of the trip from outback NT through Cape York to NSW….

A year on the road – highs and lows

This is tough to write, there are so many great places out there and Australia is so huge there are many more we didn’t get to.  It almost feels like we have simply marked the areas we need to go back to and spend more time exploring.  Something for when the girls have grown up.

Firstly we have to mention meeting people along the way.  Along the south coast there are too many routes to take to see faces more than once.  It wasn’t until we approached Broome that we started to see people on a regular basis and make plans to travel together.

Travelling with others adds to the journey in so many ways, and was a side of the trip which, before leaving, we had not really thought was possible.  It is strange how in the remotest of places you can suddenly bump into someone from home.

So to great traveling companions and friends; Roger & Jada, John & Amanda, Chris & Rachel, Ben and Simone, and many others, thank you.

Now in pretty much our direction of travel:

Picnic Point – as remote coastal spots go this was lovely, basic but right by the sea with a great view to boot, a fantastic way to start the trip.

 

Victorian High Country – definitely somewhere we will go back to, lucky it is not that far away.  Such a beautiful area, and top notch for 4wd.

Wilsons Promontory – a busy campsite, but more than made up for by the scenery and friendly wombats.

Great Ocean Road­ – So much to see, from the forests and koalas of Cape Otway, to the 12 Apostles and many lovely little towns along the way.

Crabtree Farm, Goolwa – Wonderful hospitality, and the chilli pork pie is to die for (the manager is also the local baker).

Flinders / Arkaroola – Incredible scenery, an introduction to the arid interior and its wildlife.

 

Coffin Bay – At the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula this is an isolated park of sand dunes and bush, perfect for escaping the crowds and a camp dinner on the beach.

 

Memory Cove – on the other side of Port Lincoln from Coffin Bay, so peaceful with only 5 groups allowed to camp at any one time.  Not such a bad place for a fish either despite the showers.

Tractor Beach – Forget Streaky Bay, just around the corner is a little spot of heaven

Nullarbor – spectacular cliffs, wide open spaces, and the longest straight road in Australia.  Some of the best bits were off the main road, like or Koonalda sinkhole, or Twilight Cove down a 30km track to the sea.

Lucky Bay – one of the many places to claim the whitest sand in Australia, the kangaroos join you on the beach (and in camp); Frenchmans Peak is worth the climb for the view.

The Pinnacles – Just amazing, the contrast of the sand to the sky and the moonscape rock formations.

Kalbarri – one of the busier spots, but a must see all the same.

Cape Range – A very warm welcome from Exmouth District High School, for the girls to complete Naplan.  Around the corner the national park has great snorkelling, with the river gorge at Yardi worth a cruise.

Karijini – wonderful gorges, but you need to be up for a hike to get into landscape and make it worthwhile.  Superb interactive programme, a partnership between the rangers and local elders, for the girls to complete to earn their junior ranger badges.

 

Indee Station – in the middle of nowhere on the road to Port Hedland, intriguing rock art.

Broome – an isolated oasis a long way from anywhere, but bags of charm and sunset on the beach, fantastic.

Cape Leveque – Spectacular red cliffs, spear making with Bundy and a pearl farm to tour; just some of the things to see and do.

Windjana Gorge – the problem with the Kimberley is all the great stuff to see.  Travelling from the west this makes a splendid first stop, the freshies are placid but perhaps no swimming.

Silent Grove – Not only a superb gorge for swimming, but the nightlife comes and says hello.

Mornington Wilderness – at the end of the longest dead end drive you can imagine, beautiful but a bit on the pricy side if you want to hire canoes to explore the gorges.

Manning Gorge – Probably the best swimming spot we found in the Kimberley

Mitchell Falls – Worth every corrugation on the drive up, the worst stretch of road on the trip

 

Pentecost River – An icon or a picture cliché?  Whatever, it’s a beautiful place.

 

El Questro – a return to civilisation at the east end of the Kimberley.  A very enjoyable mix of landscape, restaurant and bar.  The gorge walking is top rate and the hot springs great fun.

 

So many great places, too many for a single post.  More to follow……….