The Scribbling Nurse

Lost one, gained one

We are now Territorians!! Goodbye Western Australia!

We’ve arrived at our first major destination of Darwin! Getting in yesterday in the late morning, we splashed around in my brother’s pool until it was time to pick my mum up from the airport who has come up from Albany especially to see my graduation ceremony.

We’ve had a great time on the road the past couple of weeks since my last post. We stayed in Kununurra for one night before making our way to Lake Argyle. Swimming in the infinity pool, we looked out over the ‘inland sea’, Australia’s second largest man-made  water reservoir on which we would be sailing the next day.

Tim and I hiked down the 400m rocky zigzag to a pontoon where we met and chatted to a guy who was from the town of Denmark, only 40 minutes from Albany. He had picked up a Russian girl who was cycling her way around Australia or as the guy said ‘hasn’t done much cycling since I picked her up!’. It was beautiful swimming in the deep clean green water surrounded on one side by steep rocky walls and lightly scattered with houseboats and a million dollar yacht, all of which would never leave Lake Argyle after the rigmarole of getting them there in the first place!

The sunset tour of Lake Argyle was beautiful with two tour guides who gave a great informative tour as we sailed around the enormous dam. The highlight was the swim while we watched the red bushfire sun set over one of the islands.

We stayed for 3 nights and were all packed up and ready to leave on the third day to be told me Lake Argyle employees that the road to the Northern Territory was closed and there would be an escorted convoy back to Kununurra. As we couldn’t be bothered unpacking and setting up the camper again, we decided to join the convoy to Kununurra and stay in a hotel for the night (or as it turned out, a couple of nights! The air-con and great swimming pool at Kimberley Grande hotel were too inviting!).

Before the convoy started, a long line of cars waited at the Lake Argyle road turn-off and we all watched as flames licked and gnawed at bushland right across Victoria Highway. Willy-willy’s took smoke and turned it into a dark grey spiral high into the sky as we stood mesmerised. It was a strange but great opportunity to have a chat with a few people before we all moved onto the next legs of our journey.

Once the road as open through to the Northern Territory, Tim and I made the 4.5 hour drive to Katherine and rocked up the Shady Lane Caravan Park where we planted ourselves next to a mango tree laden with hard green mangoes. Night time crept around the corner, actually it was sprung upon us because we lost 1.5 hours due to the time difference, bats came out to play; shrieking and throwing themselves into the branches of palms and mango trees creating a racket. We shone our torch into the trees and watched them hang upside staring right back at us until they flapped loudly and crash landed into a another tree, away from prying eyes.

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We went on a 2 hour boat ride along Nitmiluk gorge where you ride on one boat, get off at the end of one gorge, walk past some beautiful and intriguing ancient Aboriginal art, then hop onto another boat to ride down the second gorge. We were lucky enough to spy a freshwater crocodile nestled in a crevice under one of the gorge walls, his beady eyes looking at us with a ‘bugger off’ expression.

We moved onto Adelaide River and stayed at Mt Bundy Station only a few km’s from the little town centre. Staying at the unpowered camp area along the Adelaide River, we were never along with wallabies, cane toads and a menagerie of birds all rustling, squawking and at one point, getting into our rubbish AGAIN! The swimming pool overlooks a paddock where we swam watching donkeys, horses and buffalo nibble on hay bales and probably eyeing us off jealously as we cooled off in the 40 degree celsius heat!

The next day we visited Douglas thermal springs where sand and water were super-burney in the hot hot sun! I splashed across one of the streams in my thongs, lost a thong stuck in the mud so turned back, picked up the thong, dropped it and swore like a fishwife! We then went up to Butterfly Gorge with us both hoping it would be a cool oasis, opposite of Douglas thermal springs. However we are at the end of the dry season so the river was murky and stagnant. The walk was beautiful however!!

Arriving at Adelaide River Inn, we met Charlie the Buffalo who was the buffalo Mick Dundee hypnotised in Crocodile Dundee. He died in 2000 and was stuffed to be forever looking over 303 Bar in Adelaide River!

So now we are in Darwin and I’m about to go and get beautified for my graduation ceremony tomorrow! My little 4 and a half year old nephew is currently playing an Elsa ‘Let It Go’ birthday card on repeat right next to me while Tim encourages it. My determination to finish this blog entry is stronger than any mind-numbing Disney song arrggghhhhh!!!!

Talk soon! Rachel! xoxoxo

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We swim anywhere!

In the wise words of Hanky the Christmas Poo: ‘Hooooowdy Ho!’

We are in Kununurra WA after spending 6 days doing the Gibb River Road. But let’s start back to… Cape Leveque?

We drove along a shit of a road from Broome to the Dampier Peninsula and turned up to Kooljaman Cape Leveque caravan park to be told there was no room at the inn. So we drove up to Cygnet Bay and checked into a cute little campsite a couple of kilometres from the main reception/pool/reception.

The next day we drove back to Kooljaman Cape Leveque, determined to swim at the iconic beach. We paid $35 to access the beach in our car so we made the most of that by soaking up the sun (a little too much), drinking apple cider and swimming until our skin macerated.

We were keen to get going to start the Gibb River Road so after two nights at Cygnet bay, we zipped along to Derby arriving in 39 degree (celsius) heat. So what did we do? Checked into a cheap motel with an air conditioner and swimming pool just to relax and ‘luxuriate’ before we headed off again!

Our first stop on the Gibb River Road was at Windjana National Park where we visited the start of Tunnel Creek; a tunnel and creek in the pitch black. I say the start because we clambered over the rocks to the entrance, stood oohing and aahing at the striped granite and dark green pool of water while the buzzing of bees filled the entire cavity THEN realised that the one and only torch we brought along with us was almost on the blink. We had searched for Tim’s powerful headlamp but couldn’t for the life of us find it so we settled on sharing the torch. Tim was still keen to give the tunnel a crack with the dodgy torch but I envisioned us sitting in thick pitch blackness waiting for a good samaritan (AKA a tunnel visitor with light) stumbling across us. So we erred on the side of common sense and turned back.

That afternoon we visited Windjana gorge which is home to heaps of freshwater crocodiles. I forgot my camera so you’ll need to take my word that I counted at least 40 freshy’s floating around in the gorge.

The next day we drove to Silent Grove camping area and set up in a circle of trees. The campground (like Windjana campground) had flushing toilets and hot showers which was fantastic. The next day we visited Bell’s Gorge which was gorgeous.

We use a big plastic tub filled with a squirt of woolly wash and water and the corrugations of roads act as an agitator to ‘wash’ our clothes. As we were hanging out the latest knotted mess of clothes, Tim reached into the bucket of murky water and pulled out his headlamp, dripping but very clean and smelling of eucalypt! Miraculously the torch, once dried and sweet-talked, actually works again!

We decided we want to spend 4-5 days in Lake Argyle so zoomed along the corrugated road to arrive at Home Valley Station to spend the night before the piece de resistance of El Questro Station. Home Valley Station was nice but nothing much there. We camped at the riverside camp about 4km’s away from the main area. Saltwater crocodiles inhabit the Pentecost river and we were told to camp on the west-side of the camping area. We unfortunately (or fortunately?) didn’t see any salty’s but the next day saw too much of bitey ants absolutely bloody everywhere! Standing to wash the dishes resulted in bites until I got absolutely fed up and declared we would pack ‘all this shit up now and get out of here’. Well, in the time it took Tim to have a shower, I had finished packing up the camper trailer, reversed the car and hooked it all up ready to get the heck out of there as soon as Tim’s squidgy thongs hit the dirt. Tim said he should have taken a few bitey ants to let loose at future camps so he can sit back while I flit about packing everything up!

We wanted to check out El Questro Station and see if it was actually as great as what we had been told. We paid $120 for 2 nights unpowered camping and what they call a ‘Wilderness Pack’ which gave us a weeks access to all gorges etc on El Questro Station. The campground was beautiful with tall trees and plenty of space. We set up our camp and went for a swim at a ‘croc-free’ area of the Pentecost river.

The next day we were up early to visit Zebedee thermal springs which are only open between 7am-12noon. The springs were beautiful and quite intimate with a sign in the carpark saying ‘If the carpark is full, the springs are full so come back later’. Tim and I found a nice deep little pool and sat in about 25 degree celsius water.  Small waterfalls tumbled over the edge and a few people climbed higher to other rock pools.

After Zebedee springs, we went straight to Moonshine Gorge where we had a wonderful swim and met some great people with whom we chatted while floating around in the deep green water. There was a sign warning of fresh-water crocs inhabiting the area, however they were turned off by the sight of so many people in bathers so they hid the entire time!

In the evening, we drove up to pigeonhole 4WD lookout and watched the sunset which was just beautiful. Every Saturday night, El Questro holds a ‘Gourmet BBQ and live entertainment night’ which we attended. It was great and really laid back.

We were told about a place called The Grotto which was apparently amazing so we went up there before Kununurra however it must be better just after wet season because the gorge had all but dried up. We are now in Kununurra in a cabin enjoying having a TV and couch before we head off to camp in Lake Argyle!

Goodnight!! xoxox