Week 12 Weekly Blog 12/08/2021- 18/08/2021
Last week saw us relax in paradise at Adel’s Grove, before being rattled on the corrugations on the way to Borroloola. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 12 of Allan and I exploring Oz.
Today was a “get things done” kind of day, so we booked another night at the Borroloola Caravan Park. We went looking for new bearings so Allan could change the ones in the camper trailer (again). We went to TJ’s One Stop Shop and found a bearing kit that contained 2 large bearings the correct size for our trailer and a dust cap, which we thought might be 63mm (we need a 62mm), but we bought the kit anyway. We did some grocery shopping, then went back to the caravan park. We put away the camper so Allan could jack the trailer up and change the bearing, which he did while I put away the groceries, did the dishes and helped whenever I was asked to. The dust cap from the pack was too big, but we kept it anyway. Then we went back to TJ’s One Stop Shop to buy a couple more bearing kits. Allan created a makeshift dust cap using a spray can lid and duct tape. We had lunch at camp, chilled out and went swimming in the pool. I did a short workout before tea. We were going to have sausages and onion in bread, but a couple was walking past and stopped to chat saying they were going to the Carpentaria Grill, and they would recommend going one night, because they are now going for the second night, as they liked the meals they had the first time they went. They left us to our devices, and it didn’t take us long to decide that we were going out for tea rather than having sausages and onion in bread. We walked to the restaurant which was only 500m down the road. Allan ordered a beef parmi with chips and salad ($24) and I ordered vegetarian lasagna with chips and salad ($18). We had a few drinks while we waited for tea. The place was very busy, and the décor was very cute with a tropical theme. We ate tea, which we both thought was delicious and well-worth what we paid for. We walked back to camp, feeling very full and went to bed, falling asleep very easily with a full stomach.
Today we were moving on, so I got up and completed a workout, trying to use up some energy before sitting in the car all day. We packed up camp and left Borroloola after fuelling up. Thankfully we were driving on bitumen all the way to Daly Waters our destination for tonight. We stopped after about 10km to check the new bearing, thankfully, it was all good and while we were pulled over, we pumped up the tyres to 38psi, which was only the second time since leaving Adelaide that we aired up to highway pressures. We got back on the bitumen which interchanged between single-lane and double-lane road and was very bumpy. If there was a car or truck coming towards us on the single-lane road, you would have to pull over and drive half on the bitumen and half on the verge. We stopped at Heartbreak Hotel for a toilet stop. We drove on and got to Daly Waters at 3ish. Daly Waters was pumping with cars and caravans going everywhere. We booked 2 nights unpowered ($20 per night) and we were put in the overflow section, as the main campground was packed! We set up camp on the opposite side of the road to the main campground and we were the only ones in that section. We set up camp and noticed that our makeshift dust cap had come off, so I put a plastic freezer bag around the exposed castle nut and secured it with a hair tie (perfect bush mechanics). We went to the pub for happy hour (4-6pm) which gave us $4 middies and $4.50 glass of wine. We sat in the beer garden for happy hour and decided to stay on for pizza. I went and ordered a meatlovers pizza ($25) for us to share and when I came back, we were joined at our table by a lovely elderly gentleman named Garry who was travelling by himself. Allan and I ate our pizza and chatted to the man and listened to the entertainment (Lou Bradley and Phil). Garry bought a bottle of wine to share with Allan. We enjoyed the entertainment and requested a few songs and Garry went back to the bar and ordered 3 glasses of port. He came back to the table saying that he was shouted the glasses of port by the bartender, because he used to live in Liverpool and so did the bartender. We drank the port and enjoyed the final few songs of entertainment. Garry tried to get us to stay at the pub for another round of drinks after the entertainment had finished, but we declined as we were both tired. We left Garry at the bar and walked back to camp to have 4 other cars set up in our area. We went to bed and fell asleep soon after our heads hit the pillow after a great night with great company.
We started our morning with a coffee and a walk to visit the resident wild pig Chainsaw, the two wild buffalo Buffie and Bud and Polly the pub horse. We had showers and breakfast, then went to the Hi-Way Inn Roadhouse to fuel up and look for a 62mm dust cap. The mechanic had a look in his yard but couldn’t find one. We had a look at the old plane wreck that was outside the roadhouse, then drove to the aerodrome, hangar, fuel store and ruins of an old telegraph station all used prior to and during World War 2. At the aerodrome there was a plane wreck as well. We then drove to the Stuart Tree which is a tree that was carved with the letter ‘s’ by John McDouall Stuart in 1862 when he and a team attempted to cross Australia from South to North. We drove back to camp and walked around town (Daly Waters). We looked at the old vehicles, helicopters and planes and spied Kevin the saltwater crocodile in his pen. We paid a $3 entry fee and went to Tim’s Junkyard. It was cool to see so many motorcycles, cars, service vehicles (fire truck, ambulance, police cars), bicycles, takeaway signs, army uniforms and antiques of all kinds. Allan was in his element and in awe of the collection, as he knew an approximate value of each vehicle and he could have spent hours there. The collection was easily into the millions of dollars! Back at camp, I made dough to make some wraps, then while it was proofing, we went to the pub for a swim in the pool. You were able to go to the front bar, grab a beer and walk straight out into the pool right next to the bar, amazing. I had a shower, then I made the wraps back at camp while Allan chilled out. We went back to the pub for happy hour and had a few drinks, then came back to camp, cooked sausages and onion for tea. We ate tea, listened to the pub entertainment from camp and played cards before going to bed.
We packed up camp, Allan made another temporary dust cap and we got on the road early to head to Mataranka with our destination for tonight being Bitter Springs Caravan Park. We stopped at the Pink Panther Hotel in Larrimah and had to buy a homemade pie and sausage roll. We took some photos of the pink panther and got back on the main highway to Mataranka. We drove through Mataranka and past the Sunday Market and arrived at Bitter Springs Caravan Park by 11:30am. We booked a powered site for 2 nights ($40 per night) and were escorted to our site by a man on a motorbike. We set up camp, got changed in our bathers, went for a walk around the caravan park to look at amenities and camp kitchen, then walked to reception to buy 2x pool noodles ($7 each). We walked the 500m to Bitter Springs from the caravan park, put our stuff down and got into the water with our noodles to float downstream. The water was 33degrees, crystal clear, very blue in colour, smelt like rotten egg (high sulphur levels) and had lots of brown mossy floaty bits. At the end there was a set of stairs to get out of the water and then a cement path to walk back to the start and do it all again. After 2 floats downstream, we decided to head back to camp. We chilled out at camp for a bit. We walked back to Bitter Springs at about 5pm to see if it was any quieter than earlier. It was still just as busy, but with a demographic of grey nomads instead of families with young kids. We walked around the springs, had one last look at the swimming section before heading back to camp. Allan cooked dinner (steak and packet pasta with frozen peas) while I wrote the blog. We ate tea and played cards before going to bed.
We woke to the sound of a rooster crowing at 5am, so both Allan and I got up and had coffee. We got changed and took our noodles and snorkelling gear and walked to Bitter Springs for a swim. The sun was just rising, the water was very clear and smooth with not much mossy stuff on the surface (aside from the edges) and there was steam rising from the surface of the water. Allan was very keen, because it was going to be like a bath, and he has missed his baths. We put our stuff down, grabbed our noodles, snorkelling gear and gopro and got into the water. Allan decided it would be a good idea to kick a tree stump in the water, bruising his foot. The water was bloody beautiful and there was less than 10people in there. We got a few videos of us both trying to look majestic and swim under a log in the water. We put our snorkel and mask on and swam/floated downstream. We saw some fish and 2 turtles. We got out at the end and walked back to the start. It was freezing out of the water, so we decided to do one more float downstream without the mask and snorkel, but this time we started swimming upstream a bit first. We regretted not bringing our mask and snorkel because the water was very still and untouched as less people swim upstream. We finished our second float, got out, walked back to our stuff and walked back to camp. Back at camp we had breakfast and chilled out before we decided to go into town to try and find a dust cap for our trailer. We tried everywhere in town that could possibly sell dust caps and no one had any. We went to the supermarket and as we were deciding if we needed anything or not, Allan got an ABC update which said that Darwin and Katherine were going into a snap 3-day lockdown from 12pm today. We were planning on going to Katherine tomorrow, but it looked like we would be stuck in Mataranka/Bitter Springs for another 2 nights. We got lunch in town (Allan a pie for $6.50 and me a sausage roll for $7) and sat and pondered the impending lockdown. We decided we would stay at Bitter Springs until after the 3-day lockdown gets lifted and if it gets extended, we will reassess our plans then. We went back to camp, went to the springs for a walk, then came back to camp. We decided to go back out to the supermarket to get alcohol (the bottle shop is inside the supermarket and is only open from 2-5pm). When we got to the supermarket, there was a line-up of about 20 people outside. They were capping numbers to go into the supermarket and there was a police officer manning the front door. We got in line and waited 20minutes until we were allowed to enter. We looked for fresh fruit and vegetables, but the shelves were empty, which was a shock to us, because this morning they were full! There was some meat, but there was an “outback tax” put on meat out here and not a large selection of meat. We got frozen peas, stocked up on alcohol and got out of there. It was pandemonium with people trying to get alcohol and last stocks of food. We got back to camp, chilled out at camp for the afternoon. I went and booked another 2 nights for our site. We walked back to the springs to show a young girl and her mum where to walk to get to the springs. We got back to camp, ate tea, played cards, then went to bed.
We took our time getting up, having coffee, then decided to walk to the thermal springs to float downstream a c0uple of times. We found this time to be quiet, as it was around check-out time. We got back to camp, had brunch and chilled out at camp for the rest of the morning and afternoon. I decided to do a workout, then wanted to go for a swim. We went back to the springs at about 5:30pm and went for a float downstream and it was very quiet which was nice. We got back to camp, cooked tea (chicken portions with rice and veg) and ate. We played cards, then went to bed.
We decided to tackle Elsey National Park (NP) hikes today. We got to the campground at 9:30ish and had a look at the campsites, as we were thinking of staying there. The sites were huge and many of them were empty. We had a look at the river which was a beautiful turquoise colour and clear and the remains of a stockyard (12 Mile Yards) that was used for catching wild cows on Mataranka Station. We decided to do Korowan Walk to Mataranka Falls which was 4.1km one-way, with an ETA of 1.5-2.5 hours. The walk was quite easy, very flat ground, but there were sections where we were walking in soft river sand that was very boggy. It was quite warm and there was not much shelter from the sun for most of the walk. We saw a bower bird nest and along the riverbed wild pigs had chopped up the sand. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the falls, which were beautiful, but not very big and were a little underwhelming to some of the others we had seen. We walked back to the campground and got back after 2.5hours of walking 9km. Neither of us had eaten, but we decided to stop at other places in Elsey NP. We had a look at the remains of an old sheep dip and walked 365m around it. We did another 250m round trip walk to see the ruins of an Aboriginal Army Camp, which was an easy walk that took us about 10minutes. At this stage, Allan was sick of walking, had sore legs, was hot and getting hangry, but he agreed to do one more walk called the Botanic Walk. Neither of us had any idea about the native trees or shrubs, but we decided to do the 1.2km walk anyway. It was quite a beautiful, scenic walk following a man-made path through trees, following a creek. There were information plaques next to trees telling us what they were and what the leaves, bark, sap, flowers and berries were used for or indicated in Aboriginal Culture. It took us 30minutes to complete the walk, which I quite enjoyed, and I think Allan did too. Once back at the car, we decided to go to Mataranka Homestead. We got there, had a look at the Old Mataranka Homestead and a replica of it which was used as a set in the film, “We of the Never Never”. We went to the café at Mataranka Homestead for food, as Allan was starving. We bought 2x hamburgers with the lot and a side of chips. When finding a seat, we ran into a couple we camped next to at Karumba Point Caravan Park and had a chat until our food arrived. We found a seat in the shade, ate our meal, then decided we would go to the Mataranka Thermal Pool to go swimming. We got changed into our bathers, walked 200m along the boardwalk, stopping at Rainbow Springs which is where the thermal water comes from the ground, before continuing another 100m to the thermal pools. The pool had just finished being cleaned and the paved path was very wet and slippery. There would have been close on 100 people in the pool which had been man-made with rock tiles around the sides to get in and sit on the edges. The bottom was sand, but you had to watch for random rocks at the bottom. Allan and I still got in just to say we had been. The water felt colder than Bitter Springs and the amount of people in the pool meant you could hardly move around. We lasted maybe 3minutes in the water before getting out and deciding to drive back to Bitter Springs. We got to Bitter Springs, floated downstream with our noodles 3 times. We went back to camp; I made another batch of wraps while Allan had a shower. We had had heard at Mataranka that they have Nathan “whippy” Griggs perform his whip show, so we decided to head back to Mataranka for that. We left camp at 6:30pm and got to Mataranka at 6:45pm thinking that Whippy Griggs started at 7pm. We soon found out that he doesn’t start until 9pm. We decided to find a table and stick around until 9pm. When scouting for a table, we saw Susan and Brian, the couple we met at Borroloola, and we decided to ask if we could join them at their table. They let us join them and we had a lovely evening chatting and catching them up with our travels and travel plans and vice versa. Whippy Griggs started his show at 9pm. He was very entertaining and very talented with cracking whips. He cracked whips to different songs, made jokes that were even funny, involved the crowd with some of his stunts and set alight a couple of whips and cracked them to a song. It was a great evening and both Allan and I were very entertained. We didn’t get back to camp until 10:30pm, but the late night was well-worth it.
This week we started off in Borroloola with Allan fixing the wheel bearing on the drivers side of the camper trailer this time. We stayed in Daly Waters and were entertained for 2 days with the World War 2 history, different animals roaming around the township, Tim’s Junkyard that was a museum containing millions of dollars of vehicles and the iconic Daly Waters Pub with the pool, talented entertainment, their pizzas and 2-hour happy hour. We finished the week off floating down Bitter Springs multiple times a day in the thermal springs waiting for the snap 3-day lockdown in Katherine and Darwin to finish. Stay tuned for our future travels to see when the snap lockdown finishes and where we decide to go when it does.