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Week 20 Weekly Blog 07/10/2021- 13/10/2021

Last week saw Allan finish work at the Darwin Sailing Club with not a lot of exploring. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 20 of Allan and I exploring Oz.

Day 134

Allan and I woke early, had coffee, and ate chicken and cheese melted wraps for breakfast, then left camp to donate plasma for the last time at Lifeblood Darwin. The staff at Darwin are very lovely, but they are also very good at putting the needles in. In the 3 donations I did in Darwin I had not felt any needles at all going into my arm. Normally you feel a slight sting and sometimes the ‘sting’ lasts the whole donation, but not here. Both Allan and I completed our donations and went to town on the snacks (as normal), but it was so cold inside Lifeblood that when we left, we both felt comfortable in the hot, humid weather outside! After donating, we went to the Darwin Sailing Club (Allan can’t stay away from that place) to get some keg couplers that belong to One Mile Brewery. Allan had told the owner we were going to return them today when we visited. We went for a walk to the boat ramp, and I found a washed-up mobile phone just visible under the sand. Allan picked it up and took it to see if we could recover anything from the SIM/memory card. We went back to the caravan park, picked up our bathers and headed out again. On the way past reception, we stopped in and booked a cabin for tomorrow night for our last night in Darwin for $108. We drove to Mindil Beach Casino and Resort and had a look around. We got changed into our bathers in the toilets. While I was getting changed, Allan put $10 into a machine and won $40. We then ordered a drink and took it out to the infinity pool. We went swimming, drank our drinks, and enjoyed the view from the infinity pool overlooking a small section of Darwin coastline. It would be a beautiful view at sunset. We went back to the caravan park to get changed out of our bathers and chilled out for a bit, before leaving for One Mile Brewery which was just down the road. Allan dropped off the keg couplers, then ordered a beer paddle, while I had a pot (SA schooner) of One Mile Ginger Beer. I thought their ginger beer was tasty, as it didn’t have an overpowering taste of ginger and it wasn’t too sweet. Allan also enjoyed the ginger beer and one of the ales that he had in his paddle. We then left One Mile to go to Willing Gin Distillery. Allan wanted to do a tasting and a tour, but I said we should do that tomorrow, which he agreed to. We ordered cocktails instead. I got a “close-call”, which is like a margarita, but more sour. Allan ordered a “tropicale”, which is sweet with tropical flavours, but had a dry after taste. Both cocktails were refreshing. We sat at the distillery for about an hour, then we decided that going back to beer would be too heavy and very risky, so we went to a bottle-o to get some tonic to make G+T’s back at camp. Allan asked the lady serving us where the closest supermarket was because we needed lime and she went out the back to the kitchen and gave us one of their limes, which I thought was very nice of her, but Allan just responded with, “it’s a hospo thing”. We went back to camp, chilled out, had tea, and made G+T’s, played one hand of Monopoly Deal, then went to bed.

Day 135

Today was our last full day and night in Darwin, so we decided to stay in a cabin for the night. We had coffee, put our washing in the machine, then spent the next 2 and a half hours in direct sunlight and 36degrees packing up the camper and car. While doing so, we realised our central locking mechanism in the car had stopped working so we had to start manually locking the car and canopy, which was going to become a real pain and inconvenience. Allan spent a good hour trying to work out what had happened while I continued to pack things away. He worked out that we had blown a fuse, potentially because of the canopy central locking so he decided he would fix it another day. Once we had finished packing our stuff and hung out the washing and we were ready to hitch up the camper to move it, we decided to walk our sweaty butts to reception to see if our cabin was ready so we could check-in early and ask where they wanted us to store the camper for the night. At reception, there was a bit of a muddle-up and the lady who had booked our cabin, booked it for last night and had checked us in, but the key was still in reception. The receptionist radioed the cleaners to check to see if the cabin was free. Luckily it was free, and we were able to check-in early. The receptionist also allowed us to leave our camper in our site, so we didn’t have to move it. We walked to the cabin, checked it out, enjoyed the air conditioning for 30minutes and had a drink of cold water. We reluctantly walked back to the camper to get the car and connect our solar panel to the camper, because we were still running our freezer in the camper. We got back to the cabin, ate some food, unpacked our clothes and toiletries from the car and both had showers. It was bliss being able to shower with no shoes on! We got dressed into nice clothes and headed out for the afternoon. Allan wanted to get some candid photos of us to celebrate our time in Darwin, so we had a suss of the scenery at the ski club, but Allan wanted trees framing the photo, so he decided the sailing club would be the best place for the photos. We went to Darwin Waterfront and had a drink (frozen CC and Dry for me and a pint of Great Northern for Allan) and ordered a pulled pork pizza at The Precinct. The drinks went down too well, and the pulled pork pizza was delicious, but was only tiny (10 inch) and if I’d have known what size it was, I wouldn’t have paid $22 for it! The scenery was beautiful, so we moved on to Snapper Rocks a couple of shops down for more drinks, as it was happy hour there. Allan ordered a G&T and I ordered a frozen mango daiquiri. My drink was very sweet and tasted like you were drinking mango, with a touch of alcohol. It was very refreshing because it was frozen, and the temperature was still hot and humid. Allan’s G+T was tasty and thirst-quenching. Allan allowed me to drink half of his G+T because he was driving. We then went to Beaver Brewery to taste their beers. Allan got a tasting paddle of four beers, but because I don’t really like beer, I decided I would drive home so I didn’t get anything. We spent about an hour at Beaver Brewery, then headed to the sailing club for a drink and to enjoy our final Darwin sunset. At the sailing club Annika made us both a drink and we found a table and seats with the appropriate backdrop for photos. We took photos and enjoyed the sunset even though it wasn’t the best Darwin sunset we had seen. We said our final goodbyes to the staff on duty at the sailing club and then returned Allan’s work uniform. I drove back to our cabin at the caravan park, had a video call with Sue and Brian, then ordered Dominoes pizza for tea. We watched Pearl Harbour and ate pizza in bed with a few G+T’s. I fell asleep before Pearl Harbour had finished, but Allan sat up and watched the whole movie before going to sleep.

Day 136

I woke up freezing cold even though I had stolen all the blankets from Allan. We had left the air conditioning on all night. We watched trashy TV and had our morning coffee lying in bed. I ate cold pizza for breakfast, finished the week 18 blog and uploaded it. We had our last shoe-free shower, then repacked the car and went and hitched our camper up. We checked out at reception and procrastinated leaving by talking to reception staff. We left the park for Humpty Doo Hotel where we thought we could stay the night. On the way we stopped at Bees Creek Market and had a look around but didn’t buy anything. We got back on the road and arrived at Humpty Doo Hotel at 11:30am only to find out we couldn’t stay behind the pub, but there was an independently owned RV park next door. We inquired at the RV park, but we had to be self-contained (toilet and grey water tank) to stay there. The closest caravan park was 10 minutes down the road in Coolalinga and we decided to stay there. We booked one night on a powered site for $35 and set up camp which was under trees and right next to the pool. Trees are good for shade, but they also mean birds and bats which like to poo on cars and camper trailers. Once camp was set up, we drove back to the Humpty Doo Hotel and had a few drinks and ate hot chips and gravy. Allan bought some board shorts for $40. We left the pub, stopped at the statue of the large boxing crocodile to take a few photos. We went to Woolworths to get some chicken and arborio rice, because Allan wanted to cook risotto for tea. The lady at the checkout was giving out free Freddo Frogs, so I took one, then headed back to the caravan park. At the caravan park, we went for a walk and were a bit deflated, as the amenities and camp kitchen were very outdated compared to what we were used to at Discovery Parks. We decided to go for a swim in the pool and Allan wanted to wear his new board shorts from the Humpty Doo Hotel, so he tried them on, but they didn’t fit. We decided to exchange them tomorrow. We went for a swim in the pool, which was freezing and full of leaves from the trees around the pool. We chilled out at camp, played Monopoly Deal, cooked, and ate risotto, then went to bed.

Day 137

Today is Allan’s birthday! We woke up, had coffee and had very quick showers, because they were mouldy and needed renovations. We packed up camp, hitched up and drove across the road to get McDonalds for breakfast, because Allan wanted chicken nuggets. We both ordered a bacon and egg McMuffin with a hash brown and a drink and 10 chicken nuggets for Allan. We ate our meals at McDonalds and got back in the car to head out past Humpty Doo Hotel to Middle Point for a Jumping Croc Cruise at 11am, which I had organised as an activity for Allan’s birthday. I fed Allan his chicken nuggets on the drive to Middle Point. We got to the meeting point an hour before the cruise started. We organised our technology (for Instagram content), signed in and sat in the shade on some benches outside the office watching the tidal river rising and trying to spot a croc. One of the tour guides had bought his young puppy/dingo and had it chained up under the shade on quite a long lead. Allan couldn’t resist patting the puppy, but then it wouldn’t leave Allan alone. By 10:50 everyone who had booked had arrived, so we boarded the boat for the cruise and set off. We did a quick safety/introduction talk and then we started trying to spot crocs. We were told by the tour guide that we possibly won’t see any males because it is the beginning of mating season, so all the male crocs leave the main river and source quieter areas in the canals. The tour guide was great and taught us about the river system, other wildlife, and flora and of course crocodiles. Whole Lennard’s chickens were used for bait at the end of a pole to entice the crocs to come over to the boat and make them jump to get the bait. We cruised up and down the river for a bit over an hour, but couldn’t spot the 2 big crocs, Brutus and Dominator who are often seen at other times of the year. We saw lots of female crocs, which are smaller, but still amazing to watch. We did see a smaller male, Scarface, who was still quite large. We even saw a baby crocodile and baited it to get a chicken carcass. At the end of the tour, the birds were given the chicken scraps which was quite amazing to watch. We went back to the boat mooring, got off the boat and left. We went to the Humpty Doo Hotel to exchange Allan’s board shorts. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a bigger size, so we exchanged the shorts for a singlet instead. We had a drink each, then decided to get back on the road, with the destination of Edith River Free Campground in mind, which we found on Wikicamps. We stopped at Pine Creek to fuel up and the roadhouse was conveniently located next to the tavern, so we stopped and had another drink before getting back on the road. We got back on the road and got to Edith River Campground at about 5pm, found a spot which we liked and set up the camper. We sat outside, enjoying the serenity and only one other car with caravan came past and camped further down the campground. We had a few drinks, had leftover risotto for dinner, celebrated Allan’s birthday with sparklers, sat outside watching the stars until the bugs got too bad, then we went into the camper. We went to bed to the sounds of animals rustling in the bushes near the river. I woke multiple times through the night and heard cows or water buffalo mooing in the distance but fell asleep again.

Day 138

We woke early, had coffee, packed up camp and left camp by 7:30. We headed straight to Edith Falls, which was only 10km down the road from camp. We parked the car and camper and set up the solar panel to maintain charge on our batteries to keep our fridges running. We grabbed our noodles and dry bag and put the GoPro, camera, phones, towels, and water bottles in the bag. We read the information board and decided to go on the Leliyan Loop Walk to the upper pool of Edith Falls which was a 2.6km return hike. We walked in our “Chinese safety boots” (thongs) to the upper pool, which for the first 1km was a steep incline to a lookout. It was a beautiful view from the lookout and we took some photos before continuing to the upper pool. We got to the upper pool, which was secluded with no one there except for us. We found a spot to get into the water to go swimming. We didn’t last very long in the water because it was freezing, smelt strongly of fish and had lots of algae at the bottom, so we didn’t want to put our heads under the water. We walked the 1.6km back to the main pool and we were sweating bullets in the humid heat. The main pool looked more inviting and we went swimming. It was cold, but refreshing and relaxing floating around on our noodles after sweating it out on the walk. Allan got bitten by what he thinks was a fish and freaked us both out, which made us both get out of the water quickly. We walked back to the car, packed up our solar panel, then got back on the road heading towards Katherine to swim in the hot springs. We got to Katherine at 11am, decided to go for a swim in the hot springs before having lunch. The Katherine hot springs are situated pretty much in the centre of town and a short 400m walk down a gully. The springs were refreshing but overpopulated and I didn’t rate them in comparison to the other hot springs we had visited. Allan wanted to get some photos which proved very difficult due to the large number of people there. We got pies from the servo and continued driving. We stopped at Mataranka for one last float down Bitter Springs. The caravan park was closed as we had hit wet season and it was very quiet even in Bitter Springs carpark. We grabbed our pool noodles and towels and walked to the hot springs. We entered the water via a new platform and floated down stream. The water was up a bit higher than last time we were here (about 8 weeks ago) and a bit clearer, but with more mossy much floating in the water. After one float we got back on the road heading towards Daly Waters. About 10km out of Mataranka, I noticed our fridge in the car had turned off, so we pulled over and Allan checked it out. He noticed the ciggy plug had melted potentially from the heat of being overworked trying to keep the fridge cold and the heat from the weather. We were going to wait until Daly Waters to fix it, so we continued driving with no power to the fridge. Around 10km past Larrimah there were extremely dark clouds in front of us. Suddenly, it started bucketing down with rain for 10minutes. The rest of the way to Daly Waters, it was wet on either side of the road and on either side of us was dark, stormy rain clouds, but we were driving in the sun. We got to Daly Waters Pub at 4pm, checked into the caravan park at the pub (1 night with power for 2x adults was $32). We pulled into a site, then went to the pub, bought a drink and went for a swim in their pool. We went back to camp, had showers and got changed to go back to the pub for “happy hour”. The caravan park and pub were dead compared to the last time we were there and there was no entertainment and no “beef and barra” meal or pizzas in the garden. At 6pm once we decided to have a pub feed tonight so we ordered bruschetta and a schnitzel with avocado, bacon, hollandaise and cheese topping to share and a bottle of red wine. We enjoyed our pub meal, went back to the camper, played Monopoly Deal, then went to bed.

Day 139

We woke to a gloomy, but humid morning. We had coffee and it started to spit, so we quickly put away the camper. It stopped raining, so Allan decided to fix the cord that transfers power from the 2nd battery to the fridge and allows the fridge to stay cold. We went for a walk around Daly Waters, said hello to Blackface the goat and the two water buffalo, but Chainsaw the pig was no where to be seen. We kept walking and saw Polly the horse with a very newborn foal. Tim (the owner of the pub) and half the staff were there because none of them knew Polly was expecting and they were amazed to see a foal. We walked back to the camper and left Daly Waters. We stopped at the Hi-Way Inn for fuel, then Remner Springs Roadhouse/Tavern for a toilet stop, then continued towards Tennant Creek. We took a short 2km detour along an unsealed, highly corrugated road that took us to Devil’s Pebbles, a smaller version of Devil’s Marbles, which we walked around in about 10minutes. We got back on the main drag, before detouring a second time to stop at Lake Mary-Anne Dam. As we were driving to the dam, there was a beautiful male peacock in the shade outside the toilet block on the grass. We parked the car and walked along the dam, I grabbed some food from the fridge for lunch, then we walked to and across a suspension bridge. The bridge went over a creek that linked to the dam. The bridge was a little rickety and some of the planks of wood need replacing, so Allan had a bit of fun trying to scare me. We walked back to the car and continued the 15km to Tennant Creek. Driving along the main street, there were a lot of Aboriginals hanging around the streets and lining up outside liquor stores. Both Allan and I got a bad vibe, but neither of us said anything to one another. Despite both of us feeling uncomfortable, it was a bit late in the evening and we decided to stay the night at the G’Day Caravan Park in Tennant Creek. It cost us $38.50 for one night on a powered site. We got to our designated site, which was away from all the other vans in the park and unhitched to go to the Visitor Information Centre and had a look around. The volunteer info guy was very good at his job and informed us of all the interesting places to see and things to do in Tennant Creek. We had a look around the info centre and learnt a bit about the mining history. We left the info centre and went to Bill Allen Lookout before having a quick drive around town. We got back to the caravan park, set up the camper and walked around to look at the caravan park facilities. Both amenities blocks looked very clean, with one being more recently renovated than the other. We went to have a swim in the pool, but the pool was green and not very inviting. Overall, we already had bad feelings about this park and felt it was not up to the normal higher standards of G’day Parks. We went to “happy hour” where they were doing woodfire pizzas and cheap drinks. Allan had one beer, then we headed back to the camper where we cooked sausages with onion and potato ‘chips’ for tea with salad. We chilled out at camp, watching police drive around the caravan park every hour or so before going to bed. Allan set “booby-traps” around our camp to stop intruders or so if they tried to get into the car, they would trip over things and make noise. We fell asleep at about 10:30pm. At about 11:30pm, Allan woke to see a teenage Aboriginal boy standing inside our camper going through my wallet which had been hidden in our open storage compartment under our bed. Allan yelled something at the kid, which scared the living daylights out of the kid, so he ran. Allan jumped out of bed fully naked and sprinted after the kid through the caravan park. I jumped out of bed, turned on the light and picked up my wallet to check what was missing. I still had my bank cards and cards in it, but no cash (not that I was carrying much-only coins). I also realised my thongs were missing, which is more a pain than anything else. Allan came back to the camper, so I told him what I was missing. There was a couple in a swag who were woken by Allan yelling at the kid and told us they saw two kids roaming around. The lady went to the toilet, Allan went looking for the kids around the caravan park (fully clothed this time) and I went back to the camper to check nothing else was stolen. The lady from the swag knocked on our camper on the way back from the toilet and said she had found what seemed to be the contents from my wallet and a pair of thongs. Unfortunately, the thongs were not mine, but the contents of my wallet were returned. I thanked the lady, who then returned to her swag. The police drove into the park to do their hourly round of the park. Allan intersected them on their rounds and told them what had happened. We spent the next hour giving details and ensuring nothing major was stolen e.g. car keys, phones or electronics and no damage was done to the car or camper. The police reassured us that the kids generally only target people once and they would continue to do hourly rounds throughout the night. Before going to bed, Allan decided to zip-tie all the zips on the camper trailer together so no one could get in and then also zip-tie us in. We were both a bit freaked out for the rest of the night and neither of us slept very well. We both kept waking to any noise no matter how loud or quiet outside or inside the camper for the rest of the night.

Day 140

We woke very early after our ordeal last night. We had coffee, showers and packed up the camper very quickly and were out of the caravan park by 7:30am. We fuelled up at the BP then got on our way to leave Tennant Creek (and never return). We were heading to Devil’s Marbles for the day and potentially the night, which was only 100km down the road. We got to Devil’s Marbles, had a look at the campground, which was spacious, clean and had long-drop toilets. We couldn’t decide whether we wanted to stay or not, so we went to the day-use area and walked around that section of the Devil’s Marbles which was an easy approx. 600m walk. Both Allan and I were tired, so we decided we would stay the night in the campground. We found a spot in the campground, set up the camper, filled out the camping permit, paid the $8 cash to stay the night (National Park Campground). We were all set up by 12pm, so we went for a walk through the Devil’s Marbles back to the day-use area so Allan could use the wifi there. We walked back to camp, had leftover salad, sausages and onion for lunch, chilled out at camp, played Monopoly Deal, watched lots of others come into the campground and set up camp and then decided to cook tea early because we wanted to watch sunset from a lookout on top of a section of the Devil’s Marbles we are allowed to climb. We walked to the lookout with about 10 others from the campground. There is a sign at the top of the lookout saying that there is a sacred area and not to take photos of that area and to stay on the main track and not to climb the rocks. A couple on top took photos of the sacred section despite having a conversation with Allan and I about taking photos. The lady proceeded to say they had already taken photos of that section so “too bad, so sad”. I wanted to punch the lady in the face because of that comment and then continued to take their drone out and take footage of the sunset. They even knew about the signs in the campground saying no drones. Pretty much everyone at the lookout looked at each other with quizzical expressions because we all knew it was a no drone zone. Two girls that were up there as they were leaving the lookout spoke to the couple and said that they aren’t allowed to fly their drone because it is a national park and there are signs in the campground saying so. The couple said they hadn’t seen any signs and continued to fly their drone. Sunset was beautiful and the colours radiated off the rocks. After sunset, we walked back to the campground, ate tea and chilled out in the camper because the bugs were horrendous. We fell asleep very early and feeling safe in numbers.

This week was a week of highs and lows with some unforgettable experiences. Stay tuned for next week to experience some of the best of Central Australia.

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