Posts Tagged With: Camping grounds

The warm, balmy tropical winter weather of Northern Territory, we love it…

The climate is now tropical, a warm 30-32 degrees during the day and only drops to approx 16-17 at night. The sun shines from a clear blue sky. I have stowed away the oil heater and brought out the fan. Jack has discarded his thermals and wooly socks and I have dug out the summer shorts and tops from the bottom box, putting away the jackets, track pants and sweaters. It is now summer on the road and what we have travelled north to find.

I decided that now we do not need power to run a heater, an absolute necessity through the central desert areas when night-time temperatures can drop to 3-4 degrees, we can stay on unpowered campgrounds. So 3 days ago, when we left Katherine, we did a 20 kilometre side trip to Edith Falls National Park.

We arrived at midday and, oh dear, the swarms of people, the car park was crammed, the swimming hole was full of high-spirited, i.e. rowdy, children. We looked at each other, not our scene. So we decided to have lunch and a cuppa, then move on. Then I realised it was a public holiday; picnic day.(not sure what the significance of this holiday is). Feeling more relaxed after a sandwich and coffee we rationalized they will all be back at work and school tomorrow.So we decided we are here now we may as well walk up to the top pool and waterfall and stay the night.

Looks easy on the map…

There are a series of pools joined by cascading waterfalls. The bottom pool, where all the children are playing, is just behind the campground. A 2.6 kilometre round walk takes you up the escarpment to the top pool. a further 8 kilometre trek takes you to the headwaters. We opt for the 2.6 round walk to the top pool

What goes up must come down…

Our fitness levels are not as good as previous years so it is a leisurely, ie slow amble, to the top pool. Lots of steps and rough ground and lots of photo stops!!!! The destination was well worth the journey.

Looking down to the bottom pool from the top pool

Edith falls

After slowly lowering the hot body into the clear, fresh plunge pool below the waterfall and the accompanying gasp, it was blissfully refreshing. Not many people in this pool and only a couple of children.

Jack jumps in I take the photo then follow him

We arrive back at camp as the sun sets, turning the rocks of the escarpment to a molten gold colour.

With glass of wine in hand, feeling so relaxed,we watch the stars appear and the sky turn to velvet. The car park is now empty, all the day-trippers have gone home. It is so quiet we can just hear the distant murmur of the waterfalls.

Next morning we almost have the campground to ourselves. So for the first time this trip we set up the solar panel and decide to stay another day.

Evening reflections in the river

Escarpment reflections

Kapok flowers dance like butterflies in the bush

Grevillea native flower

Beautiful arial perspective

Smoke haze at sunset

The next day we walked part way up the escarpment to watch the sunset. It had an ethereal, mystic look as this time of the year, winter, is “cold burn” time. It is a method of management and control in the bush lands. It has been used for thousands of years by the Aboriginal traditional owners to keep undergrowth down and help prevent summer bush fires and also creates new growth which brought the wild life into their areas for food. Many of the native Australian plants actually need fire to open seed cases and start new plants growing. A very complex system. It is known as patch work burning and the air has a hazy smokey atmosphere most of the time. It is now used by National Park management too.

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, australian travel, camping australia, Northern Territory, out back, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Historical Springvale Homestead and thoughts on travel

In the middle of a burn area this sculptural group survives

Travelling I think is genetic, some people have an urge to move, explore,experience new places. Others are happy to stay in one place, making a nest, putting down roots, surrounded by family and familiar friends.

I know I am the restless gypsy type. To explore and discover new places gives me satisfaction. If I am in one place for long I get restless and start to plan the next trip.

Discovering the history of the places we pass through brings the area alive. Over the weekend we stayed in the campground behind Springvale Homestead, 5 kilometres from the town of Katherine. This has a very interesting history and is the oldest surviving homestead in the Northern Territory. Every afternoon at 3pm Wendy gives a very lively and descriptive talk about the history of the place. Since 1877 it has been through good times and bad. Many different types of farming have been tried. For me the individual character of Mary Giles shone through in the talk. She came as a young bride from the city of Adelaide and was the first white woman to to be brought onto a station in the Northern territory. What a strong, resilient pioneer, how lonely she must’ve been, but she planted a vegetable garden and fruit trees, then used the produce to make preserves, jams and chutneys.When the gold rush started a few years later at Pine Creek just 90 kilometres along the road she built a thriving cottage industry selling her produce to the passing crowds going to, hopefully, make their fortune in the gold fields. She even had a separate storehouse built for her business.

Alfred and Mary Giles and family

Eventually the station went broke. Over 4 years the 1200 sheep that had walked over 2000 kilometres from Adelaide had dwindled to 70. The spear grass had got into their gut and poisoned them, and they could not breed. In 1886 the property was put on the market and Alfred and Mary and their 4 surviving children moved on.

Historic Springvale Homestead

But the Homestead remained. It survived fire and flood and in the 1980’s joined the tourist industry with the establishment of a campground and cabins behind the old homestead. The natural hot springs were capped and a swimming pool created with a constant 34 degree temperature. The camp is situated on the banks of a peaceful lagoon. We stayed 3 days in this idyllic setting.

 

The town of Katherine was the scene of one of Australia’s worst floods in 1998. The river rose and the town was inundated. The homestead on the banks of the Katherine River had water up to the roof. Looking at this gently flowing waterway today it is hard to imagine the roaring,giant monster that swept all before it in 1998.

Railway bridge over the Katherine river

This railway bridge was covered, the water came 6 foot over the lines. It is very hard to visualise that much water pouring through.

 

In 2005 I stayed in Katherine backpackers when I travelled around Australia by Greyhound bus (that is another story….) At that time the memories of the flood and the emotions were still very raw. I visited the museum and they had a video made by the SBS TV station showing the horrors and aftermath of that flood. They interviewed locals who shared their stories of loss and grief but also heroism. Being in the town and watching that video had a great impact on me. I felt the sorrow but also the mateship and bonding that great disasters bring to a district.

Next year, 2006,I sat in disbelief, at home, and watched on TV as Katherine, once more, sank beneath the river.

This country is beautiful but capricious and can turn in a moment to danger and disaster.

On a lighter note, when the flood water went down a saltwater crocodile was found swimming around Woolworth’s supermarket meat department….

Family conference termite sculpture

 

As for these characters? We saw them along the road and just had to stop and take their photos, they seemed to call out to us….

Categories: Australia, australian travel, caravan park, floods, Northern Territory, outback, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Longreach outback town…

The pub is the centre of out back towns

Heritage buildings

After a day exploring the town and having lunch at the local RSL club we walked back to the Longreach Caravan Park which was only 4 blocks from the main street. It is a small, shady, friendly camp ground and they have a “happy hour” at 10am and 4pm every day when you can have a cuppa or “whatever” and meet and greet and swap stories with the other travellers. We arrived back at 4pm and had “whatever”…..

Shady Longreach Caravan Park

Matilda at rest

Smoko time get together for the campers

We spent 3 days in Longreach. Now we turn north-west and head toward Winton. The town famous for the song “Waltzing Matilda” that Banjo Patterson wrote.

Categories: australian travel, caravan park, outback, photos, Pubs, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Rain and more rain…

It has rained for 24 hours and the creeks are in full flow

Last night we stayed in a very small township called Dingo, 130 kilometres west along the Capricorn Highway. It had been a beautiful day. intermittent showers but also the sun highlighting the bush. I wrote the earlier post on Word as internet connection was non-existent, so couldn’t post directly into my blog. How amazing is this WordPress programme. Tonight With the click of a mouse it was inserted, so that was yesterday.

We are now in the Central Queensland area travelling along the Capricorn Highway. This morning we woke to the sound of rain drumming on the van roof but it was warm and dry in Matilda so rolled over and had another hour before getting organized. I only planned to go as far as Emerald so waited to see if the rain would stop, but it didn’t, in fact it became heavier. How different the scenery is in the rain.

This is coal mining country. Blackall  oops that should be Blackwater, is the coal capital of Australia. The road ran along side the rail line most of the day and we saw countless long, long, extra long trains going in both directions. (we also heard them last night in the Dingo caravan park!!!) From Blackwater to the port of Gladstone. Then back to Blackwater for another load. I counted one and it had 99 wagons with a diesel engine at the front and another one half way along. I also checked the length of one stationary train as we drove by and it was 1.5 kilometres from end to end. It was still raining so did not get any photos.

The road was busy with trucks and big 4 WD Utes and work vehicles speeding by little old Matilda in a cloud of spray. Our wind screen wipers working to the max. But it was a good undulating road and we arrived in Emerald by 1-30pm, still raining. The town was busy and quite confusing street layout, we circled around looking for the tourist information office. Finally, after first stopping to top up our energy levels with a chinese lunch, we found it. This time leaving accommodation to luck did not work as a large, week-long Ag Fest was on and the towns accommodation was booked out…

OK, plan B, we drove on to the gemfields another 60 kilometres west. First I rang to check availability and managed to secure the last powered site in Sapphire. Blue Gem caravan park is a small but friendly and well run camp ground, AND it has 5 bars of internet connection. It is still raining….

Blue Gem caravan park, Sapphire

The site we were on was dryish, but lots of puddles to paddle around in to get to the shower and toilet block….

Horses sheltering from the rain in the BBQ shed

Sapphire is the only miners common land left in Australia and I have been told that horses, cows, goats and camels roam around freely. I hope it has  stopped raining tomorrow and we will get to see more of this interesting area.

Categories: australian travel, gemfields, out back, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Growth has come from disaster in Childers

Palace Memorial building now the art gallery and tourist information centre

Two days on the road and we are settling into our routine of travel. Leisurely start with breakfast, pack up van and take off with no set plans for the day, just see what turns up. With thermos for cuppa and supplies on board we stop and eat when we are hungry and start looking for some where to camp for the night about 4pm. Because the weather is slightly cold and have had intermittent showers we are going into caravan parks with power so we can put on the little oil-fired heater. Last night was a van park behind “The Golden nugget” road house and truck stop just south of Gympie. The road house had a shepherd’s pie special on the board at $9 so couldn’t go past that. What we forgot was that this is a truck stop and the serving was tasty but HUGE.

Today we arrived in Childers at mid-day. In 2000 they had a terrible disaster when the Palace backpackers, that was in the building above, was deliberately torched and burnt to the ground with the loss of life of 15 young international backpackers trapped in their dormitories. We have passed through Childers several times in our travels and seen it slowly transformed from a rather scruffy small town with not much to stop for, to a vibrant community, proud of its heritage and the centre and heart of the town is the beautifully restored Palace Memorial Centre, the downstairs area is a tourist information centre and is staffed by very helpful and friendly local volunteers. We went upstairs to see the memorial painting of the 15 young people, and the story of the tragic fire. But what we also found was the most amazing works of art by a young 15-year-old aboriginal girl. Chern’ee Sutton has taken aboriginal dot painting and stories of her ancestors dream-time to a vibrant and modern interpretation. When looked at they are fresh, the colours glow. Then we were given 3D glasses to go round again and look at them. WOW!!! they just jumped out and vibrated with life, we could hardly tear ourselves away from them. Butterflies floated in front of deep indigo pits with the dream-time dots flowing in and around them, just amazing. Do go on the link to see some of her work, and read her story, but of course you need to see them in reality to get the full impact, not just photos.

Childers street art, not sure what it is…

Bronze sculpture in memory of the Kanakas from the Pacific islands were forcibly shipped to Australia to work in the cane fields

Dogs waiting and playing while the boss is in the pub

Delicious $10 pub lunch, crumbed Barra, 2 pieces each,, beer battered chips and salad

Categories: aboriginal history, art, camping, caravan park, Childers, travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Travel theme— Secret Places

Aisla of “Where’s my backpack” has invited, (challenged) me to submit a post on this weeks theme of “secret places in travel”. Click on the link to her blog and you will find many interesting secret travel places from other bloggers.

So I lay in bed, where ideas seem to flow, then I fell asleep. Now, sometimes, I forget that spark from the night before. Not this time, as this place is a real standout in my memories of the 2010 trip around Australia.

Lawless Park

The light was fading and we had been slowly travelling along the Burnett Highway in Queensland. With many stops to admire the scenery, take photos, lots of photos, take short walks into the bush. Stroll around the small rural towns. Murgon, Goomeri (in season they have a pumpkin festival here), Kilkivan ( centre for the great endurance horse trek). Another perfect day on our road trip around Australia.

 Now it was time to find some where to stop for the night. We love freedom camping, if we can find one, that is our preferred choice.

 It was dusk when we found Lawless Park. Nestled into a bushy backdrop with tall stately gums around the perimeter and a picnic table but no other facilities. The grass was lush and spongy underfoot, perfect. It was late March, autumn over here, and the air was crisp and clear, not a cloud in the sky.  With a glass of wine in hand and dinner on our laps we could look up at a million stars as darkness enfolded us. The magic came next morning when we woke and looked out side. Mist was blanketing the area with a shroud of stillness. An ethereal, breathless quiet made me gasp in wonder. A million dewdrops glistened on cobwebs, we had this magical, secret place all to ourselves.

Towering to the heavens

The morning sun filters through the mist

The name Lawless was not because a bunch of bushrangers or other equally lawless characters roamed here in the past (maybe they did) but it is named after the Lawless brothers who arrived here in 1847 and “sqatted” in this area. Then built a dwelling and farmed this land. The original house “Booubyjan” is still here and can be visited for a small donation. The Lawless family still live and farm in this area.

Categories: australian travel, camping, Camping grounds, free travel accomadation, photos | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

Daintree National Park

We crossed on the ferry, the only way into Cape Tribulation, and entered another world. It is lush and green the rainforest presses in on all sides,jungle like. Vines twine, creepers crawl into every gap, the Lawyer Vine, also know as “wait-a-while” reaches its tendrils out to grab onto you. The area is all World Heritage listed and the National Parks have partly tamed the jungle with board walks to allow the tourists in their thousands to experience this unique part of Australia without damage to the habitat or the tourists. The deadly stinging tree is kept well back from the tracks and though lots of warnings about the cassowary I think any self-respecting bird would keep well hidden in the depth of the jungle.

The excellent Discovery Centre is visited first to learn about this unique and ancient environment. Information stations explain what you are looking at as you wander around the board walks and climb the 23 metre tall tower that takes you up to the canopy level with 4 way stations and an excellent interpretive centre with videos and displays about the environment and flora and fauna of the area.It took 2 hours to walk around and as they give you a pass to come back as often as you want we did go back for a second look as there is too much to absorb in one visit.
We had only planned a one night stay but with so much to discover we extended to 3 nights. The Lync Haven tourist park we stayed in even had its own piece of jungle wilderness. We went to explore it and an hour later found our way out. This was true untouched jungle, no board walks here and the rainforest was encroaching in leaving just a narrow track. It felt wild and untamed.
Cape Tribulation is an area that appears to have the right mix between keeping the environment pristine and yet keeping it approachable for tourists.
As we travel around we get to see how many and diverse areas this country has.

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Categories: australian travel, Camping grounds, National Parks | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Mountain View Lake camp ground

Rose , originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

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We discovered this delightful camp ground 50km north of Ayr and then 1km along a dirt track off the Bruce Highway. It was picturesque, quiet and spacious, just the sort that we like and best of all we had Rose and Tony wander over to say hello when we had settled in. We discovered we had lots in common and then Rose told us she had been a professional singer in clubs and other venues in the 80’s and 90’s. What a lovely happy hour we had when Rose brought over her guitar. This is the heart and soul of travel when you meet people and briefly share special times with them, times that become treasured memories. Thanks Rose and Tony for a great evening.
Decided to stay another day as there was a good walking track through the bush, across a cattle station and into the edges of Bowling Green Bay National Park. Fred, the manager, told us it was a one hour walk to black rock and Palm creek. It took us 2 hours as we dawdled along taking lots of photos and enjoying the scenery. The weather was perfect for walking and when we got to Palm Creek it was time to sit and have lunch and Jack couldn’t resist stripping off and having his first dip of this trip.
When we got back to camp Rose and Tony had moved on and Jack put the new hammock up and christened it. I think it is going to get a lot of use…
Categories: australian travel, caravan park, National Parks, slide show, travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Morpeth

Morpeth , originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

After leaving Maitland first stop was to look around Morpeth. A friend had told us it was a must see, a very quaint and historic little village 5 kms along the road back towards the Pacific Highway. We loved it. Lots of interesting novelty gift shops full of art and memorabilia, cafes, boutiques, galleries of local artists fantastic and very expensive work but lovely to look at. We spent all morning looking around taking lots of photos and then had lunch before moving on with our spirits revived by the atmosphere and uniqueness of this little village.

Looking at the map we saw a small place just off the Highway. Karuah is another small village and best of all it has a great caravan park, Karuah Jetty Tourist Park, a Big 4 park and it is on an inlet and QUIET with a pool and 5 minute walk to the local RSL.

So we are back on track again and yesterday when we were at Morpeth it was the anniversary of leaving home. We have been on the road for one year, and today is our joint birthday…

Categories: australian travel, caravan park | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Camping experiences…

Sussex Inlet, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Moving on from Canberra home is now getting very close and like the horse turning for the stable we are starting to speed up and this week have had a variety of camping experiences.

First was a delightful hidden gem off the main road that a passing traveller told us to visit. He said the Bowls club does fantastic meals. What more incentive do we need….It seems it is not so hidden as it is only a short drive from Sydney and a favourite with fishing folk. We managed to squeeze into the second van park we called in and it was a beauty, clean, large showers, pool, and only 5 minute walk to the above mentioned Bowls club. Yes the meals were fantastic, in fact they were such large servings that we only ordered one veg and tofu stir fry and shared it. It was delicious…

Next along the way we found a Forest Park, Killalea was overlooking Shoalhaven. This will be peaceful we thought, but needed the GPS to find our way through the myriad of new sub divisions opening up. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was it is now Saturday. Yes you guessed it, the other half of Sydney had found their way here too. That is a slight exaggeration, but luckily,there was a couple of small sites left. This is  a different camp to any other we have been in as it was filled with family groups, and they had tents the size of small houses. If not a family it was groups of surfing  types as this is a top surf area on this coast. We were the only grey nomad in camp. As evening came the fires were lit in the fire places provided and the blokes stood around with beers in hand watching the steaks cook and the smell of wood smoke and burning steaks wafted around in the evening air. All the “ankle biters” were bonding together running around getting their fill of the great Australian outdoors.We enjoyed our “happy hour” watching all the activity. We had been for an hours walk through the rainforest area to the river mouth and then on to the beach. It included  a steep climb so we were ready for our relaxing time and we slept very well once all the kids had been rounded up and put to bed…

Then came a stay in the Nan Tien Buddhist temple. An imposing place, it is the largest in Australia and is beautiful. The architecture is pure asian and walking around the gardens and the lotus pond was a very relaxing experience. We really treated our selves here as they have hotel style accommodation and the dining room serves delicious vegetarian buffet meals. It was the calm before the storm as now we faced the daunting task of driving into Sydney. Just the thought of it had me tensing up and I could feel the stress levels raising. Jack did a good job of navigating and at 3pm we pulled off into a suburb called Sutherland. Not a good time as the train had just pulled in and hundreds of school kids came pouring out and of course hundreds of parents in cars where there to pick them up. What confusion for us, we didn’t know where to go, so just kept going ahead till we spotted a parking place. Phew!!! Not tourist friendly in this city, no tourist info places, the nearest we were told was the top of the Bulli Pass… So we went to the library. She sent us to a camp ground just out side town, only problem it was for permanent people only. They said the only one in the area was 30km back south at Heathcote. It was now 5pm, rush hour. I rang and yes they had one spot left. After a couple of wrong turns and getting into the side streets we eventually found it. Oh dear it was on a narrow strip of land with the main Princes Highway on one side and the main train line to Sydney on the other. Thank goodness we had that night in the temple.

With ear plugs in we actually had a reasonable nights sleep and on reflection decided it was in a good position as the train station was just at the end of the camp ground and a row of small shops across the road had some good little restaurants and take aways.The facilities were clean and the permanent people were friendly. So we decided to stay for 3 days and visit the relatives.

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Categories: australian travel, camping australia, Camping grounds, National Parks | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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