Saturday, 23 August 2014

Northern Territory

We have hit the Northern Territory!

We crossed over to NT and felt a little closer to home as we moved our watches forward an hour and a half, only 30min later than Victoria time. We said a fond goodbye to the west and were excited to be making our way back to our travelling friends again. We arrived at Edith Falls set up camp and Lola excitedly asked "When's happy hour???" So happy hour it was, for many hours, being the thinker that I am I prepped dinner early, just in case the sangria filled my veins and I forgot to fill my kids tummies, and it was a good thing too as the sangria was freely flowing for many many happiest hours, we caught up with our dear friends, Deb and Greg.

With a few sore heads the next morning we all took off on a walk to the upper pools, the small waterfall and rock pools were beautiful, after a quick,dip we ventured down and spent the remainder of the day relaxing, reading and swimming in the plunge pool at the bottom of the falls. It was a great start to our time in the NT.

The following morning we slowly made our way up the highway and cracked a beautiful caravan park just out of Litchfield National Park. Big grassy sites, lots of beautiful shady trees, with a definite hint of the tropics, we had a great time staying here using it as our base camp, we travelled into Litchfield and jumped in rock pools, swam in the falls, did a few of the walks, it was beautiful! We spent a day at the Wildlife park, wandering around, checking out the wildlife and enjoying the beauty of the different seasons and climates on display, NT is truly amazing!

Of course we spent many nights in the company of good friends and good wine! Lola must feel the change in the day, glances up from what she is doing and asks, 'is it happy hour yet Mum???' I may have a terror on my hands in years to come! 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Good bye WA

Well we have crossed the four month mark of our trip, spending the majority if our time in the amazing WA. We have had such a wonderful time exploring as much as we could of what WA has to offer. We loved the beautiful forests in the South, the amazing Karijini National Park, the Bungles Bungles, and of course my favourite, the spectacular Coral Bay. Our final hit was through the magnificent Kimberley's, I'm sure there is a little bit of magic in this area as it has the most special feel about. 

We left Broome and made our way to the Gibb River road for Mike to tick an item of his bucket list, and although we didn't go the entire way and only went to Windjana gorge and through to Tunnel Creek, coming out near Fitzroy Crossing, we still managed to do a tyre before even getting to the corrugated road! Windjana Gorge was beautiful, the walk was through stunning gorges, lots of freshwater crocs floating in the creek, Oscar and I watched as the sun set over the gorge, illuminating the rock to a deep red colour, it was stunning. The next day we headed off to Tunnel Creek, grabbed our torches and wandered through the tunnel spotting fresh water crocks and wading through small pools of water. The girls thought it was cool getting wet nearly waist deep in some parts. We then slowly drove one of the roughest roads all the way out to Fitzroy Crossing, I sat in the passenger seat, mindfully chanting my mantra of 'round tyres, round tyres, round tyres' for the entire drive as we had no spares left and no reception if we blew another! Luckily we made it through ok and continued on the highway heading for the nearest tyre repair store and then on to the Bungle Bungles. 

The Bungles were incredible, the walk to cathedral gorge was an beautiful walk, the kids were energised and excited to be out of the car after a very bumpy 2 hour drive in! We wandered around climbed up ledges, watched sunbeams dance around the domes and change the way the the magestic rocks looked. It was a reminder of another area of the Kimberley's that has remained untouched for so long, and the beauty and the impression it leaves with you, I can understand why areas of Australia like this hold such strong connections for our indigenous people. 

We continued on to Kununurra and spent a relaxing few days exploring the town, the kids made friends at the caravan park, we had movie nights down at the river, saw some live music and we swam and swam and swam for most of our stay. After restocking we headed out to Lake Argyle for the final few nights of our time in the West. We spent time swimming in the infinity pool, over looking the amazing lake, we went on walks to amazing lookouts and did a spectacular cruise on the lake, the people running  it were so informative, the kids got to try some bush tucker and we learnt so much about the lake and the ord river scheme.  We watched the super moon rise over the lake, enjoying our final Kimberley sunsets, with mixed emotions wondering when the next time we would be in the special region of Australia.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Beautiful Broome

Wow what a wonderful month it has been, we have spent nearly 3 weeks in Broome, exploring this amazing town and truly feeling like we are blessed for the experience. The first week was spent at Broome Gateway about 30k's out of town. We had a great week with our dear friends the Warrens, many happy hours rolling into shared meals and more drinks around the camp fires. We have enjoyed the company of our travelling surrogate family and were very sad to see them head off across the Gibb River road a few weeks before us. We can't wait to catch up with the Warrens soon! We have met some lovely families on the road and spent a few nights in their company watching the sun set at cable beach. This is really what travelling is all about, like minded people meeting on the road and forging friendships that I'm sure will be maintained for years to come. The kids are enjoying each other's company and watching them all run around with glow sticks as the sun set across cable beach enjoying themselves and being so free and happy is what makes this trip so memorable. 

We spent lazy afternoons picnicking at town beach, cable beach and the water playground, the warm air and sunny blue skies making for long relaxing days. Broome has a feel all to its own. The climate is so warm and inviting ( at least it is in winter) people seem so happy and relaxed that you can definitely identify with the  existence of 'Broome time'. The streets have a laid back atmosphere, the old buildings with their wide verandas and twirling fans lull you along slowly, gently. There is no need to rush in Broome, no matter how busy the supermarkets are! The Asian influence that arrived during the pearling industry's glory days is highlighted throughout the town and makes for such an interesting mix of culture, people and environment. I think I am definitely hooked on this little cosmopolitan town! 

For the last two weeks we moved into cable beach caravan park and made the most of the proximity to the famous beach. We walked along it,  rode our bikes to it, swam in it and watched the sun set over it. We spent the second week, lazing around catching up on school work in the morning and swimming in the afternoon, the pool although cold was so refreshing and when the tides were out on cable beach then the pool was the next best option. I think all my kids are suitably waterlogged with all the swimming they have been doing. Lola is so proud of herself, she can swim confidently all the way across the pool and back and I'm sure it won't take her long to perfect the strokes with all the practise she has been getting! Our last week in Broome is definitely our favourite as aunty Bernie came to town!!!! As we made up the 'guest room' in the camper, the kids excitedly decided who Bernie would share the bed with each night, even dad was lucky enough to get a look in!!!! (Wow so lucky aunty Bernie). They drew her welcome pictures, made space for her belongings and eagerly counted down the days till she arrived. We excitedly picked Bernie up from the airport and made our way to cable beach to catch the last of the sunsetting over the ocean. The girls advised Bernie which shower had the best pressure and were all over the moon to receive gifts from Oma and Opa and the Ellis family. The kids read their letters, securing them specially in their drawers so they could bring them out again to read over later. We have managed to fit as many jam packed events as we could into the next week.

Saturday we were up bright and early to check out the courthouse markets, after a wander around and a few purchases we happily went back to camp and donned out togs for an afternoon of swimming, we spent the evening watching the sun set over cable beach, happily sipping on sangria and enjoying the stunning scenery (code for perving on the hot backpackers playing soccer shirtless!) 

Sunday and Monday were slow relaxing days, we wandered around town, swam at town beach and cable beach and generally slipped into Broome time, enjoying the sun and warm weather. Bernie and I managed to sneak away for a few ciders at Matso's brewery, man it's such a hard life! 

Tuesday we went into town and went to a pearl luggers tour, that described how the pearling industry came to Broome and the impact it had on Broome as a town. We wandered around the art galleries and even got to watch a famous Broome artist as she worked on her canvas, the kids were impressed with her skill and how easy she made it look to create such amazing art works. That was followed up with a camel ride along cable beach, at first Lola was petrified being so high up, but soon relaxed and enjoyed the wander up and down the sands, as I had already done this before, I was happy to watch as Mike took the kids on the ride, laughing as the camel behind Mike took a fancy to his leg and attempted to nibble on his calf for most of the ride.

On Wednesday  we ventured out at 6.00am to see the dinosaur footprints at Gantheume Point, unfortunately the tide was already rising so we only got a quick glimpse before the water covered them. That afternoon was the highlight of the week, Bernie and I snuck away for some serious sister fun, we sailed the ocean on the Intombi, a beautifully restored pearl lugger boat, sipping champagne and watching whales frolicking in the ocean. Life does not get better than that! We had a great day, relaxing, drinking lots and lots of champagne and enjoying the company of some great people on the boat. After a few glorious hours sailing up and down, we watched the sunset over cable beach and reluctantly made our way to shore.  We definitely had our sea legs by then, as we stumbled out of the boat, I'm pretty sure that the copious amounts of champagne consumed did not contribute to our stumbling.....or to Bernie falling asleep leaning against the wall later that evening at the Japanese restaurant as we tried to soak up some of the alcohol with the most amazing dinner!

Thursday we drove out to the Willie Creek Pearl farm and did an amazing tour learning all about the oyster and how it makes the pearls, we got to cruise up and down the creek, keeping our eyes peeled for the resident salties that live in the estuarine waters. Bernie may have purchased a little keep sake for herself in the showroom to remind herself of her amazing week in Broome. (and I'm sure when I wasn't looking Mike picked me up a little surprise too) - that last sentence really needs to be typed in a sarcastic font for you to get the full effect!! The highlight of the day for Mike and the kids was when they got to go up in the helicopter, they had a quick flight around the area, seeing some of the amazing views to Cape Levique and cable beach from the air. Oscar has now added helicopter pilot to his list of future career options as he thought it was pretty spectacular! Scarlett couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear and little Lola thought it was so much fun too! 

Each night we sat down to a few ciders, and some serious sequence competition, apparently my skill level directly relates to how many ciders I have drunk! The more I drink the better I am, I will need to keep that in mind if I return to study, apparently some things never change and just like in my uni days, alcohol still improves my ability to think clearer .... well maybe only for the first half dozen....after that God help me!!!!

Friday came around all to quickly and after a final morning of flying kites and swimming at cable beach, I prised my kids (and myself) out of the good bye hugs from Bernie  and sadly watched her fly away. We had such an amazing week and I am so grateful Bernie was able to share this time with us. 

So where to from here? Mike has itchy feet and is ready to set off again, we are planning to do the start of the gibb river road, diverting out to Fitzroy Crossing to follow the highway along to the bungle bungles and then make our way to Kunnunarra for a fuel stop before heading back onto the Gibb to explore Elquestro. We think we may finally make it out of the stunning WA in a couple of weeks to start the next chapter of this year long expedition in the Northern Territory.