Darwin to Adelaide Roadtrip – December 2017

Left Darwin around 11.45 am, off on our first roadtrip with our 9-year-old grandson Joshua.

The last time we did this trip was in 1994 with his mother Tara and her sister Aisling, then aged 7 and 10-and-a-half respectively, and my mother Phyllis, who was visiting from Ireland. We were on our way to Tasmania for Christmas.

After fuelling up we stopped at Tara’s workplace to say our goodbyes. It wasn’t long before we were on the open road and passing a herd of Brahman being loaded onto a roadtrain at Coomalie Creek cattleyards.

Our first pitstop was Adelaide River where we ate a hurried lunch of chicken rolls. Besides the heat and the flies, it’s hard to relax when roadtrains you know you’re going to get stuck behind are constantly rolling past.

It was 1.40 pm before the radio reception ran out. Yay! Time for Bob Seger, always the first CD on our roadtrips. Radio reception has improved – we used to be halfway through the CD by Adelaide River.

Not long after passing the Pine Creek turnoff we spotted a goods-train travelling alongside us. This was a first for us. We haven’t even seen the Ghan yet and I think that’s been running north of Alice Springs for over twenty years.

We got to Katherine at 2.55 pm and fuelled up at the first petrol station over the bridge, United. It wasn’t there last time we went through and that really threw us out – it was being rebuilt! 

Then it was on to Mataranka Homestead for our first overnight stop.

We really appreciated the airconditioning having been turned on before our arrival and the jug of cold water and chilled glasses in the fridge, but it didn’t take long before we were soaking in the thermal springs.

Preparing dinner proved to be a bit tricky between having to wash the cutlery and use our own bowl in the microwave, which doesn’t seem like much but when you’ve paid $124.50 you expect a bit better.

Watching TV was another challenge without a remote control. I tried looking for it in one of the drawers:

These cabins have seen better days!

Should have been time to get a good night’s sleep, but the insects that had managed to get inside had other ideas, they even got under the topsheet! But while we tossed and turned and fought off insects, Joshua slept like a log. He said it was because he had to sleep in complete darkness instead of having a night light. 


Mary River Weekend

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Just had a three-night stay at Mary River Wilderness Retreat courtesy of daughter’s Christmas present. She and grandson joined us for the Friday and Saturday nights but then had to return home for work and school, leaving us to our own devices for the Sunday night.

The Retreat is about 120 km from our house in Darwin. It took us an hour and thirty-five minutes to get there, a bit longer than normal due to a huge thunderstorm that reduced visibility and speed to a minimum.

Activities were severely curtailed because of the weather and the presence of crocs. It’s the Wet Season, so all of the walks and points of interest were inaccessible because: they were under water; the resident saltwater crocodile was on the move; and, a decent-sized freshwater croc had been spotted close by. We still managed to enjoy ourselves though.

At night we played board games and watched movies on a DVD player hooked up to a TV screen we brought with us – there was no TV in the room – and on the last night the clouds cleared for long enough to allow us to sit on the verandah under the stars and even make a wish on a shooting one.

In the daytime we went for a 100 km-plus drive around nearby locations, all of which were inaccessible due to flooding. The pool was a welcome relief from the heat when there was a break in the storms and no lightening. Otherwise we just walked around the grounds and enjoyed the wildlife.

While we self-catered on Friday, we dined at the Gecko Restaurant on the other two nights. The food was delicious, reasonably priced and beautifully presented, the service was excellent, the staff  friendly and informative and we appreciated the complimentary glass of wine with each main meal. The menu included vegetarian options and the children’s menu included dessert.

Alternatively, there was a camp kitchen equipped with microwave, toaster, jug, cooking rings, bbq, washing-up gear including a sink with a plug, but no utensils, crockery, cutlery or pans.
We enjoyed seeing the wallabies, kangaroos and kingfishers. The massive thunderstorm we drove through on the way down was an experience! We loved the variety of birds we saw at Fogg Dam on the way home. All in all it was a great weekend!

About this site


My daughter set up this site so I could write about the road trips my husband and I were going to do in our retirement. For one reason or another we haven’t done a lot of trips so I haven’t written anything for more than a year.

Rather than let the site go to waste, I’m going to use it to post photos of birds in my garden, the Darwin foreshore and surrounds; the orchids and other things I grow or grow by themselves; and anything else I think people might be interested in.

I also hope to use this site to help me get into the habit of writing, although I have no idea what I’ll write about yet.

About me

I’m Joyce, retired, in my sixties, born in Ireland, lived in England for five years before coming to Australia, married with two daughters and two grandchildren.







Darwin to Sydney Roadtrip – Day 2

Larrimah to Tennant Creek

Didn’t get much sleep between the flock of guinea fowl roosting in a nearby tree and the roadtrains – just as I’d be drifting off, one would roar past and when I did finally get to sleep one made me think a plane was landing on the tent and woke me up with a fright.

I made breakfast in the camp kitchen and checked out the aviaries of native birds while I was there. The squirrel gliders,so active last night, were asleep in their cage.

9.15 We left Larrimah.
10.15 Passed the Daly Waters turnoff (T/O).
10.20 Daly Waters Hi Way Inn, Borroloola and Carpentaria Highway T/O
10.40 Went through Top Springs and the Buchanan Highway T/O.
10.45 Checked out Dunmarra – diesel $1.73 a litre; neat, shady campsites.
11.40 Stopped at Elliott for lunch – 2 hotdogs with the lot @ $8.50 – and fuel: 20 L @ $1.70 – $38.56.
12.25 Left Elliott and 2 minutes later passed the Barkly Stock Route T/O and a sign ‘NO FUEL 500 km’.
13.15 Passed Renner Springs: 17 m pool, cabins and a caravan park.
13.50 Banka Banka Station also has a park and a WWII site.
14.10 Attack Creek is a rest stop with toilets, water and a barbecue.
14.34 The John Flynn Memorial; Threeways Roadhouse and Barkly Homestead T/O
14.40 We turned off for Kunjarra or the Pebbles, did the short walk and saw a flock of zebra finches. Not as impressive as the Devil’s Marbles but not so many flies either!
Kunjarra - The Pebbles
15.10 Left there and drove to the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station, just across the highway, a beautiful historic site.
15.55 Got to Tennant Creek, went to Foodstore, then fuelled up at United: 65 L @ $1.51 less 6 cents a litre AANT discount – $98.48; Odometer reading: 59983 km – 1021 km from start.
16.30 Checked into the Outback Caravan Park $30; big camp kitchen with microwave, toaster, jug, 2-ring cooker, barbecue and 2 fridge freezers; 2 showers and 3 toilets male and female, clean with hot water.
Set up camp then cooked dinner in the camp kitchen – burritos, using the new frying pan – worked beautifully. Enjoyed sitting out under the Southern Cross afterwards recalling what we’d seen on the road today:
roadtrains that let you know when it’s safe to pass by flashing their right indicator; wedge-tailed eagles we disturbed eating carrion on the side of the road; walkers pushing carts but we couldn’t see what for.
The wind got up during the night and it felt as if we were going to get blown off the back of the ute.

The cellar, Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

Kanazawa – Shirakawa-go – Takyama

Japanese tunnels are magical, you can go in one end in Spring and come out the other in Winter!



The above photo should be at the start but I don’t know how to  move it. 

Not the recommended method of sightseeing though, spending 90% of the trip in tunnels.



Today I perfected the art of tunnel-gap photography: In dark tunnel, turn camera on, wait for light at end of tunnel, view-finder to eye, point and shoot as soon as it’s light, hope for the best – you can edit or delete later, enter next tunnel.



A Day in Kanazawa

Woke up to a beautiful sunny day. Still cool to start but warmed to a two-layer day at one stage!

Got the bus to Kanazawa Gardens – scenic beauty overload: cherry blossoms, snow-capped mountains, Japanese garden.

Saw a few bridal couples in traditional attire – beautiful and fitting for our wedding anniversary.







Kyoto – Kanazawa

Got the Thunderbird 29 train from Kyoto to Kanazawa after hobbling to see the nearest temple to Kyoto Station. My feet gave up around the halfway mark of this trip and the only thing keeping me going is medication – Brufren and Panadine, so I’ll probably end up with a stomach ulcer by the end of it. But the Hotel Kanazawa, just outside the station, is the most luxurious we’ve stayed in so far. Each of the twin beds is as big as some of the double beds we’ve had up till now.



Okayama – Kyoto

Lucky I took Aisling’s advice and uploaded photos to Facebook while we were in Okayama, because they very next day the card in my camera failed. Fortunately I brought a spare.

From Okayama we took the Hikari train to Kyoto and because our hotel was too far from the station to walk, got our first taxi in Japan. We’d avoided them up to now because we’d been warned that they were very expensive but it only cost about the same as Darwin and it was very clean with linen and lace covers and trimmings on the seats.

That was one of the few things I liked about Kyoto. It didn’t help that it was wet and cold; the only room available in our expensive hotel was Smoking and stank; the location was in the city but not close to anything; it was the most crowded place we’ve been to here with the most rude people we’ve met so far; and, to top it off I got hit by a bicycle – shared footpaths here. So glad we only booked one night there!

Room with a view!   


Despite all that we enjoyed our visit to the Imperial Palace.






Can’t share those photos today because my iPad’s full. Need to find a PC to do some downloading.

It’s been a mixed day. Weatherwise it started fine but then the rain came in and lasted all day. But then if we didn’t have rain we wouldn’t have cherry blossom and flowers so we have to take the good with the bad.

In terms of the hotel and Booking.com, it’s an ongoing saga. I will now try to demonstrate the difference between what you think you’re getting and the reality.







  Carpet at lift exit on our floor – positively dangerous