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A selection of photos from our Darwin to Adelaide roadtrip Continue reading
April was a busy month for us, starting with a family reunion weekend at Litchfield National Park to celebrate Brian’s 70th birthday.
Before we left we went to Nightcliff Dragons Under 9’s first Rugby League game of the season.
Continuing the reunion theme, we got together for our traditional family and friends’ dinner at the Nightcliff foreshore.
Our 34th wedding anniversary on 9 April saw us having lunch at Chow on the Darwin Waterfront. Delicious South-East Asian food and my first taste of green pawpaw salad – yum!
Pine Creek Digger’s Rest was our base for the Easter weekend.
Pine Creek Lookout, Watergardens and Railway
Moline Rockhole, Kakadu Ranger Station, Bukbukluk Lookout, wildflowers, Miners Park
Umbrewarra Gorge, Copperfield Dam, kite, boot tree, sunset
Home via Burrell Creek. Robin Falls, Adelaide River War Cemetery, Manton Dam wall
Our magnificent sunsets always enhance family dinner on the foreshore.
It was lovely to be back with family, even if it was just for the weekend.
We had a domestic day on the Saturday, going to Chattswood shopping and unsuccessfully trying to get my iPad problem sorted. By this stage the battery was so swollen I was advised not to use it all because it was in danger of exploding and killing us with the lethal gas it would emit. This is one of the reasons my blog is so far behind.
Sunday the weather was unpredictable and windy. We ended up going to Manly Dam in the afternoon where we were treated to a black swan courtship performance.
After the very informative and enjoyable tour of St Mary’s Church and visiting the information centre nextdoor, we started our journey to Eden – as in the town, not the ‘Garden of …’.
This was one of the most enjoyable day’s drive. The misty mountain roads made driving enchanting without being too dangerous and the walk in the Drummer Rainforest after lunch was just magical.
I love Eden. We stayed there once before. Again, the only accommodation the information centre could find us was a motel. No kitchen facilities meant we had to eat out. First we checked out the views from a couple of lookouts before having dinner at a lovely Chinese restaurant, the Golden Ocean, where the food and service were excellent. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and nothing was too much to ask. It even said on the menu that if there was something you wanted that wasn’t on there, they’d do their best to make it for you.
Before we left Eden. We drove down to the very popular Aslinn Beach, the beachfront of the local tourist park.
On our second day at Batemans Bay we finally had the big breakfast we’d been carrying with us since Broken Hill! We walked that off at Eurobodella Botanic Gardens on our way to Mogo, a picturesque little town we’d been to quite a few times, the main attraction for us being the cheese tasting, although many go for the fudge, ice cream and pies. Overall it’s a very tasty place.
We went back to the cabin for lunch, then drove across the bridge to Nelligen, another historic little township.
We started the last day of our Adelaide to Sydney roadtrip around 9.00 am, stopped for lunch and a visit to the craft shop at Berry, then at Bald Hill Lookout, before arriving at our destination around 4.15 pm.
Before leaving Broken Hill we did a quick tour of the Pro Hart Gallery which was fascinating and we wished we had more time to spend there but we had to press on. We were going to lose half an hour when we crossed into Victoria later that day.
We stopped by the river in Pooncarie for lunch.
Then it was on to Mildura where we appreciated the airconditioning of the Information Centre while they found us accommodation – it was 44ºC outside. The only cabin was a fair bit out of town, expensive and we had to make the bed ourselves. Not impressed!
It was too hot for us to even go for our walk so we just drove back into town, had a drive down by the river, then shopped for dinner before heading back to the airconditioning.
We drove to Swan Hill on the Murray River and ate lunch there before heading to Echuca where the only available accommodation was even more expensive but it was a beautiful fully equipped apartment with a spa and laundry.
We had a look at the waterfront area where we were going to go on a river cruise the next morning and did the usual drive around town before shopping for dinner then heading home.
The lamb chops with baked potatoes and green beans went down a treat.
After dinner I decided to take advantage of having a laundry and did a load of washing, but when I went to get the clothes out of the dryer before going to bed I realised that the dryer had just been turning but not drying! I rang the host first thing the next morning and she offered me the use of the dryer nextdoor as there was nobody staying there that day. Needless to say, I took her up on that offer but it put our departure back by about an hour. We would have missed the river cruise but, as it turned out, the cruise wasn’t running that day and in any case it was raining so we just got back on the road.
Our first stop was Glenrowan, the site of Ned Kelly’s last stand.
Myrtleford was our lunch stop when there was a break in the drizzling rain.
Then we headed to Bairnsdale via the Great Alpine Way, a long twisting climb through the mountains and some astounding scenery.
When we checked in at the tourist park in Bairnsdale, I thought Brian had found religion because he asked if the local Catholic church was open. Then he reminded me that it was no ordinary church and we had visited it with our girls and my mother years earlier.
We visited St Mary’s the next morning. Its reason for fame is its frescoes painted by an Italian artist with a sense of humour, for example he painted some cherubs with their heads on back to front and modelled some of his subjects on locals.
Yorke Peninsula was our first destination. The landscape on the way was vast, beige and pretty barren, with only stubble left where the crops had already been harvested.
However Coobowie, where we spent our first night, is a bird haven especially popular with pelicans and quite pretty.
At Innes National Park we walked to the lighthouse at Stenhouse Bay and around Inneston Historic Township.
That night we stayed in Wallaroo at a lovely heritage-style motel, the Sonbern Lodge, opposite the old train station.
Next day we stopped to eat lunch by the river at Jamestown.
Later we got to Broken Hill, checked into a tourist park, then did enough shopping for three days before having a drive around town. It was too hot to do anything outside, with the temperature around 40 degrees and forecast to get even hotter. Back at the cabin, trying to deal with a black ant invasion, we got a text message informing us the power company was cutting off supply from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm the next day. Not good.
True to their word, the power went off at 8.08 am before we had time to cook the big breakfast we’d bought the ingredients for. Brian had to put them and the rest of the food that had to be kept refrigerated into the car fridge and take them all with us for the day.
First we went to Silverton, another historic town, and had a look around the remaining buildings, the John Dynon Gallery and the Mad Max Museum before having a refreshing beer at the Silverton Hotel.
The power was still out when we got back to Broken Hill so we went to see the Broken Hill Sculptures and the Miners Memorial lookout.
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.
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!
St George – Gunnedah
10.25 Left St George
11.15 Drove through Thalon.
11.40 Fuelled up at Mungindi border town on the Barwon River: 59 L @ $1.319 per litre – $77.82
11.55 Crossed the QLD / NSW border into New England.
12.40 Passed through Garah; 13.00 Ashley; to Moree where we stopped and ate lunch. at 13.10. The weather was cold although the sun was shining.
13.40 Left Moree and drove on through Gurley at 14.05.
14.59 Narrabri and the Kalmilaroi Highway where we took the Kaputar Road turnoff.
15.15 Reached the base of Mt Kaputar and engaged four-wheel drive for the 20 km dirt and bitumen track to the summit. We were greeted at the top by a large grey kangaroo which was still there when we returned from climbing the stairs to the lookout – nice view but a bit dull at that time of the afternoon. The rest of his family came to check us out. A female with a joey in her pouch and a juvenile in tow came right up to the vehicle. Cyclists were using the track for racing and we passed a few on the way back down.
16.40 Got to the base and disengaged the four-wheel drive.
18.00 Arrived at Gunnedah and checked into a cabin at the Top Tourist Park – $89 – too cold to camp.
Had a choice of three major supermarkets to shop for dinner: Aldi, Coles and Woolies, where we got some pork with native spices and had that with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans for dinner.
The cabin we stayed in was clean, warm and spacious and adequately equipped for our needs.
We started catching glimpses of wildflowers after we left Blackall yesterday: small patches of purple clumps, paler smaller purples forming roadside carpets in places, yellow sprays, thicker yellow bunches and prickly pear – not an infestation, just individual stands – and bottle-shaped trees like the boab trees in Western Australia.
Today, as well as the purples, yellows and prickly pear, we saw yellow daisies, wild cotton and canola that had escaped from the fields, sunflowers around Moree, a little white flower and lots of yellow wattle.
Today we went in search of the Orange Train which Brian had read was a local train servicing rural and coastal towns and doubling as a little-known tourist attraction. Very little-known from our experience. We almost turned back at one stage because although people understood we were looking for the orange train, they couldn’t tell us how to get there. But we persevered and with the help of our ‘Japanese for Tourists’ booklet, which we used for the first time, a very patient ticket inspector at Kawashiri Station was able to tell us which station to get off at – Yatsushiro, another eight stations further – and a couple of young girls there were able to direct us to the right platform. The experience and scenery were worth the effort but tinted perspex windows meant photography was impossible, so very frustrating.