We are travelling around Australia this year and are incredibly lucky to have friends staying in our home and looking after the cats while we are away.

Hope you enjoy our journal and feel free to send a line or two.

21st of May

After lots of packing both caravan and house for our friends we left Melbourne and drove to Murrumbatem to spend a relaxing week with friends.

26th of May

While there I did a couple of paintings of the surrounding landscape and Ivan planted as many trees as he could.

28th of May we bid farewell to our friends and headed for Sydney to stay with family.

29th of May – 1st of June

Another glorious day, perfect for planting the mandarin tree and a hair-cut.

At dusk we went to Kyle Bay for a toe-dip.

We had lunch together at Carss Cafe & Grill which was a delightful way to spend the first day of winter.

2nd of June – 5th of June

After spending a relaxing few days with the family in Sydney it was time to pack up again and drive over the Blue Mountains.

Travelling along the Mitchell Highway just outside Wellington and near the Wellington Caves there is this extraordinary, wonderful 15 metre sculpture Wellington Gateway Project, that looms out of the ground. It took the artist Frances Freguson (1962-2003) and others involved in the Landmark Project (1993-1995) two years to complete. I was totally blown away by it. The drive ended in Dubbo our home for a couple of days.

We ventured further a field today and drove out to Taronga Western Plains Zoo. There we walked the 6km trail looking and learning about the animals that live there. The Meerkats being my favourites and Ivan the Cheetahs.

After our morning at the Zoo we drove to Dundullimal Homestead. It is a 1840s pioneer homestead that was built on the traditional lands of the people of the Wiradjuri Nation. Dundullimal is a Wiradjuri word meaning “thunderstorm” or “hailstorm”. I found it a particularly beautiful place to visit which is now owned by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

6th of June

An early frosty morning greeted us as we headed down the Newell Highway passing many small towns and flat dry country. As the day got warmer we turned onto the Castlereagh Highway to Lightning Ridge where we would spend the long weekend.

That night it was 4.6 degrees and felt like 1.3 degrees especially in our Pop-up caravan. Lots of bedding that tonight.

7th of June – 11th of June

Saturday brought blue skies and a warm day with bougainvilleas of all colours in bloom. Today was my birthday and we celebrated it with a pair of opal earrings and a fine dinner at Bruno’s.

Sunday found us at the local market then exploring some the local attractions around town. Namely the Bottle House and Collectables, Kangaroo Hill where you can see out into the vastness of the scrub.
Then to A Quiet Man’s Place – Gallery. The gallery shows the artwork of local artist John Weeronga Bartoo. He no longer practices his artwork but the gallery is run by his wife for all us to see. The scarf you see in the photo below is one of his designs.

Monday was a glorious sunny day too. We followed the map above out the this opal mining communities in the scrub The Grawin, Glengarry and The Sheepyards. One can’t but admire the tenacity of these people that life out here all year round. As you can see the The Grawin Club is full of character and is a true Club so we signed in as you do for all Clubs. The meal was great and served by friendly people. One of my lasting memories of this place and Lightning Ridge is how friendly and easy going everyone, nothing is ant trouble.

Happy Hour that night put on by the owners at Lightning Ridge Holiday Park, was a great and super way to catch up with others and hear their recommendations and share travel tales. We then went to the Artesian Bore Baths for a hot dip before bed.

12th of June – 17th June

Packed and ready by 10.00am we headed for St George. The country has been so dry between Lightning Ridge and Roma as is much of what we have already seen since crossing the Blue Mountains. And the road-kill is horrifying!    Our stay  in Roma was delightfully with warm weather and cool nights. While there we set out to explore Roma’s sights first stopping at Roma’s Largest Bottle-tree which towered over Ivan. Possibly originating from the 19th century. It was relocated from a property to its present place 1927. With a girth of 9.5m a height of 6m and a crown of 20m it certainly is an impressive tree.

17th of June -19th of June  

Some of the country we saw while traveling along the Landsborough Highway to Blackall.

We have been in Blackall Caravan Park for the last three nights. It comes up out of nowhere this green oasis only because of the Great Artesian Basin that the town drills into for its regular water supply. On Sunday we went out to Blackall Woolscour which is now heritage-listed. It was built 1908 and operating until 1978. It was left derelict and twenty years later was restored to what it is now the last remaining steam driven wool washing plant which is open to the public for guided tours.

20th to 26th June LARA HOMESTEAD WETLANDS

We spent over week at Lara Wetlands Bush Camping Grounds. The property is a 15,000 acre station-stay 28 kms south of Barcaldine and 78 kms north of Blackall in Queensland. It was an idyllic bush camp-spot for relaxing, painting, walking, bathing in the artesian spa pool. The artesian bore supplies water to the station, camp-grounds as well as suppling water to the wetlands for the birdlife. It is so obvious how vitally important The Great Artesian Basin is to so many communities and towns in the bush and Australia and its future, that it is criminal to even think of tempering with it.

The video shows…hundreds of budgerigars and cockatiels that flew together while a family of noisy plovers cared for their chicks below.

The Homestead Tour of the 1912 six bedroom is a great insight into the history of this beautiful property and its tragic story.   Campfires and night skies were a very special part of this stay. It was also the perfect place to reflect and mark mum’s first anniversary.

28th of June – 29th of June

After driving 1,843.6kms fwe had arrived at Barcaldine the ‘Garden City of the West’ or perhaps better known for the Great Shearers Strike in 1891 and the ghost gum they met under, which is now known as the Tree of Knowledge. It was here that many of the shearers leaders were arrested but their efforts laid the foundation of the Australian labor Party.

Some of the highlights from our drive to Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail. All the sculptures have been created by local artist Milynda Rogers. There are approximately 35 metal sculptures along the 200kms of country roads.

1st and 2nd of July in Longreach

Spent the first morning learning about the history of QANTAS that was established in in Longreach in 1920 then the next day at the Australian Stockman’s hall of Fame, both fascinating and well presented.

3rd of July

 

Caravan convoy heading North to Winton.

Not far from Winton is the Australian Age of Dinosaurs where we went on a fascinating tour of the Dinosaur Research Laboratory. After which we drove into Winton to find last caravan spot as there was a film festival on that week and the start of school holidays.

4th of July

We left Winton for Cloncurry in the morning. Stopping for lunch at the Blue Heeler Hotel and there was a very friendly blue-heeler there but I didn’t get her name.

After lunch we drove through the vast plateaus past mountain outcrops and over water-channels to the mining town of Cloncurry. It was 8km from there that our car over heated and a mechanic could not be found as they were all booked out for two weeks. TOYATA rules the outback and it easy to get parts when needed and mechanic too…not many Volvos out here. We were advised we could drive to Mt Isa being only an hour and half away but we didn’t find this out until Monday.

That weekend we checked out some of the local places and I did some more paintings.

8th of July

Driving out of Cloncurry bound for Mt Isa to have the thermostat replaced. When arriving there we found out the replacement would have to come from Townsville…thank goodness for RACV GOLD cover. The part arrived late Thursday which gave us time to explore Mt Isa and paint some more.

12th of July

After our spell in Mt Isa we continued the trip heading in a Northerly West direction to Camooweal for a much needed petrol stop along with many others.

It was while crossing the Barkly Table Lands of the Northern Territory we ran into trouble as the wind caught our awning and partly tore it. While in camp at Barkly Homestead, Roadhouse we made temporary repairs.

14th of July

 

After leaving Barkly Homestead we drove until we met the Stuart Highway at Three-ways and turned North for a night at Elloitt, Midland Caravan Park. Where ever we go Ivan finds a following…

15th of July

After lunch at Mataranka Pub, fresh supplies and petrol we drove out to Elsy National Park for a few days. While there we visited Mataranka Thermal Pool for a dip. Even though this is the height of the tourist season we didn’t feel crowded. The thing that is overwhelming at this time of the year are the huge controlled grass fires that are in full swing. As a local said “it is either raining or burning out here.”

19th to 21st of July

After leaving smokey Elsy National Park we had a beautiful morning at Biiter Springs, Mataranka swimming in warm spring. From there we travelled another 140kms to hot Katherine. We bought our pass and a tour for Kakadu as we were spending a week there. While in Katherine we had been staying at Manbulloo Homestead catching up on washing and restocking for Kakadu.

Biiter Springs, another thermal spring at Mataranka.

21st – 29th JULY

We left Katherine for a week stay at Kakadu Lodge in Jabiru. This was our base from which to explore Kakadu and Arnhem Land. While there we booked another guided tour and a scenic flight over Kakadu and parts of Arnhem Land.

 

Kakadu covers an area of 20,000 square kilometres and is divided into seven regions and we only saw a fraction of it. One day we hope to go back. The map above shows Kakadu National Park and the vastness of Arnhem Land.

 

 

 

This was a fabulous day with only a glimpse into the Arnhem Land Culture and Heritage.

 

Self tour to Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Aboriginal rock art site.

 

 

 

Sunset flight over Kakadu and Northern Arnhem Land.

Self tour of Ubirr.

Then in the afternoon a fabulous boat cruise with a local guide.

29th of JULY – 5th of AUGUST

Finds us in hot Darwin taking in more sights and chilling out.

Tuesday we drove back to Katherine for a couple of days staying at Manbullo Homestead…then we drove to Northern Western Australia.

11th of August

We have been in Kununurra nearly a week.

The distance between major towns is huge out here. Katherine to Kununurra takes seven hours and is 535.3km down the National Highway1. We travelled through the extraordinary country of the Fitzroy Ranges, past Victoria Roadhouse, fuelled up in smokey Timber Creek. Travelling through Gregory National Park. Here stopped and did the Nawulbinbin Walk at Joe Creek Picnic Area. The walk takes you up the steep rocky slopes to the  escarpment where we saw Aboriginal rock art and the surrounding valley. Amazing views in all directions and the cliff faces towering over us. Then over the state border and to hand over honey, fruit and vegetables if we hadn’t already given it to other travellers going East.

Here is a taste of what we saw on that leg.

7th – 14th August  

Since arriving in Kununurra we had a couple of days in camp and yesterday we went out to Wyndham for the day. One the highlights was the Five River Lookout with the panoramic views of the area. We also went to The Grotto just off Northern Highway one of the many creeks that feed the King River.

As the road sign depicts we drove down the Gibb River Road to Emma Gorge just to say we had been on the “Gibb”…silly but again spectacular country especially as it was late afternoon and the escarpments and surrounding slopes were light up in all their glory.

 

Not having a 4WD, the next best thing for us is to take chartered flights to places we couldn’t get to. This was one such flight out to the Purnululu National Park as it is known now or the Bungle Bungles. It was an exceptional time. Next time we will choose to land and stay over night so we can walk amongst the towering ‘beehive’ hills. The origins of the name lie with the Bungle Bungle Station, a pastoral lease established in the 1940s. They have been a major tourist attraction since they were featured in a documentary in early 1980. On the other hand they have been a significant place to the Gija traditional owners for tens of thousands of years and are known as Purnululu.

 

We drove out to Lake Arygle for the day. It is immense it can a surface area of about 1,000 square kilometres and a storage capacity 10.7 billion cubic metres of water when full. It is known as an inland sea that supplies fresh water to the Ord River Irrigation Scheme, pastoralists, towns as well as being home to the largest population of Johnston River Freshwater Crocodiles. We had a wonderful day but forgot our bathers so no swimming in the infinity pool but had a delicious lunch at The Lake Argyle Restaurant/Cafe.

 

14th of August

After a weeks stay at Kununarra we headed for our next camp site.  Turning onto the Great Northern Highway we drove in a westerly direction stopping for lunch and petrol at Warrum Roadhouse, once known as Turkey Creek.

One of our follow travellers over a cuppa there said “If I see another rock…..!” to which his wife said “That’s what we came to see”…

That evening we spent at Bungle Bungle Caravan Park which is on a working cattle station and another way to access by 4WD Purnululu National Park.

15th – 18th August

Next morning we drove to Halls Gap for much needed petrol then onto Fitzroy Crossing for our next camp-site at Fitzroy River Lodge, Caravan Park.

Fitzroy River was a great stay…

Another sunset boat cruise in the Danggu Gorge near Fitzroy Crossing. As with lots of places in the Kimberly and Pilbara they are being returned to their Aboriginal names. Geike Gorge in now know Danggu Gorge the ancestral land of the Bunuba people.

19th – 26th of August

Next town was Derby on the small town located on the edge the King South. It has the highest tides of any Australian port. It was also where we flew from to stay over night at The Horizontal Falls in the Buccaneer Archipelago. Such a wonderful experience.

We really enjoyed our stay here. A place to stop for awhile.

We also visited a great working gallery, Norval Art Gallery run by Kimberley artist and wife team Mark and Mary Norval. This gallery offers local artists a meeting place to create their work, be mentored, exhibit and sell to the public. An inspiring art space to visit.

Derby to me was the turning point of our road trip as we were turning South to travel down the Western Australian coast stopping wherever we choose.

26th of August – 30th of September

Broome was idyllic stay we came for a week and stayed five. Weather was perfect and Cable Beach only a walk away for swims every day. There was heaps to do and we caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen for nearly 40 years which was a blast.

A collage of the what we did…and lots more.

A day in China-town

Dampier Peninsula Bus Tour

It was time to pack up and farewell Broome…

1st – 4th October    OCTOBER is the beginning of the WINDY SEASON in the North.

After leaving Broome we travelled 317km into a 50km wind and just made it to Sandfire Roadhouse for match needed fuel. After leaving here we stayed at 80 Mile Beach another place with huge tidal flows.

Finds us staying at 90 Mile Beach another place with huge tidal flows.

4th – 5th October

We left 90 Mile Beach bound for Karratha. 

6th – 10th October

After our stay in Karratha, Ningaloo and Yardie Homestead was our next camp site. Another 504km…HUGE travelling distances out here. We didn’t stay long here as we were being blown out of our camp-site. It was also in the middle of the school holidays and yes we are tourists but we try to avoid the crowds. We left two days early than planned but one day hope to return again outside school holidays.

10th – 16th October

Carnarvon

The food bowl of Western Australia and also the place where we had to replace our front wheels on the car as well as the two on the caravan. It was a good break. There is heaps to do in Carnarvon. We also caught up for coffee with a friend of Adriana and Peter. Sue is an artist and it was especially nice talking to another artist.

Day outside Carnarvon at the Quobba Blow Holes then a swim in the calmer waters at Quobba Campsite.

16th – 18th October

Gascoyne Junction and Kennedy Rangers We stayed a the Junction one of four the caravans there. Very in the next morning due to the heat of midday sun, we drove out to Kennedy Rangers to walk the Honeycomb Gorge and the Temple Gorge. Both spectacular in rock formation and colour and well worth the visit.

Last day in Carnarvon.

18th – 31st October

Denham and Monkey Mia, Shark Bay

Denham, Ocean Park Aquarium and Eagle Bluff, Shark Bay

31st – 2nd October

Jurien Bay and Lesueur National Park

2nd – 6th October

We visited The Pinnacles on the way to Busselton. While in Busselton we caught up with family friends and their beautiful children. Also had a day at Margaret River. 

6th – 16th October

While in Perth we stayed with friends Ted and Maryanne which was lots of fun. Hanging out on the back verandah catching up. As well as a family lunch and a evening at Midland Junction Arts Centre to see the children from different schools show their outfits in this years Arts Worn out Worn Art Wearable Art Parade and meeting Lesley Parker Artist in ResidenceTo thoroughly enjoy a Remembrance Day Concert in Stirk Park, Kalamuda with singers Normie Rowe and Johnny Young.