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Trip around Australia in 2003 - Diary Notes

We left Brisbane on 17th June arranging to meet up with Cath & Pete and the grandchildren in Lawn Hill National Park. After a few days in Hervey Bay to visit relatives we stopped at a nice caravan park at Kinka Bay, 9 km south of Yeppoon. The Caravan Park here is across the road from the small beach and is quite a pretty little spot. Our next stop was in Mackay - more relatives. We like to take the opportunity to call in when we get a chance.

Leaving on the 24th we went to Airlie Beach where we stayed for three days. We drove to Abel Point and sailed on the Catamaran “Fantasia” to Whitehaven Beach, Daydream Island, Hamilton Island before heading for home. The next day we went to Shute Harbour and boarded the sailing vessel “Gretel” and sailed around the Whitsundays. Called into a small beach on one of the islands where Kevin went snorkeling and I looked at the coral from a glass bottom boat. It was very pretty. We had lunch on board the sailing ship before heading back in 35knot winds. It was all very exciting and at times we felt we were hanging on by our toes. We had a race back with another sailing ship called “Solo”. This trip I could recommend. We had a lot of fun.

We drove to Townsville on 27th June as we were having trouble with our car overheating while towing. We were driving a Ford Falcon Ghia (1990). We replaced the Thermostat in Mackay but we were still having trouble so went to the Ford Dealer in Townsville. The next day we went to Charters Towers and because we were still having trouble, we had the Radiator flushed and the cap replaced and this fixed our problems. We drove on to Richmond where we stayed the night.

It is now the 30th June and we are off to Cloncurry where we will leave the van at a petrol station before heading into Lawn Hill National Park. Hopefully Cath, Pete and the children will be there already with everything set up for us to camp. When we arrived we erected our tent and settled in for the next three days. It’s a very nice place and well worth a visit. We hired a canoe and paddled up the gorge. Quite cheap. Half of us walked up the gorge and half paddled the canoes and then we changed places on the return. We swam at the Waterfalls and then continued up to the Upper Gorge. This was my first camping experience in a tent – not as bad as I thought it would be!

We left on the 4th July and picked up our van again in Cloncurry, stayed the night and continued on to Camooweal where we met up with Cath & Pete again. On the 6th July we arrived at Three Ways and headed up to Mataranka. We only stayed one day as it was very crowded and to swim in the hot springs we had to go early morning or there were just too many people. Nice place but better to visit when it isn’t school holidays.

Our next stop was Katherine. We drove to the Gorge where there was quite a good Caravan Park. One of the kids was sick, so although we stayed until the 11th July we only took a boat cruise up the gorge. This was very nice and well worthwhile. However we did enjoy the rest as we had been going flat out since we met up.

Drove to Darwin and stayed at Lee Point before setting off to Cooinda in Kakadu National Park. On arriving, we booked on to the Yellow Waters Cruise, which left the following day. We saw quite a few Crocodiles, some quite big and scary. The bird life was tremendous and we all thought this cruise was very good. In the afternoon we went to Nourlangie Rock. We listened to the Ranger give a talk on the area and about the aboriginals and their paintings etc. It was all very interesting. We then went to the Gallery where we saw the paintings and then on to the lookout, which was magnificent.

The next day we went in the 4WD with Cath & Pete to Barramundi Gorge and Waterfall Creek. We paddled on some air beds to Twin Falls past the smaller fresh water crocs which was pretty scary but everyone seemed to be doing it so I guess it was safe. They say that only the saltwater crocs are dangerous. We swam at both places had our lunch and dinner there before heading back. Had a great day. Without the 4WD we would not have seen these places, as they cannot be accessed with a conventional vehicle. I think this is why you hear people say “Kakadont” rather than Kakadu. We really enjoyed our time in the park.

On the 16th July we went back to Darwin, this time staying with friends of Cath & Pete. We were able to put our van in their back yard, which gave us plenty of time to sightsee around Darwin before setting off with our tents to see Leitchfield National Park. We managed to get quite a good campsite at Wongi Falls. Each site was boarded off. There were a lot of people there and not too many sites left. We went for a swim at the falls and used inflatable air beds to paddle to the falls.

The next day we drove to Buley Rockholes and Florence Falls and on to the Lost City, where the children had a great time climbing up all the rocks etc. and calling to us from what was supposed to be big buildings. The road into this was quite horrendous and it was the first time Cath & Pete had to use low range 4WD. Lucky we didn’t try to take our car in there. We then went to Tolmer Falls before heading back to camp.

We then went back to Darwin, calling into Howard Springs for lunch where we saw the big Barramundi. We stayed with friends until the 26th July when we headed off to Douglas Hot Springs. The Springs themselves were great. Really hot in places and not too many people there. Most of the time we had it all to ourselves. This was our first experience with pit toilets. It only cost $1.50 per night per campsite (tent or caravan). We went from there to Butterfly Gorge and had a swim. Absolutely thousands of butterflies as you walked up the track. By the time we got back it was too late to pack up and leave for Edith Falls so stayed an extra night. We left on the 28th had lunch at the falls and went on to Victoria River. Timber Creek would have been a better Caravan Park. Shady trees etc. We will remember that for next time.

Arrived in Kununurra on 29th July. The Caravan Park (Kona) was packed out. We were put on a temporary site and moved the next day to a shady site beside the lake. Cath & Pete had gone off on their own and we were to meet up with them again later. They were wanting to camp at the Bungle Bungles (need a 4WD to get there) whereas we had decided to fly over them in a seaplane, which we were able to do from the Caravan Park.

The site we had at this Caravan Park was very peaceful. We could sit in the late afternoon with a scotch and perhaps a beer and watch the bird life and also the crocs swimming across the lake. There was a beautiful poinciana tree beside our van that we sat under. Another place we visited was the Zebra Rock Gallery where we purchased some of the rock that was quite different to anything we had seen. We flew by seaplane over the Diversion Dam, Lake Argyle and down to the Bungle Bungles. It was a great flight and the scenery was spectacular. It cost $135 for a two hour flight. We also drove out to Hidden Valley, the Melon Farm and the Rocktz Gallery, Kelly’s Knob, which gave a view all over Kunnanurra.

On the 31st July we drove up to Wyndham. It was a worthwhile day. Went to the five rivers lookout that shows all the rivers flowing into the Cambridge Gulf and saw the meatworks, Crocodile Farm. The Grotto, and their famous Boab tree. Purchased a boab nut painted by Aboriginals.

It is now 1st August and we are off to Halls Creek. Arrived at lunchtime, then set off to see the China Wall which was quite remarkable, and then to Caroline Pool. We went to the old township of Halls Creek where there is only a few ruins now standing and although overgrown the street signs are still there.

On the 2nd August we arrived at Fitzroy Crossing. It was a nice Caravan Park. Went to Geikie Gorge on a boat tour with the Ranger for 1 ½ hours. This is a very unusual gorge It is actually a marine reef which still exists off the West Australian coast but extended miles inland as far as Halls Creek, and many years ago was covered with water. There are still stingrays and swordfish living in the gorge and they have adapted to fresh water.

Left for Derby on the 4th August. Went down to Winjarna Gorge on the 5th to meet up again with Cath, Pete and the kids. We all went to Tunnel Creek, where we floated through the tunnel on our air beds and torches. It was one of the better things we have done on this trip. Quite a different experience. Arrived in Broome on the 6th August.

Drove around to Cable Beach. The water was very blue. We have now swum in the Indian Ocean, Arafura Sea and the Pacific Ocean. They have camel rides on the beach here as well as parasailing. We went to Roebuck Bay at 9 o’clock that night to see “ The Stairway to the Moon”. Once a month it is visible at the time of the full moon from Mangrove Point. Looking over the mudflats there appears to be stairs going up to the moon.

We saw Dinosaur Footprints at low tide from Gathume Point. Another good place to visit is their markets which we did the following day and purchased some paintings. Each of the children had a scene painted for them for $5.00 and our bigger ones cost $35.00. The artist was quite happy to paint whatever you asked for. Back to Cable Beach after this for a swim. It is a nice town with a lot of pearling history. It is hard to get into the Caravan Parks here as the southerners book the place out coming north from their winter. We ended up in a park 4km out of town.

We left for eighty mile beach on the 8th August. This is a great place for shells. We went up the beach in the 4WD and collected absolutely heaps of very pretty shells. Kev and Pete did a little fishing but only caught two whiting. Arrived at Port Headland on the 10th August and stayed at Cook Point Caravan Park. We only stayed one day to do some shopping and got a new tyre for the car.

Set off for Wittenoom in the Hammersley ranges arriving at lunchtime on the 12th August. Nice little park with shady trees and grass sites. We were told later that we should not have stayed there because of the Asbestos. We went from there to Joffre Gorge to once again meet up with Pete, Cath & kids. We all then went together to Weano Gorge, Hancock, Knox and Oxer Lookout. These were very beautiful gorges. We walked down to Handrail Pool near Oxer Lookout. Walking through very narrow gaps to get to the main pool and finally climb down a rope. Quite an adventure! We got some good photos but had trouble climbing back up the rope and managed to drop the camera that landed in the pool. Kev went to rescue it and fell in himself. If only we had a video we might have one $10000 from ‘Funniest Home Videos’ by now. That was the end of our camera until we could get it back to a camera shop.

We were booked to go to Tom Price to the mine today but it has rained so heavily we decided not to risk the dirt road, so will head back to Karatha. We stayed overnight there and then drove on to Exmouth.

We met up with Cath, Pete & kids again and went to the Yardie Creek National Park. The Gorge is very nice and there are a lot of places on the way where you can camp off road. There were a few people camped on the beaches. Pete caught a big blue nosed parrot fish off the beach at Neds. We ate it for dinner. Left Exmouth on the 16th August for Carnarvon. Called into Coral Bay on the way down and went out in a glass bottom boat to see the reef and feed the fish (spangled emperor).

Cath & Pete went out to the Blow Hole at Carnarvon that they thought was quite spectacular. We didn’t go because we weren’t too sure of the road. As it turned out it was quite good and would not have been a problem. We did go out there on a later trip. We went to Denham on the 17th August and drove out to have a look at Monkey Mia . We had to buy a pass that covered us for the following day. We set off the next morning bright and early. Stood in very cold water until they were fed at 9.45am. The kids fed some of them and after patting one I managed to get a few photos.

We then went to Eagle Bluff and fished at a small beach near there. We all caught fish – Whiting and Grunter – 30 in all. It was a great day. We left Denham on the 19th August. Our next stop was Kalbarri staying at the Red Bluff Caravan Park.

Kalbarri is a pretty fishing village. There are two quite spectacular gorges inland where Cath and the children climbed to the bottom. Too scary for me. The next day we drove to all the beach gorges. They are really something to see. Next day we went to Cervantes to see the Pinnacles. These are very different fossilized tree roots in the dessert. Amazing to see. From there we drove to Perth staying at the Guilford Caravan Park. We had a look at the city and then on to Freemantle and Cottesloe Beach. It rained the next day so we had a quiet day only going to Gooseberry Hill Lookout for a view over the city. In the afternoon we ventured out to Sandalford Winery. They really looked after us there so we bought a few bottles of wine, glasses and port sippers.

Next stop was Rottnest Island. We left at 9.45am from Freemantle. It was a rough passage and very cold. Our youngest grandchild was terrified and screamed most of the way over. Had a bus trip around the island and also a walking tour. A quiet place with a lot of little coves and sandy beaches. People cycle all over the island. There is quite a bit of history attached to this place so it is worthwhile taking the walking tour.

We left Perth for the first time about 8.30am but when we got near Freemantle we had trouble with the suspension. We had to park the van in a side street and head back to the Caravan park to let Cath & Pete know what was happening. We had to go then and find Ford where they replaced the shock absorbers and valves. We finally got away about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. 20 km outside Margaret River at 7.30pm we got our first flat tyre since leaving Brisbane. We arrived at Prevelly Park at 9pm.

It is now the 29th August and we are off for a drive into town to find the Tourist Bureau. Margaret River is a pretty place but at this time can be very windy and cold. We decided to check out the caves in the area and went first to “Lake” and then “Jewel”. We thought they were better than the Jenolan Caves and a lot cheaper. $7.50 for Jewel and $6.50 for Lake. From there we went to Augusta and saw the Lighthouse and visited a few beaches before heading back to our Caravan.

On the 30th August we went to Boranjup Camp Site to see Cath & Pete. We went to St. Thomas More Church and then on to Gracetown. The timber in the altar at the church was all made from Jarah which is grown locally, and also the seats around the altar were logs cut in half and the base of the tree was used for the legs. After this we set off for Redgate and Leeuwin. We went to the wineries this afternoon, Leeuwin was the best but the Sandalford in Perth was rated number one. We bought a few bottles of wine and glasses with the Leeuwin crest on them.

We drove to Albany and stayed at the Middleton Beach Caravan Park. The weather isn’t the best but the C/Park is very nice. (Big 4) Next day we were off to see the Gap and Natural Bridge, also Emu Point. Albany is a very pretty place. Great in summer I would imagine. We stayed here for three days. Went out on the M.V. Pamela to see the Southern Right Whales and were lucky enough to see a family of about 8. We got really close and were able to take quite a few photos and video. Cath & Pete stayed in an overnight van here as it is very cold. It gave them a chance to use the laundry and get all their clothes dried.

On the 2nd September we went to Hyden and then to Wave Rock. It was very unusual rock formation and above it there was a small wall to divert water into a dam which supplied the town and surrounding areas. Went along to “Hippo’s Jaw“ which was a small cave. The kids had a great time climbing on top and all over it. We bought a bowl made from Jarrah to remind us of the area.

On the 3rd September from Hyden we went to Coolgardie and had a look at the Miners Museum before going on to Koolgardie – Boulder. Once there, we went to another Museum and took the lift to the top platform of a Mining Rig which gave a view of the town. We had a little drama here – Kev stayed to take more video of the town and Cath and I went down in the lift and got out to look at gold nuggets etc. In the meantime Pete decided to take the kids and go back up to Kev. Unfortunately, the lift got stuck between floors. Panic!!!! Cath and I in the meantime couldn’t find anyone. We eventually went in to the people at the desk and explained that we had lost the family, to be informed of what had happened. They were stuck there for about half an hour and of course, Kev was up on the roof, and couldn’t get down because the lift was stuck. He didn’t have a clue what was going on. They eventually got the lift working and they all came down. Our youngest grandchild was very worried and because of their experience we had trouble getting her to go down the mine when we got there. Pete stayed with her and went down later on his own. It was all very interesting. We took Kev and Pete out for Dinner for Fathers Day to a restaurant at the Exchange Hotel (Grizzlers) which was very good. Then we drove down Hay Street which is the Red Light District. Interesting!

5th September we left Norseman for Balladonia the first leg of our journey across the Nullabor. The coastline here is spectacular. We stayed in a Caravan Park but Cath & Pete camped in a rest area. We drove to Eucla and stayed in a park right on the ridge, and the family camped in the sand dunes near the old Telegraph Ruins. We could see the lights twinkling in their camp from the caravan park. We drove on to Ceduna after calling into all the lookouts on the way. This is a really nice drive and the views of the Bight are fantastic. We arrived in Ceduna about 4 o’clock and stayed for two nights. Cath & Pete stayed here also to catch up on their washing before heading off for Coober Pedy. They had to be home in October so we parted company at this point. They intended to head up to Alice Springs for a week then cut across Queensland at Gem Tree on their way home to Brisbane. We were heading the other way.

Kev and I drove to Streaky Bay. It was only 100km from Ceduna. After hooking the van on again we drove to Pt Lebat to see the Sea Lion Colony via the scenic route down the coast. There were about 50 seals. Most of them were sunning themselves but a few went swimming. From there we drove to Murphy’s Haystacks. This is a series of unusual rocks. Arrived in Pt Lincoln on the 10th September after calling into Coffin Bay. There isn’t much there to see so we thought it a little disappointing.

We stayed at the Kirton Park Caravan Park next and it was beautiful. We looked out over the bay. All the sites were terraced and it was up on top of the hill. After unhooking the van we drove to Whaler’s Way. It cost $15 for a permit. We had a great look at the rugged southern coast line with Caves, Blowholes and Crevasses. We had a great day out.

Our next stop was Quorn after stopping at Cowell to look at Jade. The mine was closed. We arranged to go on a tour by 4WD the next day to Wilpena Pound and surrounding areas. Left at 9 o’clock and arrived back at 6.30pm. We traveled 600km to Wilpena Pound then through the Bunjeroo Valley to the Gorge and then on to Brachena Gorge . We came back by the Moralana Scenic Drive then to Kanyaka Ruin and Death Rock, Willochra Ruin and back to Quorn. They supplied morning and afternoon teas plus lunch for a cost of $70 each. We had a very nice day and a good look at the Flinders Ranges. Next morning we drove out to see Warren Gorge, Bucharinga and Middle Gorges before returning to the van and off to Pt Wakefield via Melrose. We stayed the night here and then drove down to Victor Harbour in the morning.

We stayed two nights here and went across to Granite Island the home of the Fairy Penguins. We went on a horse drawn tram and walked all around the island. We saw quite a few penguin burrows. That night we went back to the island to watch the penguins come in. There were dozens of them and we got quite a few photos. It’s amazing how they climb up the cement sea walls and walk across to their burrows in the hill. We also drove one afternoon to Cape Jarvis calling in to all the bays. Very hilly drive but very nice.

Left for the Barossa Valley and arrived at Nuriootpa at lunchtime. We went for a drive through the Wineries and called into one called “Bethany”. Also saw Sculpture Park and lookout before returning to the van. Left next morning for Mildura arriving about 1.30pm and watched the Broncos defeat Canterbury.

On the 20th September we went for a cruise up the Murray in the paddlesteamer “Melbourne”. It is a very muddy river but of course has a lot of history. Next day we were off to Wadonga nearly 600 km. It was a long day.

Left today (22/9) for Mt. Buffalo. It was a lovely drive. Not a lot of snow at the top but quite a few people were skiing and tobogganing. We didn’t take chains, decided to risk being fined. The views from the Chalet were fantastic. We also enjoyed the NatureWalk to the falls and beyond. Had lunch up there before driving to Mt Beauty, a small town at the foot of Falls Creek. It was lovely at Falls Creek. Kev took the chairlift to the top but as I am not too keen on heights so I waited happily in the car.

We went to Bookham on the 24th September and stayed with friends at their farm. We met them when we were on a previous trip to the Greek Islands. We had a lovely two days driving around the mountains in their 4WD looking at the property. We didn’t catch any trout as the best time is in November but we did see some platypus in the river near their house. We left there on the 26th September.

Arrived in Canberra and listened to the Broncos beat St. George in the final. The 27th Sept, our Wedding Anniversary, we took a drive to Black Mountain and climbed Telecom Tower and took photos of the city. Had lunch and went on to the new Parliament House. Listened to the House of Representatives and then into the Senate and also took a tour of the place. We drove to Balconnon and had dinner at Sizzlers. The last of the big spenders!!!

28th September. Took the car into Ford to have the suspension checked again. Went on a tour of Old Parliament house and then to the Science and Technology building. We watched the sheep dog trials being held next door and then walked to the War Memorial and back to Ford . 5 ½ hours walking!

On the 29th September we left for Kiama. Staying at “East’s”, we drove to the Blowholes but it was too calm and there was nothing to see. We had stayed there previously and they were very good. Next stop was Jervis Bay on 30th Sept. It was very nice in the National Park and we had lunch at “Green Patch” before driving to the beaches. We walked through the Botanical Gardens and really enjoyed this, so we had a nice day pottering around.

On the 1st October we went to Forster, which is north of Newcastle and stayed at the Forster Waters Caravan Park. From there we drove to Nambucca Heads staying at the Pacific Sands Caravan Park, which is on the surfing beach. It is a very quiet place at this time of the year, but the White Albatross C/Park would be great if you were interested in fishing. We tried but caught nothing this time.

We left for Byron Bay on the 5th October and stayed at Clark’s Beach. I’m sure there are other nicer placed to stay but as we were anxious to get home by now so stopped at the first place we saw. We arrived home on the 6th Oct. It was a really great trip but by now we were glad to be home again.

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This page last updated on 08-Aug-2005

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