Look out for Wildlife …

Another relaxing start to the day as we were waiting for my sister Diana and brother in law Danny to arrive from Mataranka. They rolled into Litchfield at 1:00pm. A quick catch-up then it was onto the Old 4WD Campground at Florence Falls to set them up. We are continuing to stay at Litchfield Tourist Park, while Diana and Danny want to stay off the grid at the National Park campground.

Back in the day you must have needed to have a 4WD to get to the campground but it is a bitumen road all the way now. It wasn’t full but it filled later in the day. There were a couple of big vans in their so we could have stayed but there was no power or generators allowed.

It didn’t take long to setup the campsite, some lunch then it was an 800-metre walk to the Florence Falls. The advantage of being down at the Old 4WD Campground is that it has flat walking track to the Falls whereas the 2WD Campground and Carpark requires a 135 staircase to access the Falls.

Once again, the Falls were a lot quieter than I have seen in the past. The other difference is the Falls are not as fast flowing as when we normally visit a couple of months earlier. This is a combination of being later in the dry season and a relatively lower than average wet season.

It was a refreshing couple of hours floating in the Falls pond which ended up being a bit of a spa treatment with the small fish starting to nibble on the dead skin of the back of my heels. The first bite was not expected and gave a bit of a fright, given that crocodiles are known to be in these waters.

After making the 800-metre walk back to camp, we headed off to Buley Rockhole to finish out what was left of daylight for the day. The water up here was 2C warmer (28C) than Florence Falls (26C) even though it is the same water only 1km apart. We enjoyed some beverages in the Rockhole, was visited by one of the local Water Monitors before heading back to Diana and Danny’s camp for tea.

We still had a 30-minute drive back to our camp and was worried about wildlife crossing the road in the dark. I would have expected at least wallabies but did not expect echidnas and snakes. I missed the echidna that was using the bitumen as its own road but hit the snake coiled in the centre of the road.

On return to camp and phone service, there was a email confirming the 2nd Darwin Supercar race on the weekend of 22nd and 23rd August. I guess we have to stay a bit longer up here in the warmth and blue skies.

Posted in Holidays, Motorsport, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

Change of Scenery …

With the first Race Meeting being postponed, it was time for a change of scenery, and we made our way down to Rum Jungle for a week.

We based ourselves at Litchfield Tourist Park with the plan of making day trips into Litchfield National Park each day. The caravan park has shady sites as well as green grass.

Although being an hour or so south of Darwin, the lack of phone coverage and wifi meant that we were also “off the grid” as well.

After setting up camp, there was still a couple of hours of daylight so it was off to Buley Rockhole to relax and see the sun set.

We are not completely off the grid with satellite television, electricity and water. We also have ants, cane toads and other bugs but they are not too annoying.

Jenny saw an advertisement for a small LED projector and said that would be good to have. I mentioned there was one in the caravan, so we set up a towel outside for a big screen and watched TV out under the awning. Camping at its best.

Posted in Holidays, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

Cahills Crossing Crocs …

Talking with Sean last night at the Wharf, a day trip to Cahills Crossing in Kakadu National Park was the plan for the day.

It is a 3-hour drive from Darwin and we left just after 9:00am this morning.

First stop was Jabiru. With the mine closed or closing, it is a very quiet town now. Jenny went shopping for lunch at the supermarket but found the shelves were very bare. They did have pies and pasties, which were probably the hottest (temperature) we have eaten. I reckon that I burnt all of my mouth.

Another 30km and we were soon at Cahills Crossing. This is a concrete causeway between Kakadu and Arnhem Land. There are many videos of the crocodiles on the causeway on the Net and peak viewing of crocs is at high tide. To drive across the causeway requires a permit from the Aboriginal Community.

We arrived about an hour before high tide and was met by a number of fishermen on the causeway trying to snag a Barramundi before the waiting crocs grabbed them. There was one guy that must have had the right sort of lure as he was pulling a Barra every couple of minutes, although they were all undersize.

One of the “local” fishermen was not very happy as he managed to snag sticks, trees and lost a couple of lures. He was good to chat to with plenty of stories. He was not too happy when a car of tourists went over the causeway and turned around and drove back over. I guess I won’t be doing that, unless I want a “bone” pointed at me.

Even though the tide had not pushed over the causeway, the crocodiles seem to know it was going to happen as they all started making their way from upstream.

There was a point when the downstream flow and the high tide was at equilibrium and it all went quiet. The crocs all started to move into their positions.

The high tide then overtook the river flow. This was the time the crocs were waiting for. There were around 35 of them all on the upstream side of the causeway awaiting the Barramundi trying to get over the causeway.

Some were on the edge of the concrete with their mouths open waiting. Others were further back. It almost seems to be a pecking order to where they are located. Occasionally there were skirmishes if some got too close to another.

Another interesting thing was they used they front legs as outriggers with legs out to the side flat then lifting their claws vertical. At first, I thought it was a croc with a gammy leg but then there were more and more doing the same.

For the 3 hours observing the crocs, we only ever see one get a Barramundi. I guess they will all be back again tomorrow to try again.

It was also interesting some of the traffic going across the causeway to / from the Aboriginal Communities at various times of the high tide. At some times the vehicles had to wait for crocs to get out of their way.

We stayed down on the causeway with the fisherman but there is a viewing platform up higher on the bank. We found out the next day that Sean was up there somewhere but never knew.

We can recommend making this trip to see Cahills Crossing but make sure that it is timed with a high tide to see all the activity.

Another 3-hour drive back to Darwin for the completion of a good day out.

Posted in Holidays, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

Floating in Berry Springs …

Jenny wanted to get to Berry Springs while we were up here this trip and today was a good day for it. Berry Springs seems to be closed more than open when we are up here due to crocodiles found in the pools. Luckily today there were no crocs.

It is only short drive from Darwin and given it was a Saturday, the springs were not too busy. Part of the COVID-19 requirements is that if the carpark is full then the Springs are at capacity. There were no problems with that today.

We spent a couple of hours soaking and floating from the Falls to the Upper Pool and Lower Pool.  Another good day on vacation.

Tonight, was wharf night, with the Adelaide Fire crew having a meal at Stokes Hill Wharf. The wharf has many different cuisines, with varying price levels in a great location with views over Darwin Harbour and fish swimming up to the wharf but not allowed to be fished.

For a Saturday night, the wharf was remarkedly quiet. This seems to be the norm in these COVID-19 times.

Posted in Holidays, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

Some more Geocaching …

Another day of Geocaching with Jenny staying back at the Taj and me undertaking some of the caches that required some walking.

There were a number of caches in the Holmes Jungle Nature Park and I probably should have brought some shoes with me but I managed to do the walking in NT safety shoes (thongs). It was warm but not uncomfortable.

After tackling the Park caches, I headed into the Berrimah Industrial area for some urban caches but shouldn’t have bothered with a few DNF’s.

I eventually gave up and picked up Jenny from the Taj as we were meeting up with a softball buddy of Jenny and Rachael for a BBQ at their house in Leanyer.

Danielle And Troy had moved up from Adelaide after Troy started a new job with NT Police in their call centre.

Posted in Geocaching, Holidays, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

Geocaching in the City …

Today was a geocaching day in the Darwin City area. What I mean by that is I geocached while Jenny stayed in the airconditioned car reading her book.

Ratio of finds to “Did Not Finds” was not that good, with few finds which is normal for the Darwin area. Many in the Darwin CBD are micro caches and tend to go missing regularly for some reason.

This evening we ended up with a clash of activities. Normally the Supercars Officials night is held on the Wednesday night and I hold a geocaching event on the Thursday night at the Mindil Markets.

I organised my normal Geocaching event, Mingle at Mindil 9, tonight even though COVID-19 has stopped the Thursday market. The problem was NT Major Events changed the Officials night to Thursday night this year as well.

We attended the Officials night early around 5:30pm but it was a very different night due to the postponement of the Race Meeting. There were no credentials and every team were staggered. We grabbed a couple of drinks then made our way down the road to Mindil Beach to my Geocaching event for an hour.

There were a few locals as well as some travelling cachers from Germany. It was good to catch up with the locals and get some hints to some of the DNF’s from earlier in the day.

After watching the sunset, it was farewell to the cachers and back to the Officials night for a meal and meet all the fire crew. Even though it was a different sort of Officials night, the fire crew continued the tradition of being the last to leave.

Posted in Geocaching, Holidays, Motorsport, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

Race Meeting has been postponed …

Today was a holiday day with relaxing around the van at the Discovery Park. A few little jobs on the Taj before doing some shopping and refuelling. Fuel is cheaper here than in Adelaide at $1.13 per litre for diesel.

We had keeping in touch with the fire crew driving up from Adelaide. Just before they arrived, we received an email indicating the Race Meeting for this weekend had been postponed with Supercars drivers and crews being placed in quarantine due to COVID-19. Looks like we will be staying up in the north for a little longer.

There wasn’t much to do now but catch up with the Adelaide crew at the hotel and chew the fat over some beverages.

Posted in Holidays, Motorsport, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

Darwin here we come …

It was up earlier than normal this morning. We wanted to pack up and head down for one last soak before hitting the road to Darwin.

Once again, the thermal pool was almost empty but we did have a couple of the local wild pigs come down for a chew on the berries that abound around the edge of the pool.

Apparently, they have been around the pool since they were piglets so are reasonably tame, allowing people to pat them while they eat.

After an hour of soaking, we hit the road to Darwin. An uneventful drive had us arriving around 3:30pm and checking into the Darwin Discovery Park. We now know why we have not seen too many vans down south. They are all here in the caravan park.

Once set-up, it was a quick trip to stock up the fridge and pantry for the next week. There was even toilet paper in the supermarket here, amazing.

Jenny had organised to catch up with one of her softball buddies (Wendy and Neil) for tea at the Darwin Ski Club. Given that the credentials night on Thursday night will be a quick tick and flick event here, it was a good chance for a sit-down meal and watch the sunset (we just made it in time).

Even at 9:00pm it was still 27C. Beats the 4C at home.

Posted in Holidays, Motorsport, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

The mob has cleared out

With the NT Long Weekend coming to an end, Mataranka Homestead cleared out with the huge mob heading back to Darwin and leaving the pool for us “grey nomads”.

We waited until after lunch before going soaking to make sure the crowds had cleared out.

Jenny wanted to go to Bitter Springs so after a quick stop for fuel in town (with a 5c per litre discount), we found a near empty carpark at Bitter Springs.

There were very few floating except for one noisy family but we ended up timing our float down the river to avoid the noise and relax.

After a few hours, the sun was on its way to setting so we drove back to camp just before dark.

The campground was a lot quieter than the weekend, so much that we could hear the music act down on the Homestead stage.

The full moon came up in all its glory, ideal for a night soak in the Thermal Pool.

We walked down around 8:00pm to find the pool empty. It was 20 minutes before being joined by a small number of other campers.

We soaked for another couple of hours. How can you not enjoy this lifestyle?

Posted in Holidays, NT - QLD 2020 | Leave a comment

The holiday has begun …

Now that the big driving is over for now, that means the holiday has begun.

For us, that meant a day of doing not much of anything, starting with a sleep in until lunchtime then heading down after a cooked “brunch” to the thermal pool for some serious soaking.

A lot of our noisy weekend neighbours had packed up and it also the meant that the pool was not as busy as yesterday. We later found out that most were Bitter Springs. Lucky we are not doing them until Monday.

It was a great relaxation time with 4 ½ hours of soaking before finally getting back to the Taj in time to watch the sunset over some beverages.

We have another day here before we head to Darwin for the Supercars.

Posted in Holidays, NT - QLD 2020, Out and About | Leave a comment