Following Bec, Lloyd, Ava and Finn from OUR BIG LAP has been such a JOY! We hope you have loved seeing their adventures as well. They have had another incredible month and Bec shares a few highlights with us below…including some more very amusing observations…
So here we are three months in to OUR BIG LAP and thinking back across the last month it feels like this is one of the first moments I have had to stop and take a breath! The last month has seen us travelling around what I guess would be correctly categorised as the Top End. Once we reached these northern parts of the Northern Territory we noticed that our travel days became shorter and there was always something to do and to go and see. Gone were the hours and hours of travelling to get to the next destination and instead of one or two major attractions at each place, there was any number of things to choose from (maybe too many things to choose from!)
Our month started with us heading north from Barkly Roadhouse headed for King Ash Bay which is famous for its fishing. Arriving at King Ash Bay we had little barramundi stars in our eyes. We hadn’t been able to fish since we left Karumba in May so it was fair to say that we were all just a little bit excited and a lot hopeful about some great fish coming our way. The best fishing is done from a boat in that part of the world and unfortunately we were not able to secure a boat to use, but it didn’t matter, boat after boat arrived back at the boat ramp with nothing to show for their day on the water, and as we got talking to some of the fisherman we found out that no one had been able to catch anything to gloat about for well over a week. Our timing it seems wasn’t good. That said, we got a great tip about a boat ramp we could fish from and we had a great afternoon pulling in all sorts of smaller fish, even a juvenile barramundi! But best of all, Lloyd netted a couple of cracking mud crabs – all was not lost at King Ash Bay.
From King Ash Bay we made our way along what is surely the dustiest road in Australia, eventually arriving in a paradise called Lorella Springs Wilderness Park. It is a bit out of the way for many travellers, but if you are set up to do some rough roads and you want to see an amazing slice of Australia in your 4×4, do yourself a favour and plan a visit. We only had one full day there (we knew that was never going to be enough) but leave yourself at least four or five days to fully explore the property and to enjoy the gorgeous thermal springs at the homestead.
From Lorella Springs we continued north via Tomato Island (not actually an island!) and leaving the dust and dirt roads behind we made our way to Bitter Springs and then on to Nitmiluk National Park where we enjoyed a two-gorge cruise – the perfect length of time for the kids to stay engaged and enough time for us to take in and appreciate a special part of the NT. Along the way we had some tips about other great places to try and catch a barra so off we headed to Daly River where we spotted crocs and caught some little barras, but not the trophy fish we were hoping for. A short hop up the road took us to Batchelor where we chose to base ourselves to explore Litchfield National Park.
Our first night in Batchelor also happened to be Territory Day. Given that we could buy fireworks on Territory Day we duly obliged, but much to the delight of the entire family there was an amazing fireworks display at the local oval that night which was the perfect end to our very first Territory Day.
Our two days exploring Litchfield National Park were sensational – swimming under waterfalls and in beautiful rock pools. We had heard such good things about Litchfield and we were not disappointed… not even close!
From Batchelor we continued north to the most northerly stop on OUR BIG LAP – Darwin. We had big plans for Darwin and most of them involved eating! We love Asian food and knowing there is a strong Asian influence in Darwin we were excited by the prospect of eating out and often. I don’t know if I am proud or ashamed to say that in the five nights we had in Darwin we didn’t cook dinner at our caravan once… That did include dinner a couple of nights at our caravan park, the Darwin FreeSpirit Resort and Holiday Park, because with a poolside bar and bistro that serves Pimms by the jug and 50 cent wings at happy hour… who can resist?
All too soon it was time to leave Darwin. Ava was in tears and the rest of us felt much the same.
We absolutely loved everything about Darwin and our time at the Darwin FreeSpirit Resort and Holiday Park was like a holiday within our holiday. Next stop was Kakadu National Park.
We once again chased barramundi at Cahill’s Crossing, spotted crocs cruising on the East Alligator River, saw some of the most amazing Aboriginal rock paintings and enjoyed an unforgettable sunset at Ubirr, and finished off our short stint at Kakadu with a beautiful Yellow Water Cruise and a swim in the Gunlom Falls plunge pool. After Kakadu it was time to say a sad goodbye to the Northern Territory – so many unforgettable sights and experiences over six weeks and a great introduction to a place I am certain we will return to explore once again some time down the track. Just as the Pet Shop Boys advised us to do we headed west, and although we were sad to be leaving the NT we were excited to be starting this next chapter of OUR BIG LAP.
In all our planning Western Australia has time and time again had the places we were most looking forward to visiting, and as keen snorkellers and fishermen the West Australian coast has always seemed like the perfect playground for us. Crossing the border we were subjected to our first quarantine check with the only hiccup being little Ava getting upset at having to hand over the last of our apples that we just couldn’t eat before we left the NT. Who knew she loved apples so much? Our first stop in Western Australia was a memorable one at Lake Argyle – wow… what a spot!
The infinity pool, the view, a lake cruise and some great nights relaxing at the beer garden where the kids were free to roam and dance around to the resident musician, Steve Case. We ended the month in Kununurra which is a very picturesque town that has so much more to offer than might initially meet the eye. It is a melting pot of travellers who have just done the Gibb, are preparing to do the Gibb, and those who just want to spend a few days in a place that has plenty to see and do within a half hour drive of the town centre.
SOME MORE OBSERVATIONS ABOUT LIFE ON THE ROAD…
• There are clean clothes, and then there are caravan clean clothes. It is amazing how many wears you can get out of the same clothes because hey, when in the NT your clean clothes don’t stay clean for long anyway.
• It only takes about two days of your kids talking on the UHF radio to their grandparents in the car behind for them to nail the lingo and start sounding more like seasoned truckies than your sweet little toddlers (NB. You need to be super quick on the volume button when the actual seasoned truckies come over LOUD AND CLEAR talking to each other in their own very colourful way!)
• You feel like you are a stalker, or that you are being stalked. It is amazing how often you can run into the same travellers, ones that you may not have seen for six or more weeks, and then all of a sudden there you are parked up next to each other despite having travelled in completely different directions to get to that point. We met a family on Heron Island which was week three of OUR BIG LAP. We then bumped into them at Adel’s Grove and then again at Nitmiluk National Park. And that is just one of many examples of people we have stalked… or are they stalking us???
• Sitting in the passenger seat I feel more like an airline hostie than just another member of the family. From my position I feel like I am constantly taking drink orders, dishing out snacks, fetching fallen books and toys (who knew my body could twist and contort to reach all corners of the foot wells in the back seat?), assisting with climate control in the back seat, passing out blankets as required, operating the in-car entertainment system, and conducting safety briefings including reminding passengers to always have their seatbelt fastened and to remain seated with their seatbelt fastened until the car has come to a complete stop! Thank goodness OBL Airlines does not require me to be primped and preened like a regular hostie, heck, when was the last time I even washed my hair?!?
And one last thing, something I have been pondering as we have driven up, down and all around the Northern Territory… Termite mounds, and specifically the multitude of mounds you see beside the highway that have been dressed up and otherwise decorated… who does this? Do they plan it? Do they hit the road with the intention to dress up a termite mound? Do they have a mound in mind or do they just find a random mound that takes their fancy? Do they use their own clothes or bits and pieces they find strewn about along the way? Do they do it for my entertainment or theirs? So many questions…
Until next time, happy travels to everyone on the road and happy dreaming and planning to those who wish they were on the road.
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