Kununurra

We are finally getting some relief from the unseasonally hot spell up here in the Kimberley’s. It is starting to cool off and we are certainly appreciating the change; especially the overnight temperatures.

Apparently, Kununurra is the newest town in Australia, established in 1961 on the Ord River, when the first diversion dam was built to create irrigation for new farming opportunities.

Today, Sandalwood plantations, chia, melons, pumpkins, sugar cane, quinoa, legumes, chick peas, bananas and other crops are grown on the Ord River Irrigation Area.

We cruised on Lake Kununurra into the late afternoon.

The much older port of Wyndham in the Cambridge Gulf, established in 1886, is surrounded by five rivers. The Durack, Pentecost and King rivers to the south, Forrest River to the west and Ord River to the north. The port initially serviced the gold mines of Halls Creek, then from 1919 – 1985 the Wyndham Meatworks. Today it’s the port of call for general services into the east Kimberley.

Not a lot of water was flowing over the Ivanhoe Crossing. The concrete causeway over the Ord River is just north of Kununurra and is really only suitable for 4WD’s to cross. Locals recommended it as the perfect spot for barramundi fishing, however saltwater crocodiles inhabit the area, so fishing from the causeway and banks is at your own risk!

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, Western Australia | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

We have arrived at Lake Argyle

The trip from Katherine to Lake Argyle is very scenic, especially at Victoria River. The red rocky cliffs make for a dramatic change after the flat plains.

We stayed the night at Timber Creek in the company of some smallish freshwater crocodiles.

The trip into Lake Argyle was another great trip. The country up this way really is spectacular.

We have just returned from the afternoon and sunset boat cruise out on Lake Argyle. The lake is so huge, we only went about a third of the way down the lake on the four hour trip.

The colours in the rock are ever-changing in the sunlight.

The water seems endless.

Just before sunset we had the opportunity to have a swim in the lake.

And then we watched the stunning sunset from the boat with beers, bubbles and nibbles.

Another great day!

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, Western Australia | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Highlights of Katherine

Although the temperature is hot, 37 deg with a bit of humidity, the blessing is that there are no flies. You can open your mouth without fear of a fly or two going in!

We took a cruise on the Katherine River through the spectacular Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge) in the Nitmiluk National Park. The highest peak of the gorge was a towing 60 metres above the water line.

We saw a couple of sunbaking freshwater crocs.

We also visited Edith Falls but due to the lack of summer rain this year the falls are just managing to send a little bit of water down the falls. This wet season the area only received 300 ml, a little under a third of their average annual rainfall of approx. 1,000 mls.

The area around the visitors park was lovely and green.

The lower pool glistened in the morning light.

Along the climb the view opened to the Nitmiluk National Park.

The bright yellow flowers of the Kapok trees have just about finished flowering and the ripe seed pods are bursting with the white fluffy kapok.

We walked to the Bemang Lookout to see the middle pool and the main waterfall. At this point we turned back due to the heat and didn’t complete the 2.7 km walk.

The rest of the time we have spent relaxing around the caravan park swimming pool and chatting to fellow caravaners. My goodness, you hear some stories!

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, Northern Territory | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

From Alice to Mataranka

One of our greatest challenges has been the change in weather. In Alice Springs the temperature was about 15 deg during the day with a very cold wind and 0 deg overnight and two days later we are in Mataranka with daytime temperatures of 34 deg and overnights of 19 deg. Not sure yet which is better!! We do have air conditioning so that should solve the problem, but only when we are plugged into power!

Leaving Alice Springs the buitmen road heads north going from one range to the next. They are endless but the scenery is lovely….very different to south of Alice. Small white trunk gum trees are everywhere and when you can see the next horizon from the top of the ranges, it is miles off in the distance.

Small termite hills reach for the sky.

Cattle wonder the ranges and ferral donkeys and horses are roaming around. Most of the photos on this post are taken from the moving car so may not be as clear as I would like.

Large windmills bring water to the stock.

P1170545

The flies are horrendous.

We stayed overnight at the Devil’s Marbles.

A visit to Daly Waters Pub on the way through was worth the stop. We arrived at about 9:30am so didn’t try the Barra & Beef Burger or have a beer but did have a coffee, which was very good for a ‘help yourself’ machine coffee. The pub is adorned with all sorts of memorabilia.

The drive into Mataranka is very scenic. The gums trees are a different variety and clouds float about – offering a bit of relief from the warm sun.

We are staying here for a couple of days with friends Richard & Helen from Perth at the Bitter Springs Caravan Park. After a couple of long days on the road it was nice to be able to luxuriate in the warm natural thermal springs, a short walk from the caravan park.

Along the nearby Roper River Richard tried his hand at Barra fishing – no luck this time.

P1170708

Butterflies were plentiful along the banks.

P1170702

Next stop is Katherine.

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, Northern Territory | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alice Springs & the West MacDonnell Ranges

We have arrived in Alice Springs during one of the busiest weeks on their calendar. Every caravan park is booked out. We wanted to stay for 4 nights and so have had to spread our stay between 3 caravan parks. Such a nuisance to move but at least we have the chance to have a good look around.

The largest annual sporting event in the Northern Territory, the Finke Desert Race is on, and the town is absolutely packed to the rafters with visitors. The race is a two-day off road multi terrain event featuring bikes, buggies, quads and cars/trucks through desert country from Alice Springs to the small town of Finke 233 km down near the SA border. The official opening was tonight in the Todd Street Mall with a display of some of the race cars and bikes and stuntmen from Showtime FMX doing daring jumps. Although the photos are not all that clear you get the idea of the event.

Anyway, back to sightseeing around Alice. Nestled in the base of the MacDonnell Ranges the town is nicer than we expected; the streets are lined with gum trees and it is a generally neat and tidy town. The Todd River is dry as a bone. The view from the Anzac Hill highlights the ranges.

Yesterday we took the West MacDonnell Ranges tourist loop and travelled about 430 km exploring the gorges and lookouts along the way. It was a long day be well worth it. Following the ranges we head west.

Our first stop was Simpsons Gap.

The view from Mt Sonder Lookout.

Ellery Creek Big Hole

The Neil Hargrave Lookout

The Ochre Pits

Glenn Helen Gorge

Tyler’s Pass Lookout with the enormous Gosse Bluff in the distance.

From here we are making our way to Katherine.

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, Northern Territory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kings Canyon

Our next stop is at Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park about 300 km from Uluru. Fortunately the roads are all bitumen and in good condition.

The cold wind is still blowing. The skies are bright blue. The redish colour of the rock formations and canyon walls contrast with the river gum trees and the sky. And the flies are unbelievable!


We returned at sunset to see the colours change.

Next stop will be Alice Springs.

 

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, Northern Territory | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Uluru & Kata Tjuta

Yalara is made up of approx 1,000 permanent residents; of which about 300 are indigenous who live in a small community on the edge of Uluru and the rest are employees of Ayers Rock Resort and it’s servicing businesses. During peak season it caters for an additional 6,000 visitors per night, making it almost totally a tourist town.

Visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta has been a fabulous experience and a highlight of the trip so far.

It has been pretty chilly since we arrived and the strong cold winds have closed climbing of the rock – except for a few hours this morning.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) from the ground.



And from the helicopter flight.


Kata Tjuta (The Olga’s) from the ground.

And from the helicopter.

Sunset tonight was a bit of a fizzog – there was no clouds or colourful skies but we braved the cold and joined the crowds to get a good view anyway.

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, Northern Territory | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Lake Eyre

Today we joined the WrightsAir scenic flight from Coober Pedy over to Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre and on to Anna Creek Painted Hills. It was spectacular to see from the air but unfortunately the photos don’t do it justice. Such a shame you can’t open a window to take the photos. The reflections on the windows make it very difficult to photograph the scenery below. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful flight and would recommend it if you are coming this way.

Setting off from Coober Pedy the opal fields are a standout.

They do it big out here!

Flying north east we cross Nilpinna Station which is on the Oodnadatta Track and has an area of 5,658 square kilometres. All the creek beds are dry after 5 years of drought.

The Davenport Ranges, with Mount Margaret as its peak, is the boundary of Nilpinna Station.

East of the Ranges is Anna Creek Station which is spread over 15,746 square kilometres.

Both stations are owned by the Williams Cattle Company which breeds and fattens cattle depending on the seasons. Our guide told us that Anna Creek Station can carry 44,000 head of cattle in a good season.

So far the flight has taken just over one and a half hours and we can finally just see Lake Eyre on the horizon.

Crossing the Neales River we continue on to the Warburton River which enters Lake Eyre on the north eastern side. It is from here that over 85 percent of the water enters Lake Eyre. The Warburtons major tributary is the Diamantina River which starts its flow in Queensland. This year Lake Eyre has filled to approx. 80 per cent which is the highest level since it actually filled in 1984. It is very clear where the Warburton flows into the Lake.

Once over Lake Eyre the enormous expanse of water is appreciated. Salt crusted shorelines and small islands made it an amazing sight.

We land at William Creek for some afternoon tea at the pub. Apart from the pub there is a campground and WrightsAir also have an office out here.

Next we fly south west to take in the colourful Anna Creek Painted Hills which rise up out of the desert landscape. Made up of sandstone, clay and iron-oxide the rocky outcrops are protected and are not accessible by road. The only way to enjoy their ever changing colours throughout the day is by air.

From Coober Pedy we will make our way to Uluru Ayers Rock.

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, South Australia | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

The road to Coober Pedy

From Adelaide we travel back to Port Augusta and turn north. After following the west side of the Flinders Ranges for a while we then get to treeless plains.


At our overnight free camp we are treated to a lovely sunset.

Surprisingly, the road from Woomera to Coober Pedy has few trees. Not what I expected….but then again, perhaps I hadn’t given it much thought.

There are several large lakes up this way…but due to the drought conditions here there is very little water in them.

The exception was Lake Hart…and we were one of many caravaners who had stopped to enjoy the scenery.

Coober Pedy is a town of seasons. During winter the cooler months bring locals back to the area to cater for the hugh influx of tourists heading north. Over summer when the temperatures can get into the 50’s only the die-hards stay on. Most businesses close and those that stay would probably live underground in dugouts. The above ground houses are occupied by the local aboriginal community or by locals who return only for the winter months.

This is one of the nicer entries to a dugout. Above the limestone hills flues to vent the underground rooms are evident.

This is every locals dream front yard….spare parts everywhere! You never know what you might need one day.

We decided on a tour of Coober Pedy and its surroundings with Stuart Range Outback Tours.

We first visited a local ‘new build’ that will be featured on Grand Designs Australia at some stage. The home is a typical dugout and so far the only work done has been the excavating by the tunnelling machines into the hill – this is how most people live up here in Coober Pedy – underground! With temperatures reaching up to 58 deg. C in summer and -2 deg. C in winter the best place to be is underground. The major walls and roof retain the roughness left by the tunnelling machines and will be a feature, but coated with Bondcrete – a waterproof sealer that will seal the surfaces to stop dust, water and erosion problems. The colours are beautiful. The openings will be glass to allow some natural light – with a large verandah out the front to keep the sun off the glass.

Jim was interested to see the 18 hole golf course. Hard to tell where it is! The only clue is the oil scrapes (greens).

Next we passed through several of the opal fields. These photos are taken out of the coach window as we were not allowed to leave the coach due to the dangers of mine shafts.

From here we travelled out to The Breakaways. This natural landscape was once an inland sea. Today the scene is very different.

The Dog Fence stretches approx 5,300km from the south Queensland to the Great Australian Bite. It is the longest continual construction in the world and was built to stop the Dingo’s from traveling south into the sheep farming areas of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It is generally considered to have been a success in controlling the wild dogs in these areas. Out here the landscape is more like a moonscape.

Our final stop was to visit the Serbian Orthodox Underground Church which was built in 1993.

We also visited one of the many opal shops for a look at some of their precious collections and a lot of tourist jewellery.

Such an interesting place to visit.

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, South Australia | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Thank goodness he was right for the footy?

Since leaving home Jim has succumbed to the flue and been pretty crook along the way.  We visited the doctors in Gawler and he is now on antibiotics to help with the chest infection (bordering on phenomena – so the doctor said).  I have had the pleasure of driving so that he could get some rest!

Our usual visit to the Barossa Valley, one of South Australia’s premium wine areas, means wine tastings and enjoying the food and atmosphere. But this time we just took a leisurely drive around. The grapes are all picked and the leaves are turning their golden or burgundy colours before falling from the vines. Pruning will be happenning soon. It is a very pretty time in the vineyards.

We have come down to Adelaide to catch up with friends Graham and Heather and watch the footy. Jim was feeling much better today so we had the opportunity to catch up with our friends and he was well enough to brave the footy.

And what a game it was! After a good first, but poor second quarter the Eagles were behind by 33 early in the third. But the team stayed focused and we come back and had a win. Great game to see!

We arrived at the ground to drizzling rain.


The weather improved and it was fine throughout the game.

Great win!

Jamie found us in the crowd!

Next stop Coober Pedy.

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, South Australia | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Crossing the Nullarbor

Leaving Perth we start our necessary trek across the country. Whilst I have heard several folk whinge about the trip we actually find it a relaxing way to start our holiday. We chat about all the adventures ahead and reminisce about previous trips and where we have camped and stayed in the past, and will they be best for this trip. The crossing always has new experiences and we look forward to the everchanging scenery, depending of the time of year we travel.

On Day 1 we get as far a Coolgardie. Normally we would freedom camp all the way to South Australia but the 1 deg overnight temperature bought us into the Coolgardie Caravan Park so we could turn on the electric heater. After this stop we will be free camping for a few nights so just wanted one night with power and warmth.

Along the way you can’t help but be amazed at natures diversity. The Gimlet Gum’s impressive copper-coloured trunks and branches line the highway east of Southern Cross.

Travelling from Perth to Coolgardie the ever present Goldfields Pipeline follows the road east. Completed in 1903, C.Y.O’Connor’s dream to supply water to the fast growing communities of the Goldfields allowed the development of communities, mines, farms and businesses 530km east of Perth. From Murdaring Weir (near Perth) to the Goldfields the pipeline still today is the water lifeline to these area.

The highlight of the trip is to stop at the lookouts around Bunda Cliffs to take in the views of the Great Australia Bight. Always impressive.

And the treeless Nullarbor Plains is a unique feature.

We arrive in Ceduna and found the perfect place on the foreshore to have lunch.

And for the farmers I have included some photos of the South Australian crops on the highway toward Adelaide for you to compare with your own. Some crops in the north of the Eyre Peninsula are up and away while further east the dust is still flying.

We are near Adelaide now and going to the footy on Saturday to see WCE play Adelaide before heading north and making our way up to Uluru.

Posted in Caravanning, Margaret River, South Australia, Western Australia | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

A few days away in the Caravan

The main reason for the trip was to visit Albany to see the ‘Field of Light: Avenue of Honour’ honouring 100 years since the Great War on display at Mount Clarence. Albany was the port which carried 41,000 ANZAC troops off our shores and into the turmoil of war.

The display was the vision of Bruce Munro to honour the men and women who served in the First World War and all conflicts since. At sunset 16,000 spheres are illuminated in green, white and yellow. These three colours represents the national flowers of Australia and New Zealand – the Wattle and the Kowhai. The installation is only in place until ANZAC Day, 25th April.

The 153,000 metres of fibre optic cable connects to 36 hubs like illuminated spaghetti on the ground.

From Albany we stayed overnight at Peaceful Bay. Although the weather wasn’t all that good a walk along the beach was possible.

I know I have a pretty good imagination but can you also see the ‘Pink Snapper’ in this rock formation.

We then moved on to Windy Harbour and yes, it does live up to its name. Although it was lovely when we arrived and did our sightseeing, the wind did pick up considerably in the afternoon. It is our first visit here and we are impressed with the coastline. Much more rugged than we expected in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park which surrounds Windy Harbour.

We have so any wonderful places to visit here on the south coast of Western Australia. Many more trips required to explore them all.

Posted in Caravanning, Cowaramup, Margaret River, Western Australia | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Last Day in Tokyo

We have started our journey home…and have a 5 hour stopover in Kuala Lumpur from 4:30am to 9:30am. Yuck! But the good thing is that the wifi is okay so I have the opportunity to do the final Tokyo blog.

After checking out of the hotel we visited the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park.

The walk through the park was lovely but I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in Cherry Blossom season. The trees lining the walkway would be a sight.

These lovely lanterns lined the walkway.

The museum building sits behind the water fountain pond.

Our main reason for visiting the museum was to see the Kimono display. The Kimono are from the Edo period which is from the 1603 to 1868. Many of the Kimono’s were used in Noh theatre which was performed at official events during the period.

We had time to see a few other exhibits.

The end!

Posted in Cowaramup, Margaret River, Tokyo | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Farewell Tokyo

Our time in Tokyo has been brilliant. We leave this evening, so are all packed. We will leave our luggage at the hotel while we spend the day at the National Museum.

It is very easy to get around on the subway and train system, the streets are clean and the people very friendly and helpful.

Our hotel, The b suidobashi, has served us well. It is only a small hotel in Bunkyo Prefecture but has good access to the subway and many restaurants and food outlets only 5 minutes stroll away.


The subway and trains are very easy to get around on….except for the many stairs to navigate.


Maureen and I have been walking so much that we have gotten quite skinny since we arrived….haha. Thats even after we have tried several sorts of Meiji chocolate, with a little something to wash it down with.


The streets are very clean, absolutely no rubbish on the footpaths, and there are lots of these smoking booths around so no-one is walking around smoking.


The toilets are an absolute dream in this very cold weather. They come with built-in seat warmers, deodorisers, bidets and some even play soft music if you wish to keep your business quite.


The food has been delicious and the beers cold.


And icecreams come in a fully enclosed cone….what a great idea!

We have been careful to pick our time to venture out so as to avoid the rush hours, but some places are still pretty busy during the day. Roads intersect over-top of each other, people are scurrying about and power lines are like black spaghetti hanging in the air.

It has been a fabulous trip. The Tokyo Quilt Festival was well worth coming too and Maureen and I have really enjoyed our sightseeing and textile adventures. This glimpse of Japan has me looking at another trip to explore the rest of the country with Jim.

Posted in Cowaramup, Margaret River, Tokyo | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Out and About Again in Tokyo

You really can’t come to Tokyo and not visit the iconic Shibuya Crossing. Not only was the view from Mag’s Park above the road impressive but crossing the street with the other pedestrians was fun. It is a very busy area and all the streets were bustling with people.


In the nearby Shibuya Hikarie building we found a wonderful display of handmade puppets used in traditional puppet animation.

In the alleyway a lovely lady was selling fruit and vegetables but her speciality seemed to be mushrooms.


We also visited a craft store called Blue & White. It was a small shop specialising in mostly traditional blue and white textiles, Indigo and Boro. Infortunatley no photos allowed.
p1160015

On our way home we passed through LaQua and the light display was brilliant.