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Oman
September 212015

Sultanate of Oman

Oman is one of those Countries that can tingle all your 5 senses and yet few have heard about this incredible destination. On our travels around Australia when people asked me where I was from, I had to explain each time where Oman (not to be confused with Amman – Jordan) is. “It’s right next to Dubai” I would say to make people understand thanks to the commercialisation of Dubai. Throw in the conversation ” but I was born in Pakistan” and bam! you have confused and rather scared folks trying to avoid the Saad family.

Oman is a relatively small country and for Aussies all around its about the size of a Suburb. Okay its slightly bigger than a Suburb, its a cattle station in WA but all good things come in small packages as Mrs reminds me on a regular basis. Oman is bordered by UAE (Dubai) in the north west, Saudi Arabia to the west, Yemen to the southwest and the Arabian Sea to the east. Rich in culture and history we are all familiar with Oman through its stories whether we realise it or not. From Sinbad the sailor to the Queen of Sheba, biblical prophets tombs and the Frankincense trail, historical evidence of all can be found in Oman.2997639

The environment is hot, challenging but one of stark and rugged beauty. From sun scorched mountains, to azure blue seas, monsoonal lushness to never-ending dunes of sand, Oman is a country of surprises.

Ruled by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for the last 45 years, Oman has come from relative obscurity to a country with a rich future. Unlike its oil rich neighbours, where trouble abounds, Oman is a peaceful haven in a otherwise turbulent region. We were and are asked when we travel there “is it safe?”. Our answer, “yes”. Even on this trip, with a civil war currently raging in Yemen, there was no evidence of it in Oman. Ranked as the worlds 59th Most Peaceful country (source Wikipedia Oman) it is credited to the Sultan and his people. When there I promise this – You will wonder what No:1 peaceful country looks like if Oman is 59th. Just laws, religious and cultural tolerance and a genuine care for each other, along with a firm stand against extreme commercialisation as seen in its neighbours, has kept Oman level headed, something which the rest of the region needs to learn from.

For us there are 4 things that make this place unreal. Family, food, scenery & of course cheap shopping.

My immediate family has lived in Oman for the past 40+ years so they know a thing or two about Oman. Extended family live all over the world, some still in Pakistan, others in US & Europe. This trip was particularly special because a lot of them came home for my sisters wedding. My family home swelled in size from 5 to around 30, adults and kids alike, then there are friends and friends of friends. Everyone is your Aunty or Uncle. Its chaos! Meal times are madness, and don’t get me started on how to coordinate a house full of women getting ready for functions! Needless to say we love it, and always have a ball.DSC_0341 DSC_0336 DSC_0369 DSC_0378 DSC_0377 DSC_0123 DSC_0165 DSC_0250 IMG_5364 DSC_0303 IMG_5376 IMG_5393 IMG_5548 IMG_5516 IMG_5553

The food in Oman reflects the different cultures residing there. In my home, Pakstani food still rules. The food is spicy and full of flavour, maybe not exactly “heart smart” ;), but then most Paki/Indian dishes aren’t. If spicy is not your thing, then Omani food would be more your style. Influenced by Zanzibar, Portugese & Persian cultures of the past, the food is mainly meat. From meat skewers cooked by the road side/beaches called “Mishkak” to “Shuwa” which is meat cooked under ground for about 2 days and then served with rice. To western style restaurants, where American burgers and fries drizzled with melted cheese are on the menu, there is definitely something to suit anyone’s and every ones taste. My mouth waters even as I sit here and write about the food.IMG_5622 IMG_5624

Now for the most incredible part of Oman, the scenery. There are serene beaches thanks to the Indian Ocean, water holes, waterfalls, green lush and burnt black mountains all at the same time and historical sites that date back to thousands of years. There is not much that can be said to explain how awe inspiring Oman is so I will just let the photos hopefully do it justice.DSC_0370 DSC_0373 DSC_0391 DSC_0047 DSC_0095 DSC_0115 DSC_0128 DSC_0152 DSC_0167 DSC_0173 DSC_0177 DSC_0178 DSC_0192 DSC_0181 DSC_0197 DSC_0199 DSC_0202 DSC_0207 DSC_0215 DSC_0225 DSC_0238 DSC_0289 DSC_0312 IMG_5360 IMG_5366 IMG_5365 IMG_5372 IMG_5373 IMG_5374 IMG_5415 IMG_5413 IMG_5494 IMG_5492 IMG_5497 IMG_5654 IMG_5659 IMG_5647 DSC_0319 DSC_0297 544520_10151672534351691_1414312658_n 485461_10151672534181691_124413099_n 1375247_10151672536806691_1960634873_n 1385238_10151672548101691_729743507_n 999695_10151672548831691_1841279637_n 1375062_10151672550466691_496400810_n 1393836_10151672551141691_1448951271_n 1381275_10151674330501691_1361638032_n 67062_10151674331116691_885502460_n 1380679_10151674360411691_698940235_n 16277_10151674334941691_1976008423_n 548963_10151674335626691_1310551592_n 1381514_10151674335266691_1029623724_n 947279_10151674335671691_1020689381_n 1381520_10151674337191691_563997125_n 1376358_10151674337341691_1842243874_n 1381248_10151674350536691_506469717_n 944309_10151674351191691_253013405_n 1378248_10151674351816691_1582772762_n 1383712_10151674352031691_1487676236_n 1376536_10151674353936691_787701207_n 547704_10151674353976691_1021261066_n 1378709_10151674356001691_1728206859_n 1378830_10151674355466691_430372782_n 

Last but not the least, shopping. This is not necessarily my thing but for Nette its a different story. There are standard shopping malls of course as big as Westfields selling everything from Chanel to Chinese food containers and whilst even they are cheap by comparison to Australia, I am more talking about the traditional markets called “Souk” that are setup in small areas and sell everything from Pashmina to Antiques. You can pick up bargains for almost everything in Oman including electronics and rugs. And of course there are “Gold Souks”, shops that shine so brightly with 22-24ct Gold that after looking at a few, you will probably develop a headache LOL ūüėČ But with Gold prices at record low, perhaps now is a good time to invest and by doing so, visit Oman.goldsouk_autoresized¬† 5814 71edca97a8aaf252850422f9f85b538b¬†

So for all those that we’ve met along our journey and family and friends who have told us how exotic Oman sounds, and that they’d like to visit ‘one day’, here’s your chance. I would love to take 5-6 people to Oman and show them around for 2 weeks. Of course you can organize your own trip but you will only get to see Tourist-y stuff and will end up paying twice as much. I want to show you Oman through my eyes, eyes that have nothing but love for the country and along the way get you the best shopping bargains available. The trip will only cost you approx. $2500 + airfares. This includes accommodation for 12 days, food, transport, transfers in Muscat and sight-seeing in Muscat and surrounding towns. The only thing you need more money for is shopping ūüôā Just to be clear, I make no money doing this. I just want to show others what Oman truly is and in the process enjoy some quality time with friends or perhaps new friends.

If you are interested, please let me know by leaving a comment and writing which month you would like to travel in. If I get enough friends to take along, I will organise a trip shortly.

 

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Coral Bay, Ningaloo
August 12015

Coral Bay, Ningaloo

There are not many places that can truly take ones breath away but Coral Bay…..WOW! IMG_1592 IMG_1594 IMG_1637 IMG_1626 IMG_1702

We stayed at 14 mile beach on Warroora Station where camping is wilderness style right on the beach.IMG_1542 IMG_1526 IMG_1652 IMG_1667 IMG_1670 IMG_1679 IMG_1703 IMG_1701 IMG_1704

A visit to Ningaloo Reef is why we were in this area to begin with and so we went off to Coral Bay where you really can just snorkel Ningaloo Reef straight off the beach. At Pentecost River (Gibb River Road) we met 2 Marine Biologists who claimed that Ningaloo Reef is better than the Great Barrier Reef and while the judgement on GBR is still out (I am yet to see the outer reef), I can’t imagine many Reef systems in the world that can stand up to Ningaloo.P3040104 P3040101 P3040129 P3040121 P3040118 P3040111 P3040107

P3040105Our last day we spent exploring other beaches on the Station itself and came across Elle’s Beach which, rumour has it, is Elle McPherson’s favourite beach hence the name.IMG_1697 IMG_1691The little smudge is a Humpback Whale just off our camp site.

Saw Humpback Whales just off our camp site

Saw Humpback Whales just off our camp site

Nette and I want to re-visit a lot of places that we have seen on this trip in the years to come but Ningaloo is perhaps the only place that we will re-visit on this trip itself. Once our trip to Perth & Oman is complete we will definitely head back to Ningaloo. Can’t wait!

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40 Mile Beach
July 292015

40 Mile Beach

The camping at 40 Mile Beach is cheap at $10 a site regardless of the number of people in the party but we didn’t find the beach that appealing. It is strict bush camping in the dunes about 50mtrs from the beach and after October (peak season) camping is free.IMG_1502 IMG_1504 IMG_1505 IMG_1507

Nonetheless our kids had a ball.IMG_1497 IMG_1500 IMG_1506 IMG_1516 IMG_1493

We had planned to stay for 3 nights but weren’t so impressed with the beach so we took off after 2 nights and rushed to Coral Bay, Ningaloo Reef.

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Millstream National Park

It is a beautiful National Park but the 2 days we were there all we saw was rain ūüôĀ

Rio Tinto track to Millstream National Park has beautiful scenery and we saw 5 trains in a space of 2 hours all with 300+ carriages.IMG_1429 IMG_1438 IMG_1430 IMG_1442 IMG_1433 IMG_1431 IMG_1441          IMG_1478

We stayed at Stargazers camp ground where we discovered 2 new challenges. Trailers spare tyre was hanging with almost nothing and the support wheel for our trailer had also come off. Somewhere along Rio Tinto track I lost the pin that holds it. We “fashioned” a hold for the tyre and left the wheel as is.IMG_1487 IMG_1486 IMG_1490

Deepreach pool & Pythons pool are great and are good swimming spots if the sun was out.IMG_1449 IMG_1455 IMG_1462 IMG_1463 IMG_1465 IMG_1468 IMG_1470

We left Millstream National Park and headed for 40 mile beach via Karratha where I refuelled and fixed our trailers support wheel for $0.20 cents.

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Tom Price
July 292015

Tom Price

We stayed in this “Rio Tinto” town for a couple of days only. Our free camp site was an old air strip with only a couple of others around. We made a damper and had fresh bread the next morning ūüôāIMG_1407 IMG_1409 IMG_1411 IMG_1412 IMG_1419 IMG_1421 IMG_1422 IMG_1424

Damper in the making

Damper in the making

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The road into Tom Price from Karijini is beautiful and the town has free drinking water, $2 clean showers, free wifi and Coles.

From Tom Price we also took a permit to go onto Rio Tinto track which runs along the railway line and goes all the way to Karratha.IMG_1428

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Karijini National Park

We had heard about camping at Albert Tognolini lookout along the way to Karijini and WikiCamps showed some amazing reviews for this free camping site so we stopped here for a few nights and did day trips to Karijini National Park.IMG_1359

Albert Tognolini Lookout is one of those serene and tranquil places that you read about in magazines and books. Our camp spot was on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Gorge.IMG_1277 IMG_1273 IMG_1271 IMG_1270 IMG_1361 IMG_1364

“Backyard” view from the tent was overlooking this Heaven.IMG_1280

Waterfalls at Karijini National Park are much prettier than those in Lichfield and the scenery along the road to the Park suggests that there are waterfalls all along the main highway during wet season.IMG_1251 IMG_1279 IMG_1295 IMG_1296 IMG_1300 IMG_1303 IMG_1301

Kids enjoyed the walk to Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool and I enjoyed swimming in the pool even though it was FREEZING cold.IMG_1308 IMG_1322 IMG_1328 IMG_1337 IMG_1341 IMG_1352 IMG_1354

Geanette and I waterproofed the tent in anticipation of the upcoming rain. Lots of clouds & wind came with only 5 drops of rain. (Not complaining by the way)IMG_1263

We left this place with a sad feeling knowing that we could have spent a couple of weeks here exploring many Gorges and lookouts but cannot do it all in the 10 months we have to complete our camping trip around Australia.IMG_1242

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Indee Station
July 232015

Indee Station

After De Grey River we stopped at Port Hedland for a couple of hours to re-stock and re-fuel but didn’t stay in town. We had met some people at De Grey River who recommended Indee Station which is about 70-80ms from Port Hedland towards Karijini National Park and so we went off to Indee Station for a couple of nights.IMG_1116

If camping at a proper working station without million restrictions is your thing than I strongly suggest a stop at Indee Station. Camping is cheap ($10 per Adult and $5 per school going child per night) but the hospitality shown by the owners and people working at the station is honestly nothing short of 5 star. There are clean showers, toilets, camp kitchen and a couple of washing machines that are free to be used by campers; although donation to flying doctors is appreciated for the use of those machines.IMG_1228 IMG_1120 IMG_1227

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Little guy was just outside our tent

Little guy was just outside our tent

At Indee Station the owners host what they call “Happy Hour” between 5:30PM and 6:30PM and purpose of this hour is to get to know everyone camping at Indee Station. You are welcome to bring your drinks with nibbles provided by the owners and mingle with others.

The station is on 500,000 acres approx and has 4 railway tracks that go through the property for mining purposes. If you are lucky one of the volunteers will even given you a tour of the property which we didn’t miss out on ūüôāIMG_1145 IMG_1137 IMG_1132 IMG_1123

There is a mini “Uluru” on the property with Aboriginal etchings on the rock.IMG_1200 IMG_1201 IMG_1212 IMG_1213 IMG_1217 IMG_1222 IMG_1224 IMG_1180

There are several swimming holes and 4WD tracks as well throughout the property.IMG_1164  IMG_1174 IMG_1176 IMG_1179

Site of 1968 Plane Crash

Site of 1968 Plane Crash

Our experience made us stay at Indee more than we originally planned and we honestly would have stayed another day after meeting Jo who was there for mustering but time is against us so we started our journey towards Karijini National Park where the phrase “Heaven on Earth” will bring new meaning to us.

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De Grey River
July 232015

De Grey River

This was a peaceful spot by the river only 80kms North of Port Hedland. It’s strange to see that the South & North side of the river (before the bridge) were jam packed with caravans but across the bridge to a camp site called Boonie Doon there was absolutely no one. We had the whole area to ourselves for a couple of days over looking the river and the railway track.IMG_1060¬† IMG_1062 IMG_1067 IMG_1075 IMG_1082¬† IMG_1107

Kids got ahead with their home work and I finally got to complete and submit my assignment.IMG_1086

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80 Mile Beach
July 172015

80 Mile Beach

After leaving Broome we were itching to camp by an isolated beach. We took a couple of dirt tracks towards the beach but they turned out to be private properties so had to turn back. Our first stop was a little rest area called Goldwire which is about 150kms from Broome on the highway towards Perth. We stayed here a couple of days so kids could start on their home work. Good little spot with flush toilets, bbq and table/chairs around and all free for travelling folks looking to rest up for a night or 2. No beach though ūüôĀIMG_0907 IMG_0904

A new addition to our tent - Lights :-)

A new addition to our tent – Lights ūüôā

Nette fashioned an annex from the side cover

Nette fashioned an annex from the side cover

IMG_0903The bad news is that so far we haven’t come across our isolated beach yet. The good news is that 80 Mile Beach has plenty of isolated spots to spend the day and the caravan park at 80 Mile Beach is honestly second to none. In the past 3 months we have been to a few caravan parks as you can imagine but none compare to the service, facilities and management of this caravan park. Here is the best part; they are not charging an arm & a leg just because they are considered remote. There were water tankers spraying water on the dirt roads to stop dust, graders grading the 10kms dirt road to the beach and caravan park to perfection, and there is a day use area with free drinking water, shower and wash bay for the cars. Rubbish is collected daily, showers are clean with constant hot water, Kiosk serves cheap meals on a daily basis and they make fresh bread on demand for $5 a loaf.IMG_1059 IMG_1032 IMG_1017 IMG_0996 IMG_0995 IMG_1005 IMG_0989 IMG_0948 IMG_0977 IMG_0951 IMG_0972 IMG_0935¬†

The beach is to die for with a gazillion shells everywhere. The difference between high tide and low tide can be up to 9 mtrs.IMG_0915 IMG_0919 IMG_0929 IMG_0925 

IMG_1037 IMG_1042After 80 Mile Beach we headed off to De Grey River where we will try and get some more of the school work done before heading off to Port Hedland & Karijini National Park.

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Broome
July 172015

Broome

IMG_0368The drive from Derby to Broome is one that we will never forget. What should have been an uneventful drive turned out to be an emotional experience for all of us and brought back horrific memories of my accident in 2002.

Toyota Parado pulling a caravan overtook us, and within 5 mins of overtaking us lost control and rolled over right in front of us. The car was on its head and both husband and wife in their 70’s were stuck. We couldn’t get the door open so had to break windows and pull their caravan out of the way just to get them out. There was no phone signal so our Sat phone came to good use here which is why we cannot stress enough how important a Sat phone is when travelling around Australia. At night Geanette went to visit them at Broome Hospital and found out that Sheryl may have a broken collar bone but still knowing with personal experience what can happen when a car rolls over, I can only say that both were lucky to escape the accident with minor injuries.IMG_5184 IMG_5183 IMG_5182 IMG_5180¬† IMG_5181

This was our second visit to Broome but this time we went off to Horizontal Falls. It is one of those trips that has to be done once in your lifetime and as far as we are concerned Horizontal Falls is the crown jewel of Kimberley. The sea plane trip to Horizontal Falls is as spectacular as the Falls itself. We flew low over Buccaneer Archapelo before landing near the falls on a pontoon.IMG_0472 IMG_0529 IMG_0483 IMG_0493 IMG_0498 IMG_0506 IMG_0508 IMG_0511 IMG_0524 IMG_0576  IMG_0582 IMG_0601 IMG_0612 IMG_0629 IMG_0638 IMG_0642             

Once there we got to swim with Tawny Nurse Sharks. After lunch we got on a 900HP boat that took us to the falls. AMAZING! At one point we were doing 15knots and not getting away from the falls. That’s how strong the current was near the falls.IMG_0650 IMG_0656 IMG_0699 IMG_0703 IMG_0710 IMG_0715 IMG_0723 IMG_0737 IMG_0751 IMG_0787 IMG_0791 IMG_0795 IMG_0798 IMG_0807 IMG_0847

A trip to Broome is incomplete without a visit to Cable beach. We celebrated Amir’s bd at the beach but unfortunately the weather was miserable so couldn’t stay for long.IMG_0864 IMG_0869 IMG_0855 IMG_0888 IMG_0875 IMG_0872

Visitor in the toilet - yikes

Visitor in the toilet – yikes

After a few days at Broome we started our Journey towards Perth. Next Stop, 80 Mile Beach and arguably one of the best run caravan parks in Australia.

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Derby
July 172015

Derby

IMG_0372 IMG_0373IMG_0365 IMG_0458We relaxed in Derby, plain and simple! Stayed in a cabin, ate out and did some sightseeing.
Derby is one of the oldest towns in this area. From old Gaols to settlements, there is proof of Derby’s heritage everywhere.IMG_0433

Thought of you Sherjeel :-)

Thought of you Sherjeel ūüôā

Nice place for some kebabs

Nice place for some kebabs

Went to the Jetty for sunset.IMG_0393  IMG_0410 IMG_0425 IMG_0427

Saw the old Gaol right in the middle of town.IMG_0436 IMG_0437 IMG_0438 IMG_0440 IMG_0441

As we left Derby, we stopped by the prison tree which is believed to be 1500 years old although the age is more of guesstimate given the tree is hollow and therefore no age rings exist.IMG_0449 IMG_0452 IMG_0456 IMG_0446

Broome now awaits us where the first thing on the list is a trip to Horizontal Falls.

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Bell Gorge

Bell Gorge

Gibb River Road

July 52015

Bell Gorge, Gibb River Road

A good camping spot is at Silent Grove from where Bell Gorge is only 10kms drive. The camping spot is great with hot showers, flush toilets and drinking water. (Yes flush toilet is a novelty when bush camping).IMG_0318 The walk to the swimming hole is not hard at all but from the swimming hole to the waterfall takes some effort. Kids and I had a great time swimming and Nette enjoyed the sun on the rocks.IMG_0274 IMG_0281 IMG_0279 IMG_0278 IMG_0276 IMG_0298 IMG_0299  IMG_0308 IMG_0312 IMG_0314

Who knew glow sticks could be so much fun

Who knew glow sticks could be so much fun

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Our neighbours at the camp site gave us Spanish Mackerel that they caught on a fishing trip and couldn’t finish it all so dinner went from bangers and mash to fried fish very quickly. Thanks John and Joy for your company & ofcourse the fish ūüôā

Our Gibb River adventure is almost coming to its end with only 2 days to go before we reach Broome. Next stop is Derby where a motel, clean shower & aircon/heater awaits us.

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Mount Barnett Station

Mount Barnett Station

Gibb River Road

July 52015

Mount Barnett Station, Gibb River Road

This is a must stop on Gibb River Road for anyone that plans to do this trip. Manning Gorge walk is about 4kms return and is a hard walk but in the end so worth the effort. The walk starts from a huge waterhole so those that don’t want to walk to the Gorge itself this swimming hole is perfect. Kids had a great time both days at this waterhole.IMG_0139¬† IMG_0136 IMG_0137 IMG_0140 IMG_0142¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

A little “pull yourself” dingy took us across the waterhole from where we started our walk to Manning Gorge.IMG_0135

There are great big water holes at Manning Gorge and the water fall itself is beautiful. Natural jumping platforms and deep water makes this a great spot for everyone.IMG_0148 IMG_0147 IMG_0149 IMG_0158 IMG_0157 IMG_0165 IMG_0160 IMG_0184 IMG_0185 IMG_0186 IMG_0199 IMG_0213  IMG_0237 IMG_0133

We stocked up at Mount Barnett Roadhouse for the next 4 nights of our journey along the Gibb River Road. At the Roadhouse we tried their homemade pies and Mango cheesecake for dinner and honestly they were both THE BEST that we have had.

Courtesy of Gibb River Road

Courtesy of Gibb River Road

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Our next stop was Bell Gorge in the King Leopold Ranges and our last visit to a Gorge along Gibb River Road where swimming is allowed.

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Gibb River

Gibb River

Gibb River Road

July 52015

Gibb River, Gibb River Road

IMG_0091 IMG_0081 We only stayed at this camp site for 2 nights but had a great time camping at the banks of Gibb River where swimming and fishing are the most strenuous activities one can do.IMG_0120 IMG_0115 IMG_0110 IMG_0111 IMG_0114 IMG_0107 IMG_0099 IMG_0128

I decided to give Daal and Rice a go as opposed to standard steak and vegies

I decided to give Daal and Rice a go as opposed to standard steak and vegies

This place is about 2 kms off Gibb River Road towards Kalumburu/Mitchell Falls. Unfortunately we didn’t go to Kalumburu or Mitchell Falls for 2 reasons. The road to Mitchell Falls is notorious for causing damage to cars and a tow out of Mitchell Falls costs $3000-$3500. Second reason is time. We have to be in Perth by the 2nd of August to catch our flight to Oman for 2 weeks.

After our stop at Gibb River we headed off to Mount Barnett where Manning Gorge and homemade pies are just some of the highlights in the area.

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El-Questro

El-Questro

Gibb River Road

July 52015

El-Questro, Gibb River Road

Most people will tell you that they loved El-Questro and what’s there not to love. The scenery is beautiful, gorges are amazing particularly Emma Gorge and the drives to different gorges are even more spectacular. There is one problem though! It is no where near the best that Kimberley has to offer and yet they charge as if it is. Its marketed as a working cattle farm but it has a feel of a tourist resort that has some cattle & horses. Steak costs $45 and a loaf of bread costs $6. Now it is okay to charge this if it was somewhere remote but the fact that its an hour drive from Kununarra & Wyndham makes the charges absurd. Simply put El-Questro is an awesome destination for those that don’t or can’t get on to the Gibb River Road but it’s an Entree to Kimberley without any mains or dessert. With all that said, we would still recommend a visit to Emma Gorge and Zebedee Springs. Afterall, a meal is not complete without its Entree.IMG_9910

Pentecost River crossing into El-Questro

Pentecost River crossing into El-Questro

4WD track to Brancos lookout, Explosion Hole and Chamberlain Gorge was good and the views from the lookout were amazing. We saw a huge croc from the lookout which looked atleast 4 times bigger than a nearby cow. IMG_9912 IMG_9959 IMG_9952 IMG_9917 IMG_9913 IMG_9929 IMG_9934 IMG_9942 IMG_9968 IMG_9983  IMG_9977 IMG_9976 IMG_9972 IMG_9962

Zebedee Springs was beautiful where the water is at a constant 28-32 degrees.IMG_9995

Moonshine Gorge had a very stale feeling to it but we swam there anyways ūüôā

Moonshine Gorge

Moonshine Gorge

 IMG_5104The highlight was definitely Emma Gorge where on one side there is a gorgeous waterfall and a swimming hole and the other side a warm pool which is great because the water in the swimming hole is freezing.IMG_0049 IMG_0050 IMG_0047 IMG_0048 IMG_0046 IMG_0045 IMG_0039

We left El-Questro and headed West on the Gibb River Road where we stayed a night at Pentecost River. The sunset view from our camp site was mesmerising and having great company overnight was an added bonus.IMG_0063 IMG_0078 IMG_0079 IMG_0066 IMG_0059

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Wyndham
July 52015

Wyndham, WA

We only made it to Wyndham by chance as it got too late to get to El Questro in day light.IMG_9884

Our stay was short where kids caught up on some school work, lazed around in the pool and in the evening we went to the five river lookout.IMG_9815 IMG_9808 IMG_9819 IMG_9832 IMG_9841 IMG_9856 IMG_9843

Aasim caused Havoc at the Five Lookout Point so mummy stepped in

Aasim caused Havoc at the Five Lookout Point so mummy stepped in

Aasim took a selfie at the pool

Aasim took a selfie at the pool

I gave our car an oil change and a once over for the nuts and bolts. Found 11 loose nuts after our Bungle Bungles adventure.IMG_9885 IMG_9889 IMG_9890

In the morning we¬†got¬†the support poles welded as 2 had snapped and were held by duct tape. Andy of A&R Welding and Fabrication was very helpful and fixed our poles in true Aussie style for a case of beer ūüôā Love it!

Finally we headed off to El Questro and started our Gibb River Road adventure.IMG_9898

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Bungle Bungles
June 232015

Bungle Bungles

One cannot go all the way to Kimberley and not go to Bungle Bungles. The road to Purnululu National Park is heavily corrugated but we had to see it so off we went.IMG_9684

Bushfire on the way to Bungle Bungles

Bushfire on the way to Bungle Bungles

It is a beautiful place in its own right but in our opinion a helicopter flight is the way to see it. IMG_9692

We camped at the northern end of the national park for 2 nights where we had most of the site to ourselves. The next morning we went for a walk to Echidna with our new friends whom we met at Lake Argyle and spent the rest of the evening chatting and relaxing.IMG_9799 IMG_9801 IMG_9790 IMG_9742 IMG_9758 IMG_9765 IMG_9779 IMG_9788

Off all the places we have seen so far including those of Aboriginal significance, Bungle Bungles has to be our least favourite only because the road to Bungle Bungles is bad and it took us approx. 6 hours to get there from Kununurra. I recon we would have seen more by air but then money was an issue.

I tried making Kebabs

I tried making Kebabs

Saw a couple of these Eagles on the way to Bungle Bungles

Saw a couple of these Eagles on the way to Bungle Bungles

After 2 day we packed our camper and headed off to Kununurra where we had planned to stay 2.3 night. In Kununurra plans changed and we took off for Wyndham instead.

 

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Lake Argyle
June 202015

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle is about 75kms from Kununarra and is our first stop over in WA.

Quarantine at WA/NT border

Quarantine at WA/NT border

IMG_9548It is a magnificent place where we lazed around for 2 nights at Lake Argyle Caravan Park, swam in their amazing infinity pool and finally got the isolator to work properly; thanks to our good neighbour who pointed out my stupidity that connections to the isolator were done the wrong way round.IMG_9558 IMG_9576 IMG_9587 IMG_9593 IMG_9594 IMG_9602 IMG_9601 IMG_9597 IMG_9639

P1240091We had “some” incidents at Lake Argyle. The metal plate for the support poles came off on one side so we bought bigger screws from Kununarra and fixed that. Then I had a little fire issue when the 12v plugs and connector got too hot and caught fire:-)IMG_9577 IMG_9579 IMG_9584

Local Black Cockatoo

Local Black Cockatoo

I got to hear about THE BEST first world problem at the information centre in Kununarra. A group of 8-9 people who were booking for El-Questro Wilderness and were in the queue ahead of me. I started chatting to this older fella and found out that they were on a “plane safari”. Basically they all have private planes and are flying from their towns in QLD all over Australia. Their first world problem is that the airport in Broome made them park their plane away from the terminal and they had to cart their luggage to the terminal themselves. They also have to do their own pre and post flight checks. My heart bleeds for their troubles.

Night Sky at Lake Argyle

Night Sky at Lake Argyle

After stopping for a couple of nights, restocking at Kununarra we headed off to Bungle Bungles.

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Litchfield National Park

Throughout Top End of Australia there are beautiful waterfalls, water holes and beaches. Unfortunately, there are also crocs, box jelly fish & other things that basically wants to kill you in the water so swimming is generally out of the question.

Buley Rock Hole

Buley Rock Hole

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Litchfield National Park is an exception to that rule. There are at least 6 waterfalls where you can swim and each one is beautiful in its own right. Rangers do a bang on job in keeping crocs out of the water falls although they do a piss poor job in maintaining camp facilities, or at least that was our experience.

Florence Falls

Florence Falls

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If “off the beaten track” is your thing, than I suggest camping at Sandy Creek where the waterfall is about 3.4kms return walk to the car park. its an easy walk that leads to one of the most fantastic swimming holes in Litchfield National Park.IMG_9371 IMG_9374 IMG_9370 IMG_9369 IMG_9368IMG_9417 IMG_9420 IMG_9385 IMG_9403 IMG_9402 IMG_9395 IMG_9405 IMG_9408 IMG_9410 P1170016¬† IMG_9467 IMG_9469

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Termite mounds grow over 2mtr tall

Termite mounds grow over 2mtr tall

Finney found this in the chair as we started packing up

Finney found this in the chair as we started packing up

Wangi Falls is also a great spot for swimming but gets very busy particularly during the weekend as the park is only 1.5hours drive from Darwin. We had a great time swimming here and getting wet under the waterfall.IMG_9421 IMG_9427 P1180053 P1180081 P1180084 P1180048 P1180041 P1180076 P1170027

Resident water monitor at Wangi Falls

Resident water monitor at Wangi Falls

I also got to do my first big-gish river crossing at Reynolds River which is about .6mtr deep. It was a great experience and I was looking forward to do the Ivanhoe crossing but I have since heard that it is now closed and cannot be crossed so that kinda sucks.IMG_9459

From Litchfield we started our journey towards Kimberley. We stopped at the butterfly farm in Batchelor for lunch where the kids had a great time feeding bunnies. The host “Chris” was a true outback character and took great joy in telling us about his business.IMG_9481 IMG_9483 IMG_9484 IMG_9486 IMG_9487¬† IMG_9495 IMG_9498 IMG_9502 IMG_9506

After our stop over at the butterfly farm we headed towards Katherine where our friends at Northbank Caravan Park were kind enough to let us camp on their front lawn as the park was fully occupied. Elona and Peter, owners of the Northbank Caravan Park welcomed us back like family. I think¬†these guys¬†have worked out that the key to great¬†customer service¬†is connecting with your customer at a personal level or maybe its just plain “country” hospitality. Either way, we need a lot more of it.IMG_9511

Fireants at our campsite in Katherine - Ouch!

Fireants at our campsite in Katherine – Ouch!

An unexpected surprise was meeting up with Ken and May in Katherine who we met at West MacDonnell Ranges in South Australia. We spent the day with the them chatting and swimming at the hot springs. They bought swimming noodles for the kids which we had been unable to find anywhere. Thanks May & Ken. Those noodles are already being put to great use at Lake Argyle.

After restocking at Katherine, we headed towards Kununarra in WA.

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Cobourg Peninsula
June 102015

Cobourg Peninsula

We had heard lots of things about this place. Some said the roads were almost impassable and others said that the place was infested with crocs but it is the northern most point in mainland NT so a trip to Cobourg Peninsula was always on the cards, however; a trip to Cobourg must not be taken lightly and should be planned properly. There are no supplies available between Jabiru and Cobourg.IMG_9136

We left Darwin with our little tent and headed back into Kakadu National Park which is the gateway into Arnhem land and Coburg Peninsula. Our first obstacle was the Cahill Crossing (South Alligator River) which can only be crossed at certain times based on tides. We don’t have a snorkel so getting it right was imperative. It’s not like I can walk the crossing first given there are saltys in the river.

We stayed the night in Kakadu at Merl camp grounds near Ubirr. The spot was nice but killer mozzies as is the case in most of Kakadu.IMG_8994

Next morning we crossed South Alligator River at low tide and headed into Arnhem Land. The permit only allows people to drive through Arnhem Land without any allowance for stop overs except for emergencies although I strongly suggest driving slow and enjoying the scenery. The drive is absolutely beautiful and it makes sense why this area is so sacred to Aboriginals.IMG_9025 IMG_9012 IMG_9013  IMG_9318 IMG_9333 IMG_9336
 
IMG_9040The drive wasn’t as bad as we were told until we got to the park entrance where corrugations are like little mountains and can shake the shit out of any car.IMG_9038

IMG_9279 IMG_9281 IMG_9282The area itself though is heavenly. Unspoilt beaches amongst monsoonal forests and each bend in the road was a delight to our eyes. There is all kinds of wildlife around including black cockatoos, dingos, wallabies, frogs, eagles, bandicoot and of course crocs. Although inviting, in the water there is box jelly fish, stone fish, blue ringed octopus & sea snakes so swimming is definitely out of the question. Fishing on the other hand is brilliant or so they told us as we caught a big one called “nothing”.IMG_9046 IMG_9069 IMG_9174 IMG_9147 IMG_9136 IMG_9199 IMG_9207 IMG_9215 IMG_9219 IMG_9236 IMG_9256 IMG_9277 IMG_9299 IMG_9291 IMG_9304 IMG_9307 IMG_9311

The beach was full of big shells

The beach was full of big shells

Aasim was not happy about the constant school work others had to do

Aasim was not happy about the constant school work others had to do

There are no coconut trees so our theory is that this one came from Indonesia

There are no coconut trees so our theory is that this one came from Indonesia

Me trying to fish

Man & reel against the Ocean

Oysters fresh off the beach.IMG_9265 IMG_9268 IMG_9269 IMG_9264 IMG_9261

Amir hated the Oysters

Amir hated the Oysters

We camped at Camp site 1 where generators are not allowed. Camping area was probably one of the best we have seen in a National Park. There is hot showers, clean toilet, shaded pergola, picnic table, BBQ and bins that are collected every day by the Rangers.IMG_9092 IMG_9093 IMG_9076

Amir taking the light off

Amir taking the light off

Corrugation after Merl camp ground and particularly in the National Park is really bad to the point that it rattled the dip stick tube out of the engine. With no supplies, petrol stations or mechanics for atleast 350kms in Jabiru we had to improvise. Sat phone finally came in handy. A short call to Dad for some advise, silastic and half a litre of oil got us from Garig Gunak Barlu National Park to Jabiru where we stayed the night and fixed the tube.

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Bush fire in action

Bush fire in action

From Jabiru we made our way to Darwin to collect our camper trailer and headed off to Litchfield National Park where waterfalls and swimming holes await us.

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Darwin
June 102015

Darwin

For us our visit to Darwin was about ticking off a bucket list item; diving with a salt water crocodile. Diving operator, Crocosaurus Cove were just eh! but the experience of diving with a croc was definitely one for the long term memory vault.IMG_8837 IMG_8798 IMG_8905 IMG_8815 IMG_8830 IMG_8925 IMG_8962 IMG_8956 IMG_8955

When we left Kakadu for Darwin we had a soaking wet tent and a car battery that had to be charged every morning with a generator to kick start our Campion. Yup kids named the car – Campion. Our camping champion ūüôā

So in Darwin we found ourselves a cabin and relaxed for 3 nights. We bought a new car battery and at the same time dual battery kit for Campion. Now the fridge battery charges when I drive and I no longer have to stress about getting to civilization to charge the fridge battery, laptop and other stuff.IMG_4909 IMG_4911 IMG_9072 IMG_9087

Resident Green Frog at Oasis Caravan Park

Resident Green Frog at Oasis Caravan Park

First night in Darwin we went to Mindil market for dinner and it was a let down. It isn’t really a market but more like a festival where everything costs 4 times more. Dinner costed $100 and all we ate was 16 pieces of meat on the bone. She even tried to short change me but Nette picked it and asked for the correct change.

Next day after drying our tent we went to the local camping store. While I went shopping, Nette called Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife to enquire about Cobourg Peninsula. As it turned out their office was about 10 mins away from where we were so we went in and applied for a permit to go up to Cobourg. It only took a day to process it so we got our pass the next morning. For sunset we went to Mindil beach. Sunset was beautiful but can’t say the same for the beach.IMG_8777 IMG_8756 IMG_8746 IMG_8767

This is for you Grandma & Poppy - Miss you guys Heaps

This is for you Grandma & Poppy – Miss you guys Heaps

After stocking up the next morning we picked up our permit and then went to the free water park. Kids & I had a ball on the free slide. IMG_8987 P1070045 P1070044 P1070036 P1070061 P1070058 P1070055 P1070053

Later we decided to not take our camper trailer into Cobourg so we left it at the caravan park and packed Campion to travel towards one of the most isolated places in Australia.

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Kakadu
June 22015

Kakadu

It was with great expectations that we entered Kakadu given there is so much hype about this National Park. We weren’t very impressed with the scenery as we entered from the southern end but by the time we hit Cooinda and yellow water cruise, Kakadu had made its mark on our memory. IMG_7741¬†IMG_8212

We stayed our first night at Gunlom. From the looks of it the road had recently been graded so it was an easy drive in with a billion and 1 other campers in the area. The water fall was still trickling and the pool was full. We saw some brumbies by our tent maybe 50mtrs away. Its a good site with plenty of room and hot shower/toilets available. Infact the camping facilities in Kakadu National Park are the best we have seen so far.IMG_8227 IMG_8242 IMG_8249 IMG_8258 IMG_8274

Next morning we headed off to Mardugal camping spot which is approximately 7-8kms from Cooinda. Our camp spot was great with plenty of shade and was on the banks of the billabong. The billabong was infested with salties so we were advised to not go near it. We also saw our first of many Cane Toads here. Yuck! They came out after dark en mass and were jumping through the camp ground and were even in the toilets.IMG_8302 IMG_8299 IMG_8312 IMG_8318 IMG_8319 IMG_8311

If you are camping at Mardugal, you are allowed to use the swimming pool at Gagudju Lodge in Cooinda, an offer we did not pass up.IMG_8289

Our first Barra at Cooinda

Our first Barra at Cooinda

At Cooinda we also booked for their yellow water cruise which we did at sunrise and OH MY GOD! Photos cannot describe how beautiful this place was. 2 hours went past in a flash. After the cruise they provided breakfast which was a welcome change to my breakfast menu – egg sandwitches or wheat-bix.IMG_8345 IMG_8431 IMG_8384 IMG_8467 IMG_8415 IMG_8430 IMG_8447 IMG_8452 IMG_8458 IMG_8471 IMG_8490 IMG_8505 IMG_8514 IMG_8567 IMG_8571 IMG_8583 IMG_8591 IMG_8593

After breakfast we went to the cultural centre which is only 2 kms from Cooinda. 2 local women were weaving pandanus palm and cooking damper. They even made Finney eat bush tucker from Kakadu.IMG_8612 IMG_8626 IMG_8628 IMG_8635 IMG_8610 IMG_8609

Our last day at Kakadu we visited Ubirr and apart from Aborigional rock art, there is the most amazing lookout there.

IMG_8651 IMG_8667 IMG_8659 IMG_8655 IMG_8653 IMG_8689 IMG_8677 IMG_0287At night we got drenched in our very first tropical rain. The tent leaked from almost every corner as rain poured all night and into the next morning. We were up all night anyways so packed up at 7AM (in our swimmers) and had breakfast at Cooinda again.IMG_8734

Kakadu is beautiful at the beginning of dry season when we visited but we can only imagine how amazing it will be in the wet. And so, Kakadu makes it on our list of places to visit again.

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Katherine
June 12015

Katherine

What can I say! This is where the outback meets the tropic. 32 degree days and 18-20 degree nights. PERFECT!
Our plan was to do the drive in 2-3 days but instead I did it in 1. Yup drove all day, slept for 2-3 hours at night in the car and then kept going. IMG_7787

Next day and only 100 kms south of Katherine, we stopped at Mataranka where we all swam in the thermal pool. Warm as a bath and crystal clear as the beaches of the Great Barrier Reef. A beautiful location and an awesome welcome to the tropical weather of the Top End.IMG_7745 IMG_7765  IMG_7755 IMG_7767 IMG_7774 IMG_7782 IMG_7783

IMG_7758There is a house there used in the movie “We of the Never Never” along with a collection of gowns from the movie.IMG_7751 IMG_7747 IMG_7750

In Katherine we stopped at North Bank Caravan Park which is privately owned and the owners Peter & Alona are just great. It costed only $28 a night and washing machine costed $2 a load. By comparison, Big 4 were charging $68 a night and $5 a load for the washing. We had a beautiful shady site close to new amenities. Kids enjoyed feeding the goats every morning and caught up on their school work. Even Aasim decided to do some painting.IMG_7793 IMG_7810 IMG_7807 IMG_7799 IMG_8152 IMG_4877

IMG_8029Katherine also has a thermal pool where we went every day after school work. Kids also tried their luck with fishing at the river but unfortunately no Barra for us.IMG_8046 IMG_8091 IMG_8041 IMG_8096 IMG_8165 IMG_8175

But the highlight of Katherine has to be the Katherine Gorge. If I could afford it, I would have taken the helicopter flight which takes you to an isolated exclusive water fall after a scenic flight over all 13 Gorges. Instead, we took the afternoon cruise which, thanks to some late arrivals, ended up being a sunset cruise. The guide was absolutely brilliant and provided all the why’s and when’s of the Gorge. Kids hate it when they learn something new because then I ask them to write a report on what they learnt ūüôāIMG_7811 IMG_7814 IMG_7821 IMG_7860 IMG_7921 IMG_7949 IMG_7965 IMG_7998 IMG_7996 IMG_8008

IMG_7850We left Katherine after 4 nights and on our way to Kakadu National Park, stopped at Edith waterfall. It is another beautiful spot where I would have liked to camp for 3-4 nights and do all the walks but time is against us and so this was parked for our next trip sometime in the future.IMG_8180 IMG_8185 IMG_8196 IMG_8199

 

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Alice Springs & Devils Marbles

Our stop over in Alice Springs was all about fixing the tent, restocking, going backwards and forwards to the post office for kids school work and taking it easy. Its a good little town and after speaking to some of the locals and regulars in Alice it turns out that wasn’t always the case. Coppers do a great job up in Alice and our experience was nothing but awesome.

Perhaps one of the reasons we had a great time in Alice is that we stayed in Hyatt as opposed to a tent considering the tent had to be repaired.

Okay it was just a cabin named Hyatt but we enjoyed it all the same :-)

Okay it was just a cabin named Hyatt but we enjoyed it all the same ūüôā

 

These whistling kites are everywhere in NT

These whistling kites are everywhere in NT

Kids caught up on some of the school work and thanks to the amazing teachers at Sydney Distance Education (Sarah, Catherine & Martin) we got kids school work sent to us at the post office. Thank you guys! You have made this whole distance learning business so easy for us all.

The postal system however is as shit as we expected. It took 2 weeks for 2 parcels to arrive from Sydney into Alice Springs and 1 was lost by the post office for 2 days before we received it.

We went to the Transport Hall of Fame at Alice Springs and¬† had a great time looking through it all. Dad, if you are reading this then the only car they didn’t have was your A Model Ford although they did have a 1923 Rolls. Perhaps you can call them and ask to swap ūüôā

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At the truck Museum we learnt all about Tom Kruse who Amir now calls a legend but the reality is our history is full of legends who made unbelievable things happen just by persistence and hard work. I recon we can all learn a thing or two about hard work and success from these early outback pioneers.

Road train in action in the middle of Alice.

Road train in action in the middle of Alice.

Next stop was¬†Desert Dwellers Camping Store to buy some supplies and it is by far the biggest camping store I have ever seen. Their slogan ” If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!” was enough to draw us there. If you are an avid camping enthusiast, do stop at Desert Dwellers.

80kms north of Alice there is a Mango farm which is a must stop for anyone in that area if Mangoes are your thing. They have 2000 mango trees and make everything from wine to jam from those mangoes. We all had ice-cream and bought some jam before heading off to Katherine. The farm is apparently for sale so if you have a cool $1.5M stashed away somewhere, by all means make an offer.

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After stopping for mango “everything”, we headed off to Devils Marbles which is about 400kms from Alice. We reached there just before sunset so amongst the spectacular backdrop of the rocks we had dinner and then continued our journey to Katherine. Drive to Katherine turned out to be our longest drive yet but soooo worth it.IMG_7681 IMG_7687 IMG_7689 IMG_7708 IMG_7709 IMG_7680 IMG_4810

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MacDonnell Ranges

“That’s not what my eyes can see” is all I heard from¬†Nette once we reached West Macdonnell Ranges and she started to take photos.¬†Believe me when I say this¬†that none of the photos we have taken in MacDonnell Ranges do justice to the serene beauty of this place.¬†IMG_7481

After Kings Canyon we stopped at a lookout where you can see the canyon from a distance. We met a French couple there who imported their car from France and were doing the trip around the country. What a gutsy move!FHD4734 IMG_7396

The drive into Glen Helen, which was our stop at¬†West MacDonnell Ranges, was BEAUTIFUL but unfortunately I have no photos to prove it. I “joked” with Nette that we only have quarter of a tank worth of diesel left and forgot that I had said it. She quietly freaked out and didn’t touch the camera until we reached Glen Helen. You would think after 12 years she would know when I am pulling her leg.IMG_7412

We didn’t like Glen Helen Resort very much but the area itself was jaw dropping beautiful. We met¬†Ken¬†& May¬†whose life story is so fascinating that we spent hours talking to them. May cooked brownies for the kids and Ken helped fix the axe. They even called us from Alice & Devils Marbles to give us a quick review of the accommodation. Thanks Ken & May. The world needs more people like you in it.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

IMG_7486 IMG_4775 FHD4779 FHD4776 IMG_7488 IMG_7491 IMG_7498 IMG_7493A must see in West MacDonnell Ranges is Ormiston Gorge which in our opinion was even nicer than Kings Canyon. Iced Coffee at the caf√© there is just to die for. There are excellent picnic and camping facilities at Ormiston Gorge. We wished we had stayed there instead of Glen Helen but then we wouldn’t have met May & Ken.IMG_7413 IMG_7416 IMG_7418 IMG_7427 IMG_7433 IMG_7439 IMG_7460 IMG_7455 IMG_7449 IMG_7448 IMG_7444 IMG_7475

There are heaps of other gorges around but like I say 10 months is not enough time to see everything. The most famous is called Standley Chasm which we didn’t go to ourselves as we had walked through other gorges in the area. There is also a charge to go into Standley Chasm which was another deterrent for us.

We left West MacDonnell Ranges constantly marvelling at the scenery thinking nothing can beat this only to find that we loved East MacDonnell Ranges more. We stopped at John Hayes rock hole which is only accessible by a high clearance 4WD but a beautiful spot to camp and some great walks in the area.IMG_7527 IMG_7517 IMG_7511

Trephina Gorge is 4Kms from John Hayes rock hole and is the most famous in the area. The camp site here gets filled very quickly on the weekend. We didn’t camp here initially as our aim was to get to Ruby Gap.IMG_7530 IMG_7534 IMG_7538 IMG_4795 FHD4783

Ruby Gap is also only accessible by a high clearance 4WD. The last 30 odd kms are quite rough and it can take up to 2 hours to travel the distance. Ruby Gap got its name when some guy in 1886 found what he thought was a Ruby and it started the ruby rush in this area. It took 6 months to have the stones verified only to be labelled Garnets as opposed to Rubies. The miners emptied their carts where they stood and left as the Garnets were not worth anything. This place has to be our most favourite camping spot so far and definitely the most remote. As always it was not without its dramas but Garnet shimmering sand by our feet, 8ft deep water hole for refreshing swims and pin pricked night sky by a raging fire was all worth the effort.IMG_7541 IMG_7553 IMG_7551 IMG_7548 IMG_7600 IMG_7606 IMG_7556 IMG_7577 IMG_7613 IMG_7631 IMG_7632 IMG_7634  IMG_7566 IMG_7574 

This is where we enjoyed last of the Nutella Anna

This is where we enjoyed last of the Nutella Anna

I got bogged with the trailer in pitch dark as we arrived at Ruby Gap at night so we all slept in the car the first night and in the morning lowered tyre pressure got us out with no trouble. Kids constantly picked up little Garnets and by the end we had a nice stash. IMG_7545 IMG_7542 IMG_7544 IMG_4797  IMG_7557

We walked our legs off to Glen Annie Gorge but found no water at Glen Annie. Along the way we found a water hole where kids and I had a dip in the crystal clear water. It was a bit fresh but once we were in we were numb ūüôā

IMG_7589 IMG_4803As we started to pack up in the morning to leave for Alice Mat & Michele who we met at Gammon Ranges turned up. Rob & Megan who we had met the previous evening also arrived and so after a couple of drinks we all went to Trephina Gorge where Mat & Michele were camping and stayed the night there. Needless to say there were a few sore heads the next morning but we all had a great time. Rob, Megan, Mat & Michele look forward to our next run in with you  guys. Your great company made Trephina a memorable place.FHD4824 FHD4788

 

 

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Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Red Centre Way

May 212015

Kings Canyon

Red Centre Way took us from Uluru to Alice Springs and is a beautiful drive. There is a little 4wd track off Ernest Giles Rd that I really wanted to do which would have taken us into Finke Gorge but unfortunately time was running out as it seems 10 months around Australia is about 3 years too short.

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Ernest Giles Rd

Ernest Giles Rd

Our first stop was Salt Creek rest area which is generally quite busy but if you could drive over the dune and camp behind it there is hardly anyone that comes there. A family of Galahs make home in the trees around the dune and¬† baby magpie’s were the star attraction for the kids as they followed the babies everywhere.IMG_7321 IMG_7333 IMG_7327¬† IMG_7353

Kids did their school work at Salt Creek and finally started to get into a rhythm with their studies which is only made easy by the amazing work teachers at Sydney Distance Education Primary School are doing. Thanks Sarah, Martin & Catherine for your support and getting us started SDEPS.IMG_7322 

I had a go at making paratha's at Salt Creek using a tree branch for a rolling pin

I had a go at making paratha’s at Salt Creek using a tree branch for a rolling pin

Next stop, Kings Creek Station where the kids had a great time with the animals. IMG_7365At Kings Canyon we did the creek walk and kids spent the time spotting different types of lizards. And ofcourse a stop over will not be complete without something breaking. One of the T nuts in the support poles broke and so out came the duct tape Рagain. IMG_7313 IMG_7385 IMG_7382 IMG_7386 IMG_7388

 

Pride Rock with skinny Simba

Pride Rock with skinny Simba

Journey into West MacDonnell Ranges after Kings Canyon requires a permit which we got from Kings Canyon Resort but the trip was by far the most beautiful and rough at the same time.

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Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Ayers Rock Resort

May 142015

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Wowwww! What a magical place Uluru is. The shear size of the rock is awe inspiring. It takes a good couple of minutes to adjust to the dizziness as you drive and see Uluru for the first time.IMG_4684

After leaving Coober Pedy we stopped in Marla for a night to recharge ourselves¬†given the “adventure”¬†we had in CP. Marla Road House restaurant sells the best T-Bone ever and people there are¬†some of the friendliest. A must stop if you are going through this road.

Next morning we took off for Uluru. We stopped at the border of SA and NT along the way and had lunch where kids enjoyed being in 2 States at the same time.IMG_7016 IMG_7018 IMG_7035 IMG_7039 IMG_7040

On our way we saw 6-7 Wedge Tail Eagles and turned around to take some photos. They were still not as huge as the one we saw on our way to Gammon Ranges but I find them absolutely beautiful and wish I had stopped the car and took photos properly. Hopefully I will find more of them soon.IMG_7067 IMG_7075 IMG_7094

We stayed at Ayers Rock Resort Campground in a powered site where we go “pay for 2 stay for 3 days” deal.¬†The¬†resort/camp grounds are great with a pool,¬†laundry, play ground, shops, camel farm, cultural theatre, shopping centre¬†and a range of accommodation to suit all budgets.¬†Amenities were great with the best hot showers we have had since leaving home.¬†First day we did the washing as it was wayyyy over due and Geanette did some sewing and duct taping to fix the rip in the tent. Afternoon we went to see Uluru, did a small walk and then settled at the viewing area for the sunset. The colours change so dramatically as the sunsets that every shot brings different colours. Absolutely fantastic!IMG_4677 IMG_4678 IMG_4681¬† IMG_4737

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IMG_4693 IMG_4689 IMG_4721Next day we went to see Olgas, another rock formation close to Uluru which was as breathtaking as Uluru itself. The walk to the canyon was brilliant and even the kids enjoyed it. I did have to promise an ice block or 2 to Aasim but well worth it ūüôāIMG_7258 IMG_7264 IMG_7270 IMG_7271 IMG_7273 IMG_7275 IMG_7279 IMG_7290 IMG_7292

It got really cold at night at Uluru so I picked up a small heater from IGA which atleast took the chill off the tent. We wanted to get up and see the sunrise as well but the heater made it really hard to get out of bed at that time.

This is the only place where I have seen 130km/hr speed limit in Australia but with me doing 70km/hr I am making more enemies than friends. Well atleast I am getting 10.2ltrs/100 kms.IMG_7027 IMG_7097

Our magical time at Ayers Rock came to an end after 3 nights and we headed towards Kings Canyon via Red Centre Way. Can’t wait to get further north where the air and water temperature are both to our liking. Not sure about the crocs but will cross that bridge when we get there.

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Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy

South Australia

May 82015

Coober Pedy

We arrived at Coober Pedy after sunset so decided to stay in an underground hotel. The novelty wore off in about 20 mins when our bed starting to move everytime we put our back on the head board. I mean seriously Рwheels on tiles! what were they thinking.

IMG_6834 IMG_6833 IMG_4610 IMG_4608 (2)Next day we setup camp at Hutchinson Memorial which is about 12 kms south of Coober Pedy and the site itself is great.

IMG_6848 IMG_6853 IMG_6854 IMG_4629¬†Sunsets are absolutely beautiful out here but be careful of the winds as you will later see ūüôā

IMG_6961 IMG_6955Next day we visited some places in Coober Pedy and I have to admit seeing everything underground from churches to homes is really kwool. Kids had a play at the play ground and we all took turns using the space age toilet that cleans itself. We had a go at digging for Opals and found a couple of small Opals.

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A small road train

A small road train

Finally the day came to leave and disaster! There were ridiculous winds that ripped our tent about 1mtr high and 50cms wide and when we got everything packed, battery on the car died.Struggling in the wind  

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Thankfully the tent is insured and I will have it fixed in Alice Springs. Until then, duct tape has to do the trick. Hopefully all our other stop over are not as crazy as this one.

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Oodnadatta Track

Oodnadatta Track

Oodnadatta Track, SA

May 72015

Oodnadatta Track

Oodnadatta Track is the reason why we took the long way to Coober Pedy and it did not disappoint – mostly. I wanted to do this 4wd track after watching some youtube videos and it payed off. The track is amazing and so is the landscape which changes almost instantly from sand dunes to gibber plains.

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Our trip started from Marree where I paid $1.84 for diesel ūüôĀ Geanette and I had a good laugh about the Yacht Club in Marree and the questionable licenced restaurant near the petrol station. Wonder where they take their Yachts?

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Our first stop was Curdimurka which is an old railway siding from the old Ghan. It’s a nice place to stay with a little history lesson for the kids and adults alike. We explored the area in the afternoon and kids did their homework during the day. There is a creek nearby that even had water, black swans, seagulls as well as some dingo foot prints.

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Leening

Leaning tower of Curdimurka or otherwise known as the desalination tower – Relics of the old Ghan railway

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Reminisce of Old Ghan Railway

Reminisce of Old Ghan Railway

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IMG_6653Kids (&I) had a good time playing train on the old Ghan tracks and we enjoyed the sleepers as firewood.

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Almost lost my trusted rag but Nette rescued it.

Almost lost my trusted rag but Nette rescued it.

Our next stop was Coward Springs and it was a major let down. We only went there for the hot water spring which more looked like a dirty spa bath with soapy water. We got in and had fun all the same. Nette recons we were dirtier after the dip.

IMG_6722 IMG_6721Last stop before our turn off to Coober Pedy was Halligan Bay @ Lake Eyre where we saw snow. Okay it was salt, not snow but we fooled the kids atleast. It is a surreal place and words or pictures cannot do it justice.

IMG_6745 IMG_6739 IMG_6732 IMG_6746 IMG_6758 IMG_6759 IMG_6763 IMG_6770 IMG_6771 IMG_6772IMG_4587We left Halligan Bay and went off to Coober Pedy via William Creek but didn’t get a chance to stop as sunset was approaching fast and we had to make it to Coober Pedy.IMG_6803

IMG_6821 IMG_6818Our plans to continue back on the Oodnadatta track got smashed as soon as the winds at Coober Pedy decided to rip our tent and so the Pink Road House & The Painted Desert has to wait for another trip.

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Leigh Creek, SA

Leigh Creek, SA

Leigh Creek, SA

May 62015

Leigh Creek, SA

Leigh Creek was our stocking station before we start our journey on the Oodnadatta Track. We left Gammon Ranges on Saturday morning thinking we will stock up and keep going only to find that the grocery store was closed due to Anzac Day. Because its a small town, grocery store was closed on Sunday as well so we ended up staying 2 nights in Leigh Creek.IMG_6505

We took the opportunity to bludge and stay in a motel instead of camp and it was bliss after a few weeks of camping. It’s funny how small things like TV, microwave and¬†hot water on demand¬†that we generally take for granted can become such a treat after few¬†weeks of roughing it.

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I setup the play station for the kids and they all had a ball of a time. Aasim was happy just to watch ABC kids on tele. We went to Copley to eat at Quandong Cafe & Bush Bakery and the food/Coffee was amazing as were the owners. Kids watched the coal train go past at Copley with 171 carriages.

Kids big and small enjoyed the park

Kids big and small enjoyed the park

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We also visited Aroona Dam which was Copley and Leigh Creek’s water supply and is a beautiful spot for a picnic.

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We highly recommend fried chicken from Leigh Creek service station. One of the best we have ever had or perhaps after weeks of bangers and mash everything tastes better than ever ūüôā

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North Flinders Ranges, Arkaroola & Gammon Ranges NP
May 12015

North Flinders Ranges, Arkaroola & Gammon Ranges NP

From Cameron Corner the roads were closed including the Strzelecki Track which was our way into SA (Flinders Ranges). We met a couple at Cameron Corner who said the roads were good enough to drive on and so without realising that there is a big fat fine to pay whilst driving on closed tracks, we headed off to Merty Merty.vlcsnap-2015-04-26-20h11m32s196 IMG_6326

The road was okay to drive with a few soft spots here and there but we met the grader who said we should get off the track or there could be a heavy fine. So I got off and instantly got bogged. The grader was nice enough to pull me out. After all, it was his fault or atleast that’s how the story goes.vlcsnap-2015-04-26-20h10m25s825

We pulled an over nighter at Strzelecki Creek where one of the truckies told us all about 4 different types of snakes that are all over the creek so we huddled up in the tent until the sun came out but it was the longest night of our lives with temp reaching 2 degrees at around 4AM. We had no blankets to cover ourselves with since we (I) decided to put up the small tent and sleep in our clothes. By morning, my fingers were all crooked and I couldn’t move my legs. With great difficulty, we packed the tent and took off in the morning to Gammon Ranges.FHD0102

We enjoyed our time at Gammon Ranges and stayed 5 nights in the area. There are some great 4wd tracks around a town called Arkaroola which is a wild life sanctuary. Beautiful water holes are all over the place and some of the walks are just breathtaking.

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Aasim Crashed as soon as we got to Aarkaroola

Aasim Crashed as soon as we got to Aarkaroola

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Loved the Nutella by the water hole

Loved the Nutella by the water hole

We went for a small walk at a place called Pinnacles where I came face to face with a brown striped snake which I later found out was a Death Adder. More info on Death Adder I was trying to climb this rock but came down faster than I went up. At night Rowen (An avid hiker) told me how lucky I was as they generally strike first and ask questions later but probably didn’t because it was scared of freezing its ass off since it was cold.

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Saw the snake just over that ledge all curled up

Saw the snake just over that ledge all curled up

Geanette had a go at making a damper. The first one was left behind for locals to play footy with but the second one was quite nice.IMG_6443 IMG_6458 IMG_6466

Kids started their school work at Grindell‚Äôs Hut and we made some new friends from Mudgee ‚Äď Matt & Michelle. Shared some great stories and laughs with them but not the Port which we enjoyed all by ourselves (Thanks Charl)

School is in session

School is in session

After cleaning up about 2 Tons of dirt from the tent and trailer we headed off to Leigh Creek where we prepared ourselves for the next 700 or so kms of Oodnadatta Track.IMG_6467 IMG_6468 IMG_6469 IMG_6471

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Corner Country – Sturt National Park & Cameron Corner

We arrived at Tibooburra at around lunch time which is the gateway into Corner Country – Sturt National Park & Cameron Corner. There is a good shop to restock at Tibooburra and diesel isn’t as expensive either so I suggest you fill up your long range tank here rather than Cameron Corner where we paid $2.00 per ltr for Diesel.

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At Sturt National Park we first stayed on the east side of the park called Mount Wood. This was a really good site where toilets and drinking water was available. There was free gas BBQ’s as well as a stove for cooking. The only drawback was that at night hoppers and¬† moths come out by the millions. No flies to worry about though – yet!IMG_6238 IMG_6221

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This was our camping spot before we setup tent

This was our camping spot before we setup tent

This was our setup. Shower tent was behind the car and covered area had cooking facilities

This was our setup. Shower tent was behind the car and covered area had cooking facilities

Sunsets were just to die for at Mount Wood.IMG_6248 IMG_6254 IMG_6227

On our second night at Mount Wood there were strong winds to the point that Geanette, Kids and I abandoned the tent and sat in the car. The shower tent flew away which we found in the morning by the billabong. The following morning we packed up and went to the northern most camp site in Sturt National Park called Fort Grey. We took the Gorge Loop Road, The Jump Up loop Road and finally Middle Rd to the camp site. The scenery went from Gibber plains to miles of yellow grassed plains to red dunes all in a 2 hour drive – absolutely gorgeous drive to Fort Grey.FHD0090IMG_6284 IMG_6268 IMG_6289 IMG_6287

So far, Fort Grey has to be our least favourite of the camp sites not because of amenities or lack of them. There was clean toilet, cooking facilities and drinking water but we hated it because of the flies. Until now we hadn’t bothered to put up the annex but because of the flies we put the annex up. Only took us about 2 hours to put it all up after a lot of swearing and cursing. The flies here were so bad that we all wore fly net hats all the time even if we stepped out of the annex for 30 seconds.

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Tried putting the projector on for the kids but the generator couldn't handle it so Fort Grey got a big donation from the Saad Family :-)

Tried putting the projector on for the kids but the generator couldn’t handle it so Fort Grey got a big donation from the Saad Family ūüôā

Our setup at Fort Grey

Our setup at Fort Grey

Our second night at the camp site and it bucketed down. We knew from our gyrocopter friend that weather was expected to change but had no idea what that mean’t. Our tent & annex literally bowed due to the weight of water on canvas. Tent pole that was already questionable finally packed in and Nette & I were up all night pushing water off the canvas which made water leak into the tent – lol. Atleast we took our sense of humor with us and laughed all night. Wonder what our neighbors thought of all the noise in the middle of the night.

Water pushing the canvas down

Water pushing the canvas down

Trying to push the water off

Trying to push the water off

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Next day puddles

Next day puddles

This little guy got into the annex to escape the wet

This little guy got into the annex to escape the wet

The weather cleared up by mid morning but it was too wet to leave and roads were closed so we stayed another night and did all our washing that day.

All done by hand

All done by hand

Following day we left for Cameron Corner. The roads were still pretty wet but atleast open upto Cameron Corner which is where the 3 states meet – SA, NSW & QLD. This is where we saw the dog fence up close which is the longest fence in the world and is designed to keep dingos and wild dogs out of grazing areas. We had to open the fence gate to let ourselves through to Cameron Corner.IMG_6313 IMG_6312 IMG_6324 IMG_6322 IMG_6319

The pub at Cameron Corner is pretty awesome including the people that work there who have a wealth of knowledge of the area and surrounding tracks. Diesel costed us $2.00/ltr and bread costed $5.50. It is in the middle of no where so I guess the prices are somewhat warranted.IMG_6317 IMG_6318

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Broken Hill, NSW

Broken Hill, NSW

Broken Hill

April 212015

Broken Hill, NSW

This was our longest leg of the journey so far from Cobar to Broken Hill, NSW¬†and hopefully will be the last. We don’t intend to drive more than 200 kms each day and stay atleast 2-3 nights everywhere to ensure we see most of the areas we visit.

There was lots to see¬†in Broken Hill and we loved the town. People were nice and everything was within 7 minutes drive.¬†We camped in Colin & Karen’s¬†yard for a¬†couple of days and it was absolutely great meeting up with them. Finney got to¬†cut her cake with the family and¬†they all had a great time with their uncle, auntie and cousins.IMG_6158IMG_4472 IMG_6124 IMG_6165

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Bears and Dolls at Whites Mining Museum

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Colin & Karen’s dogs. Doberman stands tall at 6ft on his back legs. More like a pony than a dog if you ask me.

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Miners memorial. Sad to see how many died at young ages of 13 & 15.

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Love Colin’s bike.

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Bell’s Milkbar – Groovy place.

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Its not what you think it is.

3 places I strongly recommend when you visit Broken Hill. Whites Mining Museum as the tour provided was by an ex miner who knew what he was talking about, the living sculptures & Pro Hart Gallery. IMG_6169 IMG_6166 IMG_6115 IMG_6105 IMG_6087 IMG_6076 IMG_6052 IMG_6050 IMG_6024 IMG_4506 IMG_4485 FHD0052 FHD0048 FHD0044 FHD0042 FHD0038 (2) FHD0026 FHD0024 FHD0022 FHD0021 FHD0015 (2) FHD0012 (2) FHD0009 FHD0004

 

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Cobar, NSW

Cobar, NSW

Florida Rest Stop

April 202015

Cobar, NSW

We stayed 1 night at a rest area 50 kms east of Cobar, NSW and very briefly visited the town. The camp site was at a place called Florida rest stop which was pretty good considering its all free. Most of the rest stops along the way to Broken Hill have toilets (Pit Toilet) and water available but obviously requires treatment for drinking purposes. Our chlorine tablets started to come in handy from this point on. IMG_5962 IMG_5960 IMG_5953  

Kids were amazed at the open cut mine which we saw at Fort Bourke.IMG_5968

They were even more amazed at the trees we saw before Wilcannia that had undies, bras, hats, teddy bears and even TV’s hanging off them.IMG_5982 IMG_5981 IMG_5977 IMG_5976 IMG_5975 IMG_5974

Our main aim was to reach Broken Hill to meet up with Colin, Geanette’s brother and so we left Cobar after refuelling and drove straight through.IMG_5965

 

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Dubbo, NSW

Dubbo, NSW

Dubbo, NSW

April 202015

Dubbo, NSW

Stayed 2 nights at a place called Toongi which is 26 kms south of Dubbo, NSW. The camping area is open and huge and there was only 1 other family camping there.FHD0013 FHD0014 IMG_5821

It rained on the first day but weather cleared up on day 2 and so did Nette’s mood. She is so not a rain and cold¬†weather person ūüôā IMG_5832

We visited Dubbo Gaol where the kids experienced solitary confinement and played around a bit. Aaqib took part in a play at the Gaol in which he assisted a convict escape the prison. He was so stoked.IMG_5909IMG_5880IMG_5870 IMG_5861 IMG_5862 IMG_5863 IMG_5864 IMG_5869 IMG_5899 IMG_5895 IMG_5891 IMG_5857

We tried to get the projector to work at night but (I think) the fuel in the generator was dirty and so the projector kept cutting out. I also didn’t have any sound from the projector so have to work that one out later. It was so cold at night that I got out of bed around 6AM and went into the car with the heater on. It was a great idea leaving all the doona’s behind to save on storage. I am sure Nette won’t let me forget it.

Met a lovely family from Carlingford. People think we are crazy for camping with 4 kids but the Johnston’s were doing it with 6 kids including a 3 month old baby. IMG_5849Good on you Sean and Colleen for proving it can and should be done. IMG_5842 IMG_5844

Finney got her birthday present and we drove around with Happy Birthday Finney on the car all day.IMG_5947 IMG_5933 IMG_5930

Finally, after the  sunset at Dubbo we set off to Broken Hill.IMG_5838IMG_5920

 

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Glen Davis, NSW

Glen Davis, NSW

Glen Davis

April 112015

Glen Davis, NSW

This was our first stop on our 10 month long road trip around Australia. Our plan was to reach Dubbo on day 1 but by the time we left home, dropped our pet snake to a friends house (Thanks Kate Рwe owe you one) and then bid farewell to our Syrian friends it was already 1PM. So we improvised and decided to stay somewhere closer. We wanted to get to Mudgee but it started raining heavy as we headed towards the mountains, so instead of continuning to Mudgee we stopped at Glen Davis.

Taking the Capertee Valley Road we reached our new destination called Glen Davis which is approx 100 kms south of Mudgee and is supposed to be 2nd largest canyon in the world. This was a beautiful free camping spot on the fringe of Wollemi National Park. There is hot showers, flush toilets and drinking water.

In a typical Saad family holiday trend it wasn’t without incidents though. Aasim fell in the mud 5 mins after we arrived and then he got bitten by Bull Ants. Amir face planted over the tent lines and is now sporting a chunky scab on his chin and hand. Garlic leaked in the fridge so everything we are eating has a hint of Garlic which is quite nice actually….NOT. We had to put up the tent in rain, it was freezing cold at night and then had to pack up the next day in rain as well.

On a positive note, the area was beautiful and we met a couple named John & Roslie from Richmond NSW who suggested that we download this app called Wiki Camps which we have already used a couple of times. Thanks John.

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Trial Camping Trip, Jervis Bay NSW

Trial Camping Trip, Jervis Bay NSW

Jervis Bay Cabins & Hidden Creek Caravan Park

February 212015

Light House Ruins Booderee National Park 10934115_10152533152201691_3678297872885682460_o 10931686_10152533154716691_8795789359878272009_o 10920118_10152533156491691_3694023524647575136_o 10918977_10152533151936691_5797265267800168870_o 10918931_10152533156771691_3096572928252379048_o 10911311_10152533154606691_7116319129195920236_o 10911266_10152533152526691_6174357989122660848_o 10904601_10152533154466691_4427440682322983124_o 10904476_10152533151706691_6084521057770203234_o 10904116_10152533153606691_8360089288881873646_o 10896170_10152533155601691_6468744591723009185_o 10896154_10152533152661691_5924237225002134463_o 10869478_10152533155821691_8000086209982561271_o 10869403_10152533152931691_8536107226821716983_o 10854251_10152533156341691_4448274933900055003_o Honeymoon Bay 10830861_10152533154326691_2617738237576331064_o Murrays Beach 10633701_10152533152741691_7275295038062182117_o 10397082_10152533155066691_4618395128217006825_o 1617748_10152533155411691_2079781467873089283_o Botanic Garden Hidden Creek Moona Moona CreekI have to admit, during our Trial Camping Trip at Jervis Bay in December 2014, we didn’t find Hidden Creek as good as some of the other spots but I think that was mainly due to us going to this place straight from Grady’s which we obviously love. It was also Christmas holiday season which in Jervis Bay is a particularly busy time.

Don’t take me wrong, the place wasn’t too bad but it was cramped for our liking and the pond stunk to high heavens. The amenities however were always clean and staff were very helpful. It was also very safe environment with access to park restricted to guests only. All of this was not as big an issue for us given we were hardly on site. If you end up spending your time in a caravan park or hotel whilst in Jervis Bay, particularly if you are able to go out, the word “Nuts” comes to mind.

There are so many beaches to choose from but I have to say that our top 3 favorite sites are:

  • Chinamans Beach
  • Greenpatch (Booderee National Park)
  • Honeymoon Bay (Beecroft Peninsula)

If no surf is your thing, may I also suggest you try Moona Moona Creek although you need to time it right so you are there at high tide. Its a great place if you have small children.

¬†For non beach lovers or if you are all “beached out” then check out some of the local places. There are many walking trails, old light houses, nice restaurants and our personal favorite, The Huskisson Cinema.Huskisson Cineman ¬†

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