Pam's Journal For June 2005

     
  Wednesday 1st June 2005  
  We set off fairly early and had a good run through to Wycliffe Well. We had a couple of stops, one for brunch at the Aileron Roadhouse which is supposed to have won awards for hospitality. Well, maybe the manager was having an off day. Actually, he was good and mad as I overheard him telling someone, “Twenty seven caravans have pulled in and I have only had four customers, the rest have just walked through the shop to use the toilet”. A little rude, I think. If we stop at these roadhouses and use their facilities we always buy something, a drink at least, because if we don’t they will go out of business and then there wouldn’t be a toilet to use!

Wycliffe Well is an unusual place as it is 'the UFO centre of Australia', the location where most UFOs have been sighted. The park is full of murals depicting this, and also statues of aliens. There are even statues of The Incredible Hulk and Elvis. (So now you know what happened to Elvis!!)

We rushed setting up as a free train ride was leaving at 4:00 p.m. The train took us alongside a lake which is full of fish and yabbies (freshwater crayfish). The water is supplied from a number of bores about the place. Very interesting; the owner is trying to improve the park all the time. We alighted at the lake for a look around. After a short while we boarded the train for the return trip. The driver had to drive backwards all the way home as the track has not been completed yet. As soon as we set off we hit a snag, one of the carriages became stuck against a sleeper, so all the men had to get off the train and either lift the carriage or drag away the sleeper. Peter was a dragger and I didn’t even have my camera! Eventually we were off again for a bumpy ride home. All good fun.

We then spent an hour with our next door neighbours having a drink, chatting and watching the sun go down.
 
  Thursday 2nd June 2005  
  We did not rush about this morning as we knew we only had 175 kilometres to drive. We were almost the last to leave. Wycliffe Well is an overnight stop - not many people stay longer than one night.

Our first stop was at Devil’s Marbles, a definite ‘must’ on the tourist list. The rock formations were quite spectacular. Some of the rocks were precariously balanced and looked like they would fall at any moment.

We pressed on to our destination, Tennant Creek, and arrived in time for lunch. We set up camp and after lunch we had a rest as we were a little tired. We did not sleep well last night and were drinking tea and reading at 2:00 a.m.
 
  Friday 3rd June 2005  
  We had a look around Tennant Creek and went to the Cultural Museum. At 4:30 p.m. we went along to Happy Hour and met a couple called Neville and Liz whom we felt we had met before along the track but we were unsure where. As it turned out we were to remain in contact with them for some years.  
  Saturday 4th June 2005  
  Had a picnic lunch out at Mary Ann Dam which is a very pretty spot. Again 4:30 p.m. found us at Happy Hour where we spent a very pleasant hour with a couple called Ken and Daphne. They were on holiday and staying in one of the park's cabins. After dinner we went to see the Jimmy Hooker Bush Tucker show. As Peter has covered this in on the web page, I will not go into detail, I’ll just say we had a very pleasant evening.  
  Sunday 5th June 2005  
  We left Tennant Creek for Daly Waters stopping at Renner Springs for breakfast, and very good it was. We arrived at Daly Waters early afternoon and booked for one night and a barbecue tea, which they are famous for. I will explain who they are: Daly Waters is a pub with a caravan park alongside it. Generally it is an overnight stop as it is remote and very basic. They cram you in like sardines. Strangely we were to meet John, the man who parked the 'vans, some years later in Tamworth. We had a great time, the meal was good, the entertainment was great overall - we had a ball.  
  Monday 6th June 2005  
  Today we should have headed north to Katherine but, alas, someone was under the weather and not fit to travel, whereas I was in excellent spirits. I went over to the pub to book us in for another night and, lo and behold, I bumped into Nev and Liz whom we had met in Tennant Creek. They parked up along side us and later that day we were joined by two other couples (Phil and Dawn, and Ross and Jan) and a very nice time was had by all. Again, we were to remain in contact for years, becoming very good friends and meeting up periodically.

A decent amount of wine and beer was consumed. Half the party went over to the pub for a meal the rest of us joined them later for a drink and the show. The show was excellent apart from some bikies being rude and telling very sick jokes. Frank, the chap who is the main character in the show, is excellent. But Patrick, the young son of the licensee, is also very good and I reckon we will be hearing more of him in the future.
 
  Tuesday 7th June 2005  
  After a very poor night’s sleep due to a dog yapping all night we arose early and hit the road at a reasonable time. Our first stop was Larrimar for breakfast. It was a good feed but a very dilapidated establishment. After we were fed and watered we carried on to Katherine.

The park we are staying at is lovely and green, very clean toilets and showers and they even allow you to wash your car and caravan. More importantly they have an outdoor bar and restaurant where happy hour is celebrated. We duly attended at the appointed time and had an interesting couple of hours talking to a couple that were on holiday from a remote Aboriginal community.
 
  Wednesday 8th June 2005  
  Not a lot happening today. Peter worked on the website and I caught up with the washing and my knitting. During the morning Nev and Liz arrived and we arranged to meet up tonight for happy hour.

Phil and Dawn (from Daly Waters, remember?) also arrived during the day, so come 5:00 p.m. we were once again a jolly little crowd. I hope we weren’t too noisy.
 
  Thursday 9th June 2005  
  We had to be up early to join the Katherine Gorge cruise this morning. It was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed the very spectacular scenery. After the cruise we went to the museum. It was quite interesting, telling us all about the floods and WWII activities that took place in this area. Also this area at one time was home to a lot of Russian peanut farmers. I don’t know why peanuts are not farmed here now.

Come 5:30 p.m. we met up with our friends and had happy hour followed by a very nice meal. We asked another couple, Mick and Maureen to join us. We first met them in Alice Springs. A nice Pommy couple who now live in Adelaide.
 
  Friday 10th June 2005  
  A lazy day today then Liz, Neville, Dawn and Phil came over for drinks. We also invited our new neighbours, Jenny and Ian, an English couple travelling around Australia. We cooked our tea on the park’s barbeque, Jenny and Ian joining us with their salad. It was an excellent night.  
  Saturday 11th June 2005  
  We had to say farewell to Dawn and Phil this morning but we hope to see them again in Darwin. We went for a sundowner at Liz and Neville’s caravan, as did Jenny and Ian.

After drinks Peter and I went to the Rodeo in town. As we hadn’t been to one before it was quite an experience. The bull riders would have to be mad. Nasty looking animals, those bulls, and so many of the riders fell off and were turned on by these ferocious beasts. One Aboriginal family must have had about four young sons competing and they were pretty good. It was a warm evening so it was pleasant to be outside.
 
  Sunday 12th June 2005  
  We said goodbye to Liz and Neville and then to Jenny and Ian. We will see Liz and Neville in Darwin but Jenny and Ian are heading south then across to Queensland. Hopefully we will see them again on the east coast.

We decided to walk over to the Katherine River to see a canoe race but arrived too late. A chap we were talking to said the walk to Katherine Hot Springs was worth doing and pointed in the direction of a path. Off we went, not knowing how far it was, and without taking water. Three kilometres later we bumped into two women who told us we were on the wrong path and the wrong side of the river! So much for men giving directions!!! We returned back to the caravan park having walked six kilometres without seeing the hot springs. Maybe we will do that walk tomorrow.

It is so hot here you really have to walk early morning or late evening and even then the evenings can be warm. A cold diet coke never tasted so good. We felt a little flat because all our friends had moved on so we trotted off to happy hour on our own where we met a lovely couple called Bev and Kev. Happy hour turned into having dinner. We enjoyed a very nice evening with them and finished it off by having a cup of tea in their caravan.
 
  Monday 13th June 2005  
  Busy day getting washing, ironing and cleaning done ready for moving on tomorrow. We went into town to update the website and found everywhere closed; it was a public holiday. We headed back to camp to ready ourselves for ‘happy hour’. Boy, it’s a tough life! We met Bev and Kev for a second time and once more had a very pleasant evening with them which was again finished off by a cup of tea, this time in our caravan.  
  Tuesday 14th June 2005  
  We left Katherine with a certain amount of sadness as we really liked the town and the caravan park, so we decided we would stop there again when we return south. We arrived at Yellow Waters in the Kakadu National Park in plenty of time to go on the Yellow Water cruise at 4:30 p.m. The cruise was wonderful as was our tour guide. We saw so many different birds and, of course, crocodiles. Our tour guide was half Aborigine and half Swedish and had a good sense of humour. The water is crocodile infested so she told us that if the boat started to sink we all had to jump into the water and form a ring whereupon she would jump into the middle of the ring and we would all swim to shore together.

Later we decide to sit outside the caravan and have dinner. That lasted all of one minute as the mosquitoes were very friendly and plentiful.
 
  Wednesday 15th June 2005  
  After breakfast we packed our lunch and headed off for the day to explore Kakadu. That is, after I picked Peter up. He was crouched down scattering ant power around the caravan stabiliser legs and lost his balance, falling over. He hurt is leg and his pride but not much else.

We found that Kakadu - apart from being hot and humid - is largely scrub land with some trees and palms thrown in. Our first stop was at Mardugal Billabong which was pretty and so, so, quiet. Again the mosquitoes decided we tasted good so we quickly walked back to the car. I think we expected Kakadu to be a lot more picturesque and were a little disappointed until we arrived at the Nourlangie area.

Nourlangie is a very large and spectacular rock. We climbed another rock to a lookout and the views were marvellous. Now we thought it was worth the effort. After spending sometime at the lookout we descended to the carpark and set off again, walking to another billabong. It was very pretty but again the mosquitoes were many. We ate our lunch and then went to the Bowali Visitor Centre which tells you all about the park. It was very interesting.

We called at the mining town of Jabiru to have a look around but were not too impressed. We did however find a place where we could access our emails, which we haven’t been able to do for a while. We'd had a full day and were feeling a little tired so headed back to camp.
 
  Thursday 16th June 2005  
  We departed from the campsite in Kakadu in good time. We intended to stop off at a couple of places on the way out of the park, the first being Mamukala Wetlands. The bird life here was in abundance, so many different kinds. Plenty of Magpie Geese which use this Billabong in their thousands towards the end of the dry season.

After a cup of coffee we trundled off to our next destination, the 'Cathedrals of the North', which was just outside the park. The Cathedrals are, in actual fact, a lot of huge termite mounds. We were supposed to stop and eat our lunch there but failed to find them, so we stopped for lunch in a rest area. We had only just set off again when we came across these ‘Cathedrals’.

We then headed for Darwin and arrived at the caravan park in the afternoon. We saw our friends just as they were leaving to go to the late markets so we arranged to meet up tomorrow.
 
  Friday 17th June 2005  
  We went to the local town (village) to do some shopping, check out the doctor situation and have my blood test. We then later went over to Dawn and Phil’s van for a barbecue. Liz and Neville were there also. We had a really good evening and were very touched that Dawn and Philip stayed an extra night so they could catch up with us before they headed west. I broke all my rules and bought a very nice cake to celebrate.  
  Saturday 18th June 2005  
  We were up and out early this morning as we had to go and say goodbye to Dawn and Philip and then be in Darwin town for 10:00 a.m. Believe me, this is early for us! We were sorry to see Dawn and Phil go as they are very nice people but hope one day to catch up with them again. We met Anthony (son of friends Ann and Wal Slaven from Perth) in Darwin. Anthony is an RAAF fighter pilot and is in Darwin for a short time on an exercise, flying Hawk jets. It was nice to catch up with him again and hear all his news.

After we left him we wandered around the town getting our bearings and checking out information and internet services. We then had a mediocre lunch in a place we won't visit again before heading off to the Aviation Museum where we spent the afternoon. It was very interesting, Peter told me so!! No, really I did find it interesting as they had displays about the aviators and a special display about Vietnam. Peter found the tour of the B-52 really good and we both enjoyed the two short videos. One was about the B-52 and the other was about the bombing of Darwin in WWII.

Home was next on the agenda with a diversion to check out the local shops in Howard Springs. It was now ‘that time’ so we joined Liz and Neville for happy hour.
 
  Sunday 19th June 2005  
  We had a very lazy day, doing some chores but mainly sitting outside the caravan watching the world go by. We are going to be in Darwin a while so we don’t have to rush off doing all the touristy things at once. Liz and Neville joined us for happy hour.  
  Monday 20th June 2005  
  We went to the Kakadu Winery today. A good or bad move? I am not so sure. We have joined their club and now we can go in at anytime and sample the wines, decide what we want and either fill a bottle or bladder. (The wine is in large kegs.) They are prominently a mango winery but also have red and white wine as well as port. See what I mean about it being good or bad!!! We joined Liz and Neville for happy hour and then they came over to us later for coffee and port.  
  Tuesday 21st June 2005  
  We went into Darwin to update the website and check emails. We have found three internet cafés in Darwin. One we would not go back to ever, $15 per hour if you don't mind. We started to use it as we didn't realise there were any others, then I went walk-about and found this other one for $4 per hour. BIG difference, so I went back to Peter who was struggling with a slow connection in this crummy booth. We paid up and left for internet café number two. It was nice and airy with pleasant, helpful staff. Walking back to the car we found internet café number three that looks okay, so now we have a choice of two. In the evening Liz and Neville came over for our final happy hour which evolved into having lots to eat as well. Sad to say goodbye, yet again.  
  Wednesday 22nd June 2005  
  I had to be at the hairdressers for 10:00 a.m. All the time in the world to get ready but we were still rushing about on the last minute. Peter was to meet me at 1:00 p.m. at the doctor’s which allowed me some clothes shopping time after the hairdressers. Sadly I did not see anything that interested me enough to try it on so I arrived at the surgery half an hour early. At least I was sitting in an air-conditioned room as it was a very humid day. The doctor gave me a referral to see a cardiologist. To get an appointment in the next couple of months we had to take the referral to the hospital cardiac unit and now have to wait a couple of days for them to decide whether they will see me.

We also checked out this ‘huge’ shopping centre that everyone kept recommending. Well, it was just another shopping centre! I think I must be losing the ability to shop, help!!!
 
  Thursday 23rd June 2005  
  Busy touristy day today. We went to the Museum and Art Gallery, Fanny Bay (a beach), the Military Museum and Mindil Markets. It was an interesting day but we had heard so much about these places I think we expected too much.

The museum had a very good display about Cyclone Tracy which included a dark room where you stand and listen to the noise of a cyclone. We had heard from other people that you really feel like you are in the middle of a cyclone. I didn’t. I even closed my eyes to imagine it and I have to say I still didn’t think I was in the middle of a cyclone or even a bad storm. Having said that, the rest of the displays (audio, photos, newspaper articles and a short video) were excellent and it made you realise what a dreadful time it must have been. The rest of the museum was similar to Perth and Adelaide in that it had samples of the fauna and flora of the area. Apart from ‘Sweetheart’ which was a poor ole croc who grew too big and nasty to stay in its home waters, so the experts decided to move it to a crocodile farm and in the process (yes, I did say experts) they killed it. Poor ‘Sweetheart’ is now in the museum, stuffed!!

The Military Museum was interesting but for the main part was full of guns and machines they used in the war. The video about how the war came to Darwin was interesting. We then went to the Mindil Markets as this is the place to be on a Thursday evening. There was a nice atmosphere with people bustling about, buskers playing their kind of music, a man demonstrating whips and some street theatre. The stalls were selling jewellery, T-shirts, crafts but mainly foods with all the tantalising aromas wafting about. We were very good as we are in our strict eating mode and didn’t succumb. Actually we would have if we could have found somewhere to sit, as I don't like walking around eating the likes of Chinese food or similar.
 
  Friday 24th June 2005  
  Lay day today apart from going to the local shops. This is worthy of a mentioned as I was allowed to drive Billy to the shops all by myself! Impressed!!!  
  Saturday 25th June 2005  
  All the time in the world and again we are rushing on the last minute to get to Parliament House for a tour. The tour was very interesting (and free). Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and quite amusing. The buildings were impressive, very tropical. Vastly different to Parliament House in Perth. After the tour we called in at the internet café to update our emails. We then visited the Wharf as it is on the tourist list. It is a wharf - big surprise there! But it is just eating places - nothing really outstanding.

We then proceeded to the WWII Oil Storage Tunnels. Again the tour guide was excellent, she seemed to know all there was to know about these tunnels and the war history of Darwin. She also had little respect for politicians - no wonder we liked her. The tunnels were built during WWII as the Japanese kept bombing the above-ground tanks. After the politicians rebuilt the tanks a few times and the Japanese subsequently bombed them, the politicians woke up and decided to build underground tanks. The only trouble was it had to be done in secret so the poor men that built these tunnels had to do it all using hand tools. They built five in total just in time for the end of the war!!! Walking through the tunnels we noticed a lot of water seeping in, apparently there is a lot of underground water in Darwin and they could go for three years without rain before they have water restrictions. Maybe Geoff Gallop, to solve Perth’s water shortages could build a canal between Darwin and Perth!!!!

A walk up to Survivors Lookout ended out tourist day out. Now we ventured forth to the serious stuff of the day, a winery! We are now working our way through their varieties of wine. Replenished, we headed home. W

W e were sitting outside the caravan having a drink, as you do, when Jan and Ross walked past. We met Jan and Ross at Daly Water and then went our separate ways. It was nice to meet up with them again.
 
  Sunday 26th June 2005  
  Lay day. We wandered down to Jan and Ross’s caravan for a drink or two. Very nice it was too.  
  Monday 27th June 2005  
  Didn’t do a lot today, went shopping and to the doctor’s. They won’t give me my records, they have to pass them on to another doctor. More hassle. We still haven’t decided if we are leaving Darwin for Queensland or going to Kununurra.

We hadn’t noticed our neighbour, Jenny, all morning. Peter was getting a little concerned as she is on her own, what if she is sick and needs a doctor? In the end I was ‘sent’ over to find out if she was alright. Poor thing was having a ‘lay day’ as she was tired out. She said she appreciated the concern. If it had been me I would have thought we were nosy old codgers!!! In the evening she joined us for drinks and nibbles, as did Ross and Jan.
 
  Tuesday 28th June 2005  
  We went to a lovely parkland area to watch the sunset and attend an astronomers evening. The park, right on the edge of the ocean, was lovely. There were lots of people milling about, walking, running, riding bikes or families having picnic teas. We had our picnic, watched a glorious sunset, and then watched the astronomer set up his equipment. The evening then took a turn for the worse as all these children descended upon the area followed by parents that did not know the meaning of discipline. The astronomer should have had help and better equipment or even equipment that worked. This was a special time in the world of astronomy as there were three planets aligned. Please don’t ask me which ones, I knew before attending that evening but am now totally confused. We had one look through the telescope before someone’s brat moved it yet again and my dear grumpy old man of a husband said “I have had enough of this, but I’ll stay longer if you want”. I quickly recognised the signs that he could become even grumpier so I took him home for a glass of red!  
  Wednesday 29th June 2005  
  We had a lovely day in the local national park. It is literally five minutes down the road. We did a pleasant walk alongside the river. We walked through a woodland that is described in the leaflet as a monsoon forest. We saw heaps of birds and thankfully no snakes. After our walk we cooked and ate a barbecue lunch whilst sitting in a very pleasant spot surrounded by different birds, it was very relaxing. Later we visited Howard Springs to see where the spring originates from.

Back home we had drinks with Jenny, Ross, Jan and two new friends Ron and (another) Jenny. Ron and Jenny are friends of Nev and Liz whom we had met earlier. We said our goodbyes to Jenny as this was her last night.
 
  Thursday 30th June 2005  
 

We went into Darwin today. First stop was AquaScene where, at certain times of the day when the tide is high, hundreds of fish come close to shore to be fed. It was quite fascinating to watch. We then went from there to the police station so that I could sign a statement for the Perth police. This was in connection with a court case where I'd given evidence against a dishonest accountant. It appears he's been up to his tricks again.

We then had a wander around the city centre and called in at a Chinese Temple and museum. The museum was closed and the temple was just a temple. We then made our way home and had happy hour with Ross and Jan and met their neighbours, Margaret and Brian, who are also from W.A.