Reflections on the trip

Reflections on the trip
Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia


I don’t know whether we are getting older or just easier to please but this trip to Central Australia and the Top End was on of the best holidays we have had. From the red centre to Alice to catch the mighty Ghan then into balmy Darwin more modern than outpost, then onto to the amazing wetlands of Kakadu. Its a journey that will hold many fond memories for years to come.

Top 10:

1. Tali Wiru
2. Ayers Rock and the Olgas
3. Field of Light
4. The Ghan
5. Katherine Gorge
6. Jumping Crocodiles
7. Air Boat Ride
8. Yellow Water Billabong
9. Ubirr Rock Art
10. Darwin’s Restaurants

What we didn’t like:

1. Darwin’s punishing heat
2. The flies in Central Australia

jimmy

jimmy       ,

zip

wire     rubber bullets 3000.jpg    

line ’em up

and send 'em out     moses blog 3000.jpg

zzz

aaaa    

Flying home to Brisbane

Flying home to Brisbane
Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia


We sleep in again today as we fly out at 3.30 pm. On checking out at 11.00 am we leave our trusty esky behind and head to the Ducks Nuts Cafe for a Bloody Mary. It is just what the doctor ordered.

I have kept the car for an extra day so that we are free to drive around. We head off to the Hanuman Restaurant for lunch and we are the only ones there. We hope this is not a sign of bad food but we are not disappointed as we are served one of the best Indian entrees we have ever had. Our main was just as good and we both comment that we will miss the Darwin food as we haven’t had a bad meal yet with perhaps the exception of the Mercure Crocodile.

Making it back to the car just as the parking meter ran out, we jump in and head to the airport. Finding the Europcar bay was a sinch and checking in was even easier as this airport actually had staff at the counter. We headed up to the bar, purchased a couple of cold beers and charged our electronic devices before boarding.

On board the plane was chock a block and we were glad that we had purchased seats with extra leg room. Watching a couple of movies the time whiled away and It wasn’t long before we touched down in Brisbane with the feeling that both Central Australia and the Top End will be nothing but distant memories. I guess this is why I write these blogs as a reminder of what a fantastic time we had and to savour those memories for ever.


jimmy

jimmy       ,

zip

wire     rubber bullets 3000.jpg    

line ’em up

and send 'em out     moses blog 3000.jpg

zzz

aaaa    

Back to Darwin & some mudcrabs

Back to Darwin & some mudcrabs
Darwin, Australia

Darwin, Australia


We sleep in this morning and check out at 10.00 am on route to Darwin with our esky full of fresh ice. Travelling in true Muller style we crack our first morning beer as we exit Kakadu National Park heading toward the Humpdy Doo Pub for lunch. On arriving the place is packed and we order a couple of burgers and yes they are right as we give them the thumbs up for the best burgers in the top end.

Another hour and we are back in Darwin now becoming a familiar site. We have booked into the Vibe Hotel right in the middle of the Harbour Precinct. It’s now mid afternoon as we head back to Hot Tamales for another one of those amazing margarita’s then check Restaurant One to see if they have Mud Crabs on the menu. They don’t have any left so we book Crustations on the Wharf (my original choice) as they have freshly caught Whole Chille Mud Crabs, so we reserve two.

We decide to visit the Oil Tunnels just across the road which were built during WWII to hold fuel for shipping. On entering the tunnels were claustrophobic and the humidity seemed to have doubled. Deb couldn’t cope and high-tailed it out of there, but I soldiered on into a much larger and cooler tunnel filled with amazing pictures depicting the early days of Darwin and the various defence establishments set up during the war.

On exiting the tunnels I spotted Deb sitting in the shade and we decided to head back to our room for an afternoon nap before heading out to dinner. On arriving at the restaurant located at the end of Stokes Wharf we pass the Pearl Lugger we heard about on the train its name is Paspaley 4 and oh boy it is one very flash boat. Next we get seated outside and sit at a table for two on the edge of the wharf and order a mud crab each as the sun sets over the harbour. Its a balmy night and reminds me a lot of Port Moresby.

By the way the mud crabs were excellent and what a great way to spend our last night in the top end,


jimmy

jimmy       ,

zip

wire     rubber bullets 3000.jpg    

line ’em up

and send 'em out     moses blog 3000.jpg

zzz

aaaa    

Yellow Water Billabong Cruise

Yellow Water Billabong Cruise
Kakadu National Park, Australia

Kakadu National Park, Australia


It’s Mothers Day today and this morning we set the alarm and rise in the dark getting ready to head to Cooinda Lodge and the Yellow Water Billabong for a sunrise cruise. We step outside and it’s warm but not hot as we depart with our headlights on for a 40 km journey to Cooinda. There is no traffic on the road but I drive cautiously in case a Wallaby jumps out in font of us. We arrive at the tour bus stop with 5 minutes to spare and it is still dark.

On boarding the cruise the mosquitoes are fierce so we lather up in aero-guard which does the trick. As the sun begins to rise we take some excellent photos and cruise out of the billabong onto the South Alligator River spotting half a dozen crocs and a magnificent eagle sitting on top of a dead tree. We awe at the bird life starting to take flight for the morning and spot some buffalo and wild pigs in the distance.

Twenty minutes into the journey we spot a big croc dragging something from the bank. On queue it dives to drown its prey and we follow the bubbles waiting for it to resurface. Some two minutes later up it pops right next to the boat and it has a three foot pig by the head. The croc now begins to swim down river looking for a secluded opening onto the bank and after following it for 100 metres it disappears into the mangroves. “Amazing” says the guide “that’s the first time we have been lucky enough to catch that action”.

We spend another hour immersed in this amazing place before returning to the lodge for breakfast. We consider a walk to Nourlangie Rock but it’s way to hot already so we return to the Mercure Crocodile for a relaxing day. Unfortunately the Mercure doesn’t acknowledge the fact that its Mothers Day so we open our own champagne, Deb opens her cards and checks messages from the girls and we ring home to wish our own mothers a great day and catch up on some news.

We head on down to the restaurant for dinner but once again the menu is less than inspiring as we order lamb and pork and mashed potatoes. Life is hard in the tropics!


jimmy

jimmy       ,

zip

wire     rubber bullets 3000.jpg    

line ’em up

and send 'em out     moses blog 3000.jpg

zzz

aaaa    

An airboat ride & some rock art

An airboat ride & some rock art
Jabiru, Australia

Jabiru, Australia


We wake to a sunny morning and head down to breakfast at the lodge. Today we are taking an airboat ride on the Wildman Home Billabong and wetlands and I cant help but overhear a rucus between some French tourists and the manager about getting bumped from their tour the previous day onto our tour today.

We head off at 9.00 am in a rickety old jeep and drive about 5 minutes to the water where the airboat is moored. I cant help but notice that it has a nice V8 sitting under the cage. We all board and the tour operator starts the engine and by God its loud. The scenery is breathtaking as large flocks of Magpie Geese take flight in V formation and we spot all manner of birdlife.

We soon head out of the billabong into the wetlands and are surrounded by thousands of pink lilies in full bloom. We stop the boat every now and again to listen to the guide as he explains the ecosystem and about the different birds he has spotted. Its not long before a 3 metre croc sticks his head up and crashes into the boat. We spin around and chase it down until it finally dives and disappears.

Back on land we pack the car and head off to Jabaru some 2 hours away. We pull into the South Alligator River Resort to buy some ice then head to the Mamukala observation platform which has a nice view over the wetlands but very similar to the Wildman wetlands. Forever onwards we pull into Jabaru do a quick scout around town then into the Mecure Crocodile Hotel our home for the next two days.

On checking in we find out that no rooms are ready so we decide to have lunch just as an AATKing tour bus arrives then another followed by another. The place is packed but we don’t have a long wait as the tour bus’s have their own buffet of which we are not allowed to partake. With a very lack lustre menu Deb settles on a hamburger and I a pizza. We only hope the dinner menus is better.

The temperature is reaching 35 degrees and we have come to the realisation that you can only partake in activities early in the morning or late at night. so we decide to stay in our room until sunset. At about 5 pm we head toward Ubirr and supposedly some of the best Aboriginal Rock Art in Australia. Its a 40 minute drive and the car park is filling up as we arrive. The walk is signposted as 1.6 km and it is still hot, so we head off with a cold bottle of water each.

Its not long before we spot the first set of paintings and they are much more detailed than the smudged colours we have seen at Ayers Rock. as the path meanders through some spectacular scenery and rock formations the painting seem to improve. On reaching the half way point Deb looks at the steep climb to the lookout and decides to sit it out as I begin the climb. Ten minutes later I reach the summit and the climb was well worth it, but boy am I hot. I think how nice it would be to watch the sun set but that is still 30 minutes off so I return to find Deb sitting in the shade and I am dripping wet. Your mad she said as we head back to the car and some cool air conditioning.

Back at the Hotel we check the menu which is uninspiring so we decide to skip dinner and get in an early night as we have a 5.00 am start in the morning.


jimmy

jimmy       ,

zip

wire     rubber bullets 3000.jpg    

line ’em up

and send 'em out     moses blog 3000.jpg

zzz

aaaa    

Drive to Wildman

Drive to Wildman
Mary River National Park, Australia

Mary River National Park, Australia


Today we are heading to the Wildman Safari Lodge in the Mary River National Park but have a late start as we have timed a Jumping Crocodile tour at 1.00 pm. We start the morning with breakfast at the Ducks Nuts Cafe then stock up on some ice, supplies and grog as we will be unable to buy alcohol in the National Parks.

We decide to visit the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery before leaving the city and see an excellent gallery depicting the devastation Cyclone Tracy left behind when it hit the city on Christmas eve of 1974.

We head off south on the Stuart Highway turning left onto the Arnhem Highway looking for the Pub at Humpty Doo. This place is infamous and serves a mean hamburger but we just top up our fluids with a morning beer. On the road again we head to The Windows on the Wetlands Information Centre which was worth a stop and commanded an excellent view across the wetlands and the Adelaide River. Next stop was the original Jumping Crocodiles and we purchased some tickets and downed a cold beer waiting for the 1.00 pm cruise. It did not disappoint and Deb got some great shots as 5 – 10 crocs jumped high out of the water after a dangling pork chop. The highlight of the cruise was a close encounter with ‘Agro’ a 4 metre giant and the biggest on the river.

Next stop the Bark Hut, a small outpost just outside of the Mary River National Park, we have another beer here and a long chat with the American barmaid then head to the Point Stuart turnoff and another 30 km to Wildman Lodge our accommodation for the night. We pull into the Lodge with a less than prompt welcome and eventually get shown to our ‘Habitat’ which is very swish but hot as hell. On goes the ‘aircon’ and out comes a nice cold Vodka and Orange filled with ice.

Deb decides to go for a swim and we have a cocktail in the air conditioned bar before heading back to our room for a shower and wait for sunset. At around 7.00 pm we head into dinner and enjoy a lovely 3 course meal and a nice bottle of red before retiring for the night.


jimmy

jimmy       ,

zip

wire     rubber bullets 3000.jpg    

line ’em up

and send 'em out     moses blog 3000.jpg

zzz

aaaa    

Things we did in Darwin

Things we did in Darwin
Darwin, Australia

Darwin, Australia


Another scorcher today as we head 15 minutes out of town to Crocodylus Park, boasting more crocs to see than anywhere else in Australia. This park also housed some white lions, tigers, meerkats and the usual suspects you would expect. The croc tour began at 10.00 am and we met some very large and troublesome crocs which had been netted and relocated here because they were miss-behaving. One called Eric had supposedly eaten a person but had missed a lead injection as there was no proof. We got so close to these guys that Deb started to freak out so we moved on to the smaller crocs. The guides told us stories about the cost of Gucci croc leather bags fetching $80,000 but we raised our eyebrows at that, believing it was a pitch to sell their own bags at 2 to 5 thousand a piece.

Next stop was the Military Museum out on the very pretty East Point Reserve. This place bought a mixed reaction from us, while it told a good story of the WWII bombing of Darwin it also had a lot of trashed vehicle relics and thousands of guns. What was impressive was the two large gun turrets that looked out over the entrance to the harbor.

It was nearing 1.00 pm when we decided to take some respite from the punishing heat and headed to Lazy Susan’s, a Vietnamese restaurant in the CBD. We had a delightful lunch as we cooled down in the air conditioning then decided to do a ‘reci’ on the renowned Mindil Beach as we were lucky enough to be in town the only night of the week the markets were on. While there we spotted the Sky City Casino and decided to drop in and managed to pull out a tidy $100 to boot.

Back to the hotel to change, we headed to the Markets for sunset and boy was it crowded. The place was full of interesting and varied food vans but lacked the usual craft stalls we were expecting. I bought Deb a lovely top for mothers day and she purchased some freshly shucked oysters and some prawns at an over inflated price to eat on the beach at sunset. The only problem was that it wasn’t setting for another 45 minutes so we got out of this crazy place and headed to the Waterfront and sat in a Mexican restaurant called Hot Tamales, sipping on very nice margaritas as the sun set over the water.


jimmy

jimmy       ,

zip

wire     rubber bullets 3000.jpg    

line ’em up

and send 'em out     moses blog 3000.jpg

zzz

aaaa