A Travellerspoint blog

Broome sweet Broome :D

We finally made it!!

Late on Sunday (Mothers day) we finally arrived at our destination after 5 weeks on the road. Beautiful Broome!!
Andrew kindly allowed us to stay in his flat while we're here and its been great to see him. Izaak has enjoyed doing boys stuff with Andrew and Dad, going fishing the last 2 days and to the famous Cable Beach for a swim today.
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He has also reconnected with his 'girlfriend' from our last trip, Gemma, who still lives us the back and has made a new friend, Cameron, who lives behind the property.
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Dad has set himself up comfortably in his camper trailer on site too and there are numerous palm trees for shade (inclusive of coconuts), a trampoline and a swing made out of an excercise ball for Izaak to play on.
We saw the camels on Cable Beach and Ill include a pic from when we rode one last year cos Im not sure when we will get around to it this time!
Wont be doing heaps for the first couple of weeks as we have lots of school work to catch up on (both me and Izaak) but will enjoy the odd trip to the beach or waterpark. Ill also pop in a pic of the waterpark from last year. Also we went to the waterpark yesterday and Izaak found a starfish while digging at low tide!! So that was a bit exciting!
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After we've caught up on schooling will start to do some touristy things in a couple of weeks time and will keep the blog updated with anything interesting or significant. Thanks to all our family and friends for joining us on our journey through the blog and hope you have enjoyed it!!
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Posted by Sheena Coughlan 03:20 Comments (12)

First steps in WA

...toward the end of the journey

We were told to expect to have to throw all our food out at the border as a measure to protect the Kimberley from pests and diseases so we came prepared with most fresh things discarded. After leaving the Quarantine point we were in Western Australia!! Finally!! As enjoyable as the trip has been and as grateful as I am to have been able to take it, I cant describe the peace and relief that flooded over upon entering the Kimberley.

==Kununurra and Lake Argyle.==
Our first stop was Kununurra, the border town of NT/WA. Kununurra was still at the tail end of the wet season and it was very hot and humid there, so we got a very small taste of what the wet might be like. We stopped at a caravan park on the local lake and spent most time at the outdoor bar (not drinking, Izaak was chatting to the waitresses and helping them set tables etc) or in the beautiful, big swimming pool that was even lit up at night! We also found a new way to spend our time of an evening...catching cane toads and putting them in the live disposal box! Izaak loved it!
We checked out the magnificent Lake Argyle (Ord Dam) while we were there, the largest inland water catchment in Australia. And it was massive! So massive that we couldnt locate the fishing and swimming spots but it was nice viewing.
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I was a bit sad not to get to see El Questro, which Id much been looking forward to but intend to make a trip there before our return home. On the way out of Kununurra we stopped at an outback waterhole for a swim- Valentine Springs. It was a lovely spot!

==Halls Creek..==
Our next stop was Halls Creek, near where the movie Wolfe Creek was made. ( I havent seen it and dont intend to). In spite of bad reports, my first impressions were that it was a lovely little town. We stayed with friends from church back in Warragul who have moved there, the McKeowns. It was so nice to be around familiar faces and it was one of the highlights of our trip staying with them! They were so lovely putting us up and making us feel welcome and Izaak had playmates in Emily, Anna and Molly! Cate cooked us a beautiful risotto for dinner and Larry made a fantastic coffee and pancakes! It was such a blessing to get to spend time with them! Dad was interested to note that, like Katherine, you can only buy light beer in Halls Creek due to previous problems with alcohol and violence. It sounds like it has worked well from what I hear! I reckon bring it on Australia wide! Izaak and I went to church with Cate and Larry in the morning and it was such a lovely little church, run my local aboriginals and with a 60/40 (by the looks) aboriginal/white population. There were some lovely people there and I was especially blessed to meet a beautiful little old aboriginal lady called Evelyn. Would love to go again sometime!

It was Mother's day when we left Halls Creek and Izaak had excitedly got up early (5am), woke up the household and made me a cup of tea when I got up closer to 6am. He had made me a series of pretty notes and pictures, which he had raided the McKeowns craft cupboard to make (sorry guys!). Such a little sweetie! He had wanted to make me breaky too, telling me that poached eggs or nutri grain were on the menu but I didnt want him to go that far while we were guests in someone else's house! We had to leave before lunch time as we had a long drive ahead of us. Our next stop was Fitzroy Crossing which looked like a nice town and I was able to get a takeaway roast lamb with roast spuds and cheesy veggies along with an apple crumble with custard for Mothers day lunch!! That topped the day off! We then continued our long awaited trek and stopped at a favourite place- Willare Bridge Roadhouse between Broome and Derby!
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Posted by Sheena Coughlan 01:46 Comments (1)

Spent some time in the Northern Territory...

a much awaited part of the journey...

Id been hanging out for this, and so had Izaak. Experiencing real Aussie wilderness...the amazing North! And it didnt disappoint us.
We had planned to stay at 3 ways after a 7+ hour drive from Mount Isa into the Territory but when we got there decided to keep going after a quick sandwich break and see where we ended up.

==Banka Banka Station..==
Well we didnt travel far before we found a little outback oasis called 'Banka Banka Station'- a cattle station come caravan park.
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And it didnt disappoint. This was the best view of the night sky so far. The owners were super friendly and laid back, letting Izaak stay for free (a first) and giving him an icypole on arrival. They also suggested we top up our water supplies with their on tap spring water- which we did gratefully! Although Banka Banka is a popular overnight breather between major towns, I could easily have settled there for a few nights. It had a great lookout over the station and a 2km walk to a waterhole (which we didnt have time or energy to do while there). There were aboriginal stockmen working on the station, which added to the richness of the atmosphere. Izaak made friends with a couple of boys who had come with their parents from Ballina, NSW. They were also heading in the same direction as us, although we didnt cross paths again. I got to test the full ability of the zoom on my camera here, zooming in on Dad from the distant lookout.

==Mataranka and Katherine..==
From Banka Banka we headed to Katherine, with a quick stop in at Mataranka Hot Springs, where Izaak began to learn to swim on his own! It must have been something in the water :) I just suddenly had the urge to encourage him to start trying to swim out to me in the deep water and after a short time he had picked it up and was super excited! It reminded me of the healing waters in the bible (I think pool of Bethsaida) and I wondered of they had been hot springs too. The waters are certainly meant to have healing properties for all sorts of ailments due to the combination of temperature and mineral content. I found a link on the benefits of hot springs here http://www.wiesbadenhotsprings.com/healing.html if anyone is interested. There are some in VIC on the Mornington Peninsula that Ive always wanted to check out but they are quite expensive. These ones are free!!
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Anyhow, we got to Katherine after dark and set up the tent for the next two nights. I was able to test out my camera even more here with a much awaited full moon- one of the main things I wanted to be able to capture with a strong zoom. And it didnt disappoint me.

The following day we went to the Katherine Hot Springs, which was just as beautiful as Mataranka in spite of a few spiders around. Izaak was keen to continue to develop his swimming abilities and I was happy to watch him and to wash my hair in there (with organic shampoo of course!)
We went for a walk and discovered the source of the spring and some aboriginal kids swinging into a forbidden deep pool from a rope swing. They seemed to know what they were doing though! Back at the hotel we went swimming in the massive heated pool, which now seemed inferior after the springs but still nice none the less.
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==Batchelor, Lietchfield National Park and Darwin..==
From Katherine we headed north to stay at Batchelor, which we'd heard was beautiful and funnily enough I'd picked up a flyer for the Big4 there early in our trip at Ballina, not knowing where in NT it was. The caravan park was amazingly beautiful, in a forest type setting with lots of shade and greenery. It was probably the best camping spot yet! There were lots of beautiful birds around and we could watch a feeding twice a day on the grounds. There were teams of Lorikeets, Galah's, Cockatoo's and other native birds. The park also had a mini golf and excellent value meals.
But the main attraction was the fact that it was on the edge of Lietchfield National Park- one of the great treasures of the territory. Lietchfield has a number of waterfalls with plunge pools and other waterholes aswell as wonders like giant termite mounds.
We twice visited Florence Falls for a swim. The first time was a public holiday and it was packed with both people and fish (big blue ones) and there were lots of young guys showing their bravery (or foolishness in some cases) in jumping off rock ledges and the falls into the plunge pool, being cheered on by their mates. Not something you would expect in the middle of the bush! The following day Mum and Chris caught up to us and we took them out to the Falls, which they loved!
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Izaak was super excited to see Nanna and we enjoyed catching up with them for a few days. We also checked out Wangi Falls with them while we were there, although it was closed for swimming due to strong currents and crocs!
We went into Darwin with them for an afternoon and caught up with our dear old friends Gary, Liz, Katrina and Keith and their now extended families and children. It was great to catch up with them after so long! Katrina and Keith are both married now with their own kids. Hope that we can meet with them again sometime...

Posted by Sheena Coughlan 00:26 Comments (4)

Outback Queensland Tour

Longreach, Mount Isa and everywhere inbetween...

We headed off from Rocky on our first ever journey into the real Australian Outback. And we weren't disappointed. This would have to be the highlight of the trip so far. We arrived in Longreach late on Sunday, just in time to catch a beautiful outback sunset. One of the best features of the outback would have to be the night sky. Its easy to forget how beautiful and vast the cosmos is when you live in amongst the town and city lights. I was pleased to get a reasonable shot of the moon, which Ill seek to improve when it becomes full later in our journey.
On our way to Longreach we stopped at another little town called Barcaldine and checked out the "Tree of Knowledge" which commemorates the beginnings of the Australian Labour Party. Here I was thinking that the Tree of Knowledge was involved in the fall of mankind at Creation.....I wont make any Labour party comparisons, Ill be nice hehe. There was also a chair that operated as a xylophone which Izaak had fun with.
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We pulled up at the Longreach caravan park and realised we were truly entering the heart of the country. The caravan park in itself was a beautiful setting, with great views of the sky, lots of shade and a true outback feel. It also featured spa's with a cave and waterfall, though the water was cold so we didnt spend too much time in them. Izaak was pleased to get to ride a pedal kart, which were $4 cheaper than the park in Rockhampton.
The town was an interesting place too, with lots of Australian heritage and history. Apparently half a century ago it was a wealthy booming business centre and its not dead now by any means but must be a lot quieter than in its heyday. Longreach has lots of tourist attractions including Stockmans Hall of Fame, Qantas Museum and Cobb & Co. stores with rides etc, however we were content just to soak in the country atmoshphere, do a bit of shopping, post some mail and have a coffee. The weather was a beautiful 27-29 degrees while we were there.
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After 2 nights we headed off from Longreach to Mount Isa, the mining capital of Queensland. Mount Isa was also spectacularly beautiful with an interesting contrast of nature and industrialisation. On the outskirts of Mt Isa is Cloncurry, which holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in Australia at 53.1 degrees in 1889. Mount Isa was fairly warm while we were there too. On the way in it was raining and we were treated to a beautiful rainbow over the mountains.
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The caravan park at Mt Isa was again lush, tropical and beautiful, albeit some niosy neighbours behind us but we slept well none the less. It was lovely waking through the night to the sound of heavy tropical rain on the tent roof! Nothing like it :)
Spent most of the time at Mt Isa in town doing required tasks such as printing, scanning, emailling and purchasing equipment and food.
The highlight was definately catching the sunset over the town from the lookout on the last night, capturing that amazing contrast of the absolutely massive mines against the town and surrounding tropical mountainous views. There were also a couple of large crosses on top of mountains at both the entry and centrepoint of town on the way out. It was a beautiful reminder of God being with us, both going ahead of us and having our back xx
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Posted by Sheena Coughlan 15:52 Comments (8)

Industry and Culture at Rockhampton, Queensland

After Sammie's we made our way up to Rockhampton, which seemed to be the commercial capital of Queensland (or maybe Australia!!).
When we arrived it was night time and the surrounding hills had what looked like tracks of fire woven through them. We werent sure whether people were burning off or what but it looked awesome!!
I was expecting a small country town but 'Rocky', which is the Beef capital of Australia, turned out to be very close to being a city.
Upon looking on the internet I discovered it had 5 shopping centres!! And we counted 4 Mcdonalds in town and one within 10km (we've begun to
gaige the prominence of a town by whether it has a maccas and how many it has- well thats Dads theory anyways!).
While I appreciated the convenience of the shops and made the most of them, buying a good camera and other things we needed, all the commercialism seemed a bit too much.
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The caravan park we stayed at was beautiful though. It was set on 4 acres of tropical landscape with 2 swimming pools and a jumping pillow,
much to Izaak's delight. Izaak also made a friend, Ryan, who was from Mackay, QLD and spent most of his time there playing with him.
We also visited the Aboriginal Cultural Centre where Izaak learned how to throw a boomerang and our tour guide gave us a demo of the digeridoo on a cave. We also learned about differences between Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and different food and medicinal uses for plants. Izaak was wrapped to take away his own returning boomerang. And yes, when you throw it correctly it does return! It was interesting to learn about history and culture through the Aborigines eyes.
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On our last day in Rocky we went and checked out neighbouring Yepoon on the coast, which was nice but even better was a seclude beach and walk we found nearby, I think it was called Twin Heads. We also saw the smallest crabs in the world (not sure what they're called).
That night we did indulge once more at Sizzler. Was so excited to be going there though! As a kid it was my fave place to eat, I loved the pumpkin soup. Well they still had it and had lots of amazing salads and desserts. It was worth the 40min line up to get it :)

Posted by Sheena Coughlan 06:50 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

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