Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Lookout NT the Lewis’ are comin’.

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on August 2, 2010

Hi Everyone,

Crossing the WA-NT border

We have left Kununurra and are heading towards the NT border.  It’s only 40kms and I am so excited it is the only state/territory that I have not visited yet!  We pulled over at the WA/NT border sign and left a bit of room in front of us…silly us.  A tour bus screeches in off the road in front of us and proceeds to unload his passengers for the touristy shots right in front of the car and the sign!  We were so pissed off at just how rude some people are!  Joel said to the driver, “Thanks mate, you’ve pulled up right in our shot” he goes “Oh sorry, (he smirks) and that just pisses us off even more as he doesn’t give a rats!  So we waited for 15 minutes while this idiot finally rounded up the troops so we could finally take a photo crossing the border! Sheesh, the things you do for a simple photo! We soldiered on, had a lunch bread and made it to Timber Creek by 1:30pm. The most amazing thing we saw was a speed sign that allows you to do 130km/h on the Victoria Highway!  The kids wanted Joel to try it out, but he declined, especially with the caravan on the back!  Maybe later on when we’ve parked up in Katherine we might give it a red-hot go!  Paid at the Roadhouse and edged into the caravan park to find it was quite full already and there were no real sites as such, that is, no numbers, just pull up and park.  We stopped to ask someone about the set-up when we heard this god-almighty bang and hiss and what looked like smoke coming out from under our bonnet.  OMG! What now!  Popped the bonnet and checked underneath. Not the radiator – thank god!  Suddenly there were 10 grey-haired men all standing around the front of the car, all leaning in, talking about what the problem might be.  It was hilarious!  It turned out to be an air-conditioner hose that blew off and all the gas had escaped!  After all the fuss, all the greys told us to just “pull in here, there’s plenty of room”, so we did.  We knew there was no hope of getting the air con fixed at Timber Creek so it would just have to wait a few days till we made Katherine.

Sunset at Timber Creek lookout

Full moon at lookout

Timber Creek is a small town but quite nice.  After we had set up we headed out to see a few of the sites.  Gregory’s Tree is a huge boab tree that signals where the old camp site was for Augustus Gregory, an early pioneer.  The history of the place is also very interesting too.  It’s hard to imagine a settlement camp when you look around and see how harsh the environment is and how close it was to the crocodile-infested water as well!  There are apparently 2 caravan parks at Timber Creek, which is amazing for the size of the town!  We stayed at the first one, coming from the WA side.  It’s nothing flash but toilets and showers were clean, it had nice big shady sites and a laundry and camp kitchen too.  We stayed for 2 nights and by 9am the next day we were the ONLY van left in the place But by 2pm the park was pretty full again so it must be a  good spot to stop. Along the Victoria Highway, we stopped at the Bradshaw Bridge.  It is a relatively new bridge and road and when we walked onto it, we realised was built by and for the Dept of Defence.  It is a Military Training Area.  We walked over the bridge towards the gates so we could read some of the signage – as you do.  One of the signs cracked me up: “Danger Military target Area.  Do not enter unless authorised. Do not touch anything. It may explode and kill you!” and various other warning signs.  Last stop was up at the escarpment lookout for some views of the enormous Victoria River and surrounds of Timber Creek.  We decided to stay for the sunset and have a read of the war memorials too.  There was some very interesting stories but some were very hard to read as the plaques has become quite discoloured and weathered.    We met a young French couple who were going to do the Gibb River Rd then looking for work in Karratha/Port Hedland area.  The sunset wasn’t too bad and as an added bonus, just as the sun went down on the west, a huge, yellow, full moon was rising in the east.  Back to camp for spag bol dinner.

Croc feeding at the bridge

Joel’s Mum and Dad have been in Darwin for the past few months and were heading home to Perth, so we had hoped to catch up with them along the way.  They arrived the next morning, having stayed just on the other side of Victoria River the previous evening. It was so great to see them as we haven’t seen them for a while as they weren’t in Perth when we went down in May, before the start of the trip. Daniel decided to make scones with jam and cream for morning tea with the grandparents.  Yummo!!  I had bought a 2kg roast of beef, in Kununurra and thought it would be ideal for dinner for the 6 of us.  We spent the day catching up, doing some washing and preparing for the roast tonight.  Joel, Barry (Joel’s dad) and Daniel decided to go and get some firewood for the fire, as I had decided to do a camp oven roast as it’s just too damn hot to cook a roast inside the van!  There was a “home-built” BBQ in the caravan park, down towards the river, so we got a fire cranking, (definitely not for warmth this one!) so we could make some coals.

Croc feeding again

At the rear of the caravan park, there is a bridge where they feed the fresh water crocodiles every night at 5pm.  We headed down to watch, even though we have seen a lot of crocs so far! It was interesting to watch as 5pm drew closer and closer, more crocs were turning up.  In the end there were about 8-9 freshies in the small river.  The gentleman was using a stick with some rope and a big hook on it and some meat on the hook and feeding it to the crocs.  Both the boys had a go and said that the crocs were very strong and luckily they didn’t get pulled off the bridge.  Beryl (Joel’s mum) was very nervous and kept asking Daniel and Wade to move away from the edge:) On ya Beryl!

After the feeding frenzy, we headed back to sitting around the fire, waiting for the roast to cook itself.  Many drinks later, the roast beef, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, onions, peas and gravy were done!

Lewis family Roast

The kids wanted to bring down the table to where we were near the river to eat – so we looked like Kings dining down near the river on roast beef and vegies. Mmmmmm.  I love the camp oven!   We also had the rest of the scones with jam and cream for dessert.  OMG I thought I was going to burst! We sat around and chatted some more and caught up on everything that has been happening. Beryl and Barry were off the next morning, heading to Kununurra and we were heading off to Katherine, with no air conditioner.  That’ll test us!

Next morning Off we went to Katherine where we plan to stay for a week so as to get the air con in the car fixed and pick up some mail. The trip was pretty warm yet breezy with the windows down all the way.  We pulled into Katherine and we are staying at the Low Level Caravan Park on the edge of town.  Managed to get the car looked at the next day and $200 later we have air conditioning in the car once more. The caravan park has a great swimming pool and we have managed to make full use of it several times a day since we have been here.

Katherine Hot Springs Mmmm.....

We visited the Katherine Hot Springs, which are right in the middle of town.  We rode our bikes in and decided to go to the springs in the morning as the days heat up to a pleasant 35 ish everyday.   The water was soooo clear and warmish.  There was a bit of a waterfall, man-made, which creates a spa-like experience at the bottom of the falls.  It was soooo relaxing. There was one young fella, with dreddies, who jumped in and everyone in the water looked around, trying to see where the dead animal was, as he smelt like he hadn’t seen a bar of soap for quite a number of days. Peeewwwww!

Katherine Hot Springs again

The spring itself is just a little way upstream and the water is just so clear, it’s so amazing. We found out later, when we went to Cutta Cutta caves, that the water that feeds these springs actually starts from inside the Cutta Cutta Caves in the thermal pool there.

Cutta Cutta Caves

Brown tree snake

Next day we went out to the Cutta Cutta Caves, just south of Katherine.  They were originally called Smith’s Caves but as we are finding with most things, they are being re-named with their Aboriginal name.  We found this a lot at some of the places on the Gibb River Rd trip, especially up at the Mitchell Falls.  The Cutta Cutta Caves go for about 700m but the tour only goes in as far as 450m as each year it gets flooded and has to be cleaned out again.  There are some brilliant formations in the cave, some of the drip rocks are so crystalline, they sparkle.  These sparkles look like stars in the dark and that is how the caves were named – Cutta being Aboriginal for stars, Cutta Cutta meaning “many stars”.  Russell was our guide and he showed us some of the the damage done to some of the stalactites by some servicemen from WWII, who decided, for kicks, to get drunk and have a shoot ’em up in there with some 303’s. Very sad to see:( There was also some areas that were damaged from an earthquake as well.

Sparkling crystalline drip rock

We also saw a brown tree snake curled up in a small hole in the rocks, which Wade correctly identified before the guide told us what it was. The beauty of the caves was further enhanced when Russell told us how old the stalagmites and stalactites actually were and how long they take to grow, approximately 1mm every 12 months!  There is some seriously old stuff in there!

Huge drip rock with brown mud and white crystals

There was a particular drip rock that shows the layering of the water that drips through.  When the floods go through, they leave quite a brown stain from all the sand and dirt that flows in as well, then the water drips from the ceiling, with the calcium carbonate and coats it in the sparkling white crystals.  This last year they did not have a very big wet season, so the water has only covered a half of the rock and you can still see the brown coat underneath.  The caves house a thermal spring which makes the cave very humid, but not too bad. This water leaves the cave area, goes underground and re-surfaces up at the Katherine Hot Springs.

We left the caves and drove north of Katherine towards the Katherine Gorge, (now called Nitmiluk Gorge!) so we could organise a boat cruise up the gorge.  Unfortunately for us, a salt water crocodile had been spotted and all the Gorges had been closed to canoeing and swimming!  Never mind, we might try on the way back down from Darwin in a month or so. We booked in for a cruise the next day and went back home for a swim in the pool.  I have to say that the first day we went to the pool at the caravan park, it was about 3pm and when we got in the gate we looked down the pool and it was full of “oldies”.  It looked like a scene out of a very old movie called “Cocoon” where the oldies all sit around in the pool, which has youth-regenerating properties.  LMAO! Now we just called it the ‘cocoon hour’ and have a little chuckle to ourselves.  We hadn’t really taken the kids on a tour of the town yet, so they had no idea there was a Maccas here!  We went to a movie and surprised the kids with Maccas for dinner – we were the bestest parents ever, apparently:)

Katherine Gorge boat changeover area

Katherine Gorge..beautiful

Next day we hopped on a boat to cruise up the Katherine River.  There are 13 gorges all up but this cruise only went through the first 3.  Each of the first 3 gorges sort of end at rapids, so each time we went from one gorge to the next, we had to dis-embark one boat and board another.  At the end of the 3rd gorge we stopped for about 50mins and had a swim in the large rock pool up there where there aren’t any crocs, apparently! The gorge itself is absolutely beautiful.  It is very wide and there is so much water in it.

Katherine Gorge no 2

It was fabulous and we swam up-stream away from the group to check out some rapids and spa pools that were brilliant.  The weather was very cloudy and the breeze was right up but the gorges were still beautiful.  Wade kept jumping onto the boats first so we always ended up the front, which was great for photos, but totally in the sun when it was out.  Along the way we stopped near a rock overhang/cave that was home to some nesting swallows.  Their homes are made from mud up on the roof of the cavern and we stopped right in the cavern underneath them.  Just lovely! We looked at doing some of the walks but didn’t really feel like doing any this time.  They were all very long walks and after seeing the 3 gorges by boat we decided not to do the walks here.  There were only 2 short ones, the rest were at least overnight or several days as well.

Swallows nests along the gorge

Katherine Gorge

Boys on the boat:)

Upper Falls from the lookout

Dan and Wade swimming at Upper Pool

Next day we went to the Edith Falls.  Absolutely beautiful.  The walk to the Upper Pool is about 2.6km return and quite an easy walk, even if it was a bit steep in some places.  We decided to do the loop backwards, as it was 1.6km one way to the Upper Pool and 1km the other.  We thought it would be better to do the longer one first, then swim, then do the shorter one last!  The Upper Pool was just beautiful. We swam here for about an hour and a half, with Daniel finding some more rocks near the waterfall to jump off!  We saw another water monitor but this one was much smaller and didn’t have the bright yellow dots like the ones we saw at Bells Gorge.  Finally dragged ourselves away from the pool and walked back to the bottom. The Edith Falls are lovely as well and end in a huge plunge pool a the bottom.  We stopped in to have a look and Wade and I just had to have another swim.  It was fantastic.  The pool is more like a huge lake at the bottom of the falls. There is a camping area at the Falls as well and we saw heaps of campers and caravans here and thought it would be a lovely spot to stay a few days!  We headed back to camp for drinks and dinner.  It was a public holiday today in NT, called Picnic Day! We will see if our mail gets here tomorrow, last chance by Wed as we want to head off to Daly River in a few days time.  The weather has been a little overcast the last few days, but still nice and warm.  We plan to head to the museum tomorrow and then spend the day cleaning the car and van ready for departure on Wed.

Till next time,

Ciao`.

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