Monday, 25 May 2015

Gibb River Road to Darwin

We left El Questro with plans to go to the five rivers lookout in Wyndam. You cannot tow a van or trailer up the look out road so we had organized with some friends to look after their van at the bottom while they went up and vice versa. However, as we were all pumping up our car tyres after finishing the Gibb one of their boys fell and cut his knee open. They had to high tail it to Kununurra to the hospital to get it stitched. Poor kid sliced it on the draw bar of the caravan. It was a mighty deep cut and he handled it well. The five rivers look out is now on the ‘maybe next time’ list!

We arrived in Kununnura and pulled up at Coles to replenish our non-existing supply of food. We then headed straight to Lake Argyle caravan park, about 40 minutes out of Kununnura.


A lovely caravan park with nothing else around. It is on the edge of Lake Argyle, a huge inland sea of water that was dammed up in 1969 to catch the fresh water coming in from the Ord river. The caravan park is slightly dated in amenities but was cleanish, the sites were grassy and there was a great infinity swimming pool built on the edge of a cliff, which was freezing but worth a dip for a photo.

Infinity pool
It was Abigails 4th birthday here and we celebrated with a cake and some party pies with our new friends. We had balloons and some music and the old ladies from the surrounding caravans come to say happy birthday. One bringing Abi some flowers which was lovely. Mum and my sister, plus both my nana’s had sent gifts and money to Broome caravan park a few weeks before so Abigail had lots to open on her birthday.

We spent the afternoon of Abigail’s birthday out on Lake Argyle aboard the Kimberley Durack boat cruise. It was a very informative, lighthearted tour of the lake, which included a swim at sunset with the fresh water crocs. The tour was booked at the caravan park reception and a family ticket was $270 which went from 1.30pm till 6pm and included soft drinks, tea and coffee, cake for afternoon tea, then crackers and cheese, dip, wine and beer on sunset. The tour guide was amazing, so full of knowledge and good with the kids. It was a highlight of our trip so far and was well worth the money.

sunset over lake argyle 


The next day we packed up and drove the 500 km to Katherine. We were going to break this up over two nights and free camp but our camper battery failed on the last part of the Gibb River and we needed to stay in powered sites until we reached Darwin to get a new battery. The big 4 in Katherine was a great spot to set up camp. The caravan park was very clean, very modern, reasonably priced, had a pool, grassy sites, was secure and probably the best washing machines I have used so far. Well worth staying at if you are in Katherine (I’ve heard the other park in town is not so good and people get vans broken into all the time).

We arrived in Katherine near on dark and set up quickly while I put everything in the thermo for spaghetti bolognaise. It was one of our quickest set ups yet, we now have perfected it to about 20 minutes, from unhook to fully set up and sitting down to dinner!

That night Craig had another heart episode, his second in 6 weeks, so I decided we needed to stay for a second night as he looked terrible in the morning and nobody was in a mood to pack up and move on.

We used the next day to do some washing, visit the local museum and to use some free WIFI at Mcdonalds.  The next day Craig was much better and we made the three-hour drive from Katherine to Darwin to start the next bit of our adventure. The top end.

We have been on the road for six weeks now. And this is no longer a ‘holiday’ but is more starting to feel like ‘life’. I feel very lucky that we are seeing some great places but last week I was feeling a bit homesick. We had not had phone reception for 10 days and in that time I had only spoken to mum for about 2 minutes. I was tired and drained and the kids were playing us a bit. Craig was short tempered and tired himself. We were all getting sick of each other. The kids were complaining they wanted their dog. They wanted to go ‘home’ (bit hard since we sold our house to do this trip). Charlotte cried a few times because she wanted Nana. My mum is very close to the kids and this is the longest they have gone without seeing her and my sister. And we all miss our niece/cousin, little Ellie, 7 months old but already a big part of our lives. I had to remind myself that this trip is something we wanted to do and we had put so much on the line to do it.

I add this into my blog because I need to keep it real. This trip isn’t always roses. I don’t want to get on here and pretend it is. Sometimes it is shit and sometimes we get sick of each other and sometimes after sitting in the car for five hours while Craig is chewing his knuckle right next to me I want to slap him. And apparently sometimes I ‘give him the shits’ when I am a drama queen (pfft whateves). Sometimes the kids whinge and whine and want food that we don’t have and want their DVD player on, then off. Then they want their ipads then they want a wee. So we stop and I walk them into the toilet block with my baby wipes to clean the seat and I think ‘fuck this I want to go home’.

Luckily these times are few and far between. Usually when we are all super tired and it can easily be fixed with a good nights sleep and some alone time. Everyone has bad days. Camping or not. I watched an old lady directing her husband onto the tow bar of the caravan. She started out ‘left, right hand down’. Then her voice got more annoyed ‘I SAID right hand down’. Then he stopped the car and got out and had words with her. Then she yelled at him and got in the car and reversed it on herself. I wanted to high five her and say good on ya nana.

One of the ladies we camped near at Lake Argyle came to hug the kids goodbye as we were packing up.  She slipped them each a $5 note to buy an ice cream and said it was from ‘Nana Diana’. She had overheard Charlotte crying for her own nana and she too missed her grandkids. Things like this remind me of the sense of community you can build by staying in caravan parks. Meeting people you wouldn’t have ever met otherwise. Hearing other peoples lives. Their plans, their past. People that become like a family, but then just like that we pack up, hook on and drive off waving goodbye. Ready to meet more people and see more things. 

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