Friday 22 November 2013

Blue Mountains

When Hubster said that he was going to a conference in the Blue Mountains for 3 days, I thought, well that sounds like a place I need to see.

The Blue Mountains are north east of Sydney about 1.5 hours drive, so in Oz terms, not far at all!

They are so called because of the dense forests of Eucalyptus trees covering the mountains which gives the whole range a mystical blue hue.

Quite enchanting.

So whilst Hubster was waving a laser pen at a white board in a conference room somewhere, I got out and about.

I made my way down to Echo Point and the vista was quite spectacular. The weather was just perfect. I walked out to the 3 Sisters rock formation and all the way down the eye watering steep Giant's Stairway, oh and all the way back up again - a 2km round trip.

The 3 Sisters

My nerves were like jelly on the descent and my legs were like jelly on the ascent! It really was steep and I am not so good with heights.

Disappointing picture - it doesn't look steep at all

All around were huge flocks of white and black cockatoos, squawking loudly and looking extremely busy, I chose to concentrate on those instead of looking down too much.

I then started to take a walk over to the Katoomba Falls but I was beaten back by the invasion of Japanese tourists! Madding crowds are just not my thing so I retreated to a coffee shop and did a bit of browsing around the curiosity/antique shops instead.

Mum look what I found for you!

The following day I went to a place called Scenic World. I got there early before the tour buses arrived. It all centred around 2 cable car rides and the steepest railway ride in the world. Although quite touristy it was extremely well done and the views of the rain forest canopy, the mountains and the falls were quite breath taking.

I was asked to announce the departure!

I was out of there by 11.30am just as the invasion began once more.

I then made my way to Leura,  a super little chocolate box town teeming with all those quaint little shops crammed with all that is quirky and slightly eccentric.

It called for a few hours of languorous "linky-lonky" browsing and coffee of course!

A few Christmas presents were purchased, so for you lovely folk back home, if you are reading this, Mrs T-J has not forgotten you this year.


Wednesday 13 November 2013

One final wish granted

As we left the outback and headed towards the city of Darwin, our hearts sagged a little bit as the landscape revealed more and more infrastructure.

Civilization - apparently.

We were to spend one last night in Darwin before heading back to Melbourne.

As soon as we pitched up, we found a bar to toast our monumental trip. There were big sighs, some of relief but mostly heavy hearted, besides real life was just around the corner once more.

There was just a couple of things left on Hubster 50th birthday wish list we hoped to fulfil.

1. To experience one of Darwin's famous rain storms.

2. To eat fresh mud crab on the pier.
Hey Presto!
Your wish is my command!

What an incredible trip, lets drink to that.

Monday 11 November 2013

Bamurru Plains

Our final outback destination was here.

A lodge consisting of just 9 safari style, raised tents with spectacular views over the flood plains as far as the eye could see.

I felt truly uplifted when we arrived here even though my eyes had become very sore over the past few days. All around were grazing buffalo, herds of wild horses passing through and to our delight  mobs of wallabies hanging around the tents stealing the shade.

With the exception of the wallabies, this could have been Africa and we both absolutely adored being so close to nature. Many of the buffalo had young calves too and like all baby animals, they were just so cute.

Here we really chilled out and absorbed our surroundings. It was blistering hot and so the pool was an absolute godsend.

Hubster in familiar pose!
Me in familiar pose!


We see his print but where's the croc?
Mud, mud glorious mud

... but nowt like a pool for cooling the blood


Look.... vast this place is!
Canapes ....... time for the Sunset.
We loved this place, a true luxury wilderness lodge and definitely not a case of style over substance.

The perfect finish to our outback adventure before our final city destination.


Sunday 10 November 2013

The Juggernaut rolls on

or should that be the road train as they are called here?

There are tons of them in the Northern Territories, 5 trailers long, scary stuff. You have to get out of the way because they won't, they cant. Sadly too many wallabies and kangaroos don't either.

Anyway I digress, the juggernaut is this whole process of blogging our trip! So hard to précis all that we covered and if you've lost interest by now I really can't blame you.

So all too soon Berkeley River Lodge was just another page in our diary.

As we hit the road once more, it just seemed to be getting hotter and we were coming across more and more bush fires en route.

Next stop for us was Kakadu National Park. The second largest in the world being the size of Slovenia. It is famous for the richness of its Aboriginal cultural sites. There are more than 5000 recorded art sites depicting Aboriginal culture over thousands of years. The traditional owners of the land still live in Kadadu and they work hard with tourism to preserve their heritage and pass on their traditions down the generations.

As we viewed the rock art we stood with thousands of years of Aboriginal history in front of us, the feeling was intense, profound and sacred would also be an appropriate word.


Long Necked Turtle


We arrived right at the end of the dry season. Creeks and billabongs were bone dry, the wetlands had been reduced to sporadic muddy swamps and the rivers were low. Every living creature was craving the rain.

The bird life was incredible in it's abundance and they all clambered noisily around what little water was left. The lilies were also in full bloom and the noise was deafening from hundreds of species herded together scrapping for food and water. We recognised Whistling Ducks, Giant Pelican, Plovers, Jabiru, Brolgas and throusands of Bamurru geese to name a few.

A trip out on the East Alligator River* brought us into spitting distance of the largest river concentration of salt water crocodiles in the world. No mistake there, they were all basking in the shallows of the river, packed in like sardines and by now extremely hungry!

Looks innocent enough

Crocodile "Deb" Dundee! No heroism here, its not even a Saltie! 
* An American explorer named the River East Alligator after mistaking all the Crocs for Alligators and so it remained (school boy error!)

Once again the heat fought us back and we gave up on the idea of setting up camp.
Every bit of physical exertion was exhausting and whereas in Africa the ridiculously hot day time temperatures always dropped rapidly at night, this wasn't the case here. No respite to be had. So it was a no brainer that we pitched up at the camp site and opted for one of their basic "air conditioned" units. Looking around we were not the only road trippers going for this option.

We were awoken the next day by the noisy parakeets and cockatoos frolicking in the sprinkler system irrigating the grounds.

Time to move on and our final destination in the outback - the amazing Bamurru Plains Wilderness Lodge.