Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Go(ing) west. This is what we did. Part III

The open road. Somewhere between
Normanton and Lawn Hill, QLD.
We decided on Gilbert River (our first stay for the trip) following a recommendation from a friend. Perhaps discovering it was a dud should have given us some warning about heeding people’s recommendations. Because our next destination was also suggested to us and once again turned out to be less than idyllic. This place was Leichhardt Falls. Upon arrival it was lovely.
For starters, there was water in the river. Quite a pretty river, even. But there was also sand. A LOT of sand. And thanks to the gale that started blowing approximately two minutes after we got ourselves set up much of that sand ended up in our eyes. And food. And underwear. And tents. And ... you get the picture.
“Maybe it will die down once it’s dark,” we told ourselves. And “It won't be such a problem when we’ve finished dinner”. “At least it’s not hot” (it was actually bloody freezing). “The trailer does block a bit of it, I think.” “I wish this fecking wind would just fecking well feck off!”
It didn't.
Under the sand was rock, so our tent pegs didn't hold well. And by breakfast the tent had virtually collapsed. Anything less than half a foot high was buried. Everything taller was supporting a wall of sand.
But the river was nice. I'd actually recommend this place too - just be at the ready to clear out if there’s so much as a hint of breeze.
Once you got yourself down the bank and at the water you were largely protected from the wind. And there were some beautiful little pools and falls to explore. From the edge of course - you never know when Mr Crocodile might make an appearance.
After our morning exploration we went on Burketown - only about an hour’s drive away. We booked into the town's only caravan park for a night so we could use the water to clear the approximately 20 ton of sand we’d accumulated.
From there we went to Gregory Downs aka oasis of bliss. Here we found the spring-fed Gregory River, with crystal-clear depths and lined with palms.
The (free!) camping area was packed, but we found an ideal little spot right down the end. We stayed for three nights and enjoyed every minute. Especially the gap between unpacking and packing everything. As I may have mentioned once or twice, this was starting to become as much fun as repeatedly smacking my head into the nearest tree trunk.
The Gregory River. Sparkling water. A fringe of palms. Beautiful.

Up the path at Gregory Downs.

The water looked inviting but was icy. Or nippy, depending on your tolerance for frostbite. The others went in a few times, but I was sensible chicken and stayed warm and dry on the bank.
From there we went to Adels Grove/Lawn Hill. (Adels Grove is a property and caravan park; Lawn Hill is a stunning national park.) We had to stay at Adels Grove as we couldn't take our dogs into the park. It didn't have much to recommend it but Lawn Hill was fantastic. With beautiful walks and the option to hire a canoe and paddle through a spectacular gorge. I definitely recommend visiting this one, if you're ever in the area.
Our next few days were spent primarily travelling. Along the way we called in for a look at a fossil site at Riversleigh. Impressive fossils, including one of a massive, vicious-sounding, meat-eating bird. Upon viewing ‘Big Bird’s’ remains, one senior-ish gent there at the same time as us remarked to his wife: “sounds a bit like you dear”. She did not clout him in response. Luckily for him, if she is in fact any way similar to the long-dead bird.
Lawn Hill Gorge. And Paul (below).

More spectacular-ness at Lawn Hill.

By now we were almost at the NT border, but had one more night in Queensland and camped at Camooweal.
We intended to spend the following night somewhere north of Three Ways (the Stuart Highway junction, now well into NT). But once again the weather failed to co-operate and a rain and wind storm cracked open right over our heads. B was feeding the baby, who was getting grouchy, while Paul and I tried to set up a tarp so we'd have somewhere to cook and eat without getting soaked.
Have you ever tried to set up a tarp in the midst of a gale and downpour? Or even just attempted to hang a sheet on the clothesline on a windy day? It flaps and flaps and flaps and refuses to be manipulated, doesn't it. DOESN'T IT?!
We’d just get a corner pegged down when the other one would work loose and go flying. We had a joint dummy spit and decided it would be a miserable night there, so we banged everything - which was only marginally drier than our dripping selves - back in the trailer and kept driving. We ended up at Renner Springs just on dark and were able to book into motel rooms for the night. Much drier. Much cleaner. Much better.
We arrived in Katherine early the following afternoon. Quite a famous town, but once you're there you kind of wonder why this is so.

To be continued…

We take a break just east of woop woop and west of nowheresville.
Razz and Chiko. Adventure dogs.


  1. Wow this is brilliant!
    The colours are sensational and I think you might have just inspired me to start putting $ into a piggy bank just to buy a camper trailer!

    Thanks for visiting so that I could follow you back here,



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