Friday, 28 September 2012

Do we have to go?

Regretfully, we finally pulled the pin on camping at King Edward.  The camp hosts that had been looking after the place had finished their month’s stint, and had left before us, so we felt like the place was ours!  It was time to move on though.

We braved the Kalumburu road again (not that we had any choice at all), and headed down.  It didn’t seem quite as rough this time, but this was only perception because there’d been no magic grader!  We finally got to dump alllllll our rubbish at the dump point, which was a god sent, especially given a certain little one is still in nappies!! Erk.  From there, we rejoined the Gibb, and made for Mt Barnett Roadstop and Manning Gorge. 

This was the location for our second birthday celebrate, Matt & Deb’s son Rory who was 9 yo.  This saw another camp oven cake being produced by Matt, he was getting good at this by now!  The Barnett River also provided a great swimming hole, which was well appreciated given the hot days.
We chose to stay and swim rather than do the 2km walk
From Barnett, we kept on driving east, dropping in on some great little waterholes, Galvan’s and Adcock.  We made for Silent Grove, a campground used to access Bells Gorge.  Bells would have to be one of the top gorges in the Gibb, and the next day we all trekked off together, reasonably early to beat the heat, to swim at the gorge. 
So hard to get everyone looking at the camera - Galvans Gorge

A well deserved morning tea at Bells Gorge
The girls did amazingly well, particularly Savannah.  She handled the scrambling and steep track without issue.  She enjoyed walking with the Toomey kids.  Jessica swapped between wanting to walk by herself, wanting to be in the kid carrying backpack Glenn had, and wanting to hold onto Amy’s hand.  Predictably within 2 minutes of being in the backpack she was chirping in Glenn’s ear about wanting to get down.  This is where the food bribes were put into action for as long as we could manage.

The waterfall was spectacular, wide, layered and with adequate water still flowing this time of year.  The swimming at the foot of the falls were well worth the walk, with the gorge walls rising on both sides of you.  We were all a little hesitant to put our heads right under the falls, they were all a bit daunting when up close.  Definately not interested in getting pulled under here either.

The walk back was hot, but when we finally got back to camp, it was all topped off nicely with a cuppa!!  Glenn also tried cooking popcorn in the camp over for the first time.  A total success, with camp smelling like Hoyts.

King Edward River

From Miners Pool, we crossed the Drysdale River the next morning, and continued north on the Kalumburu road.  The condition of the road hadn’t magically improved any overnight (like having that well timed grader go past whilst we slept!!), so the bouncing and rattling continued.  We reached the turnoff to the Mitchell Plateau and travelled the short distance to cross the King Edward River. 

The Mitchell Plateau and the Mitchell Falls are a popular destination for those Kimberley travellers capable of handling the rough roads.  Interestingly, we saw a lot of those higher Britz 4wd’s making the trip.  The saying ‘a hire car can go anywhere’ is never truer, but it did amaze us.  This is reasonably remote stuff, and if you break down, help is not that close by, although does exist.  We figured that they were putting a lot of faith in how well the hire 4wd was maintained, and given all Glenn’s checks and tightens on our vehicle, it’s a wonder these bash and crash hire jobs stay together. 

The Mitchell Falls provide the highlight of a 1.5 – 2 hour walk, passing though some varied bush, the smaller Merton falls, and past a number of rock art sites.  The Mitchell falls are huge, three tier waterfalls that can be viewed on the gorge walls, or by air via the many helicopters offering a 5-7 minute flight back from the falls instead of doing the return walk.

On our last trip, without kids, we had done Mitchell Falls, and thoroughly loved it.  This time however, with the kids, we didn’t feel that we would get the value out of it.  They are becoming great bushwalkers, but that might be a little bit too much to ask.  Instead, we had decided to make for the camp and King Edward River.  This was a camp spot that we were going to stay one night at last time, and had stayed four.  There was ample firewood, good camping, and most significantly, extensive swimming!!!

We had been a little worried that the King Edward would be dry this late in the season, but thankfully there was plenty of water, and the kids were looking forward to satisfying their obsession, to swim, swim more, and then just keep swimming.

The Toomey’s had not seen Mitchell Falls, so after a quick snack at the campground, sadly they left us and drove out to camp near the falls for a couple of days.  We had definitely got use to travelling together, and were enjoying their company.  If you are reading this though Matt and Deb, we weren’t sad at all, nope, not one bit!!!!  “Thank god they are gone” we said as we settled down for a rare early night instead of blah blah blahing till late!!!! 

We set up the camper after taking an amazingly horrendous length of time to pick our site, sheesh, you’d think we were going to be there for months!  We then quickly walked the short distance down to the King Edward River.  Standing on the banks, looking at the beautiful cool water, we did stop and look at each other.  “There are no crocs here right?”  “We did swim here last time and it was absolutely fine, which means it should be fine here again right??”  “Maybe we should send one of the kids in first just to check??”  Glenn got a whack at this point, and shoved into the water. 
One of our favourite camp spots - King Edward River

All was fine, and this was the first of many many swims in the river.  The weather was heating up, but with regular dips, the days all seemed to go by so easily, and very fast!!  Before you knew it, it was dinner time and bed again.  Time to dream about another swim tomorrow.

3 days later, the Toomey’s rolled back into camp, hot, shaken and tired.  Geez, glad we didn’t do that trip J.  Matt was saying that if he’d hit one more rock on the road he would have lost it!!!  Erk.  Luckily, after they’d setup in the heat, we had a cuppa boiled (of course, can’t do anything without a cuppa in this troupe), and Glenn had cooked a damper in the camp over, on the gas no less.  A significant achievement.

We spent a few more days sitting around, more swimming, and Glenn rotated the tyres, just to share the hammering.  We had a final day extension (our 9th in total) to celebrate Deb’s birthday, ensuring we weren’t travelling for it.  This was to mark the start of a quite incredible 2 weeks where as a travelling group, we celebrated 5 birthdays!!!!!!  Amazing.  That many virgo’s all together, sounds like a tidy and harmonious group!
Fantastic rock art around King Edward


The swimming was the best
Deb’s birthday started for her with Matt cooking pancakes, us giving her a sneaky packet of Smarties, and then Matt cooked the most amazing mint chocolate cake in the camp over.  One could say it was a fluke, but it was just too perfect.  Well done Matt, and thanks, we enjoyed sharing it! J

Onwards and Upwards

After bypassing Emma Gorge and El Questro, we crossed the Pentacost River and decided it made sense to stay for a night at Home Valley.  We took full advantage of the pool and playground, with the kids running wild at both.  Glenn and Matt did their usual check-overs of the cars, and then we downed a few stubbies before dinner. All of which had to be done. 
Not as much water in the Pentacost later in the season

Last trip, a major highlight was when we had sat up on a lookout 5 minutes up the road from Home Valley to cook dinner and watch the sunset on the Cockburn Ranges.  We wanted to do this again, so we headed off just before sunset.  Because of our extended drinks with Matt and Deb, we missed the actual sunset, but still enjoyed the changing colours, and the view.  Dinner scenery was something a little different that night!
Big rock lizards at the lookout near Home Valley
The next morning we headed further along the Gibb, getting to the Kalumburu turnoff just after lunch.  The road was in much better condition than we had expected, and we made good time.  All that smooth running stopped once we started north on the Kalumburu road.  This road is notoriously rough, with continual stories of cars and trailers breaking (in major ways).  It definitely lived up to expectations with the fillings getting rattled out of our heads.  You are on a constant state of alert, trying to listen, amongst all the rattle and shake, for any unusual or different noises that might signal a problem.

We made for Drysdale Station, and parked up for the night in their bush camp, called Miners Pool.  After the routine check-overs of the cars, the tally of the rough roads for us was having to tighten the slightly loose bull bar, losing a d-shackel from the trailer chains, and a mounting screw from one of the driving lights.  A little annoying, but nothing disastrous.  Matt had a reversing work light finally shake itself to bits, something he wasn’t too surprised about.
Croc free?  We hope so...

Slim with one less driving light ... oh well

After the car maintenance, there was some well appreciated swimming in their croc free (apparently) Drysdale River waterhole, and our regular cuppa’s.  It was becoming a nice little routine we’d sorted out with these guys!

Sweet and Sour East Kimberley (..rant enclosed)

The next morning we dropped into the Grotto to look down into the gorge and the waterhole.  It would be impressive to see when the wet season rains turn it into a flooding waterway.  We then found the start of the Gibb again, and retraced our earlier steps.

This time the roadwork diversions were taken away, and we pretty much had either bitumen or prepared roadbase all the way to the El Questro turnoff.  A $2 million Government funded road (so we found out later) providing access to El Questro and Emma Gorge.

In our previous trip, the East Kimberley blew us away.  The countryside is beyond spectacular, with very rugged escarpments, big rivers & waterfalls, vivid colours in the rocks and vegetation, as well as our favoured Cockburn Ranges of course.  We did a huge number of the walks and sights last time, and were looking forward to some re-visits this trip.  That’s where it all went a bit sour.

El Questro is a privately owned ‘station’, based on it being a pastoral lease (under the guise of them running cattle on it), which also included Emma Gorge.  This property has some of the most outstanding country we have ever seen, but because it is a private ‘station’, owned by a huge multination tourism company (used to be Voyages last time), they appear to be able to charge whatever prices they feel like.  They have come up with a ‘Wilderness Pass’ which is an access fee to even get into the place (was something like $40 for us), and then camping fees (unpowered) were $40 - $50 a night.  For a 2 – 3 day stay, we would have paid a fortune.  Even to just drop into Emma Gorge and do the 1-2 hour walk, we would have had to have their Wilderness Pass.

Home Valley, the next big station down the track, wasn’t too much better.  Camping fees were huge, and if you wanted to do anything on the property, you pretty much had to mortgage your house and pay their fees to participate.  Obviously last time we paid these fees (although they weren’t quite as high 5 years ago), but this time, with the extra cost of kids, and not being able to do as much of the walks etc because of the kids, it all became untenable.  The most annoying thing about all of this is that the spectacular, NATURAL countryside is made inaccessible to people on any sort of a budget.  No problem in providing all the toff services like accommodation and restaurant / bars, people should pay for that, but to have to pay SOOO much just to see the natural countryside is ridiculous.

Have realised that this has turned into a major rant, but seriously, it sucks!

Sitting in the Grotto

From our secluded, private camp spot on the King River, we emerged back into civilization with the delightful discovery of having had the grader pass whilst we camped, and the road had turned from a rattle and roll road to a dirt highway.  If only we had this luck all the time!

We convoyed into Wyndham with Matt and Deb, and ticked off our jobs as soon as we got there; refuelling, a few fresh goods and groceries, and filling up on drinking water.  We were both amazed with how much water we’d all used.   Sitting in the heat obviously means you drink more water than you think.  Amy will have to stop having those 30 minute showers each night!
Two good looking rigs cruising into town
We then drove up to the Five Rivers lookout.  This is a spectacular, and very high, lookout over the 5 major rivers that flow into the bay and ocean around Wyndham.  Let’s see if I can remember them.....  The Durack, the Pentacost, the Forrest, the King.... annnnnd.. erm, damn, will have to look up the last.  The view was slightly hampered by a blanket of smoke haze but regardless, very impressive.
The Five Rivers Lookout

Every town needs a giant croc
From Wyndham we started driving down south, back towards to start of the Gibb.  We planned to pull up early in a free campspot before hitting the Gibb the next day, so were on the lookout for a place to camp.  We had camped at a roadside hideaway last trip, just down from the ‘Grotto’, a gorge and waterhole just off the highway.  We checked this spot out again, and although it looked hot and open, we parked up, setup the campers and awnings, and whaaala, felt like home!
'Camp Grotto'

Our travelling buddies

Sitting under the awnings in the shade, drinking our cuppa’s, is where the notorious music lesson started.  Glenn pulled out his didgeridoo and shakers to entertain the masses.  Matt, and his son Rory both were very keen to learn how to play.  Glenn stated that unless they were total retards, he could roughly teach them how to play within a month.  Jury could be said to still be out, but giving the benefit of the doubt, they are not retards!

After a few elephant noises and strangling cats, both got the hang of it, and were sounding good.  The shakers added a bit of spice to the impromptu jam, and the Kimberley Botch Band was formed whilst we watched the vivid colours in the afternoon sunset, highlighting a huge Old Man Boab tree we were camped next to.  Special.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Karunjie Track.... a favourite!

We shot back into Kununurra the next day, returning to the same caravan park we had been in two nights ago only to find that Matt and Deb had been put in our exact spot, and ironically, we’d been put next to them.  Sheesh, just as well we liked them!!!!!

Matt and Deb were doing what we had mainly already done,  getting stuck into major jobs in Kununurra.  Given we were planning to be out along the Gibb River Road (GRR) for a long time, we were trying to stock up to within an inch of the vehicle’s capability.  Glenn also spent some time checking over Slim and the camper, as well as fixing the charging lead on the camper. 

The next morning we headed out of Kununurra in our new ‘convoy’, Matt, Deb and the kids in their Hilux and Camprite, us in Slim and our Camprite.  We had been talking to Matt and Deb about their trip, and found out that they had lined up a gig with a magazine, Camper Trailer Touring, to submit stories of their trip.  They were playing ‘journo’s and pro photographers’, except it wasn’t playing.  They had a requirement to take certain number of pics of certain types, travelling, camp setup, etc.  This meant that they were on the lookout for some great angles.  As soon as we turned onto the Gibb, the Cockburn Ranges, our favourite in Australia, provided a great backdrop.

There were quite a lot of roadworks going on during the first 15+kms along the Gibb where they appear to be putting in a lot of bitumen.  As we discovered, it looks like they are making an all weather road access to El Questro.  The little roadwork diversions were pretty rough, and we definitely had to lower the tyres not long into the dirt. 
An early stop to let the tyres down

We had planned to do the Karunjie Track, which is a little diversion off the Gibb around the back of the Cockburn ranges.  We drove straight to the Pentacost River, to where the Karunjie Track starts, just before the river crossing.

Matt and Deb let us go first, so Amy started wandering down the track.  She was all a little bit too laxidazy when we hit a big patch of soft sand, resulting in us ‘bogging’ pretty easily.  No great concern, but was amusing for Matt & Deb’s kids.  They had never seen anyone get bogged!! (Oh great, we will be remembered for bogging in a little sand blip!).  It didn’t take too much to get out, but not before Matt rattled off a couple of pictures of us there.

After that, the track was fairly easy, but as we had remembered it, extremely picturesque.  The Cockburn Ranges look even better from the back (northern side), and the rest of the country side is pretty rugged.  There were a few 4WD sections to negotiate, and Matt earned his keep running around in the heat getting shots of the two cars at all different angles.
Not a welcoming sign...

The tow bar was dragging down this steep drop

The Cockburn Range looks even better off the Gibb River Rd

Hundreds of birds finding respite from the heat of the day

Love the boab trees!!

This area was used for a number of scenes in Baz Lumans ‘Australia’ movie, and we could easily see why.  The floodplain we drove through was a stark difference to the rest of the drive, and given how dry and cracked the soil was, it made it look even more barren.  We remembered the hype in the area last time we passed through as the movie was to be filmed in the following months.  We specifically remember that the stampeding cattle scene was going to be done there.  Would have been fun to see.
The 'moonscape' on a section of the Karunjie Track

Last time through the area, we had stayed at a station called Diggers Rest, but given the Wyndham races were on that day, it was shut given all the station hands were enjoying the races.  We found a camp beside the ‘Prison Boab Tree’.  This boab is a huge (14.7 metre circumference), hollow based tree that was used to house captured aboriginals whilst they were being walked into Wyndham for sentencing.
Prison Boab Tree

Inside the tree - apparently up to 30 prisoners would be held here
The next morning, we drove in to check out Diggers Rest.  It was the same owners from last time, and we also saw the lady who runs the horse trail rides, Helen, who showed us around last time.  Five years ago, we had stayed on an extra couple of days and helped them erect 80(ish) hiking tents for the movie crew to use.  This was hot and long work, but they were very grateful.  We sat around having a chat and looked at a few of the photo’s around the walls.  When it came to possibly staying there, we found the prices a little steep, and decided to move on, happy we had dropped in to say hi.

We travelled only a couple of km’s past the boab tree, and decided to drop into a camp spot we had visited last trip, on the banks of the King River.  Matt and Deb were happy to park up as well, this time for a couple of days.  It was a free camp, we had wood, and we were by ourselves.  Paradise!!!  We did have to keep an eye out for whether there were any croc visitors cruising up the tidal King River.

A couple of days of sitting around, chatting, having coffee’s, eating the cake Matt cooked in the camp oven, and a couple of jobs on the car was all well worth it, and a highlight to finish off this section of the trip.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Kununurra and Lake Argyle

We took the short drive, crossing into Western Australia for the first time this trip.  Yeeeeehaaw!!!  We had always liked Kununurra, mainly for its location, and what it represented given the good times we had here last time.

A great place for a coffee in town
Our first job was to get our dead battery replaced.  Luckily we found a place that stocked the battery we wanted, and picked it up for Glenn to replace it once in camp.  The prices for caravan parks have sky-rocketed here (as per the rest of Australia), so we found the cheaper of them, and setup.  Glenn replaced the battery, and we headed into town to start our list of jobs and re-stocking.  Of all our stock-up’s, this was going to be one of the biggest, because we were about to head off into the Kimberley and Gibb River Road, which meant we were likely to be away from any shops for 4 – 6 weeks.  That’s a LOT of food!!

We did a few little jobs, and then decided to have fish and chips for dinner.  Bit of a trip treat.  We had heard of the ‘Barra Shak’, and what a good job they did.  We declared this one of the best Fish and Chip meals we had EVER had.  It cost us a fortune mind you, but in the end, worth every penny.  We also managed to order a HUGE amount, quite ridiculous, but to our amazement, we ate every last morsel. 

The next day what a huge one.  We managed to do a world record shop at Coles, got more meat at the butcher, got a heap of beer (we weren’t going to run out whilst on the Gibb like we did last time), and each of us also managed to organise a birthday present for the other, given the upcoming September birthday month.  Glenn’s 40th is on the 16th, so Amy was very excited to have found a present whilst on the road.  Wonder what it is?????????????

In getting back to the caravan park, Glenn looked at the pile of shopping he had to fit into the car, and declared that it was possible we’d gone toooooooooooooooo far.  Surely it was not possible.  “Tetris Man” did his amazing work though, and squeezed everything in, although admittedly there was some inventive storage.

We then headed off to Lake Argyle the next morning, wanting to explore this amazing place a little more.  We passed Matt and Debbie on the road, having a quick conversation on the UHF, and again talked about catching up in Kununurra.

Lake Argyle was created when they built a dam wall in the late 60’s, a brainchild of Kimberley Durack, a founder of the region.  The dam wall was built over 3 wet seasons, and although they anticipated it would take 5 wet seasons to fill, it only took two.  Lake Argyle is HUUUUGE.  It is declared as Open Water by the maritime authorities given its size.

Lake Argyle

We revisited our previous launch spot at the base of the dam wall, when we took a 3 day canoe trip down the Ord River with friends Pete and Ruth.  We were treated to a free boat ride by a tour operator who was waiting for his next set of passengers.  We idled around the river for about half an hour looking for crocs and checking out the scenery.  The guy was extremely nice, and worth having a chat to.  Very lucky.
At the start of the Ord River


From there, we set up in the local caravan park.  We had thoughts of doing a sunset cruise on the lake, just to complete our exploration.  It was a little expensive, and a little long, but after some serious debate, we threw caution to the wind, and booked in.

A fantastic view from the swimming pool
The girls were very excited to do the short 4 minute bus trip down to the boat, and then to hop aboard the tour boat.  We were directed down the back just in case the kids got restless, (unbeknown to us, our first sign of trouble).  The operator got us all onboard, and then started his safety drill.  The second sign of trouble was when another kid spoke during the drill.  The guy immediately stopped, and quite rudely laid down the law to the kids.  “Children, when I am speaking, you don’t speak, Ok kids?  Great” – Big smile.  Hmmmmmmm

From there, we were shown around the lake, and given some quite impressive statistics and information about how big it is.  It was definitely interesting, albeit long.  After about an hour or so, the guy pulled up on the bank, and got out his chart and pointer.  The lecture then started in earnest.  This was ridiculous, and all of us with children were all petrified about them making a noise.  It was his time, and he was going to shine in it!!!!  No pesky kid would interrupt him!!!  When he finally shut up, we headed off to the middle of the lake to watch the sunset.

A swim at sunset

The kids definitely wanted a swim, so Glenn hopped in with the two girls, and floated around with our supplied noodles.  It was lovely watching the sunset, but given the depth of the water (in spots 40 metres deep), Glenn was a little paranoid about the kids, even though they had their floaties on.  We got out, had some nibbles, and settled back for the trip back.  All in all, it was a nice enough trip, but for us, we felt totally and utterly unwelcomed with kids.  The operated needed a huge lesson in being polite and managing kids, otherwise don’t encourage families to join the boat ride!!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Keep River

The next day, we decided to do the walk from the campground to the nearby Aboriginal Art site.  After finally getting ourselves sorted we started on the track.  5 minutes down the track, whilst we stopped to put Jess in the kid carrying backpack, our friends from yesterday with their kids wandered up as well.  They had decided not to do homework that day (their two older kids were doing distance learning), and do the walk instead.  We walked along the path chatting until they split off to do the harder lookout walk, whilst we continued to the art site. 
Off we go on our walk

A great walk for the kids

What are we looking at Dad?

Sacred site sign adds to the mystique

The escarpment was red, tall, and very rugged.  We enjoyed being so close to it as the track meandered along the base.  The girls did really well again with the bush walking, and Savannah is developing into a real bush walker.  After seeing the small amount of art, we did the walk back to camp, and kicked back with a little lunch.  The days were definitely warming up, so it was just as well we had put up our annex this time.

That afternoon, our friends, Matt and Debbie, invited us over for scones and an experimental damper.  Matt had wrapped the damper up with jam in the middle before cooking it.  Assuring us he’d done it before and it had worked a treat, it was sad that this one had not quite cooked, it looked delicious though.  The scones were a fantastic alternative, and were scoffed pretty quickly!

The next morning, we drove down to the first campsite, and did one of our favourite walks in the whole of Australia.  The walk takes only 1 hour, (2 kms), but it winds through the scrub, up and around the escarpment, finally dropping back down and back along the bottom of the rock walls.  The views are spectacular, and an extremely pleasant walk.  Savannah showed off her increasing bushwalking skills by following the blue arrows, and leading us around the track.

Our little bushwalker
We just love this scenery - walking amongst it

This is one way to see the sights


That afternoon, we figured we’d return the afternoon tea favour and cook a cake and a damper for Matt, Debbie and the kids.  In short, the cake was an unmitigated disaster.  Glenn again knew what he had done wrong, but we are 2 for 2 on cake failures.  With birthdays coming up soon, we’d better get it right!!!!  The damper saved the day, being devoured by everyone.

We had definitely developed a very nice friendship, and all the kids were getting along famously.  We discussed our common travel plans, and lined up to hopefully travel some of the Gibb River Road together.  We left for Kununurra the next day with plans to meet up before tackling the Kimberley proper.

Here we come....!

It felt good to drive out of Katherine towards the West, the starting point of our other major focus of the trip this time.  We really wanted to explore Cape York, and spend a bit of time around that area, but it was always a conundrum as how we would fit all that in as well as the Kimberley, especially given how far apart they are.  We figured it was worth all the effort to shoot over though, given how much we loved the Kimberley last time.

On leaving Katherine, we had a little over a month to spend in the Kimberley.  It will be a very different trip to our last one, but we will prioritize what we want to see, and enjoy every last minute of it.  We both keep noting just how extremely lucky we are to be doing such an amazing trip, thankful that we have the opportunity, and excited that we are giving the girls this gift.  The gift of getting this type of travel into their blood, exposing them to the world that surrounds them, and teaching them day to day life lessons.  The luxury of spending so much time with them is also not forgotten, especially for Glenn, who often finds it so difficult to have quality time with them when at home given work and jobs etc.  So far, it has been extremely enjoyable seeing them grow, learn, and bond with both of us, and more impressively, each other.

We enjoyed seeing our favoured ranges starting to appear on the horizon, and loved the scenery though the Victoria River region, with rock escarpments, cliffs and gullies.  We made it to a camping area just past Timber Creek, back from the Victoria River.  It was effectively a roadside stop, but was very well laid out, with room so that everyone was not on top of each other. 

Savannah loved the books we found!

A lovely overnight stop at Big Horse Camp ground

Jess and her bucket of red rocks

During the trip, when there is something that we don’t want the girls expecting regularly, we say to them, “That is only for special times”.  Things like a campfire, or an icypole, or bacon and eggs in the morning.  You can’t have it all the time, only on special occasions.  We had to laugh that night over dinner when Savannah asked if we were having a shower that night.  “Are showers only for special times??”  Geez, we thought we were showering them pretty regularly, but apparently not!!!

The next morning, after packing up, and getting ready to hook up the camper, we experienced our next little challenge - Slim wouldn’t start.  After a whirr, groan and a click, it all went dead.  Turning the ignition on from that point only resulted in some weird flashing dash lights and clicking under the bonnet.  Not quite what you want!!  A bit of investigation, a small amount of stopping to think, and a few diagnostics revealed it to be a starter battery that had dropped it’s load.  Glenn had seen signs of this potentially coming, so wasn’t overly surprised.  A swap over with the auxiliary battery saw us underway again, with new plans to replace the batteries in Kununurra.

One of the ‘must do’ places we had to visit on the trip was Keep River National Park.  This sits on the NT side of the border to WA, and on our last visit we loved the whole place.  A short day’s drive saw us come into the campsite around lunchtime, after a roadside stop to collect firewood.  We headed to the second campsite this time, not being able to see it last time due to its temporary closure.  At the campsite, we met a lovely couple with 3 kids who had an earlier version of our camper, a Camprite.  We had not seen another Camprite on our trip, and spent a long time comparing notes, and looking over the campers.  We also then sat around before dinner over a few drinks, and discussing our travel plans.

They live in Far North Qld, and were 5 months into a 2 year trip.  It was enjoyable talking to like minded travellers, and they were a lovely family.  It was good to see our kids fall into gear playing with their 3 kids instantly.  It was a stark difference to an interesting experience in Katherine with our first ‘Caravan park baby sitters’ event.  That time, the girls were playing with their toys on our mat, and this girl turned up and just sat down to play.  She had a right royal attitude, and a sense of the world revolves around her.  We assumed she’d come from a site just up the road, and had heard prior the family all howling at each other.  There was no appearance of the parents, just this snotty kid.  Our girls did not warm to her one bit, and really didn’t want to play with her, which we didn’t blame them.  We tried our best to be polite, but had to put a slightly sturn voice on at times.  Eventually (some time later) the mother came over, and we then understood why she was how she was.  Needless to say, we couldn’t get away from them fast enough.