Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Katie Joins Us

Katie was arriving in Darwin in the early hours of Friday, so we booked in to our usual caravan park in Darwin, not realising the show was on right next door! We only got a few hours of sleep, as the show was SO NOISY!!
We picked Katie up at 2.15am! This was a difficult time, in that if we went back to a caravan park and had to set up the tent in the middle of the night, we would disturb a lot of people! Also, we figured we’d want to talk so Randall and I came up with the idea of driving straight to Kakadu, to a resort called Cooinda, where they have the Yellow Water Boat Cruises. We booked us in for the breakfast cruise, and for $10 each more, you could book another cruise, so we booked the sunset cruise, mainly so if we missed the breakfast cruise through planes being late, we wouldn’t miss out. It wasn’t easy for Randall driving along unfamiliar roads, and forever on the watch for wildlife on the roads, but we made it in time for the morning cruise. A quick cup of coffee in the van woke us up enough to enjoy the cruise. It took us along the South Alligator River, where we saw lots of birds and a beautiful sunrise. It was really very peaceful at that hour of the morning and we enjoyed it immensely. We saw some crocodiles cruising along the water – they are amazing creatures, quite fascinating, and we got some good photos. The breakfast afterwards was very enjoyable as well!

After the cruise, we had time to fill in before we could check into the caravan park at Cooinda, so we took Katie to see some aboriginal rock art. We tried to make Katie’s itinerary as interesting and as varied and fun as possible.
When we arrived back at Cooinda, Randall checked in and we had to wait for this bloke who runs the show, to show us where to put the van. We wanted a level and long site, so we could fit the van and the car in and still open the rooftop tent for Katie to sleep in.
It is a most inefficient caravan park, as after you check in you have to wait for the resident nazi with his clipboard to show you to a site. So he sends you off in a direction while he continues directing others, and then he forgot about us, so Randall picked a site to suit our needs – spacious and level, only to be told no, I allocate the sites not you, and proceeded to find us a site that wasn’t level or big enough. Randall started to get a bit short and he allocated us another unsuitable site, with Randall still not happy – insisting he wants a level site. Fellow says no such thing! Randall points to an acre of level ground and says what’s wrong with up there, so the bloke throws his clipboard in the air and says pick your own, which we did! Onlything was the sprinkler was on, throwing water all over the van as we set up, but we dared not ask for them to be turned off!

We relaxed for the rest of the day and enjoyed a swim in the very nice swimming pool. Even though we were very tired we went on the late afternoon cruise as well. Saw a few more crocodiles slinking along in the water. We also saw a jabiru high up in its nest, which was amazing!

We all crashed after the cruise and went to bed early. We all agreed that we had a wonderful sleep as we were so tired!
The next day we packed up and took Katie to Gunlom Falls - a beautiful place I mentioned in my previous post. We gritted our teeth for the 24kms of corrugated gravel road (leaving the van at the start of the road), only to be pleasantly surprised that the grader had been over it and it was reasonably ok!

After spending a lovely morning swimming, we headed off, collected the van at the start of the road, and drove to Litchfield National Park, hoping to get a campspot at Buley Rockholes and spend a few nights there. Luck was on our side, and we got a good campspot. Katie loved the rockholes and spent a lot of time swimming there, as did Randall and I! We walked along to Florence Falls, about 4k return. Randall and I had not gone there during our last visit, and it was lovely. The good thing was, you could swim when you got there, and after the return walk, you could have another swim in the rockholes!! It's so hot here, we are never out of the water! You just walk into the water and get wet - not like at home where it takes a while to go under. One night we went for a swim at about 9pm. It was beautiful - no other people there, and the water was superb!!

After two enjoyable nights here, we headed back to Darwin so Katie could check out the sites of the city. We drove to have a look at the Casino, which was quite nice, and took Katie to the city centre to check out Smith Street Mall, then got ourselves a bbq chicken and some salad stuff and headed back to make tea (and have another swim).
We had to get up early the next morning to drop Katie off at the airport for the 7.15am flight home. Before we could take her, we had to pack up the tent so we tried to be quiet so we didn't disturb our neighbours in the campground.
So it is back to just Randall and me again.We really did enjoy having Katie with us, and sharing some of the special places we have seen with her.
Today our car is having a snorkel put on so we can safely travel across rivers, and tomorrow the rooftop tent is being replaced as there is a bit of a problem with it. As I am typing this up the F111 fighter jets have been going overhead. They are so loud especially when about 4 take off one at a time. We are right near the airbase here, and the airport, so we hear all the planes.

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