Friday, August 6, 2010

Heading West

After finally getting a replacement tent, we packed up on Friday to head towards Katherine to collect the mail we had arranged to be delivered there. Lucky Randall had talked to his mum about what mail was to be expected – the fellow at the post office gave Randall one package, and there were two to collect! After a bit of shopping, we headed back to Edith Falls, a bit north of Katherine. It was very hot there, and lots of flies, but the campground was ok. We couldn’t sleep much there as it was so hot, and we decided to check out the swimming holes in the morning and head off. The water was beautiful to swim in, even at 9.30 in the morning!

After another brief stop in Katherine at a satellite dish place, we headed off towards the west. Our first stop was at a place called Sullivan’s campground, in Gregory National Park. I was still feeling unwell , and it was really hot during the day and night! You can cope at night if you can use the air conditioner, but of course, these bush camps don’t offer the luxury of electricity! Randall rigged up a 9volt fan for us which was nice and cooling thank goodness. It rained on us there – the first bit of rain since we left home nine weeks previously!

We left that campsite and headed along the road to find our next stop. We stopped at Victoria River to get fuel, and we had to wait for a big rig to fill up. We were amazed to see the litres go up in the 900’s to fill it up, and well over $1,000 to pay! Randall had read about a campsite just outside a place called Timber Creek, so that was our last stop for the day. It was called Big Horse Creek campground, and it was very nice. We decided to stay 2 days and do the cruise up the Victoria River - $85 per person. Well, this cruise certainly did not have the polish of the cruise in Kakadu. The fellow arrived with his lovely assistant, Tameka in tow, carrying a couple of eskis, as the cruise said ‘cool drinks and savouries provided’. We were allowed to bring our own drinks if we wanted as well. There was no microphone on board, so instead Geoff put the boat in idle and would wander up the front to talk, and not very often at that!. We did see some crocodiles up close and personal, and his way of showing us some sea eagles and whistling kites was to stick a little piece of meat on a corner of a piece of bread and throw it out of the boat so the birds would dive down and get the meat. He then emptied a bag of meat bits onto the side of the river bank, and showed how the kites and eagles shared the food – apparently very unusual!

We went 40ks up the Victoria River, which is a really big river, stopped to have our savouries – handed around by Tameka in plastic containers, and also a can of cordial if we wanted. Then, having looked at the sunset, we went hell for leather back home, getting blown to bits, arriving in the dark, and headed back to our caravan only a short walk away.

We were both quite disappointed with the cruise, as it was definitely not value for money. I was still feeling unwell too which didn’t help. When we got back to camp my ear blocked and I had an ominous feeling that it was going to be an infection, and I was right. I woke up in the night in agony, with only panadol to ease the pain for an hour or so. In the morning Randall packed up as I couldn’t do anything, and I suggested we go back to Timber Creek as there was a hospital there. As we headed down the road I noticed a sign for a health clinic and we headed in there for some much needed help. We walked in, the doctor took us straight into his surgery, and I got diagnosed with what I suspected – a middle ear infection. In his notes the doctor typed me up as ‘Transient’, did not ask for my medicare card, did not charge us a fee, and did not charge us for the much needed medication!!(No alcohol for 10 days though!) I walked out feeling relieved that I was finally getting help, as anyone who has had an ear infection will tell you, it is the most agonizing unrelenting pain!!!

We then headed towards a camp place in the Keep National Park, just a few kilometers east of the WA border. On the way, we stopped to look at Gregory's Tree- a boab tree with the carved dates of the explorer, Gregory's arrival on the banks of the Victoria River. I was pleased to see that the dates were very visible, unlike Stuart's tree near Daly Waters!

We set up and drove into Kununurra, just inside the WA border, to check it out. My ear ache was finally easing, although I was watching the clock so that every 4 hours I could knock back some more pain relief. It had turned quite cool, and I had a long sleeved top on for the first time in ages! I looked at the weather on my phone and it was only 14 degrees – and we were way way up the top of Australia, I couldn’t believe it. When we got back to camp, I put on a skivvy, jumper, and hat (to protect my ear), and we lit the fire.

Our campsite is quite lovely, and we went for the short walk around the sandstone outcrops the next day, whcih was much warmer I'm glad to say!!

Sadly for us, we started working out our itinerary for heading home. Randall has been doing calculations on the the number of kilometers of various routes. Neither of us want to think about our holiday ending as it has all been such a wonderful experience. We are now at Kununurra, having crossed the border to WA and having to turn the clocks back 1 1/2 hours, which feels quite funny! Crossing the border into WA is like coming into Tasmania at the Spirit - they get you to open the van, and the car, as they don't want you to bring any fresh vegetables in, or honey. Lucky we knew about that and dumped our rubbish at a truck stop just before the border.

We stopped in to look at Lake Argyle on the way to Kununurra. It was the most magic day, and the lake looked magnificent!

We also called into the Argyle Downs homestead, where pioneers of the Kimberly region first settled.

We are now settled at Kununurra for a few days to catch up on washing and getting back in touch with people as we have been out of service for quite a few days.

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