The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

27 December, 2012

Xmas in Darwin

When we got back from Broome & The Kimberley it was back to work for both Hels and myself.  We thought things would just trundle on as normal without much excitement until the next lot of holidays.  Hels went back to work on contract, processing data without getting too involved in the office politics, this suited her and makes work enjoyable.  For me work was a little slow and we were waiting for some tenders due later in the year (November), when the boss called me into the office for a chat!!  I had become surplus to requirements (redundant).  The first reaction was to find a job then Hels (bless her little cotton socks) said, "you don't really need to work"......... don't need to be told twice, so I thought I would give this retirement gig a go!  Hence from mid October I became the House Husband.

This meant we could plan on picking the caravan up in late February 2013 and continuing on the road full time, without coming back to Darwin for work.  Sounding better all the time!!

All I had to do was have dinner on the table, do the shopping and have the fridge full....not too tough.  After a couple of weeks I had tried for a couple of jobs, only wanting to work until January was a bit of a restriction, so not mutch work on offer, until the call came from the North Pole, extra Santa's were required.  So to get into the Xmas spirit I suited up for a couple of hours a day at the shopping centres as Santa.  Also had a ex-work kids party so was recalled to don the suit again.

Santa dropping off the pressies while Bruce the buffalo on guard.

Santa and the Elf make a quick exit down the water slide

Having caught up with the family in Adelaide in November we decided to stay in Darwin for Xmas this year and will again catch up with Todd in February and Briony in April while on the east coast.  Was certainly different without the family around.  We went to East Point with another couple, Les and Chris and had prawns and beer, a good day was had by all.  Les made a great seafood chowder for dinner that night which went down well with some more beer and wine.

Prawns & Beer overlooking the Darwin harbour
No RAIN on us DEER?

Our Xmas day view of storm developing out at over Darwin @ Berry Springs

Bring on the new year .......................

28 August, 2012

Day 25 to home

We are still in Broome, have extended our stay by one day and will leave tomorrow, Wednesday 29th for the dash back to Darwin.

We have had a great relaxing week, been able to reflect on the trip across the Gibb and have a few things in the bucket list for next year, yep we will be back!!

Unfortunately we could not do the Horizontal Falls trip this time as seems to be booked out weeks ahead so that's on the bucket list.  We also intended to do the sunset tour on Lake Argyle from Zebra Rock Mine on the way back to Darwin but they have closed for the season so that's on the list also.
Went to Buddha's Sanctuary to get a piccie for Julie of the hand carved crystal Buddha nearly 4 metres tall and set in a beautiful tranquil setting. Also managed to spend some more time at the beach today, in between washing, don't understand why we have to wash when we will be home on Saturday with our own washing machine!. But ... we have to do what we have to do!!!
Had sunset drinks and nibbles on Cable Beach  a must before leaving, even though gets a bit chilly for us!.

Tomorrow we pack up and head east,  will try and stay at Mary's Pool the first night and will be checking out camping spots for our return trip and should be back in Darwin Saturday and for Fathers Day, remember kids!!

Well folks this will probable the last post until the next trip, nothing planned at this point but who knows!!
Last Sunset drinks on Cable Beach, until next time.

Hand carved Cystal Buddha
Well we made it back to Darwin and now settling back to work.  :o(

The trip was pretty uneventfully, staying at Mary Pool the first night.  Was a good camping area very full, about 30 other vans and campers.  The bush across the river from the camp had been burn out and still smoldering, so during the night our camper had smoke all through, making it most uncomfortable and taking a bit to get the smell out over the next few days.
Travelling the next day we also remarked on how much the roadside had been burn between Halls Creek and Timber Creek, seemed to be much more than on our way over.

Our second night was at Saddle Creek, about 100km inside the NT boarder, had a nice sunset and view of the range adjacent the camp.  Again had about 10 other campers with several coming and going during the night, one hire car & camper drove in around 9 and did not even get out the vehicle to set up the pop top just stayed in the vehicle until dawn then drove out??

We continued through to Emerald Spring on Friday for a pub meal and stopped over night.  There was a lot of road noise so didn't enjoy a peaceful night as we would have liked.  Up early Saturday and home for lunch.
Had time in the afternoon to wash the car and camper ............. back to reality. ho hum!!

View at sunset of the small range from Saddle Creek

22 August, 2012


Well we are in Broome and set up for a relaxing week!! 
Hels has already done the washing and dragged me to Woolies.
All showered and shaved ready for the Broome night life.
Tonight (Wednesday) went to the Sun Pictures "the world's oldest picture gardens and Sun Cinema" and saw The Sapphires, really enjoyable.
Sun Pictures by day light

Inside Sun Pictures - managed to stay awake for 8.45pm start! 
We have taken in some of the tourist attractions but mainly enjoying the beach.  Just so good to be able to swim in the surf - although Hels still keeps an eye out for crocs!

When in Broome you must always get a sunset camel photo.


Just a great place to walk and enjoy
On Saturday went to the town markets, we found the Gourmet Expresso Coffee stall and that was our first stop. Managed to come away from the market with only buying a coffee, how good was that.

Our favourite stall at the markets - nice strong cuppaccino

Broome Port
 A bit more of a drive around to check out a couple of other caravan parks and the port before we headed to the beach again around by Gantheaume Point to have Fish & Chips, glass of wine (although in Geoff's case two or three! **this is a Hels comment!) and watch the sun set..... again.
Will be doing very little over the next few days until we head back to Darwin - enjoying the beautiful weather,beach & sunsets.
Doesn't get much better - Fish & Chips, glass of wine watching the sunset from the tailgate of the cruiser, with Hels of course

20 August, 2012

Gibb River Road

Well, we have made the trip across the Gibb River Road and now camping at Quondong Point, about 50 km north of Broome.

Before leaving Kununarra, did I mention that we visited the Hoochery Rum Distillery?  From the photo you can see Hels was getting into the rum tasting….. lots of samples!!  Wanted to start with the Chocolate & Coffee, but managed to convince her to start with the straight blends first.  We did however come away with a bottle of the Chocolate & Coffee liqueur!
Rum tasting ..... hic, hic

Anyway enough of that......

Day 13 - Wednesday 15th August we set off to cross the Gibb River Road.  Had heard varying reports on the road condition but you have to go and have a look for yourself. The first section was quite corrugated and stony however stopped at the Penticost River for coffee and reduced the tyre pressure for a better ride and better for the tyres.  After lunch stopped for scones at Ellenbrae Station (on recommendation), and must say they were great – freshly baked huge scones served with jam and whipped cream! We decided to stay the night in the "Ringers" camp which was a nice spot, gathered some wood for a camp fire and kept warm during the chilly night.
Scones at Ellenbrae

The next day we crossed the Hann River, which would have been a great spot to camp but too early to stop so continued to Mt Barnett Roadhouse.  Made the decision not to stay and see Manning Gorge as would have to camp the night and walk in the morning.  Next stop was Galvins Gorge which I walked as Hels heels are still tender. Drove to Adcock River where we found a quiet little side track which opened into a small camping spot next to the river.  Managed to get plenty of wood so again had a great campfire and a bush shower to freshen up.
Galvins Gorge

Hels keeping warm at Adcock River Camp

Friday morning drove into Adcock Gorge where the walk to the Gorge was quite easy so Hels could walk in with thongs.  We could remember walking into this Gorge on previous trips, water was tempting for a swim but a bit too early as the sun had not warmed the water up enough for us!   Drove onto Imintji Store were we had the BEST cappuccino on the Gibb.  Set off and drove into Bells Gorge via Silent Grove which was the most corrugated section of road we had come across - was so bad that at times could not seem to get above 20 km/h.  Hels had decided that the boots had to have another run so with heels bandaged and boots on we walked into Bells Gorge and climbed up and down rocks to get to the bottom pool for a swim.  The reward for the rough climb was fantastic – water was refreshing to say the least.  We decided not to stop and camp at Silent Grove as I wanted to get the corrugations behind us, so back on the Gibb and headed west looking for a suitable camp.  As we travelled west thinking how great the road was after the Bells road and how lucky we had been not to get a flat, we rounded a corner to find 2 women in a hire FWD flag us down.  They had put a stone through the tyre and could not figure out how to change the wheel.  They had no water, only one spare tyre and were heading into Derby another 200 km.  We changed the tyre and sent them on their way.  We travelled on and found a great camp spot next to Dog Chain Creek, a little close to the road but the creek was OK to swim in which I did to freshen up from the day’s adventure – even had a quick dip in the morning which was a bit chilly but got the heart pumping!.
Adcock Gorge

This may not look great but Imintji ..... GREAT cappuccino
Bells Gorge

Hels checks out the local resident before jumping in for a swim

Resident at Bells Gorge

Next day we called into Leonard Gorge thinking we would drive the short track to the top and just look down which was what we did on our last trip.  However things had changed and we had to drive 7 km into a car park and then walk 3 km return. As Hels heels had been irritated from yesterdays walk, I set off to find the gorge and after a 25 min brisk walk in I arrived at the gorge.  Was more spectacular than before as this time the falls and the chasm could be seen from a different direction and the additional walk was worth the effort.  Unlike our previous trip you could not climb down rocks to swim in the Gorge but was more than happy with just the view.  Hels stayed in the car and entertained herself looking at rocks with binoculars and having to resort to reading the bird book!  From here we drove into Derby and had a lovely lunch at the Warf.  Was great to put the corrugations behind us even though I thought most of the Gibb was OK and we had been travelling between 70 & 80 km/h, it seemed to be the side tracks that were worst.  After lunch checked out the Boab prison tree which has been fenced off for ‘sacred site’ reasons and we had a laugh because last time we actually stuck the kids in the prison tree to see how it felt and threatened to leave them there if they misbehaved!!!.  Stayed at Willare Roadhouse for the night which was a welcome sight as we camped on green lawn, had showers and flushing toilets - what luxury!!
Leonards Gorge - early morning

After 4 days on the Gibb headed into Broome for fuel and supplies then headed 50 km north to Quondong Point.  Wasn't sure what to expect but the first sight of the sea with the vivid blue was great.  As we drove along the ridge which over looked the sea we could not believe the number of caravans camping here.  This made it tricky to find a spot, however as we drove slightly south of the entrance road we came across a little secluded spot between the dunes which lead straight onto the beach. This is a free camping area with no facilities but with a million dollar view which also included watching a couple of whales jumping out of the water and splashing down on their backs. Just makes you realise just how lucky we are!

From here we will head into Broome for a week of luxury including hot showers and flushing toilets!

Till then............
Our first veiw of the sea at Quondong Point

Waiting for that western sunset

Our $1m camp site - Quondong Pt

Some of the large rocks hidden beneath the 8 meter tides

13 August, 2012

Kimberley Trip - Gregory NP, Duncan Rd & Bungles

Well, we have arrived in Kununnarra after 10 days out & about to stock up scrub up before get back out.

Gregory National Park

Morning coffee at turn off to Gregory NP
After leaving home on Saturday 4th August we travelled to Gregory NP with one overnight bush camp on the way. We arrived at the intersection into the Gregory NP for morning coffee and found this hugh boab as a great spot to stop.  Drove the 47km into Bullita Homestead.  The homestead has been restored with photos and stories of past station times. In 1977 the homestead was flooded and the wife hung to a tree for 8 hours to survive.

Calcite Flow!!
Limestone Springs
Start of Bullita Stock Track

Now that's a boab, on the Bullita Stock Route

After setting up camp we went to Limestone Gorge and from Calcite Flow lookout could view the white waterfall effect the calcite has on the rock face.  Thought we would take the 2km walk to Limestone creek billabong and try out the new boots Hels and I had just brought for the trip. Well... the track in had been washed out and was a real rocky creek bed for at least a km which gave the boots a real work out.  We pushed on to the billabong and being mid afternoon and very warm the water was just too inviting so naturally had a quick dip.  Upon returning to camp we discovered my boots had worked a treat however Hels had bad blisters on both heels!!  The following day we travelled the Bullita Stock Route which was approx 92 kms and took over 8 hours!  The first 10 kms was extremely rocky and took us more than an hour to drive and at times very challenging. Withiin 15kms from the end of the track when we thought the road conditions had improved dramatically, managed to put a 50cm gash in the side wall of the tyre - Buggar!!
From Gregory NP headed back onto the Victoria Hwy into Timber Creek for fuel and onto the Duncan Road.

Duncan Road

Palm Springs out from Halls Creek
Our Camp at Marella George
Some of the locals sun baking .... freshies!!
The Duncan takes us 440km down to Halls Creek.  Our first stop was at Zebra Mine Camp for lunch, a really nice spot, even though we only stopped for lunch have put this on the "go back to" list and will stay a couple of nights and go on the sunset safari to Lake Argyle.  The Duncan is a good dirt road so travelled along comfortably to the Negri River where we stayed over night.  This was one of the coldest nights we had had but a good spot to camp and overlook the river and causeway - the road is relatively quite as not many travel this way.  From Negri River we travelled to Marella Gorge and found a lovely secluded camp at Marella Waterhole in time for lunch. It was late afternoon when we heard a vehicle come scooting down the hill into our camp - it was a police troopie and being local .they must have decided to also camp in the same spot.  They would have spotted us half way down the hill but could not stop so had to come into the camp.  Had a quick look at the waterhole then zoomed back up the track making copious amounts of dust which floated through the camper. It was such a nice camp we decided to stay another day.  I went for a walk to the Gorge in the morning then spent the rest of the day at the waterhole.  We had the camp to ourselves until late evening when another couple decided to drop in. They stayed the night and shard the camp fire and travel stories which are always entertaining

Marella George

Before departing the next morning we drove out to the actual Marella Gorge which looked lovely with the morning sun shining on the rocks.  Continued along the Duncan stopping at Sawpit Gorge, had a quick dip at PalmSprings and called into Caroline Pools before arriving at Halls Creek in time for lunch and getting the tyre changed.

Headed up the bitumen for an overnight free roadside camp at Spring Creek, just a short distance from the turn off to the Bungles. 

Day 8 - Had an early get away to drive the 53kms to the Bungles which took less than 3 hrs however road conditions were very corrugated due to the amount of traffic which has travelled to and fro.  

Echidna Chasm
After setting up camp at Kurrajong we went to Echidna Chasm and Mini Palms Gorge.  Thought the challenging walk into Echidna Chasm was worth it however the same could not be said for Mini Palms.  Hels had the boots on again and persisted with walking into Mini Palms to only aggravate the blisters to such a degree that the boots have been packed away in the back of the car (probably lucky not to have been thrown in the bin!!). The following day we drove to Cathedral Gorge and the Dome where I did the walk while Hels remained in the car & read her book deciding to rest her heels. 

After enduring an extremely cold night (thank God for the beanie), we headed out from the Bungles across the corrugations and back onto the bitumen towards Kununurra where we stayed at the Lakeside C/P and treated ourselved to a Pub meal.

Had a quick look aroound Kununarra today, managed to find the Sandlewood factory and just down the road was Hoochery the rum distillery, had to have a few samples.....hic, hic.

 Tomorrow we head across the Gibb River Road.  Various reports on the condition but generall very corrigated from what we can gather.

 So until next time when we should be in Broome.

Cathedral George

01 July, 2012

Mt Bonnie - May long weekend

Well this is the second post, starting to get the hang now but still a work in progress as the fine tuning continues.  This is another trip done a few weeks ago and an opportunity to post some photos and a bit of a story.  This is a practice run for August as will be making a trip to the Kimberley and should have some more interesting posts.


Not far from Grove Hill Historic pub is the Mt Bonnie Mine (historic) established around 1916.  I don't know much about the history of the mine as it's not in operation and there's no infromation at the site.  From the surrounding area seems that was a reasonable size with a reasonable area which would have been the miners village, one report I did read mentioned that 75 miners were at the site. 

We made camp at what would have been the miners village, had some concrete slabs around the area and an old abandoned toilet block.  I did not look inside but may have only been habitable by snakes. Although the grass was very long it didn't take too much to flatten and make a reasonable camping area.

 One of the 2 bridges we crossed getting to the mine was made from steel railway line, evidence that there may have been some heavey equipment brought into the mine.

The only remaining part of the processing plant was the concrete plinth, it look like the machinery had been berried under one of the hills surrounding the dams.  You could see some rusty steel protruding out from the rubble.  The rock in the area had sharp edges so caution was needed when driving around.  I found out when we returned home that I had a tear in one of the tyre sidewalls down to the canvas, lucky it wasn't any deeper.

One of the 3 dams in the area, this was very clear and looked most inviting.  We did not venture in but some of the others felt confident that not crocs were there and had a quick dip.

Another great weekend, unfortunately back to work until next time.

So much to see so little time!!

27 June, 2012

Easter 2012

Camping weekend out from Adelaide River. Found a great spot to swim and enjoy.

Hels cooling off in the pond. No crocs!!

Just some shady character hiding under the water fall!!