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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home again, home again...

With nothing left on the itinerary, and the focus firmly on home, yesterday we undertook our longest day of driving for the entire trip.  1200km and about 18 hours from start to finish (with breaks.)  Consequently we had the luxury of waking up in our own beds this morning, even if it was after only a couple of hours sleep.

Now... the clean up begins!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Brissie or bust!

A sad departure from Molongle Creek at 9am, marked the end of our 9-week holiday.
Stopped in Proserpine to fill a script at the pharmacy for Dave. He has still not improved (& has now started getting worse) from his sore throat from 4 weeks ago.
  • Lunch at: Sarina.
  • Afternoon tea: Rockhampton
  • Dinner at: Gin Gin
  • Arrived home:    2.30am (13 August)
A big thanks to Mike & Lydia who had gone to our place in the afternoon & cleaned up our mess. Whilst away, we took the opportunity & had Mike revamp our walk in wardrobe. This meant everything had to dumped on various beds throughout the house.
  • Distance travelled:        1244km
  • Hours on road:            17.5hrs
Dave drove all the way except for a 2.5hr stint between Gin Gin & Gympie. With all the driving he has done & the little I have done, I have not built up the same stamina. Even this short stint I struggled with towards the end. Perhaps it was the hours between 10pm & 12.30pm that made it difficult.

For our biggest drive yet, I have to say that the kids were amazing. Perhaps now that the mystery & excitement of "Where to next?" was now gone we were all slipping back into reality.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Molongle Creek

According to Wen
I treated myself to an early morning fish in the canal & was rewarded with a good sized flathead. Later in the morning, while Ewy & Dec played in the mud at the creek & Niamh made cupcakes with G'ma, Connor went to check the crab pots with Papa. 3 muddies & a good sized Flowery Cod. Needless to say, they were cooked & eaten for lunch - my absolute favourite. After lunch, Wen took the boys out pumping yabbies & late afternoon we all walked to  Molongle Creek for a fish. Unfortunately nothing to bring home but all had fun.

Fish for dinner.

With all kids in bed, Papa & Wen went for a fish in the canal. Caught an under-sized barramundi.

11 August

Papa took Wen out in the boat to Armstrong Bay for a fish early this morning - 3 hours, 1 bite & 1 flathead. On our way back we picked up all the kids fishing in the canal. Niamh made some more cupcakes with G'ma & Connor & Ewy went to check the crab pots with Papa - only 1 crab today. The boys went out again pumping yabbies & Wen & the boys went fishing again in the creek.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Burdekin River to Molongle Creek

Happy Birthday Connor!

We all thoroughly enjoyed surprising G'ma & Papa on our arrival at Molongle Creek. After all the excited banter subsided Papa took the boys to put in a couple of crab pots. With pots set the kids were then keen to get down to go down for a fish. All armed with a rod & rigged with a squidgy, we strolled down to the creek. G'ma caught a barramundi, but as we were not really intending on actually catching anything, no other gear was brought down (including a measuring tape). After much debate Papa was not prepared to call this one legal & it was thrown back - much to G'ma's disappointment. Turns out it was half a cm too small. Other than a couple of little barracudas, nothing else was caught.

The caravan park is located alongside the canal which runs parallel to Molongle Creek. The canal is literally 20m from our front door, so very handy for a quick fish when the tide is right. Papa had a fish here tonight & caught 2 undersized barramundis.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Just a lazy 8 hours in the car today, kids"

Everything is relative!

I still don't know how we managed to make 8 hours in a car seem like a reward for having spent 14 hours in the car yesterday... but we did!

Once again the "highlights" amount to very little, but just so that we can remember in future just how boring today was, here they are again:
  • 9:05am - Departed campsite
  • Fuel at Julia Creek
  • Lunch at Hughenden (very pleasant little place)
  • Fuel at Charters Towers
  • Dinner & camp: Burdekin River (15km east of Charters)
And the stats:
  • Distance travelled:        638km
  • Fights adjudicated:        1
  • Brolgas spotted in flight:    2 (between Julia Creek & Richmond - kind of felt like we were back in Kakadu)
  • Water drums filled:        5.5
  • Emergency treats dispensed:    0
  • Spelling tests:            2
  • iPods confiscated:        1
  • Parents' sanity level:       
  • Overall satisfaction:        95%

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The "Monster Drive Day" - Back into Qld

This was the one we'd been prepping the kids for.  The lure of a Molongle Creek visit at the end of the next 3 days had them keen, and with time to absorb the enormity of it all, they were reasonably accepting.  Still, one of the most boring days possible on a trip like this.  Driving, driving, driving...

Nothing particularly newsworthy, as you can tell from the day's highlights:

  • 8:30am - Departed campsite
  • Fuel at Elliot
  • Fuel & lunch at Threeways (just north of Tennant Creek)
  • Fuel at Camooweal (NT/Qld border)
  • Dinner at Split Rock Bore (huge Southern Cross windmill by the side of the road)
  • Campsite - along the front fence of a property called 'Balaclava' close to the highway (50km East of Cloncurry)
Vital stats at the end of the day:
  • Distance travelled:    1,120km
  • Hours on the road:    13.5hrs   
  • Fights adjudicated:    3
  • Emergency treats dispensed:    4
  • Spelling tests:        4
  • iPods confiscated:    1
  • Parents' sanity level:    83%
  • Overall satisfaction:    91%
Last night sleeping with very little covering - tonight all rugged up.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Darwin - the Top End whirlwind tour continues...

You know it's all going too fast when the kids ask you twice in one afternoon: "Where are we again?"

The in-vehicle time hasn't been crippling (yet!) and we've still been seeing and doing plenty of things.  But the tempo has definitely ramped up a notch.  Last night, after our Yellow Waters boat cruise, and dinner on the run, we basically headed west from Kakadu and fluked it ("manufactured luck" I like to think) into a very nice camp site in the Mary River National Park.  But it was pretty much the end of the line for driving.  Had the park not been there, we would have pitched camp on the side of the road.

(We did pass one small tent-and-car combo who had taken that option, parked just off the shoulder of the highway.  Not a lot of traffic on the Arnhem Highway, but still enough to make for a very ordinary night's sleep at close proximity.  Very glad we didn't have to resort to that!)

As it was, waking kids to setup the camper at 10pm, and then getting them to go back to sleep again afterwards...  As I say: the tempo has gone up a notch.  It's a bit disappointing, but we've got a lot of kilometres between here and home.  Definite end-of-holiday feelings amongst the troops.


Today, with Darwin in striking distance from the start, we took a leisurely Jumping Croc tour on the Adelaide River, which was really very good!  The tired, sardonic kiwi conducting the Yellow Waters cruise in Kakadu the evening before was a disappointment compared with my memories of 24 years ago.  By contrast, the old salt running the Jumping Croc show was extremely entertaining, as were the crocs themselves.  Very good indeed.  And the kids loved it, too.


From there the priority turned towards Darwin GPO where I was able to collect the replacement stub axle for the trailer.  It'll be good to switch back from the spare one so that we have brakes on both sides again.  Can't say we've really needed them (thankfully!) but it makes it a lot easier to setup camp if you don't need to rumage around for chocks to stop the trailer from rolling away while you're putting the tent up.

The trailer also has to get new shock absorbers.  It's probably a related injury, because the one which failed was on the same side as the axle which gave way, but it was a pretty spectacular failure in its own right.  Can't say we noticed anything while driving, but somewhere along the 40km of pretty savage corrugations on the way into the Gunlom campsite at Kakadu, the right hand shockie separated into two pieces, the lower of which was dragged along the ground for the remainder of the trip.  It was a nicely burnished bit of metal when we setup camp that evening!


So now we're poised for a day of mechanical repairs and servicing tomorrow.  I've got the alarm set for bright and early to:
  • drop the trailer at the trailer suspension shop by about 7am (nobody there, so I've got to just unhitch it and leave it there)
  • drive to the Toyota service shop and leave the Rocket there for the 150000km service (shop opens 7:30am.)
  • pick up a loan vehicle from Toyota and drive back to the trailer shop to brief the bloke there at about 8:30
  • drive back to the motel to pick up the rest of the family and ... spend a day around Darwin!
Then, of course, in the afternoon there is something similar happening in reverse, only without the benefit of a motel to offload family before doing the rounds of mechanics shops.

Now, if you were the betting type, I reckon there'd be enough openings in that itinerary to have a flutter on anything from a significant setback in plans, to a major catastrophe.  Lucky I don't bet, hey!

Here's hoping the next blog entry is a happy one...