Even after the down pour of rain we managed to get out without getting bogged! Said goodbye to friends and left the ARSS by 11 and headed for Katherine.
On the way we stopped at another old world war 2 ruin,this time a hospital only slab’s remaining of what was quite a large establishment with tennis court and all.It was a hot one and we all really felt it today including the dogs.
|Exploring the old WW2 hospital base|
We pulled into Pine Creek for a break and looked around The Miners Park where they have on display old mining equipment.Back to running off the generator,so we fuelled it up at Katherine once making it there.
|Timber Creek Miners Park|
Our camp spot for the night was out the front of the showground,too late to pull into the showgrounds and not sure if they are still open to travelers so we parked up for the night out near the road.
Before leaving Katherine it was the normal stocking up on groceries and filling up the diesel tank then picking up the mail. We usually park not too far from the visitors information centre,there’s a large parking area there with easy access.We had not long pulled up when a guy with a red cattle dog walked by our bus, his dog saw Alloy (our large dog) who was sitting on the bus step and ran right up to him and started having a blue.His dog had hold of Alloys head and wouldn’t let go,this went on for few good minutes,I had hold of Alloys rope but couldn’t pull him away,a few local ladies saw what had happened and were trying to help.We finally broke them up and Alloy was left feeling a little sore and sorry for himself.
While I was gone collecting mail and food shopping, a bloke pulled up in his work van to ask Pete if our bus had come from the east coast,we are half way across the country in a car park at Katherine of all places and we bump into someone who use to catch our bus to school,it’s a small world! By the time I’d made it back Pete had made friends with a couple of the local people he had been talking to earlier, one lady called Lizzie who stayed on and talked to the kids and us for quite a while we left her with our phone number and she has since called to say hello.We left just on dark so the new spotlights on the bus were tried out! it sure makes it allot easier to see.We stopped off at Limestone campground to cook dinner, then pushed on further up the road to Victoria River where we parked for the night on the corner of the turn off to the river access in Gregory national park.
|Victoria River area|
When you park up of a night time its pretty cool waking up the in the morning to see what view is around you,this was certainly the case when we woke up to see the range that surrounded us the next morning.
We headed for the border but making a brief stop a Timber Creek just as a storm hit.There’s two parks side by side at Timber Creek,in the past we have stayed at the one behind the BP now AFD this time we were quoted over $100 a night at the very park we had stayed at previously so we gave it a miss and got a price of $25 a night on the other side at the Wirib Tourist Village next door, both places are pretty much the same with a pool,shade,cabins and fuel available,we thought about staying but decided to move on instead.At the council depot in Timber Creek they have water available and we were told we were welcome to fill up our water tanks there,so we did and then headed for the border but making stop at the last rest area to finish off the fruit we had still left.We made it to the check point just on dark and was greeted by a lady called Alison she went right through our bus looking in the fridge/ freezer, as well as every cupboard and a search of the trailer and van also.She asked what pets we had so we declared our animals both birds had to be taken out and their cage cleared of any seed,she gave us a permit form and number to see the DEC the next day,something that we have done before entering Western Australia from down the bottom with our cockatoo.Everything seemed fine as she sent us on our way.We parked up at the 48 truck stop across from the Shell Roadhouse in Kununurra,the next morning we phoned the DEC to let them know where we were,we had dramas with a hose on the bus and were stuck there until it was repaired,out of all the spares we carry this was the only hose we didn’t have a spare of so off Pete went for a walk in town looking for a hose joint.While he was gone DEC turned up, we invited them in and he had a look at Bob ( the cockatoo ) and said he is fine but the Indian Mynah would have to be taken and put down,this was in front of the kids who have raised the bird from when he was a baby with no feathers.Quite surprised I asked if there were any other options and he stated no!with a smirk on his face, I went on to say they would need to wait until peter arrived back before they touched the bird they were hesitant at doing so but waited for him by our door.Once Pete arrived and started talking to the blokes it was clear that there was going to be a problem,so we said we would just leave the state,their answer to that was no you can’t unless they take the bird.They wanted to gain access to the bus to take the bird but the kids stood at the door refusing them entry and this was on their own accord,the kids were very upset with the situation and couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just let us leave the state so in return we became pretty upset.To cut a long story short they could see we were not going to let them take the bird and they weren’t going let us go so they called the police to have Peter arrested but the only problem being ,what were they going to do with me and the kids.Once the police arrived the DEC changed their story from wanting to kill the bird to just taking him until we crossed the border and even suggested I go with them in their van to the border,I wasn’t going to hop in the their van and we no longer trusted them.The police weren’t sure what to do as apparently DEC has the power over them so they called on the head policeman in charge of Kununurra.He was a reasonable man and could see this had been taken too far, he knew we were quite happy to return to NT but with the bird,so he told DEC this is what was to happen.The policeman in charge then gave Pete a lift back to pick up the part to repair the bus while DEC waited by our bus the whole time until Pete got the bus going.Once back on the road we were told we had to go straight to the border whilst followed by DEC.Once we got to the Northern Territory sign they waited watching us for about half an hour then left.The police and ourselves were still left wondering why we weren’t turned away at the border when we declared him it would have saved wasting every ones time.
|Western Australian check point|
Back in Timber Creek we parked up at the Wirib Tourist Village for $25 a night no extra charge for kids,it’s a great place we thought ,there’s some shade and plenty of room and they also have a swimming pool,there’s a creek at the back where you can often see a croc.We met up with a bloke called Ron who helps with running the park and is known as the groundsman along with Rex who helps out!Next year in the tourist season Rex will be the one running the old police station museum,which isn’t too far down the road, it houses old memorabilia and history on the past of Timber Creek.
Since back here we decided it was worthwhile to get the van out and explore the area ,first stop was west of town Police mans Point where you can view the Victoria River and across to Bradshaw Military Base.From Policeman’s Point and just a few more ks up the road is the WW2 lookout up on the escarpment,there’s a couple areas you can stop on the way up along with a sunset viewing area and up the very top a lookout over the town,the road does continue along the range but is sign posted as a no through road and not open to public. That night Ron gave us a tour of the creek down the back where crocodiles reside,no luck that night but he showed us where we could find them sitting for next time we went for a look he also took us further up so the kids could watch the small shrimp.We sat by the creek and he told us allot about the area.We finished the night off with a bonfire.In the week that followed we had a few meals with Ron,from him we learnt a bit about the area and it’s people he also lent the girls a pile of books on the local Aboriginal knowledge of flora and fauna from the Bradshaw and Judbarra/Gregory National park area.Finding out what the Ngaliwurru and Nungali names and uses of 477 plants and animals from this area was interesting but trying to remember it all is hard.Through Ron we were also introduced to a local elder called Eric who was actually born in the old police station now museum.
We also made it out to Gregory’s National Park,which features some great scenery of gorges and the range,certain areas of the park are accessible by 2WD in the dry season and for those of you that have a 4WD there’s many 4WD tracks! The road out to Limestone Gorge and Bullita Homestead we were told was going to be pretty rough and to make sure we had a spare.The road ended up being in considerably good condition compared to the tracks we have been down lately.
The Bullita Homestead is a great place for a visit and if you have the time read the information on display. A really good read are copies of a couple of personal letters on display, one letter is from a lady resident of the homestead called Lyn addressed to a relative,she talks about a large brown snake that woke her one night when she was home by herself she had a go at shooting it but wasn’t the best shot so she sat there the rest of the night and into the morning watching it in fear of going back to bed while the brown snake made itself at home slithering through the house.This snake was just the start of what turned into a night and day she wouldn’t forget and one she was lucky to survive when a great big flood swepted her away.All of the original buildings at the homestead are on display and in the yard stands a great big Boab tree.Not too far from the Homestead are the Bullita stockyards made and still maintained with local Lance wood and Blood wood.
|Sunset from Buchanan Hwy|
The next trip we took we headed past the turnoff to Billita and went another further 17 ks up the road where we came to the turnoff for the Buchanan hwy it is sign posted 4WD only but in the dry our 2WD van had no dramas making it out past Jasper Gorge where we decided to turn around as the day was getting on and a storm was rolling in.The road was even better than the one out to Billita but in saying that we can’t imagine how it would get in the wet, there’s a new bridge at Jasper Creek the last one got washed away.Headed out there we spotted a group of wild horses and just after Jasper Creek what remains of what looked like a small town with allot of concrete slabs and old bottles. There’s a camp ground within Jasper Gorge but no toilets etc just a nice view of the Gorge but don’t go in the water there’s croc signs up!
While based at Timber Creek we also drove across the border to Kununurra just for mail,parts and supplies and a quick visit with some relo’s it’s a couple hours drive away from Timber Creek but not as far as Katherine. We had lunch whilst at swim beach and watched a few locals swimming but passed up on the idea ourselves after coming across a salt water croc there a few years back.Our day ended with watching the sunset from Kelly’s Knob lookout.
|Kelly’s Knob Lookout|
Before moving onward to WA Pete had licence renewal due so instead of taking a month with paperwork at the Timber police station we opted for the drive back to Katherine just in the van.On the drive to Katherine we made it half way when our van decided to come to a hault ,after thinking the worse it was simply just a wire come loose once Pete fixed it we were back on the road with no more dramas.We don’t mind the drive through the Victoria River area awesome views, as we were driving along a few helicopters were weaving in and out of the ranges, what a job they have! We stopped for a break at the new bridge at Victoria River,there’s a foot path so we walked over it, no crocs sun baking down on the banks though. Just out of Katherine we had a look at more WW2 ruins just a couple of concrete pillars and a bit of a building left standing.It was another hot one so we took the kids to the Katherine Hot Springs,there didn’t seem to be as many bats over head this time and the small waterfall in the main section seemed a little different to last time there in 2008 but still a great place for a swim and the water isn’t as warm as Mataranka so allot more refreshing! After eating dinner in the park we headed back to Timber Creek but taking a break at Victoria River again looking for some crocs with the torch their eye’s shine with the torch light on them so you can’t miss them,we walked down on to the old bridge where we spotted a couple.Old Victoria River Crossing was also where made a quick stop there’s enough room just before the crossing to turn a bus around and park.Not too far down the road is Joe Creek picnic Area and Nawulbinbin Walk the walk is a 1.7km loop and apparently takes you past Aboriginal paintings and views of the surrounding escarpment.The kids really wanted to do the walk but what’s the use if you can’t see anything so it’s been added as another thing on the list for next time we pass through. They did have a bit of fun yelling out and listening to the echoes through the escarpment.
Before we left Timber Creek Ron showed us through the old locked up Wayside Inn a popular pub of this area for many years and known by allot people,it closed about three years ago when the back section was burnt down.They are now working on revamping it and opening it up as a place to stop and get a meal.
|The Victoria River|
|The new bridge at Victoria River|
|World war 2 ruins just out of Katherine|
|Katherine Hot Springs|
|The Old Wayside inn Pub Timber Creek|