Distance traveled = 1372km
Week 5 started with a lazy morning around the van park, there was an ere of excitement amongst us as today we were off to the rodeo which for all of us was something outside the norm! We filled the morning with a walk to the local markets, some shopping and a bit of sightseeing. By mid-afternoon we were at the rodeo where the action was soon underway. Watching these people who culturally live a different lifestyle herding and working cattle was awe inspiring. Even the kids who do schooling, help around the farm and then learn riding and roping skills was a pleasure to watch. For 5 hrs we sat laughing with and at the riders and clowns who made the night a great spectacle. The ultimate buzz being a short period when Ethan and I sat on the fence watching the ‘open bull riding’ where 1 tonne animals tried to outwit their rider…… Needless to say the bull won more often than not!
Sunday saw us all going in different directions for the day, some went back out to El-Questro, one family headed to Katherine while we opted for a relatively relaxing day around the van park. We took the opportunity to catch up on some domestic duties before heading out to see some local sights. The Sandalwood factory was a big hit with the girls while the magnitude of Argyle diversion dam was an impressive sight. In a rare show of weakness I took to the car with a sponge and bucket washing away many of the great memories we’d accumulated….. Our night concluded with us going out for a belated chinese birthday dinner for Sam.
Monday was moving day and as luck would have it, it just happened to be one of our biggest days on the road. Our destination was Katherine (NT), some 510km eastward. The black top and white line proved a novelty for us after the countless days of dirt roads we’d done. The only exciting thing in our day being the WA/NT border crossing and the 1.5 hrs we lost in time difference. By days end we’d checked into the Manbulloo Homestead on the outskirts of Katherine. The ambience of the evening and live music ensured a mellow end to our days driving.
Tuesday saw us on the road again but not before the 1.5-hour time difference impacted on our sleep patterns resulting in us having a slower than normal start to the day…. Our first stop was the hot springs of Katherine where we swam and relaxed in the 33deg thermal waters. By chance we got chatting to a chap who happen to be the old SES Controller of Broadwater (it’s a small world we live in). After a few hours and with wrinkly skin setting in the urgency to be at our next destination finally got the better of us and we headed off. After grabbing a few supplies in Katherine, we heading to Edith Falls and our overnight destination. However, our promptness was our downfall and we were unable to secure camping spots for all of us as it was booked out. Instead we chose to have a refreshing swim at the falls before deciding to make a late afternoon dash south to Mataranka where we grabbed the remaining sites available. After a day of swimming and driving our night concluding early with a well-earned ‘happy hour’ and a few games of cards.
Wednesday started at a semi relaxed pace, the fact we’d made up a day in our schedule allowed us to have an easy day. We had to change campsites due to us needing a powered site, with this done we walked to the hot thermal springs (Bitter Springs) where we bathed in the crystal clear warm waters. The water current and pool noodles allowing us to float downstream for 100m. The most exhausting part of our morning swim was the short return walk to the head of the stream where we’d once again jump in the warm spring and do it all again…… By early afternoon our ‘not so’ hectic pace and temps in the mid 30’s ensured we all partook in an afternoon siesta. Feeling a little more refreshed we thought another swim in the hot springs was needed to sooth our bodies. So, with pool noodles in hand we joined the crowd of like-minded travellers who were all enjoying the hot springs…. Back at camp dinner was soon underway and a novel approach to making a cheesecake was unfolding, the need for cake beaters was quickly overcome by a makeshift egg whisk attached to a battery drill. Our day ended with a few beverages around the campsite.
Thursday started at a leisurely pace, it was time for another travelling birthday celebration. Jeanette was sharing her 30th birthday with us. The timing of the location couldn’t have been better – Mataranka with its hot thermal springs. We spent the morning around the camp before enjoying a swim at the springs just before lunch time. With the water temp nudging the same temp as the ambient temp there was little to no relief from our time in the water…. Once back at camp and with lunch consumed we set about designing our floating eskies for our afternoon ‘happy hour’ at the springs. Combining a pool noodle, a washing up tub and some cordage we had the perfect floating esky. The plan was to have birthday drinks while soaking in the hot springs. Armed with a bag of ice, beverages, biscuit n dip, chips and a few drinks for the kids we were set. 3 hours later and with all our beverages consumed we made a wobbly return to camp basking in the success of our floating eskies…… Our day was far from over, a group dinner party to celebrate Jeanette’s 30th birthday was just starting, we spent the remainder of the evening feasting, laughing and celebrating around the camp kitchen. Our night culminating with bush cooked cake and perfectly prepared cheesecake.
Friday was moving day, after 3 nights in the one place it was tough to get motivated to move on, but there was still so many great things to see. Once on the road we didn’t go too far before stopping at the other hot springs in Mataranka for a refreshing dip. From there we started south with our next stop being the comical Daly Water’s pub. This iconic pub is plastered with patrons’ memorabilia which ranges from business cards, flags, bra’s and countless historical items. We enjoyed a hearty oversized meal before continuing our journey southwards. A further 3 hours down the road had us arriving at Banka Banka station where we planned to spend the night. The roadside property caters to the travellers with cheap basic accommodation which suited us nicely. After setting up we enjoyed a few late afternoon beverages before having a lazy night socialising with fellow travellers.
With our 5th week of traveling done, why does it feel that holidays always go faster than when you’re at work?