Desert Venturer trip
Trip Start Nov 23, 2005
31Trip End Jul 12, 2006
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Where I stayed
Up at 5.00am for our 5.40am pick up. At 5.50am our 4WD bus arrived and took us into town to collect the remaining passengers from other accommodation and sort out final payments and paperwork. By around 7am we finally left Darwin for the start of our 4000km drive to Cairns.
First stop was at Adelaide River the home of 'Charlie the Waterbuffalo', star of such films as Crocodile Dundee 1 & 2. Next we stop in Katherine, (our second since the 5 day NP trip), for supplies and a quick visit to the local pharmacy for some antihistamines for those irritating bites. Lunch was at Mataranka (where the film 'We of the Never Never' was filmed) and a quick swim in the thermal pool in the Elsey NP. After lunch we got the ozzie legend film 'Crocodile Dundee'. We then visit the wacky Daly Waters pub, famous for being an outback pub.
We spend the night in Heartbreak Hotel, Cape Crawford so named (by the locals) after the builder who built this place, struggles to complete and the fact that he had to spend so much time away from his family and friends
Sat 27th May
A slightly later 6am start this morning and once breakfast was complete we're on the road again. This time though on dirt road! This is where the fun really starts! We were informed by our driver, Greg, that the roads we were going to be travelling on hadn't as yet been officially opened and that we would be the first vehicle of our size to use them! Cool!
So far so good and to help ease the pain Greg slips in another DVD, this time Nottinghill. Oh well, you can't have everything! The drive takes us passed cattle stations, across rivers and lunch is held on the far side of one of these river crossings. Things go from bad to worse though as the road starts to deteriorate more and more the further along we go. One particular river crossing was rather tricky and it took Greg and a few volunteers a while to fill some rather large holes with stones from the river bed to aid our way up the other side. That job done and we set about the task of crossing the river. It was rather bumpy and plenty of rocking and rolling around but Greg got the bus over, with only a few scratches!
A few more rivers and bumpy roads got us to Hells Gate Roadhouse at 5pm (although the trip usually gets here around lunchtime!)
At around 9pm ish we hit another wide river that Greg and a volunteer had to wade across to see how deep it was. No crocs we hope! Hurray it's not too deep (well only up to Greg's bum anyway) and we're soon across the river bumping, rocking and rolling. We finally arrived at the campsite at 10.30pm (but as we're now in Queensland, we'd crossed the border just before Hells Gate, it was actually 11pm) hungry and tired. It wasn't long before we'd had dinner and went straight to bed by about midnight!
Sun 28th May
We get a nice lie in this morning so we're up at 7am for breakfast and at 7.50am we're off to Lawn Hill gorge just down the road. Here we hire a canoe for an hour to paddle down the gorge to a small set of waterfalls and back. Then we walked to the lookout and after, it's back to the bus to head to Gregory River for a BBQ lunch and a float down the fast flowing river
After lunch we're back on the road (now thankfully tarmac) heading to Croydon stopping at the Burke & Willis Roadhouse where we meet a mad lady that is obsessed with killing as many cane toads as she can find. We get to Croydon at around 8pm and have a delicious lasagne dinner. The only bad thing about the Club Hotel where we stayed, is that our rooms are right over the bar and there were quite a few bugs around. Oh well, at least the bed was really compfy!
Mon 29th May
Back to a 6am start for breakfast and the last day of our Darwin to Cairns road trip. We head off towards Georgetown where we stop for fuel and a quick walk down to the very dry riverbed. Moving on our next stop was at Mount Surprise, where Greg had a surprise for us in the shape of some snakes! Here we visit Russell, the snake handler who tells us about the snakes that he has including various pythons and a few dangerous ones like the Death Adder and the Tipan! We were all encouraged to handle the pythons which was pretty cool and Russell demonstrated their typical behaviour when threatened. Basically, they fake a strike and then unless you really, really upset them won't bother again but just remained alert. It was at this point that Dean was feeling a little nervous. After watching a carpet python feed on a a cute little mouse we left Mount Surprise and moved on into the Atherton Tablelands, with a visit to Millstream Falls which was flowing beautifully. Another 15 mins down the road and we're at Millaa Millaa Falls where some of us had a swim but for Dean & I it was a bit too cold.
In an hour or so we're back in Cairns and being dropped off at our hostels, around 6pm. We finished the trip off with a meal at a local restaurant with our fellow companions to say goodbye and celebrate our safe arrival into Cairns after venturing across 'The Real Australia'.