Josh and I left Tennant Creek without even looking back! Knowing that there really wasn’t much here, and that we were nearly at our final destinantion.The drive to Mataranka included a detour to a place called Daly Waters. Now I got a little mixed up here, (must be old age!) But I thought that Charlie, the buffalo from Croc Dundee was at the Daly Waters pub! When we pull in, the place is jumping! I mean there are people and vans everywhere! Obviously the place had some sort of attraction right? Charlie the Buffalo right?!
Wrong! Charlie the buffalo is nowhere to be seen, and all the walking around and searching we could do didn’t get Charlie to show up! Where was Charlie?!
So Josh and I order a meal, a Barra burger for me of course, and a schooner, and sit down and ponder how we could of got Charlie so wrong. What a sensational meal. And the place is pumping with tourists! Obviously a popular spot on a lot of peoples lists of things to do, not ours of course apart from Charlie, who was nowhere to be seen!
We departed Daly Waters still pondering “Where the heck was Charlie?”. Josh had no idea and neither did I, so off we trekked.
Now I have a little bit of a habit of stopping at a lot of these roadhouse come pubs come servo’s on our trips and the next place, Larrimah, was no exception. Oh, and apart from the fact Junior needed a toilet stop.
I dont think we would have stopped here otherwise, because from the outside the place certainly was not inviting! Apart from the massive Pink Panther out the front of course! We both walked in, and I decided to buy a sticker just so Josh could use the toilet and I didn’t feel guilty, and got talking to the barman who proceeded to tell us that there was a road train rolled on its side up the road a ways.
I’m not sure if I’ve spoken about these behemoths of the road before, or if any of you have seen them, but they are a sight to see. Mainly 3, sometimes 4 semi trailers long of goods travelling up and down the Stuart Highway. (The Nullarbor too, of course!) They can be quite scary if your not used to them, and passing them requires some skill, and patience.
Now these guys being so big, take a bit of time to get up to speed, and they do sit on 100kmh as much as they can, apart from towns. So consequently, they also take QUITE a lot to pull up! So when presented with some little grey nomad caravanner, who has quite suddenly decided to turn right in front of them, it can be a near disaster! Imagine a fully laden 3 trailer semi-trailer full of cattle trying to avoid a collision with a caravan that has nearly stopped?! Not good!
I’m led to believe, according to our mate at Larrimah that, thankfully, were no serious injuries. There was however, a road train on its side up the road. As we are diverted around it, it becomes evident that whoever was involved in this accident, bovine or human, has been very lucky indeed not to have been seriously injured or killed. A road train on its side across the entire road is not a pretty sight, and must have been frightening when it happened!
We arrive in Mataranka, or more correctly Bitter Springs, and set up. This is a stop for Josh as there are hot springs here and he is keen to try them out. They dont disappoint.
As I check in, I notice there is a bin full of swimming noodles, ( I do hope you all know what I mean here, if not Dr. Google is your friend!) and wonder what they’re for, again my old brain does not compute, but I do overhear a conversation about how much easier it is with a noodle! Ahh. It clicks! Get a noodle for the springs! Der!
So I send Josh off to get a couple and togs on, we head down to have a look at these springs. Must be popular, because there is a constant line of people coming and going from the direction of them.
On arrival we are greeted by heaps of people in various states of undress (literally!!) and dress and a wonderfully inviting looking pool or stream of water. This is not just a pool, but a meandering stream of hot spring that takes us on a wonderful ride on our noodles for about 200m. Very relaxing after travelling nearly 4000km’s.
Both Josh and I are like little kids, and complete the journey again and again, with the walk back cooling you down enough to make the plunge back into the stream that much more enjoyable. It is not a hot spring fed stream, but warm spring fed, either way, it is awesome and just what these 2 weary travellers needed.
A few beers, some BBQ meat, and an early night is next, then it is up and on the road again heading to our final destination, and good friends, Matt N Naomi’s at Livingstone.
On the way Josh points out that he would like to stop in and have a look at a place called Cutta Cutta caves. A great idea. A cave system in the middle of nowhere, well just out of Katherine, and certainly something to have a bit of a bo peep at.
We pull in just in time for the 10am tour, and we’re both glad this stop was made. Cam our guide, (a Melbourne boy!) gives us an awesome insight into the cave system and the geology and history of the area that makes up Cutta Cutta caves. I’m not going to go into detail, a. because I dont remember very well, and b. because you should all get off your backsides and do it yourself! Needless to say, it certainly is awesome.
We whip through Katherine, a quick catch up with Jess and the kids and a quick look around Tindal and RAAF life, and it is on to Emerald Springs where, Jess tells me, there is an awesome burger! She doesnt disappoint either! Beer and another classic Aussie burger, which is huge by the way, and we are off again!
Jess has also told us to keep an eye out for any Army vehicles moving up and down the road as there is quite a few coming through. As we hit the Northern side of Katherine, Josh spies a M1 Abrams tank sitting on the back of a low loader. Ever quick with the camera he is busily shooting it when I decide, nah, let’s pull in and have a good look.
The driver, an army guy, gives us the go ahead and josh must shoot off a thousand pics! The joys of digital photography! As we are about to pull out, another one pulls in, so we have a double op for some photos! Josh is in 7th heaven! And I just about have to drag him away so we can keep going!
A little bit of research by Josh reveals that I have got my Charlie’s mixed up, and he is indeed in the pub at Adelaide River!
We pull into Adelaide River and of course a beer in the pub, (this travelling is thirsty work!) and there in the bar of the Adelaide River Hotel, or more precisely the 303 bar, is Charlie. The buffalo from the movie Crocodile Dundee. Stuffed in all his glory!
Oh? Didn’t I tell you? Charlie’s not alive! He died! But because of his infamy, they had him stuffed and mounted on the bar! What a great idea! He lived out his last days here at Adelaide River with his mate the Kangaroo. True dinks! So they tell us anyways!
A quick beer, som pics and off to Matt n Naomi’s it is. This folks, is where Josh’s foot drama’s continue.
When we pull up and start to set up the van, josh decides for the first time ever, bless his soul, to disconnect the van. Usually a job I do, because, well as josh found the out, if your not used to it, it can be dangerous!
I’m fiddling round on another part of the van when I hear a fairly explanatory expletive, and when I look, Josh literally has blood pumping out of his big toe!
Not just bleeding, or even oozing, but pumping out! Looks bad, looks nasty. Is nasty. WTF?! He’s dropped the caravan stabiliser bar on his foot. These things can be as bad as a croc bite, and he has just let it rip on his big left toe! Bugger. Foot drama no. 2!!
Crap! One positive, according to Josh, is its not his driving foot! Cool! It looks pretty nasty, but Naomi and I have a bit of a butchers hook and she’ll be right, bandage it up, and off we go again! Poor boy. No swimming, at least not for a few days. It is pretty nasty.
A quick trip to the doc’s to make sure it’s not broken, and to shoosh the mother up, and he is right as rain and ready to go again.
While we are at Naomi’s and Matts we take a quick trip down to Litchfield National Park and check out the water falls and sights there, what a magnificent spot. But more on that later.
We leave Naomi and Matts after a couple of nights and 2 of the best meals we have ever had in our lives, ( still not sure about 35m for a medium steak though?!) and start the journey into our final destination Darwin, where we will pick up the girls and after a couple of days, Josh will fly home.