Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Monday 28th August 2006 to Thursday 31st August 2006

Monday 28th August 2006

Last night we attended the fish BBQ in the caravan park and enjoyed the company of some other caravaners and also some very nice King Salmon cooked on the BBQ for us and served up with a salad, potatoes and bread. We had not eaten King Salmon previously and found to our surprise that the meat of the fish was beautiful white flesh with a mild taste and it was cooked to perfection. The evening was most enjoyable and we didn't miss any important part of the Eagles v Dockers football match because by the time we went to the BBQ the Dockers had shown the Eagles a clean pair of heels, however there was still most of the last quarter to go and anything can happen in footy.

Not much happening today, well that may not be true but no sight seeing anyway, by all the reports from other caravaners we had seen all there was to see in Cloncurry. The morning dawned in it's usual form, about 25 degrees and a gentle breeze to make sitting outside with a cup of tea really pleasant, once again.

The first task of the morning was a couple of loads of washing and a few bills to pay using BPay over the internet. Fortunately our daughter Kym is doing an excellent job of keeping an eye on the bills that come in and need paying, and lets us know when they are due. Unfortunately she declined our offer to let her pay them for us..... not sure why!!!!!

Once the washing was on the line and the bills paid, we drove into town and posted a letter before pulling into the Woolworths Supermarket and participated in a bit of a shopping frenzy... well we had half a shopping trolley full anyway by the time we walked out the door.

Our next stop was at the Woolworths Plus Service Station where we filled the Patrol up with almost 90 litres of diesel at 146.9 cents per litre, however with a woolworths docket we did get 4 cents per litre off that price.

From there it was back to the caravan park where we packed the shopping away before cooking a couple of pieces of newly acquired steak on the BBQ, along with some onions which made quite a tasty steak sandwhich for lunch.

We also booked into the Cairns Coconut Grove Resort Caravan Park for a week starting Monday 11th September and cousin Judy is also booked in from the Wednesday 13th September. Our movements prior to then are not set in concrete but we do expect to have a look around the Atherton Tableland before we get to Cairns.

The rest of the afternoon was taken as a bit of a lay day, however, although we didn't seem to do much, there didn't seem to be much time to spare. Not sure where all the time goes but it seems to be going faster.

Tomorrow morning we are heading off up to Normanton but only expect to be there a couple of nights, but who knows what we will find there. Most comments we have heard indicate that the main attraction in the area is fishing and there is not a huge amount of other attractions to keep people there, although we do intend to take the drive up to Karumba. We will find out tomorrow what else there is to see in the Carpentaria Shire which is said to be the size of the entire state of Tasmania, yet only has two towns in it.

The view from our caravan in Cloncurry
The view from our caravan in Cloncurry

The caravan parked in the park
The caravan parked in the park

A hill cut down to size near the caravan park
A hill cut down to size near the caravan park

Tuesday 29th August 2006

On the way to Normanton
On the way to Normanton

This morning started off yesterday.... well 'One of Us' was up so early the 'Other One' thought it was still last night... It is the first morning for about three weeks that we haven't woken to clear blue skies, in fact they were quite black and we were a bit worried about that until we realised the sun had not emerged from behind the horizon yet and that was the reason for this strange darkness that hid the usually very clear blue sky. Fortunately by the time the last of the caravan bits and pieces were packed up, the sky had appeared (and it was clear blue again), 'One of us looked all spruced up and beautiful and the 'Other One' had woken up!

It was about 7:30am before we eventually pulled out of the caravan park and drove through the town for the last time before turning north on the Matilda Highway and commenced our 375 kilometre journey to Normanton. With little knowledge of what we would find and what we could see, we were very pleasantly surprised with the scenery along the way for the first 250 kilometres or so, there were plenty of stony outcrops, trees and grazing country with cows looking like they had been in a good paddock for a while.

Not far down the track on a narrow section of sealed road a truck went past in the opposite direction and sent a rather large stone up at us and left a pretty big star shaped chip in the windscreen. Whilst the 'Other One' was lamenting the cost of repairs when we get home, 'One of Us' could only see the shape of a diamond ring in the chip and decided that a diamond about that size would make her happy....

Along the way we passed through a little place called Quamby, and that is possibly an understatement as there was really only a roadhouse there and nothing else. About 40 kilometres short of the Burke and Wills Roadhouse we stopped briefly to take a photograph or two of some stony hills beside the road, then continued on until we came to the roadhouse where we made a brief stop. The Burke and Wills Roadhouse is about 180 kilometres from Cloncurry and 'One of Us' spied an ice cream and she would not leave without one. The 'Other One' became exhausted and suffering major repercussions from trying to drag her out of the cafe finally gave in, so after spending $14.20 for two ice creams (if you cant beat em, join em!) and a fridge magnet, we managed to get out of the cafe and back on the road again.

From here we had a further 195 kilometres to travel before we would reach Normanton. This journey was pretty uneventful and was made through some more rocky outcrops, rolling hills then gentle undulating plains for the last hundred or so kilometres, arriving at about 12:45 pm. When we pulled into Normanton we felt we must have been eating funny mushrooms or smoking some powerful grass, the local pub was purple, the butchers wase lime green and the local supermarket was bright yellow....

We pulled into the caravan park and found it to be well set up and quite comfortable and the owner very hospitable. After making inquiries we ascertained that the Gulflander train was going on a Sunset Sizzle that consists of two hours on the train and a 'free' BBQ on Thursday night. We decided to take the opportunity to ride this famous train so we booked into the caravan park until Friday morning (three days). By about 1:30pm we were all set up so we drove out again and went to the information centre and confirmed our ride on the Gulflander and also booked a sunset river crocodile spotting cruise on Wednesday evening.

Next we called in to the lime green butcher shop and bought a kilo of barramundi fillet for $19 and a kilo of king salmon fillet for $13. Then came the problem of fitting it into an overflowing freezer, so it is barramundi on the BBQ for dinner tonight. A kilo of barramundi in one sitting appears to be a fair amount but when it was suggested that maybe it would make two meals, 'One of Us' went pretty feral so the 'Other One' just slunk away and is preparing to cook it all and if he is lucky, he might get a small taste of it as well.

Happy hour is looking good at this time as it is a beautiful warm afternoon and the shade of the trees near the caravan seem to be calling. We hope people appreciate what we are putting up with in the interests of geographical research!!!

The Burke and Wills Roadhouse
The Burke and Wills Roadhouse


Are we seeing things - A purple pub
Are we seeing things - A purple pub??

And a Green buthcher shop
And a Green butcher shop!!

Now a Yellow Supermarket!?!?#@
Now a Yellow Supermarket!!

Gotta give up smokin' that stuff!!!!

Wednesday 30th August 2006

After a great feed of BBQ barramundi last night (yes 'One of Us' left some scraps for the 'Other One') and good night to sleep the feed off, we once again woke to an almost perfect morning and the sun was up before us which was a bonus.

After the usual morning activities we drove out of the caravan park at about 9:15am and set off up the road to Karumba. This small settlement is situated on the coast of the Gulf of Carpenteria, about seventy five kilometres to the north west of Normanton.

The road to Karumba mainly traveled through grassy open plains and the along the way around the pools of water beside the road, there were large numbers of brolgas that were obviously feasting on some delicacy or other. There also appeared to be an abundance of feed for the cattle that were grazing in pretty big herds either side of the road.

On arrival in Karumba we drove through the main part of town and then had a look at the Norman River from the eastern bank, but no crocodiles were to be seen. We then drove into the centre of the town and pulled up down next to the boat ramp where we saw small boats with occupants looking for the elusive barramundi and also a 'rockadile' but no crocodiles. From here we drove back out of town and around to another part of the town that we believe is situated on Sunset Point. From here we had views out over the south east corner of the Gulf of Carpenteria. On arrival we met a couple who have been caravanning along the same way we have over the past couple of weeks or more, so we stopped and had a good chat with them before walking down near the water (or what was left of it, the tide was out!) and along the rocky foreshore for a short distance .Unfortunately 'One of Us' just flatly refused to walk out into the water to see if she could find any crocodiles to count, so the 'Other One' was not able to get any photographs of snapping crocodiles to send home to the kids... But there was almost a photograph of a snapping woman... Really, all it was was a simple little request....

On the way back to the Patrol we met another couple who stopped and chatted with us for some time before moving on and we eventually found ourselves back in the Patrol and looking around this part of Karumba. There was one garden that featured cacti plants, in fact that was all there was in it and some were up to about four metres high. Wouldn't like to wander into that garden at night by mistake!

At this stage 'One of Us' was making gurgling noises as if she was starving to death, maybe that was something to do with the fact that she had seen a shop that had barramundi and chips for sale, so that was our next port of call. With two pieces of barramundi and a whole stack of chips we sat down at the boat ramp in town where she devoured most of it in short time.

Next we filled up with diesel at the local Ampol service station, taking on 101 litres at 1.43 cents per litre. We still find it hard to understand how we have to pay around 1.44 cents per litre in Kalamunda yet, when we are this far away from the supply point!!!

It was then time to return to Normanton and prepare for our sunset crocodile spotting cruise on the river tonight. We arrived back at the caravan at about 2:12pm where 'One of Us' put their feet up and read a book whilst the 'Other One' underwent a stressful period manipulating characters, pounding them into submission and impressing them into LCD... Well he prepared the days journal entry for the website anyway.

Dinner will be a little later tonight as the crocodile spotting cruise does not start until 5pm and it appears the crocs have to eat first.. But this grey nomad won't be dipping his toes or anything else, in the water to give then an entree!

The Brolgas - but they are not dancing
The Brolgas - but they are not dancing

The Norman River, Karumba
The Norman River, Karumba

The Gulf of Carpenteria
The Gulf of Carpenteria

Thursday 31st August 2006

Off for a cruise on the Norman River
Off for a cruise on the Norman River
Waiting for a man overboard
Waiting for a man overboard...
Come on Pammy - Push Him!!!
Come on over for dinner....
Come on over for dinner...

Our cruise on the Norman River last night was shortened a little due to an unusually low tide caused by an off shore breeze at the same time as the low tide is running. However, although we were not able to go as far up the river as previously expected, we still had over an hour on the river and the cost was reduced from $25 per person to $15 each.

The cruise was on a fairly small boat that only took eight people and the guide, and traveled up the river first with the guide providing information about everything that has been, and everything that is, along the banks. At first there was not a lot of crocodiles to sight but there was a lot of crocodile 'slides' where they climb out of the water and some of these made it look like there are quite a few pretty fair size crocodiles in the river. Eagle Eye Pammy was the first to sight a crocodile that was floating on the surface in the middle of the river with it's head up out of the water. We drifted down toward it a little but before getting too close it decided that it was time to submerge. A short distance further on we caught a glimpse of another large one out in the water but he was pretty shy and disappeared below the surface fairly quickly, possibly laying in wait for 'One of Us' to push the 'Other One' over the side.

Along that part of the river we also saw a deceased wallaby that had found the river contained more than water and had paid the price for getting too close to the edge in the wrong place The boat turned around then and came back down the river passed the starting point and continued down stream for a short distance. Not too far down the river we finally came to a crocodile on the bank of the river sunning himself. He was a bout 2.5 metres long and didn't appear to be very worried about our approach toward him. By the look in his eye, he was possibly trying to figure out how he could get us all inside his jaws at one time... And we were so close to him it was easy to see into his eyes as we were only about two metres away from him at one stage. we then continued down the river a little before returning to this same crocodile where by this time he had opened his jaws a little, maybe in preparation for a feed of us, but he posed well again for a while before we moved on again.

On the other side of the river there is a 'Free' camping area and our guide took time to point out a camper van set up at the top of the river bank. at this point the bank was not too steep and would be no problems for a crocodile to climb up with ease. As the guide stated, during the day you are fairly safe if you are up to about four to six metres from the water edge, however at night it a different matter and he claimed they were crazy for camping in that spot. He pointed out a crocodile slide on the bank directly across the river and stated that he has seen that crocodile and it is about seven metres long. We tend to think that people who camp in 'Free' locations next to towns that provide facilities are 'cheap' and do damage to the caravanning fraternity's image, but when the locals like this crocodile cruise guide thinks they are crazy for camping there... They obviously are missing some grey matter between their ears.

Our cruise ended up back where we started at about 6:10pm, then we returned to the caravan park for a dinner of sausages and salad before retiring for the night.

Yawn... this morning was just another one of those warm bright sunny days with clear blue sky... again! We believe it was raining in Perth..... What can we say? We wish we were there.... Yeah!!!

As the main activity for today is the Sunset Sizzle on the Gulflander, we had an easy morning and 'One of Us' found even more washing to do (she always seems to be washing), naturally the 'Other One' was left back at the caravan with all the other chores to think about... and he did a good job of that but didn't get any of them done though. He always says "It's the thought that counts!" but that didn't seem to be the right answer at the time.

We then drove down town, but if the truth is known, the caravan park couldn't be closer to the centre of the town, so I suppose we drove to the edge of town and then had a look in the Burns Philp building before walking up the street a short distance to have a closer look at a huge crocodile basking in the sun near the Shire Council Building. Fortunately this one was really a full size model of one that was shot by a woman on the banks of the Norman River in July 1957. This crocodile was 8.63 metres (28 feet 4 inches) long and is believed to be the largest crocodile ever captured (in this case - shot) in the world. 'One of Us' did get a bit close to it's mouth and was really only a mouthful for him but as she was carrying one of the cameras, the 'Other One' had to drag him back and retrieve the camera and Pammy came with it. Talk about 'a tiger by the tail' We think that would be preferable to having a crocodile this size by the tail.

After this experience we made a brief visit to the local grocery store, then 'One of Us' spotted the bakery so we had to stop there for a vanilla slice or two before making a visit to the Gulflander Rail Station where she spied a pink polo shirt that just happened to fit her... Need I say more? There was also a white and navy blue one that happed to fit the 'Other One' so there could be no disputing the purchase this time (not that there is any chance at any time! He wouldn't dare). While there we had a good chat to the lady who owns and runs the shop at the station and she introduced us to Mr Gregory Peck and Mrs Peck. They are the resident Brolgas that hang out at the station and enjoy a bit of free tucker now and then in return for posing for a photograph or two each time visitors come this way.

We then returned to the caravan for the rest of the afternoon in preparation for our Sunset Sizzle later on and made ready to move on from Normanton tomorrow morning when we will start heading toward Cairns, with a few stops along the way.

Buurrppp - That was a mouthful
Buurrppp!! - That was a mouthful

Come back here you creep... She had my camera!!!
Come back here you creep...
She had my camera!!!

We're on the last train out of Normanton
We're on the last train out of Normanton

Introducing Mr Gregory Peck
Introducing Mr Gregory Peck

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