Australian Travel · Home on the Road · Motivation · New South Wales · Random Thoughts · Travel Photography

sea-change, life-change and new beginnings

Well we have taken the plunge and dived right in. Excuse the pun, or don’t, it is up to you. 

Our sea-change has finally taken place and we are slowly finding our stroke. No floundering has occurred as yet and we are hopeful it won’t occur at all…. but we never say never here at Norris Around Australia and neither should you. Life is a wild and crazy ride and anything can happen.

We are hoping this is our place…..after travelling all over Australia we always keep coming back to the Northern Rivers of NSW. If you keep coming back somewhere and you can feel it inside you, you should at least give it try. This little coastal village combines all our loves;  water, small-town feel, a sense of community and close to a world of exploring.

Don’t fret our dear and loyal readers, we still have nomadic blood flowing through our veins and are still the travellers you have grown to love. Although we are trying to build a nest here in the Northern Rivers of NSW, there will plenty of travels now and in the future. These may be big trips, short trip or weekend gallivants but they will be worth sharing and worth reading about.

After years on the road exploring this great country we are under-taking a massive life-change. Change is good. It challenges you and stretches you.

 

Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life. Robin Sharma

 

As I look back over the past several years, we have done exactly that. We have not done so without fear mind you. Some of the best decisions we have made have left me frozen stiff but these have turned out to be the best years of our life so far. We will continue to design our own life and live a life worth living. We hope you do to. Here is to new beginnings.

S & S

 

 

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Australian Travel · National Parks · Northern Territory · Reader Interaction · South Australia

our top 5 Aussie national parks

These are 5 of our top national parks from our travels so far. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Australia and most of these can be found in our national parks. We have so many favourites however here are 5 of our top spots. We love these places so much we have visited multiple times and will return again for sure.

  1. Flinders Ranges National Park, SA

What’s not to love? Stunning mountain ranges, rich Australian history, four-wheel driving and beautifully rewarding bushwalks with breath-taking visitas. Check out some of our posts on the Flinders HERE & HERE.

Our favs from the Flinders:

  • Bush camping at Rawnsley Station and dining at their Woolshed Restaurant.
  • Wilpena Pound; our favourite walks were Hills Homestead, Wangara Lookout and Mount Ohlssen Bagge. The Hills Homestead is quite a leisurely stroll while Wangara Lookout and Mount Ohlssen Bagge are more strenuous the views are well worth the effort.
  • The historical Nuccaleena Mine. The drive out is spectacular and the ruins are in fantastic condition.

2. Kakadu National Park, NT

Kakadu is amazing. It has a diverse and natural beauty which is hard to beat.  The national park is situated in close proximity to Darwin making it easily accessible for every traveler. Check out our post from Kakadu HERE.

Our favs from Kakadu:

  • cruise Yellow Water wetlands – both at sunrise and sunset
  • visit Twin Falls by four-wheel drive and boat
  • swim in the pools on top of Maguk (Barramundi) Gorge
  • view the rock art at Ubirr Rock and climb to the top for spectacular views from the lookout
  • camping at Cooinda Lodge is excellent with wonderful facilities and central location

3. Simpson Desert National Park, SA

Oh my! The Simpson is spectacular. The parallel sand-dunes go on forever and we never got sick of the beautiful red sand. Every time the Colorado would crest a sand-dune it took our breath away. It is a natural Australian wonder. Check out our post on the Simmo HERE.

What to experience in the Simmo:

  • remote travel at it’s finest
  • wildflowers, glorious wildflowers
  • slimbing to the top of Big Red
  • the wonders of Eyre Creek
  • bush camping at its absolute best
  • star gazing – the most spectacular skies we have ever seen
  • take in the view from Knoll’s Lookout
  • cross wide, stunning claypans
  • stand where QLD, SA and NT meet at Poeppel Corner
  • while technically not the Simpson National park make sure you stop in at both Purnie Bore and Dalhousie Springs both oasis’ in the desert, brimming with birdlife.

4. Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park

The region surround Alice Springs in one of favourites in the country. It’s smack bang in the Red Centre and capital of the Australia Outback. The West Macs as they are affectionately known lay to the West of Alice Springs (funny that). The stunning mountain range has numerous gorges that have been carved over millions of years. The red of the rock, the blue of the sky and the green of the vegetation is nothing short of beautiful.

Our favs from the West Macs:

  • our favourite place to camp was at Redbank Gorge
  • a refreshing dip in Ellery Creek Big Hole
  • the stunning landscape at Ormiston Gorge
  • the aboriginal culture of the Orche Pits
  • Simpsons Gap is closest to Alice with stunning gorge walls and lots of rock wallabies.
  • for history buffs like us the West Macs also home to the memorial grave of Rev John Flynn of flying doctors fame


5. Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, NT

What says Australia better than our red heart? Uluru is iconic and recognised internationally as an Australian icon. It is truly a spiritual experience to visit and explore this region. While the town Yulara has become quite touristy due to the amount of tourists that flock to the rock each year, the National Park itself is relatively untouched. Check out our past posts HERE & HERE.

Our favs from Uluru & Kata-Tjuta:

  • sunrise and sunset at Uluru and the Olgas – the colours are ever changing
  • the Valley of the Winds walk through the Olga- OMG! One of the best walks in Australia – Amazing.
  • walking the base of Ulura – 13 km of ever changing beauty
  • the shorter guided base walk is also not to be missed. Its free and so informative. We’ve done it twice now.
  • the Cultural Centre is a great place to start you Uluru Adventure
Australian Travel · Camping · Caravan Parks · Destinations · Free Camping · National Parks · Travel Photography

Free Campers aren’t Free Loaders

We have met thousands of free campers in our travels and a far cry from how they are painted. These people like ourselves are travelling for mostly long periods of time or are on the road permanently. To make their travels go the distance they choose free camping options to save money. However, this is not the only reason. Free camping is liberating. Free camps can be some of the most beautiful spots along their travels where they simply decide to pull over and set up. As long as free campers are not camping on private land without permission and are leaving the area as they find it. What is the harm?

Free campers are not tight with money they are bright with money. They still inject money into the local communities and towns they are visiting. They spend their money on fuel, food, tourism and accommodation. Yes, free campers don’t necessarily always free camp I’m sure some try too and I’m sure some succeed but not all of us. If any other free-camp lovers are like us we select caravan parks or paid accommodation options every now and then. Why? Well selfishly to either indulge ourselves, catch up on washing or to have a real shower and in unselfishness to support caravan parks and accommodation operators.

How do we choose? In big towns and centres we choose caravan parks or town commons (normally owned and operated by local councils) Firstly, this supports the operators and their businesses but also allows us to be amongst the local towns and catch up with fellow travellers. Off the beaten track we prefer “free-camps” but to us anything under $10 is really a “free-camp” and we allow National Parks and reserves to fall into this category. If it means these areas are kept open to travellers like us we are more than happy to pay fees or donations.

Free-campers are still injecting money into towns and communities and should not be moved along unless they are over-staying their welcome (i.e still set up on a road side stop three months later blocking other travellers), on private land, rowdy/disruptive to the general public/other travellers or damaging the environment/public facilities.

We love travelling our vast and amazing country and want to continue to do so for as long as we can. Free-camping is a way to create longevity of travel in reducing some of the costs but more importantly a way of opening up new experiences in those little know places.

What are your thoughts on free-camping? Tell us your tales of star free-campers?

Attractions · Camping · National Parks · Queensland · Travel Photography

Aiming for the Tropics, Landing Amongst the Tablelands

Well we did it! We have hit the road again. Where are we you ask? Now we are not normally ones for travelling through over-populated cities and overly touristy regions however, at the moment that is exactly what we are doing! There is a method to our madness. One: we have spent over seven months on the edge of the desert. Two: it’s been bloody hot and we just wanted a sea breeze and Three: it’s Christmas time soon so we have family and friends to catch up with over the festive season.

On leaving Tobermorey we had no plan other than to be in Toowoomba before Christmas and get there via a series of beach hideaways. No plan is the best plan! We left on the 10th of December which gave us 14 or 15 nights to travel to Toowoomba. Like always we are taking the long. We shot straight across to Hughenden for night one. We were too tired to continue so we stayed the night. Nice caravan park near the community pool. Free entry for campers. It was great to be back on the road and in the camper again. The second night we were aiming for Port Douglas but got caught up in the luscious green of the Atherton Tablelands. After spending so many months on the edge of the red, vast and dry desert it was unbelievably hard to take in all the greenery of the Tablelands. Millaa Milla Falls were beautiful as were the lesser known surrounding falls. We opted for a free camp that night down the range on Henrietta Creek.  It is a national park area. $5.45 per person. We class that as free. It’s cheap as chips almost the same as buying a coffee in some places.

Tobermorey was the hardest place to leave even harder than right back at the start when we left our home. Tobermorey was and always will be a massive part of our lives. From the Tablelands we will make our way across to Port Douglas via the Rex Highway.

Australian Travel · Camping · Destinations · Four Wheel Driving · National Parks · Queensland · Travel Photography

Travel Well to Welford

This is the first article for our special destination series. Enjoy

You’re standing on a steep river bank surrounded by stark white ghost gums dangling a line in the Barcoo River as it flows through Channel Country, Central Queensland. The wide blue western sky creates a natural contrasting backdrop behind the red sand hills. There is no one for miles except your family, your campsite, your 4WD and you.

Where are you?

You’re within the 124,000 hectare National Park which is known as Welford.

The Park is 991km west of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane and lays between Jundah and Quilpie. Formerly known as Walton Downs, the park was a grazing property belonging to Richard Welford, hence the current name. The National Park was established in 1992 to protect the various ecosystems of mulga woodlands, Mitchell grass and channel Country. All roads into Welford are unsealed and the smallest amount of rain can close all access points.

There are two camping locations both located on the edge of the Barcoo. Both areas for camping have no facilities except for a bush toilet at Little Boomerang. This being said you would need to be fully self-sufficient for this isolated area.

Not only can you relax along the bank of the Barcoo with a fishing line you can also launch canoes or boats into the river and explore the park from a whole different angle. There are bush walking tracks that explore the diverse landscape of Welford including a moderate grade walk to Sawyer’s Lookout which rewards you with panoramic views of the Channel Country. Throughout your walks keep an eye out for Aboriginal stone arrangements & water wells these are scattered all over the Park completely untouched.

4WD enthusiasts visiting Welford National Park will not be left disappointed. There are three scenic drives ranging in duration from around one and a half hours to four hours. These drives will take you along the Barcoo River weaving around billabongs created by the Dry. These remains of water from the Wet are filled to the brim with various Australian Bird life including Pelicans, Black Swans, Cormorants, Kites and so much more. It is more than relaxing to sit on the bank and watch the birds land on the water as if no one is there. There are also various other native wildlife throughout the park including Emus, Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Brushtail possums and the rare yellow footed rock wallaby. The other drives will lead you through red sand dunes like those seen in the Simpson desert. These dunes form the most Eastern part of the Lake Eyre dune system. The perfect time to view them is at sun-set as the sun hits the dunes turning them bright red against a vivid blue sky.

The special thing about Welford is not many people know about it and most have only stumbled upon trying to reach another destination. If you happen to be traveling through Central Queensland make sure you stumble upon Welford National Park and stay for a few nights, you won’t be disappointed.

 Next destination in the series is Birdsville – Keep Following!
Australian Travel · Destinations · Four Wheel Driving · Travel Photography

Waterfalls to Wetlands – Gagudju Dreaming

Four nights we spent at Cooinda in Kakadu National Park but even that is not enough time to explore all that Kakadu has to offer. It seriously is one of the most beautiful places on Earth barely touched by outside influence or humans.

On arrival into the National Park we stopped at the Mary River Roadhouse to purchase our parks pass. $25 per person for 14 days – quite reasonable considering it is basically your ticket to such a beautiful place. While we were organising our passes the Aboriginal Guide told us of this place off the track about 6kms down the road called, The Rockhole. He said it is definitely worth a look and that there are no crocs so it is nice for a swim. He was right! It was a beautiful introduction to what Kakadu had to offer. I went into the water up to my knees but I wasn’t too sure about the no crocs thing. So I got out rather quickly. It was beautiful though. We stopped a little further on at a lookout called, Bukbukluk with amazing views over Kakadu floodplains and monsoon forests. The third stop for that day was Maguk. It was a beautiful walk along a creek bed that turned into cascades and rock pools at the end of the walk you scramble over a small wall of rocks and there you find a beautiful waterfall. It was a magical spot. Too bad for crocs the water looked awfully inviting. We had our first fresh Top End Mango to recoup after our walk in the humid, dense heat.

Kakadu National Park - The Rockhole
Kakadu National Park - Maguk
Our first Top End Mango - Delish

We decided instead of moving all around the park, each night setting up a new camp we would base ourselves a Cooinda Resort. It was a fantastic idea as it was one of the best caravan parks we have come across in our travels.

Our campsite at Cooinda
Part of resort pool Cooinda

The next day we had a full day off-road adventure planned. A trip to Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls. The roads were in fairly good condition heaps of corrugations in places and as you got closer to the Falls it was sandy. We had a water crossing over Jim Jim Creek it was .7m. It is a paved/stone bottom which makes it quite an easy crossing.

Jim Jim Creek Crossing

When we arrived at Twin Falls we found out that we had to take a shuttle boat up the gorge. They used to swim the distance but due to crocodile numbers in recent year they no longer having swimming in most of the park. Our shuttle boat guide was an Aboriginal man named Dallas. As it was just Shaun and I on the boat and in the whole gorge Dallas spent a lot of time explaining about culture, the seasons, crocodiles and how their water systems work in Kakadu. It was amazing experience. He then dropped us off and headed back to base and then it was just Shaun and I. We scrambled through rocks over cascades of crystal clear water and then we were there. The base of Twin Falls as they flowed over the Arnhem Escarpment into a crystal plunge pool.

Croc Safety
Kakadu National Park - Twin Falls
Kakadu National Park - Twin Falls Croc Trap
Kakadu National Park - Twin Falls Gorge
Kakadu National Park - Twin Falls Cascades
Kakadu National Park - Twin Falls
Kakadu National Park - Twin Falls

From Twin Falls we headed onto Jim Jim Falls. The Falls are dormant during the dry season however because they have had 5 inches of rain so far this season they were flowing. Now because the plunge pool is so high up and surrounded by high rock the crocs are mostly unable to get in so we were able to swim at the base of the falls. It was BEAUTIFUL and after the 30min rock climb in the heat of the day it was well deserved.

Kakadu National Park - Jim Jim Falls
Kakadu National Park - Shaun having a dip in the plunge pool at Jim Jim Falls

For our third day at Kakadu we arose early for our Sunrise Cruise at Yellow Waters. They had a deal where we could cruise again for a discounted price so we took advantage of it and followed up our Sunrise Cruise with a Sunset Cruise. Here is some photos of both cruises in no particular order:

Yellow Waters
Yellow Waters
Yellow Waters
Kakadu National Park - Yellow Water Cruises
Kakadu National Park - Yellow Water Cruises
Kakadu National Park - Yellow Water Cruises
Yellow Waters - Crocodile Saltie
Kakadu National Park - Yellow Water Cruise Breakfast Included - Yes Shaun ate breakfast!!
Yellow Waters - Crocodile Saltie
Kakadu National Park - Yellow Water Cruises

The cruises were amazing. I know I have said this already but KAKADU IS SUCH NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL PLACE. You have to visit it to see the beauty for yourself.

The next day we visited Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr to see the Rock Art Sites. It is fantastic the way they are preserving the Art – for those who say Australia has no history, you are very wrong we have an extensive history. Some of the art work we saw dated back 5000 years other 20,000 years. Now Ubirr is in North Kakadu right on the border into Arnhem Land and at the top of all the rock shelters and rocky outcrop is a beautiful view across the flood plains.

Burnout Woodlands
Kakadu Rock Art
Kakadu Rock Art
Lookout from Ubirr - Kakadu
Lookout from Ubirr - Kakadu

While we were near the border to Arnhem Land (which we are coming back at a later date to explore) we checked out the tidal river crossing named Cahill’s Crossing that links Arnhem Land with Kakadu and the rest of the world. We were there at low tide as at high tide you cannot cross.

East Alligator River - Border of Kakadu and Arnhem Land
East Alligator River Crossing - Border of Kakadu and Arnhem Land

All in all there is so much to see in Kakadu. When we go back we will stay for a full week or maybe a bit longer. There are heaps of walks that we missed out on due to them being closed from heat etc.

We are now living it up in Darwin, kicking back and relaxing in our apartment overlooking the waterfront.

Will keep you updated on our adventures. Please feel free to leave comments or send e-mails with feedback or questions. We love hearing from you all.

Bye for Now.