4WD

A hidden oasis – Lawn Hill Gorge

In the north western corner of Queensland, a short distance south of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and close to the border with Northern Territory, lies a gorgeous oasis known as Lawn Hill gorge, located in the Boodjamulla National Park. The waters are safe to swim in, teeming with fish and birds aggregate around the water source in abundance. Indarri falls are a short bush walk away, and a beautiful place to cool off in the midday heat. The more adventurous can swim back to camp, or float back as we did on noodles and inner tubes.

Nearby in the surrounding dry savanna bush you can find one of the richest mammal fossil deposits in the world, at Riversleigh.

It is remote and a long trek in, but worth staying a few days to take in some of the walks, enjoy a swim, hire a kayak, or just relax and enjoy the views

It closes for the wet season around early November.

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Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, National Park, Offroad, QLD, Queensland, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Eliot and Twin Falls

After a hard day’s dusty driving a deep drive through scrubby creek brings you to one of many oases just off the Old Telegraph Track in Cape York.

Eliot and Twin Falls are barely 50m apart, offering a crocodile free area to swim, or just relax and wash the grime off the skin. Don’t use soap though as it kills the fish and other inhabitants in the river. The campsite is within the National Park and must be booked before arrival, but worth a stop for a day or two.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, National Park, Offroad, Queensland, Road trip, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

From a remote beach – a beautiful gift

As is so often the case the ocean presents wonderful things for us to see. This is the shell of a type of “hairy” sea urchin, sometimes called a  sea mouse, that lives concealed in sand. They are extremely fragile, yet the ocean has treated this one kindly so that we may wonder at its beauty.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Natural World, Photography | Tags: | Leave a comment

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon is a spectacle that is best appreciated from the edge of the sheer cliffs on either side. Take the rim walk, start as early in the day as you can, as it can get very hot here during the day. Take plenty of water, and enjoy the 6km walk in Watarrka National park. The steps that climb the sides of the canyon at the start are guaranteed to get the heart pumping. Make sure you stop for a swim in the Garden of Eden to cool down, though it can be icy cold at this time of year. The “Lost city” domes half way around reminded us of the Bungle Bungles, but the precipitous cliffs on both sides take your breath away as you stand on their edge gazing down the tree-lined canyon floor, some hundred metres below.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, National Park, NT, Photography, Road trip | Tags: | Leave a comment

“Road Trip Activities #3 – Challenges”

Just before we took off, our friends got equally excited with our plans and started giving us challenges to do. The straight forward ones were to visit the compass points of the mainland, swim in the coldest water (Lake St.Clair), climb the highest mountain, etc. Then the kids started getting more from their friends, things like catch a fish in every state, spotting different animals (e.g. Tassie Devils), learning to tie different knots, sending pictures of patting a safe native animal, and the list went on.

It gave them something to focus on, kept them in touch with their school friends back home, and made them think about where they were at any time, adding to their education, as well as ticking off the lists.

What does everyone else out there do to keep the kids occupied and interested as you move around?

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Challenges, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure | Leave a comment

Algebuckina Bridge, on the Oodnadatta track

This rusting monument to the Victorian era spans the Neales River, an area prone to flooding, and the impressive engineering still dominates its surroundings 125 years after its official opening. Long disused three graves lie nearby, and a rusty 1948 FJ Holden that was hit by a train as it tried to cross the bridge in a flood

With a total length of 580m long, built in the remote heat of an area west of Lake Eyre and near the southern reaches of the Simpson desert, its worth a stop, if only to cool off in the river.

 

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Offroad, Photography, Photos, Road trip, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A rubbish experience for the kids

Fifty Toes Walkabout kids love their nature but in some of the most remote places we visited they were horrified to find, what should have been pristine beaches, covered in rubbish. The rubbish primarily consisted of man-made plastics, ranging from thongs, toothbrushes, bottles and their caps, to cigarette lighters and the much more sinister ghost fishing nets. These nets float freely through the oceans, either dumped or lost by trawlers, often stretching for hundreds of metres, even kilometres sometimes. They catch anything above a certain size that comes in their path. When they finally wash ashore they cover the rocks like vast blankets.

Much of the debris we found originated from Asia or from passing ships, brought to our shores by prevailing winds.

Amongst the piles of rubbish it was not unusual to find dead animals, particularly birds and turtles that had either consumed too much plastic (as it is often mistaken for food in the water), or become entangled in ghost nets. Most upsetting was the discovery of a recently dead dolphin on one beach.

We like to leave places in a better state than when we arrived and the kids decided that they wanted to clean up the beaches. In Cape York obliging Parks and Wildlife rangers provided us with bags and within 30 minutes we had filled more than six sacks (as much as we could carry), with much more remaining. The same beach had had many tonnes of rubbish removed by a team only a couple of months prior.

In Cape Arnhem there was so much we decided to target specific items on 3 beaches. The first day yielded over 100 thongs, then the next day 331 cigarette lighters, again just the tip of the iceberg.

The kids had so many questions about the origins of the rubbish that it stimulated some interesting discussion, and hopefully it has made them more aware of the consequences of using “throwaway” plastics everyday. You can teach that in a classroom but the impact of hand-on experience is far greater.

Categories: 4WD, australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Kids Travel, Offroad | Tags: | 1 Comment

Eucla – Jetty and Telegraph Station

The modern day settlement of Eucla lies half way across the Nullarbor Desert, 11km from the border of WA and SA. a few kilometers away, below the escarpment, advancing sand dunes have marched on the old telegraph station. Not far beyond, the remnants of a sturdy wooden jetty on the desolate beach, final fragments of a port established in the 1870’s, cling to their structure. The telegraph line followed shortly after in the same decade and the settlement became an important repeater station on the line between Albany and Adelaide.

Ironically, it was a plague of introduced rabbits in the 1890’s that ate all vegetation that led to destabilisation of the dunes that went on to engulf the settlement, that was relocated  to the nearby escarpment.

 

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure, West Australia | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Road Trip Activities #1 – Birding

Big road trips with kids can be challenging, but when you plan to spend over a year on the road, that’s a lot of travelling. You know that you have to keep the kids occupied somehow or the relentless chants of “Are we there yet?” or “I’m bored” from the back seat are going to send you insane.

Our friends set us many challenges before we left, but an obvious one was to spot as many birds as we could given the plan was to travel as widely as time permitted.

Not being particularly knowledgeable I set an arbitrary target of spotting 200 species on the trip, and very soon the kids were trying to outdo one another with their observation skills. We had a field guide, but often a fleeting glimpse from a car window couldn’t be resolved flicking through the pages. Photographs were required – that’s where I came in, but that meant stopping the car to take them. Genius! All of a sudden the trip slowed down and it no longer became a rush from one place to the next. The pace slowed and we learnt how to relax and enjoy everything around us.

The birding did become a bit addictive I must say and those hard core birders we meet scoff at the 300+ total we have amassed on the confirmed sighting list. Nonetheless the kids learnt a lot in the process, to the stage where they could identify birds by the call, and even call them to us by imitating them.

Whether it was stumbling across a cassowary on a bushwalk near Mission Beach, watching flocks of Metallic Starlings flying in to roost at 5.15pm at Chilli Beach, or listening to Whistling Kites in NT, watching the birds has etched many memories from the trip and promises so many more in the future.

 

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Natural World, Photography, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Wollemi National Park

After weeks of rain and promise of a sunny weekend it seemed like everyone had made their minds up they were heading for the last camping trip before Winter. Coorongooba campground in Wollemi National Park beckoned and we headed off a day before the Easter break. The campground lies in the Capertee Valley, reputed to be the widest canyon on the world (not the deepest), approximately 135 km north west of Sydney, and is accessed from the village of Capertee.

The final 10-12km are covered across dirt road, through private property at one stage, leading through eucalypt forest onto a gently sloping grassy area, home in quieter times to a sizeable mob of kangaroos. We saw them on arrival but as the hordes started arriving they disappeared back into the solitude to be found in the forest.

The Capertee river runs below the campground, offering shallow pools for young kids to play in, and within a short walk deeper pools for the adults to swim in.

The campground was also punctuated with many wombat burrows too, and these animals waited until after most folk had retired at night before emerging to graze on the grassy areas. A bright moon helped spotting these creatures, though they could be heard quite clearly grazing close to the tents.

Simon (110AroundOz) took us  on a drive to the Ben Bullen 4WD track, a very picturesque drive that follows a ridge through the hillside, then into a narrowing canyon that requires a steep climb out across a rock face at Baal Bone Gap on the track. Photos don’t do it justice and we didn’t have the time to complete the track and were content to watch trail bikers flying up instead. A challenge for another time.

The trip coincided with Gemboree too, in nearby Lithgow, so we had an excursion to see one of the largest gem shows in the country, immersing ourselves in all things lapidary for a few hours.

This area has so much to offer, with some beautiful, highly accessible National Park campsites such as Newnes in the Wolgan Valley and Dunns Swamp to the north, as well as private camps like Turon Gates. Unfortunately, they are no secret and Easter holidays brought crowds that resulted in daily morning queues for the two toilets that were up to ten deep for several hours.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, National Park, Natural World, Offroad, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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