Tuesday 26th June Brisbane!
I landed in Brisbane around 7.30am. The first thing I learned about Brisbane was the following.
The second thing I learned was that many people may be in depression in Australia and need help, as this is the advert I had in front of me while being on the loo. Sad. Toilets are really a great place to learn about the city where you land.
Then I took the train from the airport on Gold Coast to Park Road and then from Park Road to Manly, where my cousin lives. I had the feeling of being in the countryside of England. Everything was exactly the same! The trains platforms, the signs with the names of cities on it, the suburb landscape outside of the window, the inside of the train. Even the people looked British. Even the voice announcing the stations where we were arriving seemed the same. Even the whistling of the wind in the windows while the train was working. Even the weather, cloudy, rainy and cold! What a weird feeling! In the train, I discovered one Australian character though, Jim, the scout boy who behaves correctly and is an example that people in trains should follow. Funny.
I spent a bit of time looking at this sign telling people to leave their seats to these people, the pregnant woman, the wounded person, the disabled person and the old person. But the old person here was represented two times, standing and sitting. I spent some time wondering if these were two different icons or not. It gave me a hard time. Australia is full of mysteries, for sure.
I got in Manly and met on the platform my remote cousin Dalisay and her twins of 5 years old, Max and Finn. It was the first time we were meeting, but family has this magic link that makes you close immediately. Dalisay is the grand-daughter of Henri, who migrated from France to Australia in 1928. Henri was the brother of my great-grand-father on my mother side. So we both have the same great-great-grand-father basically, although for her it is her great-grand-father as she is from the generation level of my mum. Surely you are lost lol. I am still a bit lost too actually ahah. Anyway, the generations always kept in touch across the ocean and here I was now, meeting my remote cousin, welcoming me with open arms and a huge smile.
She told me that that rainy weather was the worst that they had got in Brisbane since 4 years! For me, it just looked like some normal British weather so I didn’t feel too lost about it, ahah.
In the evening, while cooking, I discovered two funny things: the cooking spray and the oil pop-up pourer. It may also exist in England, but I had never seen these so I found that Australia was really innovative when it comes to cooking tools. Yep.
Wednesday 27th June
We went to the shopping centre in the morning, as I needed to buy a suit for job interviews. I discovered their very sophisticated parking sensor system which tells you exactly how many empty parking spaces are left in each row.
But…It doesn’t seem to always work correctly though. This parking space is occupied and should therefore look red instead of green. As much as I was impressed 5 minutes before, I was disappointed now.
I got lost in Target, a huge shop that I think we also have in England, in which I was just trying to find a swimming suit. I realised how much I had not missed shopping for the 7 months travelling during which I didn’t have to do it at all! You loose so much energy just going around to find stuff in shops where there is not a single staff person to help you out. Beeee…I hate shopping!
I spent the afternoon updating this blog. Before to start looking for jobs actively, I had that necessity to turn that page of travelling by being up-to-date on there.
Thursday 28th June
I finally finished publishing all articles on this blog. The blog is up-to-date! Yihaaa! It feels really good.
In the evening, I went to meet my friend Aude from high school, in the city centre. She has been living in Brisbane for 4 years now, and came to travel with me in Malaysia in April. When I arrived in the city centre, I felt really dizzy with all those high buildings surroundings me, all this concrete and so few trees and all those cars, and all these people walking so fast going somewhere. I realised I had not been in such a huge city since I had left London in last November. Perth had been much smaller and quiet. I felt out of place at first…
It was awesome to see Aude and her husband Raja and we had great Mexican food and Margarita.
Friday 29th June
Tonight, there were some possums in the trees in front of the house.
This week-end, with Dalisay, Martin, Max and Finn, we are going to a nearby island called Stradbroke Island! Here is the map of the area. Robina is on the Gold Coast, near the airport where I landed.
I wonder if people on depression go to Hope Island instead of the agency which made the airport advert…Or maybe they go to “Beaudesert” and get some nice chocolate puddings when they feel down. Nothing ever better than just a little bit of sugar….
Still a bit of travelling and discovery coming up, cooool! Hopefully, we see some whales as it whales seasons from May to October, yihaa!! What a world here, what a wild continent! 🙂
And….I AM UP TO DATE WITH THE BLOG!!!! Finally!!!! Yihaaaa!!!
I think this didn’t happen since…since when..uhm..I think since end of February when I was in Cat Ba island with my dad in Vietnam! It took me 4 months! Pfiou!
Friday 8th June to Saturday 23rd June – La Petite Képa
I am going to write only this article about these 2 weeks and half spent again in Indonesia as we just went to one place where we simply chilled out and dived. We got to Bali on 8th June and slept in Kuta one night.
Then we took a plane from Bali to Kupang on the 9th June and then from Kupang to Kalabahi on Alor on the 10th June. Then a bemo, then a little boat, and here we were, in La Petite Képa.
I borrowed here the excellent maps of La Petite Képa website to give you a better idea of where it is.
Here is Indonesia, and circled in red is the Alor area.
A closest look on Alor area.
A very good closest look to understand where La Petite Képa is exactly.
Here is the link to the website of La Petite Képa.
On La Petite Képa, there is a small village of about 40-60 inhabitants, on one side. On the other side, there is a French couple, Anne and Cédric, and their 2 daughters Lila and Anouk, and the divers coming here like us, about 10-15 people in general. And no other tourists at all, no other businesses or hotels, nothing else!!! A little paradise!!! A world at the end of the world, undiscovered from most of the rest of the world except a few divers, still a bit wild and protected. A real treasure.
Anne and Cédric have been renting this land since 14 years now, and built some beautiful bungalows to host people, mostly divers. They speak fluent Indonesian and try to abide by the Indonesian culture as much as possible. They are known by many Indonesians in this Alor area, and are liked by people here. They hired a few Indonesian people from the island who cook and clean for them and much more and they do a really great job.
They have built 2 family bungalows and 9 other bungalows, with different styles.
We stayed in one the closest to the sea, with no bathroom and one one floor. Still one hammock hanging there, awesome for some naps in the afternoon. Here is the gorgeous view we had of the sea when walking around.
There were 4 shared toilets, quite basic. You use fresh water with the basket (called mandi) to pour on yourself and take a shower. It is only cold water, but the weather is so hot that it works out fine. You use salty water for the toilets.
In the morning, the breakfast was ready from 6.30am onwards. We got to the kitchen, met there in the morning, had breakfast together with the others and then walked to the boat. Here is the dining room.
The first 7 days, I still had my cold from Australia, and my ears were too bad for me to manage to dive. When you dive, you need ears that you can use to decompress while you descend and ascend. If your ears are blocked, you can’t dive as the pressure is too painful and can damage them. Annoying! So I just relaxed, chilled out, read books. They had a great library, including lots of books in French.
Luckily, the last 6 days I could dive every day. So, every morning, the boat departed at 7.30am and we went for 2 dives on 2 different sites and came back between 1pm and 3pm for lunch.
Here is the boat that departed every morning at 7.30am, picture taken before a night dive.
Cédric and Bram, an Indonesian guy he has trained to make him a dive instructor too, were taking us every day to fantastic sites for 2 dives. Around La Petite Képa, there is Alor, and also the islands of Pura, Ternate and Pantar. Sometimes we saw dolphins travelling in groups of 15-20, cruising the ocean, and jumping out of the water a lot. So beautiful although I didn’t get that great shots as they were so quick I was more admiring them than taking photos, ahah.
Once we saw a mola-mola (called also moon fish) jumping out of the water, but very fast. And another day, a mola-mola which had been caught by a fisherman. Poor mola-mola.
On the last two days, we saw some whales, each alone each time. We spotted them because of the water they were sending as geysers while surfacing but they were really far away.
The afternoon, we were all exhausted, and just chilling out. Looking at the dive books to find the fishes etc we had seen underwater, taking a nap in the hammock, reading books, and sometimes going snorkelling right in front of our bungalows.
On the last day, I went snorkelling with a German guy, Marc, who knew exactly where to go to observe the black-tip sharks. There were 5 of them that kept cruising around. They were shy at first, but then got closer and closer, curious to see which kind of fish we were. Black-tip sharks are not dangerous at all, and it is fascinating and magic to be able to observe them underwater. We stayed in this shallow water spot where they were cruising for about 45 minutes, as quiet as possible, not moving, breathing the slowest possible to not scare them. I was really really cold, continuously shaking, but couldn’t get out of the water as it was so magic. I wish I had known about that spot immediately. I think I would have spent all my afternoons there, every day!
Marc had a cool underwater camera. Here is a shot he took on which you can see 4 of the black tip sharks at the same time.
Photo Copyright: Marc Witte
Here is a picture of one from closer.
Photo Copyright: Marc Witte
In the evening, the diner was served every day around 7.30pm. We were gathering all together in the kitchen and ate and then stayed around a bit, talking, laughing, playing cards. We met a lot of different people during these two weeks: Spanish, American, Australians, Germans, French, Swiss…
Then around 9pm, people were usually starting going to bed, little by little.
And that was it for 2 weeks and half! I had travelled so much and so fast almost non-stop since end of January when Neringa had come to join me on my trip, that I really needed a rest, a real holiday.
I found Western Australia so beautiful that when still there, I had decided to go next to the East Coast to discover this beautiful part of Australia too, including the work culture. As soon as I had arrived in Bali, I had applied for a working holiday visa that I got granted the next day. Amazingly fast. It is really a chance to be born in a country which gives you such an opportunity like this, and I was conscious of that that day more than ever. I had also looked for tickets and bought a flight for the 25th June from Bali to Gold Coast for 340 dollars. Any plane after that date was more than 400 dollars, so the prices determined the date I booked.
Sunday 24th June – From La Petite Képa to Bali
I left La Petite Képa. Saying good-bye to Michael was hard and felt weird. Again, as with Anais, Neringa, Aude and my dad, we had travelled a long time together, discovered a lot of things together every day and suddenly this was coming to an end. And as usual, I felt we could have done more, shared more, and wait, I forgot to tell you this and that, and we forgot to do this and that together. I felt a bit down that day, although luckily I was leaving the island with Olivier and Anne, a French couple with who I had dived who were really cool and interesting. They are dive instructors currently living in the Adaman Sea, and before that were working 2 years in the Maldives for example! We took the plane together at 9.25am with Merpati going to Kupang.
In Kupang, they took the next plane of 11am also with Merpati, going to Bali. Knowing the reputation of Merpati always being late, I had booked the plane of 1.30pm with Garuda.
While waiting for that plane alone, reading a book and drinking a coffee outside, feeling a bit strange and lost with this sudden change, three dolphins came to play with me and cheer me up. It was three guys, Charlie, an American, and Nathan and Rob two Australians. Three surfers who had arrived the day before in Kupang with the idea of taking a ferry to the nearby island of Rote to go surfing there, but were stranded because the ferries were cancelled for a few days as the sea was rough. I call them dolphins because that’s exactly the effect they had on me. They were really cool.
We sat there and we played funny games. One game was a telepathy game. One guy leaves and the other ones choose an object they will think of. The guy comes back and one of the others asks “Do you think the object I am thinking of is…xxx?” and the guy needs to guess from the tone of voice, the body language, etc, if that’s the correct object or not. And the funny thing is that it actually worked, which was just weird. Or maybe they do have some tricks to make it work that they didn’t share with me and I am just really naïve ahahahah. But whatever, that was really a cool game and we had fun.
Another cool game was the “wrong answer” game. I ask you a question, for example “In which city are we now?” or “Which colour is that?” or “How many questions did I ask you already?” etc and you always have to answer a wrong answer. The funny thing is that there is always one point where you spontaneously can’t control yourself and you give a right answer! Quite cool game, we had a good laugh.
When we arrived in Bali, they went to Kuta which was an easier spot for them to go surfing, while I went to Sanur. There, I met again with Olivier and Anne. In the evening we went for a delicious pizza.
Monday 25th June – Bali, going to Brisbane
Last day in Bali, did some quick shopping, and said good-bye to Anne and Olivier.
And there I was, in the plane of 5pm to Kuala Lumpur first.
I got there at 7.25pm. I met in the queue of the transfer area Bianca, an Australian girl from Melbourne who at 23 years old had already lived in Mexico, Indonesia, Hawai, and was really interesting and cool! Then I was in the plane to Brisbane at 9pm. My first neighbour was a young Brazilian guy who had flown to Kuala Lumpur from Saigon, coming back from 48 days quick discovery of South-East Asia and finishing now his year-off Brazil that he had spent mostly in Australia. My other neighbour was a Khmer guy from Phnom Penh who was going to Australia for a month to work with Australians about his NGO for orphan children.
And here we were soon, arriving in Brisbane on the 26th June, at 7.25am!
Tuesday 5th June
We got picked up at 7am by the tour guide Dan in a Toyota VB4500 + little caravan to transport food and put our small bag. In the car were already 7 other people: John from Manchester, England who had worked in finance before, and his girlfriend Steph from Wales, who had worked there as a zookeeper. They had been travelling/working for 5 months in Australia with the working holiday visa and were planning to stay 12 months in total. Then were Jane and Luke from Belfast. They had been living in Australia for 4 years and were working as emergency doctors. They were now going to Asia for 2 months and then to London to live there. Then there was Maria. She was from Sweden, and had been travelling for 3 months in Australia, and was now going to work as a baby-sitter in Darwin for a few weeks. There was also Lena, from Germany, who had been working as a baby-sitter for 10 months in Sydney, with one spent on a farm nearby. She was staying a few more days in Darwin and then going to Perth, seeing a bit of Western Australia before to fly back to Germany. And the last one was John, the only Australian in the car! He was living near Sydney and working as a police officer there, but his wife family was from Darwin so they were visiting quite often there, and he had finally decided to go to see Kakadu as it is quite a highlight around Darwin. It was a nice bunch of people, everyone in their twenties or early thirties.
We started the trip by going on a cruise on Adelaide river to see the jumping crocodiles. These crocodiles are “salties”, bigger and more dangerous than “freshies”. If you fall in the river, forget about it, you are dead! They will come and swallow you within a second…
On our way to there, we saw a beautiful eagle posed on a fence.
The cruise was about an hour and we first saw Hannibal. Apparently, he is one of the oldest crocodile of the river. He is about 6 meters long, the longest one being 7 meters long.
Two girls, one on each side of the boat, were attaching some meat on a rope and swinging it above the water while the driver was telling us more about the crocodiles. One thing he pointed was that they are very careful about which crocodiles they feed, and they make sure that these crocodiles don’t rely on them. He insisted that these crocodiles are free to come and go, to approach the boat or not, and there has been no capturing or training of them.
The crocodiles were approaching and then jumping to catch the meat. Here is one crocodile approaching.
Here is one crocodile jumping to try to catch the meat.
Here again. See how he his missing his left leg? Apparently, they also attack each other, and they can have quite intense fights.
Later, the girls were also throwing little pieces of meat to eagles. These eagles are the only birds that can eat immediately what they catch while flying. Usually birds catch something and then land somewhere to eat their prey.
On the way to Kakadu, we saw some jabirus. Dan explained that they are usually in pair. The one with a yellow eye is the female, while the one with a black eye is the male.
After about an hour drive, we started entering Kakadu. On the left at some point, we saw some black cackadoos flying away. These are very rare birds, seen only in a few places in Australia apparently.
We also saw some wild horses crossing the road.
These horses were really beautiful, but Dan explained that there were too many of them, and they were not native, and destroying the land, so at some point each year some hunters were hired to shoot them, tons of them. I found that quite sad. So many people like horse riding, and buying a horse in Europe is so expensive. It made me consider that if some passionate riders were coming here to capture some of these horses and train them so that they could be mounted, instead of some other people killing them, then these horses would know a nicer fate than being killed. They would not be wild anymore, but at least they would not be dead. But it is maybe naïve to think that it would be that easy to train them, or maybe their nature is to be wild and they can’t be trained. Or maybe they would prefer to be dead than to loose their freedom. Maybe. Who knows.
We arrived at this river where we stopped for some quick sandwich lunch.
Then we drove until Gunlom camping where we parked and installed the tents. Then we climbed a bit and arrived at the top from which we had a beautiful view of the surroundings.
There we could swim in a few ponds. The water was not too cold. I still had my cold, especially my ears were getting more and more blocked, but it was a too beautiful place to not enjoy it and swim there, and in the next places we went on that 3-day trip.
Here is the view from the bottom one. Not bad…
Here is the waterfall, which falls into another natural swimming pool, close to our camping ground.
After this good swim, we watched the sunset from the top which was gorgeous as always in Australia!
We came back to the campground, made a fire, had a great meal, played (or tried to play) some didgeridoo, and listened to the great stories that Dan told us. He was a young guy in his thirties, a pure Australian, huge fan of the outback. He had lived near Adelaide as a kid, had learned surfing when he was 4, had learned about the bush directly from aboriginals for who he had a huge understanding and respect, and had been a guide at Uluru in Alice Spring and then now in Kakadu. He really was a well of knowledge, and knew how to tell lots of anecdotes about other tourist trips he had done which made us laugh a lot. Awsome guide, the best we could have had!
Wednesday 6th June
We woke up quite early, had some breakfast. Dan was using a really cool coffee machine similar to the ones used in Italy, but a bit lighter to carry and maybe more adapted to boiling on wood fire. I had never seen one like this, it was really original!
After breakfast, Dan drove us to a nearby start point of walks called Yurmikmik walks. We walked first to the most “remote” fall, called Kurrundie Creek Falls. The landscape to get there was quite nice.
We swam in this natural swimming pool, at the bottom of the fall. That fall was quite special, with a rock blocked between the stones, as if it was going to fall.
Then we walked to the second fall, called Motor Car Creek Falls, gorgeous too.
Some of us swam there. This natural swimming pool was nice too.
There were some beautiful big spiders nearby.
We walked back to the parking and drove 3 minutes to another parking area where there was a huge table. That table was already being used by 2 men and one woman, but had enough space to be shared. Dan started bringing some food there, and the woman overreacted. While Dan was being at first polite and cheerful, saying hello, she got really pissed off that we were also coming to use “their” table. Dan stopped being polite and they both started arguing a bit, her saying “Pfff! Guides! They are always like this, so unrespectful of the others!” while he was replying back “This table is enough big for everyone to use! You are from Victoria right? I am not surprised. Only people from Victoria could react like you!” Funny. Australians from different country areas having a row. Ah ah ah. For us, foreigners, that was interesting. He was quite pissed off, but said that it is really really rare to meet so unfriendly people like her, and he couldn’t remember this situation happening before. Anyway, they moved away, and we had a nice lunch after all.
For desert, we could eat a bit of this flower that Dan had showed us the day before. It tastes a bit like lemon, a bit bitter.
In the afternoon, we walked to the third waterfall in Boulder Creek. We had a great swim, so good that I actually forgot to take pictures there, ahah! After that, we drove back to Gunlom campsite. It was about 4pm and we could chill out a bit. Some went swimming in the waterfall at the bottom. It was a really gorgeous and wide natural swimming pool, about 21 degrees maybe.
Thursday 7th June
Here is the ground on which we had put our tents.
We first drove to the biggest termite mound that Dan had found so far in this park. Here is our car nearby the termite mound.
He told us a great deal about termites. These insects are incredible. We had seen many termite mounds during our road trip, but I had not suspected how smart and important for the environment these insects were. This termite mount for example, is probably about 80 to 100 years old! One queen finds a king. They build up a nuptial chamber, at the bottom. Then they make a few kids, first a few builders. Those builders start making the mount bigger. Then she ponds more eggs and makes a few hunters who get out and bring back some food. And a few soldiers to fight and defend the termite mound. The ants are their bigger enemy. If the ants manage to kill the queen, then all termites don’t know what to do anymore, and all of them die, the termites mount gets deserted, the ants manage to take the place. Only one queen lives in a termite mount. She can live for years and years. Termites have a huge role in the eco-system because they chew and process the ground and for other reasons I can’t remember exactly. Amazing termites.
After, he drove us to Nourlangie where he took us around thousands years old Aboriginal paintings on stone like this one. This one is Nabulwinjbulwinj. He is a dangerous spirit who eats women after striking them with a yam. What women are taught is to never do things alone in order to protect them from this spirit. Actually that’s a very wise thing to avoid them being harassed, raped or killed.
Again, Dan knew a great deal about these paintings, and was a great lecturer. We learned a lot about this art. Some of the paintings are thought to be 100,000 years old!
Then we drove to Mirrai Lookout. We had some lunch there, and then had a quick walk to a viewpoint from which we had a great view over the park, and could see 40-50 kilometers away.
It was now time to head back to Darwin. On the way, we stopped in a shop selling Aboriginal art, paintings and beautifully painted and carved didgeridoos.
And that was it, end of the 3-day trip! We were back to Darwin around 7pm. Marcel was waiting for us in his flat with a great dinner, and we got some good red wines to enjoy with.
Tomorrow…back to Indonesia for a bit!
Let’s go diving at the end of the end of the world, in La Petite Képa, near Alor!
Wednesday 30th May Litchfield to Darwin
Here we were, waking up on the basic campsite of Litchfield National Park. We started the day by having some breakfast at Wangi Falls, and then a swim there. The water was about 22-23 degrees.
After this swim, we drove to Florence Falls. First, we went to see it from the top.
Then we walked down and saw it from closer. Some people were swimming there too, and Francesca joined them while we just hanged around, taking photos or sitting on stones, with Chrissy and Michael.
Then we did a small walk called the Shady Creek Walk that took us around the falls through some beautiful scenery with nice little rivers.
Another little river we passed.
Next, we drove to Bulley Rockhole, another pool.
Very nice pool too!
After that, we went to see Cathedral Termite Mounds.
We also saw some other termite mounds that look like grave stones, like sculpted by men. Really impressive ones.
It was around 3pm, time already to drive Francesca to Darwin airport. We parked there, and in the trees of the airport, we saw some colourful rainbow lorikeets.
In the evening, the guys got some pizza, while I finished some pasta we had. Then we went to a camping for a night there.
Thursday 31st May
We woke up quite late and chilled out. We went for some shopping at the huge Woolworth, and then the boys went to the beach while I went for an hour free wifi at the public library.
In the late afternoon, we went to the Sunset Market. People were watching together the sunset on the beach. It was almost a shock for us, after 3 weeks seeing almost no one on the road and having sunsets just for ourselves.
The colours were really beautiful.
The market was quite nice, with lots of people around and diverse stalls.
I discovered the books of Monte Dwyer, an Australian who was presenting the meteo before in a sensational way apparently, and then travelled in Australia back and forth, and wrote 3 books so far about his experiences of meeting Australians from all over the place.
There was a concert of didgeridoo and the guy playing was really good.
Many people were enjoying his music and dancing like crazy, including a lot of aboriginals. They really have the sense of music under their skin, they were dancing really well.
After the sunset market, we went to the casino.
The guys went to play poker while I played the roulette, betting 30 dollars, with 5 dollars on black or red each time. I could have stopped with 40 dollars at some point, but I continued playing and lost 5 dollars finally. Not too much, and I had quite some fun. There was an Asian guy betting huge sums of money, and he told me he had already lost 1,500 dollars that evening. Sounds like he lost 500 more dollars there on top! Not that fun.
Friday 1st June
We went to the Wicked Campers headquarter and gave back the van.
We discovered at that moment that hitting wild animals was not covered by the insurance.
So the bump made because of the kangaroo accident was not covered by the extra 550 dollars insurance we had taken. The guy looked at the bump and estimated the repair cost at 1,500 dollars. Divided by 4 people, we had to pay each 375 dollars.
We stayed at Wicked campers all afternoon. It was a bit strange to have given back the camper. We had been on the road for 3 weeks, in a kind of bubble, driving on deserted roads, seeing almost no one, cooking ourselves, sleeping in the van. And suddenly the trip was over, we were there in Darwin, and not really sure what we wanted to do next, quite a bit lost to be honest.
Chrissy left around 3pm to go to the airport to catch his flight at 6pm back to Germany. With Michael we stayed until Wicked Campers closed at 4.30pm. Then we walked about 10 minutes to the nearby youth hostel where we took a double bedroom for 80 dollars. Definitely not the same prices and quality as in Asia! We walked to the beach we had been the day before and walked there to enjoy the sunset. As there was no market, not many people were around that evening. We saw a nice pigeon we had seen many times during this trip that I finally photographed!
On the beach, we found each an hermit crab and put them in a little hole and surrounded them by a bigger round.
Michael explained me that this was a huge betting game in Fiji Islands. If you had bet on the hermit crab which got first out of the round, then you would win the pot. Unfortunately, our hermit crabs were a bit lazy, and didn’t move that much out of the hole. We left them there…
The sunset was gorgeous that evening too.
And the moon was almost full. Another month had passed.
We went back to Woolworth and bought some food to prepare a quick cold dinner in the shared kitchen of the youth hostel. It was really crowded, and we were not really in the mood of chatting with people, so we cooked quickly, got ourselves a table and went to bed quite tired quite early.
Saturday 2nd June
We spent the day using the wifi of the youth hostel and trying to decide what we wanted to do next. This road-trip had delighted me with so beautiful landscapes. I wanted to see more of Australia, so I decided that I should go to see the East Coast too. But as it was expensive, it would be worth working there too, and not only travel. On top of that, a great way to discover the Australian work culture. And for that I needed a working holiday visa. But in order to apply for the working holiday visa…I had to be outside of Australia, ahah.
We looked for flights to Bali and the cheapest one was with Jetstar on the 8th June, so we booked that and decided that meanwhile we would try to find a tour to go to Kakadu National Park for 3 days. Ahhh…Relief…We were now a bit less lost!
Remember Véronique I had met in Laos, in Phongsaly, and with who I had had a motorbike accident? She was originally living in Darwin. She was still in France, in re-education, her knee still giving her a really hard time. She put me in touch with some of her friends living in Darwin. Her French-Australian friend Kevin came to pick us up and dropped us at her Dutch-Australian friend Marcel’s place who was kind to welcome us in his flat for a few nights. The first evening, they both had some wedding party, so we chilled out while they were out.
Sunday 3rd June
We went with Marcel to a Café place nearby were people from Europe gathered to speak French. It was a funny morning. Then we went to another market where we had some smoothies and some food. There was a man making animals with balloons for the delight of the children around.
In the afternoon, Michael and I spent some time at a travel agent in the town centre and booked a 3-day tour to Kakadu for the 5th to 7th June. Then we stopped at Woolworth to get some food to cook a nice meal for our host and came back by bus and a bit of walking. We saw another beautiful sunset on the sea.
Monday 4th June
We didn’t do much that day. We had been running so much for the last 3 weeks that we enjoyed doing nothing. Chilled out, chatted with Marcel, surfed on internet. I went to the nearby 50 meters pool which was really beautiful. The day passed quickly.
Next 3 days, Kakadu!!!!
Monday 28th May East of Kununurra
Here was the little lake in front of our camping in Kununurra.
There were lots of birds in it, close to the shore. I wish I knew all the names. Here is a coloured ibis.
And possibly this one is a red finch.
And this one.
And that one.
And also that one.
Et voilà. We drove away, stopped at a small gallery called Zebra rock, in which they were selling beautiful stones used as jewels, specific stones called zebra stones. Then we went to the supermarket to buy some food. We had finished all our vegetables etc the days before, as we were now going to enter that day the Northern Territories. In Australia, they don’t want you to carry food from one state to another, but we checked and it was ok to buy some in Pununurra as it was at the border. So here we were shopping a bit. Then we went to a nice river that Chrissy had spotted and wanted to check out from closer.
On the bridge from which we were looking at it was a truck making the lines for the road.
Here was some other beautiful landscape on our way to another national park.
We arrived at Mirima National Park, which has some rock formations called the “Little Bungle Bungle”, in reference to the “Bungle Bungle” located in Purnululu National Park that we had not gone too because the road to get there is a 4-wheels drive only. This Little Bungle Bungle was quite nice too.
We took a small trail and here was some view from the top.
We stopped a bit higher and this was the view on my left from where I was standing.
It was quite windy and the wind took off my head the cap of Chrissy I was wearing most of the time. I had to get done a bit to find it. I had thought to walk around the rock, but it was quite bushy, so I went up again and this time it’s my only packed sandwich wrapped in aluminium that fell again where the cap had fallen. So I had to get back down again to take it and then up again. Some days, sometimes, elements are really against us, and especially that law of gravity that makes some objects fall all around you more than usual on your unlucky days. Why? Weird.
We hit the road again, in the direction of Lake Argyle. Here was the view in front of us. Quite foggy, because of a fire we were going to see really soon.
First, we saw a beautiful river on our left.
Here we were, approaching the fire area, seeing lots of birds flying around.
This bush fire looked pretty bad.
The scenery around was now really fire-foggy.
We saw also the fire on the hill a few minutes later.
We arrived at Lake Argyle 30 minutes later, and chilled out a bit there, enjoying the view. Lake Argyle is the biggest man-made fresh water lake created ever. It was already a lake before, but was made bigger by creating a dam on it. It apparently had a positive impact as the marine life soon developed there a lot, and more birds and other animals were attracted to live there too.
From the view point, we could see the huge smoke of the fire where we had passed with the car.
As we didn’t want to get blocked by the fire, we didn’t stay too long at Lake Argyle and hit the road again.
We saw the sunset from the road again, through the trees. We refilled our tank in Timber Creek. And we drove at night again, as we had done so many times the previous two weeks. The thing is…That’s when the animals become more active, such as kangaroos and bats, and emeus, and even cows. We had been lucky not to hit any so far, as most of the accidents take place at that moment, at twilight and beginning of the night. And it happened that evening. We were driving and we hit a kangaroo. It happened so fast, maybe not even 5-10 minutes after we had left Timber Creek. The kangaroo jumped from nowhere, and “blip”, we just drove on it at 80 km/hour, like if it had just been some bump on the road and here we were, continuing to drive almost like if nothing had happened. But we had just killed a kangaroo. That’s horrible. I had never killed an animal in my life, it is sad and terrible. Australians are maybe used to it, but still, you are there, driving, or as a passenger, and suddenly this happens, and an animal is dead. It is not just nothing. It shouldn’t be considered as “oh yeah just killed one”. It is an animal after all. It is really sad and we are not Australians, not used to this, and we were shaken.
A few days later, in Kakadu, we would meet a few Australians who would tell us that they had killed more than 10 kangaroos each, and that there is nothing you can do about it, that’s it, get over it.
The fact is also that those kangaroos are really really dumb animals. How come sheeps that are grazing near the road rarely get hit? Because those sheeps are not crossing the road in front of you! Kangaroos are just so stupid, they don’t get it, they just jump on the road. One kangaroo a few minutes later just jumped right in the middle and froze there as if saying “Kill me, kill me!”. We had stopped the car and just waited for him to go away! Stupid animal! Anyway…
We looked for the next rest area to stop as soon as we could, and there was nothing until about 40 more minutes. We finally could stop. Cook. Chill out. Sleep.
Tuesday 29th May From rest area to Litchfied
Here is how the car looked because of the kangaroo we had hit. It was actually pretty serious.
We took the road again, here was some landscape we had in the morning.
We saw a bunch of cyclists on the road at some point. Quite rare!
We passed another fire, and there were the birds again flying all around.
We did a quick stop for lunch in Mitmiluk to see the waterfall there.
We saw a pretty spider.
Then we drove until a small town where we bought some alcohol in this shop.
Nearby was a kind of abandoned garden with a handsome old car.
Here was the sky already at 3.19pm on our watch. Quite cloudy which was rare, and made the sun disappear more quickly. Still it seemed early for such a low light.
The thing is, Darwin is 1h30 ahead of Perth, and for a good reason as you can tell that the old time on our watch didn’t fit, so we decided not to wait and to change clock now. It wasn’t 3.20pm anymore, but 4.50pm. Made more sense suddenly!
We drove to Litchfield National Park where we stopped for the night, near some waterfall we could hear from the van.
Tomorrow, exploring Litchfied and then up to Darwin!
Saturday 26th May From Mary Pool to Wyndham
Mary Pool rest area was close to a nice river where we could observe different birds, like this jabiru seen from afar and this white ibis, and a few more.
While we were having breakfast, there was this grey bird hanging around, greedy for some food and not shy at all.
We stopped on the bridge nearby the rest area that we had crossed in the night to arrive there. Here was the river it was on.
Nearby was a cockatoo tree. I knew that bird fruit, the cockatoo, but I had never seen the tree on which this bird fruit was growing, so it was cool to see where it came from. Yep.
We drove the whole way north to Wyndham that day. Not much to say apart from the fact that the landscape was as beautiful as always on this road.
Here are a few pictures.
Ohhhh!!! What a big carrrrrrr!!!!
Ah…Australia…Just too beautiful things all the time! Tirering. (Yawning)
We arrived in the tiny city of Wyndham, where by that time the wicked camper had learned to fill its tank itself, as it was already the 20th time we were filling it again! Good boy. Learning fast.
There were some cool frogs hanging around the kitchen and also in the bathroom at the camping where we stayed. Here is the frog of the kitchen.
Woooo…And we had a shower that evening!!! Yeah!!! After 3 nights without, it was awesome and enjoyable!
Sunday 27th May From Wyndham to Kununurra
In the morning, a new bird. So cute the way he was waving his tail all the time.
In the camping was a old baob which was apparently about 1,000 years old! We asked our wicked if he was ok to pause in front of it, and that car is always up for a few photos, with the smile.
We went quickly to the jetty but there was not much to see there, and no Murphy to who to say hello either. So we drove to the “5 rivers lookout” and there was another astonishing landscape to look at.
Again, not much to write here, more to show you. Aouuuu!!!!
After that lookout, we drove in the direction of Paroons Reserve but didn’t make it to the end as the road was an unsealed road.
It was really tricky to drive on it for us, so we stopped at some point and enjoyed the view from where we were, a view which was not that bad anyway.
There was a beautiful tree with yellow flowers, a nice contrast with the surrounding landscape.
We saw an eagle which was flying around hunting and often coming back to that branch.
Then we drove to a place called “The Grotto”. A beautiful landscape there too.
We went down to some little water pond.
There we saw this varung, similar to the ones going around in Bangkok.
We saw the sunset from the road.
We passed a nice river while on our way to Kununurra.
We arrived in Kununurra in the evening, parked our van on the campground and went to a street where there was a street party going on.
The Germans all got some fish and chips fast food that they ate there while we sat and listened to some nice band playing Johnny Cash and other music. I was more up for some pasta pesto on the campground, so I went to the kitchen and there were 5 guys playing guitar together really well, while other people were listening and chilling out, this mix created a really nice atmosphere. I talked with a French guy who was 21 and had come here on a working holiday visa. His job was to fix the plumbing and do other repairs in government houses in which Aboriginal people were living and told me he was making three times more money than in France and was happy to be here for the experience and practising English. There were actually a lot of French people working there and Kununurra seemed to be a nice place to choose if willing to work in Western Australia.
Tomorrow, heading further east!
Thursday 24th May Somewhere before Tunnel Creek
Here was the rest area on which we stayed for the night.
We started seeing our first baobab called in Australia “baob” and typical from the Kimberley region in which we were now.
We saw also huge termite mounds like this one.
We passed gorgeous rivers, like that one.
On the bank of this river were some ibis like this one.
Here is a typical picture of the Kimberley region, baob, cows and termite mound.
Another baob, close to the road we were driving on.
We took left, an unsealed road, with the idea of going to Tunnel Creek and if possible to Windjana Gorge. After about an hour though, we realised that our wicked camper was not made for that road. On top of that, we realised we would not have enough petrol in the tank to make it to Windjana gorge and back until Fitzroy Crossing, the next petrol stop. Ideally, we should have driven to Derby, refilled there, and then taken the road from above, right to Windjana Gorge, then to Tunnel Creek and off to Fitzroy Crossing in that order. We stopped a 4-wheel drive high clearance that was coming our way, and checked with them. It was an Australian couple in their late fifties who had a great car, 2 spare wheels, extra-fuel, and a GPS to know the exact distance they were covering. Well equipped for this kind of road, not like us, but hey we were newbies, and doing the best we could…So we turned back. Luckily, we had spotted some other little rocks that looked interesting to explore and went for that. We didn’t even know the name of that little area. According to the map, it could be the Brockling Gorge? Maybe, or maybe not.
In any case, it was beautiful to explore too. We climbed the rocks seen here on this picture.
From there was a stunning view over the rocks and the plain. We could also see a little lake below.
While walking down to that little lake, we could see the rocks from closer.
This area seemed perfectly appropriate for prehistoric people to live in, and I could imagine people making a fire here, sleeping there, painting on those stones.
Close to the river, we met Jenny and John, a couple in their sixties who were from Tasmania, and had lived in the Kimberley many years. They had installed their car and chair next to the river to sleep there that night, and we chose a spot somewhere close to the rocks too to spend the night.
We missed the sunset again, but were rewarded as usual with the after-sunset beautiful colours.
Friday 25th May
Here was the first thing I saw while looking outside the window half-asleep at 6.30am.
We had breakfast and during breakfast a tique bite Francesca. Beeeeee.
It was easy to remove with the biggest of the two tique-removal little fork I had bought in France before to leave for 3 euros! Very hand stuff, and so light to carry. Never go travelling without! You never know!
We drove to Fitzroy Crossing, where we refilled the tank. There were a lot of black kite eagles hovering over the petrol station and some Aboriginal people in the background sitting.
Here is one black kite just hovering above us.
We took the road going to Geckie Gorge. On the way to there, we saw a new bird we had not seen either before, called a brolga.
We went for a walk along the river. The scenery was really green.
There were lots of birds flying around and we saw a bee-eater eating a dragonfly.
The bee-eater is really a colourful bird.
We walked in the opposite direction and chilled out seating in front of this beautiful view over the river.
We came back to the parking where we had some lunch. We saw this tiny bird chasing the black-kite. Brave bird! Maybe his nest was in danger and he was trying to tell the black-kite not to come to close. The black-kite kept flying around, ignoring him as if it was just a little fly!
We went with about 20 other people on an hour boat ride at 3pm. Here was some of the landscape.
We saw a lot of freshies, the small crocodiles like this one.
We saw also bird nests under rocks.
Some of the scenery was dramatic high cliffs of various colours.
After that boat ride, we hit the road again and missed the sunset again, but enjoyed the after-sunset colours.
We stopped on a rest area called Mary Pool, on the way to Halls Creek.
We made some cool crepes, one with the shape of a moon face.
It was really windy and freezing. My throat was better but I could feel that the cold was not away yet, and on top of that I had a small diarrhea. Yep, even in Australia, or maybe some reminiscence of something from Asia. Ma euh!!!!
Tomorrow, driving North to Wyndham!