May 25 – Coomalie Creek

On the road again we were really aiming for a campsite not too far out of Darwin but not so close that the exorbitant caravan park fees set in. We just needed a springboard to get in to Darwin before midday to pick up the school packs from the post office (which closes at 12 on a Saturday) and then drop some gear out of the car at our accommodation so we had enough space to pick Nanna Fleur up from the airport at about 1pm. We deviated out to Robin falls and enjoyed a nice swim beneath the waterfall. We decided Douglas Hot Springs wasn’t too far off-track so we headed out – unfortunately mis-reading the large road closure information sign at the start (the very large, bright yellow, big lettering, hard to mis-understand sign…). Anyway, we got out only to find roadworks and a closed road that had been washed away in the floods – no access to Douglas Hotsprings. After the Katherine hot springs we were all eager for more thermal-lazing so it was a bit disappointing.

We got back on the highway and stopped for lunch under some shady trees at Adelaide River. Scouring the map we found some possible camps – bush camping was getting a bit tight with fences, houses and people. At Coomalie Creek there was a campground / caravan park along the highway that was essentially two separate paddocks with amenities in between. There was no real reception or check-in but another camper told us to set up wherever and the managers would come around and collect fees.  We found a nice spot with lush grass they had been watering and set up. Soon enough a golf cart pulled up and we negotiated a fee of $20.

GRR frog with ant

A while later the owner of the property came along in a six-wheel drive polaris off-road buggy – we’d eyed the machine off as we drove in and now the boys were being loaded in for a drive around the property. In the end all four of us piled on the front seat – plus the driver – and off we went for a tour around – across the floodplain, through the wetlands, stopping to take photos of a goanna swimming in a billabong. The Polaris went anywhere no matter what bump or swamp or other hurdle was put in front of it – we ended up back in the farm workshop hosing the radiator to cool down an overheated engine!

RV Park Polaris Adventure

Then we had a fish in the small creek but by crikey did that little stream hold some angry aggressive fish!  Josh hooked a small Black Bream and then a better sized one. The next morning we had another go and the tranquil water was a washing machine as Lachie watched his line get dragged under a log and a treble hook got snapped off the lure. Too much fun. We had to hit the road and make for the big smoke – or Darwin anyway.

Everything went pretty smoothly – the drive was straightforward, we found the post office and picked up our school packs – somehow we parked in a no-stopping zone next to a pedestrian crossing and a council ranger on a bike came along to tell us to get a move on – in his words “it’s a Saturday mate – no big deal – you’ll just have to move” – ahhh….we’re liking the Darwin vibe already. Jo – the owner of our accommodation for the week – was great letting us drop some gear in early. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare – lucky because Josh – as always – got identified as the potential terrorist of the group and got the full-body bomb swab. Probably the campfire smoke that is ingrained in his skin from boiling the billy every morning and sitting around a fire every night made them suspicious? Anyway, he got through security and not long after Nanna Fleur’s plane landed and she touched down well north from the cold winter that was setting in down south.

Darwin Waterfront

Essential cocktail ingredients were purchased for our daily sun-downers and we excitedly headed for our apartment that was going to replace the trusty old tent as “home” for the next 10 days. Jo, the owner, had done some research and a bottle of champagne and a nice birthday card were waiting on the table for Amy as we walked in the door. We are staying at Dinah Beach/Stuart Park just out of the CBD of Darwin (two minute drive to everything) and the apartment is fantastic – no unzipping the tent to go for a wee – Josh and Amy even get the ensuite main bedroom.

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