So what can we say, what an amazing holiday. Couldn't have asked for a better way to spend our honeymoon. We are so privileged to have been able to spend time in some of the places we did, it truly is a blessing to have been able to travel our great country.
The people of outback Australia are some of the kindest, laid back and most genuine people you could ever meet. It really is a totally different world out there. You could not get any further from the hustle and bustle of Sydney if you tried.
We met some amazing people on our travels, both in the towns and our fellow like-minded campers. To think that we set up camp and then spend the whole day out exploring, leaving to tent unattended, unlocked, suitcases and belongings inside, chairs and table outside and you come back at night and everything is how you left it. There is a mutual respect and no-one would even think to touch your belongings. Yet at home we close the windows and deadlock the door before driving to the shops for 5 minutes! It really was refreshing being able to live in a world where everyone looks out for each other and respects others and their property .... even if it was unfortunately only for 7 weeks.
Everyone is amazingly friendly, you rarely pass a car without getting a wave (even from the truckies and coppers!). We even had a truck driver stop his truck and get out to warn us about a huge pot hole on one of the dirt tracks we were travelling on. The road train drivers are equally courteous of fellow drivers, a quick chat on the CB will often let you know if its safe to overtake or warn of any upcoming traffic/road issues. It really does remind you that there are still good people in this world, unfortunately in the city many people are just too busy to worry about anyone else but themselves.
Each day we would set up camp and there was always someone walking by, beer in hand, ready to have a chat! Always someone who has been where you are heading and ready to answer questions or give advice and always someone waiting to hear stories of our adventures.
We visited some wonderful places, saw some amazing things and experienced so much. We stood on the northern most point of Australia, drank beer in Australia's most northerly pub (on Thursday Island). We stayed in a refurbished train carriage and went on a tour through million year old volcanic lava tubes at Undarra Volcanic Park. We stayed in an underground motel at Coober Pedy (where 80% of the population live underground), we toured the Rio Tinto bauxite mines in Weipa, learned the history of the gold mines in Tennant Creek and explored an opal mine in Coober Pedy. We saw the sunrise over Uluru and watched the sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta from on top of a camel!
We travelled in the footsteps of some of our early explorers, we followed the Old Ghan Railway line and we had the chance to drive some of the 4WD tracks on every true 4WDers 'must do' list. We drove through bushfires (and even had one surrounding our campground), we survived gale force winds at Captain Billy's Landing and we met Ron and Viv Moon in Cooktown. We ate camel burgers at Kings Canyon and Crayfish pie at Thursday Island! We felt the magic and beauty of being at the Devils Marbles and we were overwhelmed by the sheer size and presence of Uluru. We saw more wildlife than you could ever imagine, birds, eagles, crocodiles, emus, camels, dingoes, lizards, cows, snakes, goats, horses, dogs, sheep, kangaroos. We even had the awesome opportunity to hold and play with a baby orphaned wallaby at Wycliffe Well.
We swam under waterfalls, bathed in the 43 degree natural springs at Innot Hot Springs, drove through croc infested rivers and near cried as we were constantly teased by the fact that we were surrounded by all this crystal clear, bright blue water that we couldn't swim in (crocs, sharks, jellyfish, stingers, snakes .... the list goes on!!)
We were covered in red dirt, went days without a shower, toilets were few and far between at places. We encountered more flies than you could ever imagine (even one in George's beer ... nice surprise!). We got used to eating the odd bug in our dinner and having sand and dirt throughout the car, the tent, the sleeping bags and your belongings was just normal. We encountered a 2 degree night and 40 degree days, wild winds and torrential rain, had dingos stalking us for our dinner and we had spiders living on our chairs. We wore the same clothes more than one day each and washing with baby wipes was the done thing.
But we loved every single part of it, it is all part of the adventure! And at the end of the day, every single person you meet is in the same position as you so no one even comes close to caring!
So to say that we enjoyed our time away is an understatement, we loved every minute of it and cannot wait to get back out there again. The chances of us moving interstate or to a more remote location is definitely more of a possibility now than ever before.
So here is a bit of a summary of our trip.
Total KM travelled 13,367 km
Total time away 49 days (7 weeks)
Total amount of money spent on petrol $4,240.20
Average overall L/100km 18.49 (combination of weight, a batch of bad fuel, low & high range off road driving, highway driving, few days of bad headwinds)
What we missed the most while away The kids, the dogs, family and friends
Best Chips n Gravy Archer River Roadhouse, QLD
Best Coffee Cobar, NSW
Best Burgers Archer River Roadhouse, with Musgrave Roadhouse a very close second
Best Pizza Outback Pioneer Kitchen, Ayers Rock Resort & Alfrescos, Broken Hill
Best meal Loyalty Beach. Not just the food, the whole package .... Food, location, atmosphere and service
Biggest surprise How much we loved Alice Springs, could totally see us living there. Also the sheer size of Uluru.
Most Scenic Flinders Ranges, SA and Finke Gorge National Park, NT (Boggy Hole in particular)
Favourite campground (remote) Bramwell Station and Chili Beach
Favourite campground (city) Cairns Big 4 Coconut Holiday Resort - amazing service and awesome caravan park.
Most expensive petrol Jardine River and Bamaga (Cape York) - $2.55 / litre for normal 91 octane unleaded petrol
Most expensive beer $56 for XXXX Gold cans in Weipa
Most expensive place in general Ayers Rock Resort
Most expensive campsite Kings Creek Station ($19 per person).
Cheapest Campsite any of the National Park camping in Queensland ($5.45 per person)
Biggest rip-off Jardine River Ferry Crossing Ticket & Permit ($129 to cross the Jardine river - about 40 meters wide)! don't have much choice though as the crossing is too deep and dangerous to attempt, and infested with crocodiles!
Biggest Adrenalin Rush Palm Creek, Old Telegraph Track (Cape York)
Best 4WD Track Old Telegraph Track, for its diversity. With the slightly damp CREB track a close second
4WD Tracks driven Old Telegraph Track, Frenchmans Track, Battle Camp Road, CREB Track, Oodnadatta Track (in part), Ernest Giles Road, Mereenie Loop (in part).
States travelled to NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia
What exceeded our expectations Boggy Hole, Uluru
Strangest place Wycliffe Well, NT. Did enjoy our night there, but really is quite a strange little caravan park!
Where we wouldn't go again Captain Billy's Landing - the corrugations to get there were back breaking and the howling wind, crashing waves and pouring rain made for a not so fun night! Also the Pebbles (Kunjarra) outside of Tennant Creek - if you've ever been to Devils Marbles and also seen the Pebbles, you will understand!
Biggest disappointment That Stewy, Kristy and Rori couldn't complete the Cape York portion of our trip with us, due to their car problems
What we wouldn't take with us again The kitchen (our smaller table was sufficient and we never took the larger kitchen bench/table out at all!), the toilet/shower tent, so much food!
Best Purchase before the trip Our satellite phone, SPOT tracker
Best 4WD modifications that have made our lives easier for off road travels Rear ARB Air Locker, custom made shelves to replace rear seats, CB radio, Raised King Springs/Bilstein Shocks on Bridgestone tyres & new touring seats.
Scariest Moment Camping at Captain Billy's Landing - gale force winds, didn't sleep at all! The severe weather warning of 120km/h winds while camping at Port Augusta, Palm Creek crossing on the tele track!
Nicest people Alice Springs in particular, but Northern Territory as a whole. Although while travelling we had many great encounters with people everywhere!
Lastly we have a few people we need to thank that helped us out.
Firstly, thank you to all of our wonderful family and friends who bought activities or donated cash towards our honeymoon fund. We appreciated it very much and certainly enjoyed spending your money!!
Now a big thank you to Vic Widman from Great Divide Tours, who helped us plan our itinerary for this trip. Without your help, advice and friendship we wouldn't have seen half the amazing places we did. You knowledge is invaluable Vic!
A huge thank you to our mechanic, Adam Hales, for once again getting the Prado in shape for this trip and for your ongoing work on all our cars. Adam was even on call for an emergency phone call from Weipa when our 4WD gears would not engage. Adam walked us through how to fix it over the phone, who could ask for better service than that!
Big thanks to Tony Tsitsikronis for your help in arranging our tyres. Yet again the Bridgestone's didn't let us down!
Thank you to John Vahanian and Sharon Madden for looking after the dogs and house while Kylie was away for the week. We are glad that Gelly and Charli were so well behaved for you, if only they were that good all the time! Glad everything ran smoothly (except for a few cricket escapees!), and funny that the frog managed to make a game out of hearing your alarm! He's barely made a noise since we got home!
And last but not least, Kylie! Thank you for looking after everything while we were gone - the dogs, fish, birds, frogs (oh that's right, there is only 1 now after you killed Hemi!). Although you had to put up with Charli's separation anxiety and Gelly's constant need to be near or on you, we know you secretly loved it!!
A very huge thank you to all of you for your help and support.
Love always, George & Shelly