Katherine to Karumba
WE ARE HERE
After our week in Arnhem Land, which was like a holiday from a holiday, we arrived back in Katherine to be reunited with our Tvan. Our goal was to move on quickly and catch up with our travelling friends from earlier, the meeting place being Lawn Hill National Park over the Queensland border.
Supplies and fuel from Katherine, the cheapest fuel we would be seeing for months (so the full 185 litres) and off we travelled after a quick dip at the Katherine hot springs. These hot springs are located almost in the centre of town and are surprisingly quiet considering how nice and easily accessible they are. We had a roadside night stop before arriving in Mataranka where we tried both Bitter Springs and the hot spring at the Homestead. We stayed at the Mataranka Homestead for dinner and the famous Whippy Griggs show with a guest appearance from Micky! Nothing disappointed and the roast dinner was almost as good as Mum’s.
We then headed out the Roper Highway, which is now sealed for the most part all the way out to the Roper River crossing. We stayed down at the old crossing, a good spot for exploring the old police ruins, relaxing and fishing. The next day we moved into Limmen National Park. It’s a great scenic drive with easy gravel roads and a few stream crossings. We stayed a night at the quiet Butterfly Falls campground with plenty of birds and animals. As we were getting on in the dry season and they hadn’t had much of a wet, this part of the country was extremely dry. No waterfall flowing this time, and a meagre pool at the bottom.
Next we stopped in at Lorella Springs. We didn’t really have time to explore here, but we couldn’t go past with out driving the 20 odd km into the station and having a look. Lorella is more of a destination and you could easily spend a week camping and exploring, we just stopped in for lunch and a dip in the springs. We always say you can’t see everything and you have to leave something new for next time!
Back on the road we drove round to Borroloola and onto King Ash Bay for the night. This is a fisherman and boating paradise, and if you were that way inclined a week would not be enough. In fact it looked as if some came for the week, never left, and that was 20 years ago.
Next it was back onto the Savannah Way heading for Hells Gate Roadhouse. This would be another 300km of harsh dirt road and see us crossing from the Northern Territory into Queensland. We drove until dusk, crossed the border, and camped up at Hann Creek Billabong for the night. Excitement grew the next day as we knew we’d be catching up with our travel buddies at Lawn Hill George. We passed Hells Gate Roadhouse and at Doomadgee Roadhouse were able to take a short cut down through Lawn Hill Station saving us driving the long way around and giving us more to look at. As mentioned earlier, this part of the world was very dry with cattle grouped around disappearing waterholes and nothing but dust, wind, and gates to open and shut. It was an interesting part of the trip and after crossing a small stream at the homestead we were moments away from our goal.
In the carpark at Lawn Hill Gorge we were reunited again with our travel friends with plenty of stories to share. In fact we spent the rest of the afternoon in the carpark chatting about what we had each been up to since departing ways in Darwin. With only enough time for a quick dip to wash some of the dust off we camped locally and came back the next day to explore and enjoy. Considering the dryness of the surrounding area Lawn Hill is a little paradise oasis. Walking, swimming, kayaking, birdwatching and animals, there is plenty to do and we had little trouble spending the whole day enjoying all of these. It was a hot day so perfect for walks and cooling off in the gorge, then back to our campsite from the night before.
Next spot was into town at Gregory Downs about 100km away. Camping down at the creek under the bridge turned out to be popular with caravaners and for good reason. Shade and a cool stream right next to the van was a great way to escape the heat. So great that we spent two nights. Moving on we headed back up into the gulf to Burketown. We hadn’t shopped since Katherine so grabbed some supplies and headed onto Leichardt River Falls. Usually a popular spot, but due to the dryness we almost had this place to ourselves. Another two nights of great camp fires, yarns and a sky full of stars.
Onto Normanton with a stop off at Burke & Wills camp 119 which marks as far north as they travelled on their expedition. We however, one way or another, would be going all the way to the top! Normanton was a great spot for supplies, including supermarket goods, water, gas and fuel. We wouldn’t be seeing another proper supermarket until Weipa, which could be a good week away. After staying out at Walkers Creek Crossing, the next day we cruised into Karumba to enjoy a much needed shower and beachside lunch. It was September, so Karumba was quietening down that time of the year, but can be very busy being the only beachside tourist town in the Gulf.
It was a nice break from travelling and the long drives, as well as a good place to prepare to conquer Cape York over the next month. That journey would begin with the communities of Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw on the western side of the gulf coming up in our next blog.
Our next blog will be from: Cape York!
Until our next update - see you on / off the road 😉
Cassie and Micky