Travel Top End Loop – Litchfield Park – Marines on Falls Day 7 & 8

By Australia / Northern Territory /

Batchelor, Buley Hole and Wangi Falls

The Final destination in our loop through the top end in our Maui Motorhome was Litchfield Park. Just 80 minutes south of Darwin, close enough for a day-trippers and 244km north of Katherine straight up the Stuart Highway.

14kms off the Stuart Highway the small township of Batchelor is the gateway to Litchfield Park. Made up of a couple of pubs, a Best Western Hotel, small supermarket, fuel, Post office and 3 holiday parks, Batchelor is also home to the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education . The Batchelor airport, a former World War II airstrip offers scenic flights of the Park starting from $99 for a short flight.

As is the way in remote Australia there’s always an unexpected surprise to be found in the most extraordinary of locations and Batchelor is no exception. At the heart of this small township you’ll come across a model of Karlstein Castle, the original which still stands in Bohemia. Built by a former resident, Czech born Bernie Havlik, the model castle sits atop a large rocky outcrop that Bernie’s gardening crew found difficult to maintain and keep tidy so Bernie came up with an alternative solution which still stands over 25 years later.

For our Litchfield Park base we chose the Big4 Batchelor Camper Park. This lush picturesque campervan park is set amongst shady gums in the heart of Batchelor and guarantees you awake in the morning to a cacophony of bird song. Recently taken over by new owners, the rejuvenation of this Big4 park is a work in progress but all the basics are covered with pool – all be it a bit basic and plastic, good showers and washing machines. Shame you required a dollar coin to operate the BBQ however perhaps Jabiru and Katherine spoilt us.

A concrete pathway leads from the holiday park across to the Best Western Hotel which offers accommodation, bar, bottle shop, bar-bistro and restaurant, giving the chance for a chef’s night off.

We headed into Litchfield Park early the next morning, first stop was the Magnetic Termite Mound fields. Looking like Antony Gormley sculptures, these termite mounds stretch into the distance in both directions and offer a great photoshot.

Next stop was Buley Rock Pool. BIG Tip here is to arrive as early as possible – this is a beautiful series of rock pools, deep enough to bomb and jump into but popular and can become quite busy. These pools are all safe to swim in during the Dry Season being Salt water crocodile free.

You can continue down the road to Florence Falls for more swimming – we toured the car park there and decided the number of coaches, cars and campers meant too many people and headed on to Wanggi.

If you needed just one reason to visit Litchfield Park Wangi Falls is it. 64kms from Batchelor, the Falls cascade down 51 metres into a huge deep pool surrounded by lush trees full of bird life and sleeping flying foxes. The Pool is totally safe to swim in during the Dry season and thoroughly checked by Park Rangers for salties at the end of the Wet Season in March/April before being open to the public.

Despite its popularity the sheer size of the pool ensures there is room for everyone. During our visit US Marines on leave from training in the Territory explored the Falls in their own way by scaling the cliffs and jumping 10 metres into the Pool. Not recommended and much against the Park Rules.

We spent much of the afternoon at the Falls before heading back to Batchelor for our final night.

The drive back to Darwin was quck and easy with a coffee stop and top up with diesel (rental companies charge a premium if you return a vehicle without a full tank). Other things to remember to do prior to dropping of your campervan is to empty the toilet cartridge and waste water. The drop-off process was all done and dusted in 15 minutes and we were in a taxi for the airport before we knew it.

We elected to fly home with a grown-up airline, Qantas, great service, seats, leg room, food and drinks you didn’t have to pay for and entertainment. Cost more but worth every cent.

Great time, great trip, big country!
Nancy L

We travelled the Top End at the end of the Dry Season in September with a 6 berth Motorhome from Maui. You can discover more about renting a motorhome in Darwin and the Northern Territory on the DriveNow website.


Travel the Top End Loop – Lazy Lizard lunch and cruising with Katherine – Day 5 & 6

By Australia / Northern Territory /

Pine Creek, Katherine Gorge and Cutta Cutta Caves

Before leaving the Jabiru area we stopped off at Mirrai Lockout, parked up the motorhome and a 20 minute walk up to the hilltop was rewarded with panoramic views of across Kakadu to the Arnhem Land escarpments on the other side of the East Alligator river.

We had thought about Jim Jim Falls however as it was accessible only via a 2 hour journey on an unsealed road it was off the agenda with our motorhome – no motorhome or campervan rental can be driven on unsealed roads (unless entering a camping ground or something similar and over a short distance). The Jim Jim Falls road as with many in the park is closed during the wet becoming impassable. As we drove south we crossed countless dry river beds all with the rather telling sign “Don’t linger on bridge and no fishing”, Crocs never seemed to be far away,

Lunch at the Lazy Lizard Resort in Pine Creek was everything you expect from a great Outback pub. Great food and décor to match. Amazing wooden troughs as basins in the toilets, outdoor pool tables and backpacking Germans serving behind the counter!

Having filled up with fuel it was on down the Stuart highway for the 70 minute drive to Katherine. This was our next stocking up point with a trip to Katherine’s large Woolies supermarket (in the main street on the left at the southern end of town) and then we checked in to the Katherine Big 4 , another great holiday park, plenty of space, pool & spar, surprisingly slightly more expensive than Jabiru (our Maui rental came with discounted rates at Big4 Parks) but still great value and excellent facilities including the best equipped kitchens of our trip. In fact we found the facilities wherever we went so good that our motorhome’s cooker had a holiday and was hardly used.

Of course no visit to Katherine is complete without a cruise through Katherine Gorge or to give it’s correct name Nitmiluk Gorge which sits in the Nitmiluk National Park belonging to the local Jawoyn people. We pre-booked online for convenience sake – $244 for the 4 of us and settled on the 2 Gorge tour – all very much dependent upon water levels.

There’s been plenty written about Katherine Gorge or Gorges as there are 13 in all, needless to say they lived up to expectations. You can hire Kayaks and make your own way down and it’s safe to swim in with only harmless and rather shy small freshwater crocs present.

The other expedition we mounted in Katherine was to drive 30kms south on the Stuart highway and visit Cutta Cutta Caves.

Only discovered in 1910 by a drover whose cattle disappeared into sink holes, the caves extend back 450 metres although only 250 are open to the public – the humid conditions and ammonia make it too dangerous to venture deeper. The local aboriginal clan named the caves Cutta Cutta meaning many stars after the sparkling calcium deposits found within. As it totally flooded during the wet season the cave system was not occupied by aboriginals and has no rock art.

The tour is short and there’s not a huge amount to see, however our guide did show how absolutely and totally dark it becomes when he shutdown the lighting system – the average person lasts 30 minutes before their mind begins to play tricks, we were gladed normal service was resumed after 2!

Nancy L

We travelled the Top End in a 6 berth Maui Motorhome.You can learn more about campervan hire in the Northern territory on the DriveNow Darwin pages.



Travel the Top End Loop – Arnhem Land – Day 4

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

Arnhem Land and 20,000 year old Australians

Day 4 was spent on tour in Arnhem Land and for me this was the absolute stand out of our entire trip – if you can only book one tour in the top end – make it this one. You will not be disappointed in what was a memorable and an amazing experience.

The tour is organised by Lords Safaris (www.lords-safaris.com), one of only 3 operators permitted by the Land council to enter Arnhem land. Yes it is expensive at $810 for 2 adults and 2 children, however worth every cent. You experience that rare opportunity of exploring 20,000 year old Rock Art with a member of the Aboriginal clan that the art belongs to, and all in its raw natural environment. Not for the faint hearted as you’ll discover.

Collected at Kakadu Lodge by mini-bus, the 17 of us were driven out to Cahills Crossing to enter Arnhem Land. Access to Arnhem Land is restricted and managed by the Northern Land Council with limited permits issued each year – hence one reason for the higher tour costs.

Cahills Crossing is regularly featured on Australian News in January & February with great torrents of water during the wet season as someone is rescued from a stranded 4WD; for us the causeway was bone dry, with mud flats on one side, tidal water on the other and crocs evident on both. Only the foolish swim or enter the water here.

Our Arnhem Land tour started in the local Aboriginal community of Oenpelli where we met and saw at work the artists and weavers at the local Art centre and learnt more about the community and what it was like living in a remote location
(at least in our eyes) and being often cut off for weeks during the wet season and reliant on air transport for everything – including diesel for the local power station. Life here is not easy and this made the whole experience that bit more real and in some ways confronting.

Our guide, Roland, joined us as we took the short drive to the base of Injalak Hill, renowned for it’s rich rock art galleries, some of the best in Australia. Water Bottles, sunscreen and hats an absolute must.

We set off up the hill following a very rough path, really walking over stones and scree for 15 minutes before arriving at the first Art Gallery. No ropes, no steps carved into the hillside and no barriers, just the real thing.


Over the next 2 hours we were taken through more than 10 galleries of varying sizes and ages with Roland describing the use of 2 and then 4 colours in the art and the significance of each piece of work. The walks between galleries involved squeezing down narrow canyons, through rock cracks and along ledges all very safe for the sensible and averagely fit person but not for the infirm, under 5s or unsteady. Areas of the hill are burnt off to discourage goannas and snakes (nice to know) although you may see black kangaroos and wallabies on the hill – but given the temperature most sensible animals are likely tucked up in bed waiting nightfall.

These galleries are as current to their owning clan today as they were to the original artists 20,000 years ago and each year any art work that is exposed to runoff during the wet is carefully touched up and maintained. Whilst the oldest go back 20,000 years there is much younger art work including that painted after Contact – being the first time aboriginals came into contact with non-indigenous people, the first being Makassan Sea cucumber fisherman from Indonesia 500 years ago.

Just before lunch Roland took us through to a large ledge backing into a cave which historically was the burial area for the clan. This was a very spiritual place and the only part of the tour where photographs cannot be taken.

Lunch was 200 feet up on a wide deep ledge overlooking a plateau stretching across towards the Arafura Sea  and on our left an escarpment running down in parallel to the East Alligator River. A photographer’s heaven.

Following lunch we explored further galleries before heading back to the Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre in Oenpelli for the opportunity to purchase goods with all proceeds going straight back into the community. Pricing ranged from
$20 through to $3000+ for some of the larges pieces of Art although given these would fetch 4 or 5 times the cost in city galleries this was definitely the place to purchase if Aboriginal Art appeals (and they will post it home for you
as well). What was surprising was how expensive the Pandanus baskets and other weaved products were.

We headed home at 4.30 and by 5.40 were sitting in the Kakadu Lodge pool cooling off – great day and great way to finish. Next is Pine Creek, Katherine Gorge and Cutta Cutta Caves.

Nancy L

We travelled the Top End in a 6 berth Motorhome from Maui kicking off our trip in Darwin. More information and pricing on Maui and other top campervan companies in the Northern Territory can be found on the DriveNow Darwin campervan hire page or contact Reservations on 1300 547 214.


Travel the Top End Loop – Kakadu and a hissy Saltie – Day 3

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

Day 3 Darwin to Kakadu and Yellow Water

We collected our motorhome from the Maui depot on Bombing road in Winnellie (around $35 from the city). Allow 45 minutes for the staff to show you around the vehicle and explain how everything works. There’s DVD you can watch and we were also given a USB stick with the video. A team member will go over the vehicle with you to check for any existing scratches or damage and there’s no harm in using your phone camera to snap these just to be totally sure.

Now is also the last opportunity for you to take out any optional excess insurance reduction protection. Unlike car hire your travel insurance is unlikely to cover your excess liability and given you are travelling in the Northern Territory reducing this liability is a good idea. Ours cost $45 a day although we choose not to take the $99 separate rollover cover.

Next stop – the supermarket. There’s a Woolworths in Palmerston, or stick on the Stuart Highway and a little further south (22kms from Bombing road) you’ll find a Woolies on the right of the highway at Coolalinga – along with a Caltex – handy for topping up before returning the vehicle.

It is strongly (very) recommended to stock up on groceries and other essentials before leaving Darwin – you will find supermarkets elsewhere but these will be more expensive and in less populated areas be small with limited choice. However you will find that EFTPOS facilities are everywhere – there’s no need to carry larger than normal amounts of cash.

Road-Train-Northern-Territory Once fully provisioned including grog (last opportunity is in Humpty Doo just outside the park on Arnhem Highway) we headed for Kakadu, south on the Stuart Highway before turning left turn onto the Arnhem Highway. All very well sign posted to the point our TomTom was really redundant.The 255km drive into Jabiru takes around 3 hours from Darwin. Be aware of Road Trains – these operate across the Territory and can be up to 4 trailers and 50 metres long, impressive and very long trucks!

Kakadu Park charges a park fee of $25 per person valid for 14 days (children under 16 & NT residents are free). There’s no booth at the Park entrance to collect this, you can pre-purchase when collecting your campervan, online on the Federal Government’s www.environment.gov.au site or purchase at shops within the park. It’s really a honour system – you can be fined if found to be without a pass.

Kakadu-Lodge-PoolOur first overnight destination was Kakadu Lodge in Jabiru. This proved to be an excellent choice (actually only choice in Jabiru!) and highly recommended. There’s plenty of space and powered sites with over 200 they have never had to turn anyone away even in the peak July period so there’s no need to book ahead (in fact they don’t take bookings for powered sites). There’s also unpowered sites, cabins and tent-cabins that can be hired as well.

Toilets and shower block we accessed were the best on our trip. Central Pool was an oasis for the kids and with a bar and bistro adjacent a great meeting place for evening meals and drinks.

Reception have a small shop and selection of tourist materials along with Tour booking services. This park was the best value in our opinion at $43 a night for a powered site and family of 4 along with the best facilities – a stand out.

The next day we headed 50kms south down the Kakadu Highway to Gagudju Lodge at Cooinda to jump on a cruise of the Yellow Water Billabong. $244 for the four of us. Cooinda also has a Caravan Park and is another great spot to stay. It’s also home to quite expensive fuel – 50 cents a litre more than major Australian cities! However given its remote location and their limited options in raising revenue it’s a bit more understandable – we topped up – in fact we topped up whenever we could.

This was an opportunity to see water wildlife and we were not disappointed. Plenty of salt water crocs which of course were headliners (never knew that they hiss as our youngest discovered) however the abundance of other animals including Buffalo, Whistling Ducks, Darters, Jabiru, Sea Eagles, Ibises, Spoonbills Brolgas and Magpie Geese to name but a few made this quite an amazing 2 hour trip. Something like 25% of all birdlife in Australia feature within Kakadu Park. Belinda, our guide, was terrific and seemed to have eyes in the back of her head in picking up animals that the 40 odd tourists managed to be oblivious to.yellow-water-crocodile
Nancy L


Travel the Top End Loop – Catch a Wave in Darwin – Day 1 & 2

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

A 10 day discovery of Darwin, Kakadu, Katherine and Litchfield Park by Campervan Hire with DriveNow.

FOR the September school holidays the choice was left to the kids, Darwin or New Zealand? – the selection fell the way of the warmer Northern Territory, and warmer it most definitely was with the coolest day hitting a mild 37.

Although a family of 4, we organised a 6 berth Platinum River motorhome through Maui which proved to be the perfect vehicle – plenty of room, easy to drive and came with everything we needed – shower, toilet, fridge, great cooker and no need to pack towels or bed linen. There’s even a TV and DVD player to keep the kids entertained and the air-conditioning made sleeping easy during the very warm nights.

The Team at the Maui branch in Winnellie, Darwin were terrific, explained the best insurance options for us, showed us right through the motorhome and even have a DVD to help you become familiar with the vehicle. All adding up to the perfect start.

You can find the latest rates and more details on this and other campervans on the DriveNow Darwin Campervan rental rate page.

Day 1 & 2 – Exploring Darwin

Our trip started with a slightly cramped late night Jetstar flight out of Melbourne (no star jumping in our little plane) on a Thursday evening depositing us 4 and half hours later into Darwin and into the Marrakai Luxury apartments on Smith Street at 2.15 in the morning. Shuteye time.

Whilst slightly dated our two bedroom apartment had everything we needed, was air-conditioned throughout and a great little pool downstairs that quickly became home from home for the kids.

Darwin is definitely a blend of old and new and always a city with a large transient population dominated by backpackers and more recently construction workers on the Ichthys Gas Project.

There’s plenty to do and explore in Darwin – for families your number one destination is the Darwin Waterfront precinct. This on-going development includes a huge Wave Pool that’ll keep everyone entertained for hours, a safe man-made beach and plenty of restaurants and shops. All within 5 minutes’ walk from the Smith street mall.
Other highlights include the array of markets; Mindi Beach Sunset market (Sun & Thur May-Oct), Nightcliff Village Sunday market, Parap Village Saturday market and the Rapid Creek Sunday Flea Market are all worth a visit if time permits. Feed a multitude at high tide with Aquascene’s Fish Feeding on Doctor’s Gully off Daly Street.

For history buffs there’s the Aviation Heritage Centre at Berrimah on the Stuart Highway with a B52 bomber, Spitfire and other aircraft as well as a dedicated display to the bombing of Darwin; the WWII underground Oil storage tunnels; and plenty of WWII airfields dotted right across the Top End.

For those looking for a unique cinema experience checkout the Deckchair Cinema on Jervois road in the Waterfront Precinct running nightly shows of a range of movies between April and November (chairs provided).

We spent two days exploring Darwin and felt this was probably under done by 1. An extra day would have given us the additional time to explore more markets and the museums as well as time to relax, unwind and chill-out by the pool. But time now to collect our camper and hit the road.
Nancy L


5 bizzare events Down Under for wacky road-trippers

By Australia / Darwin / Gold Coast / Northern Territory / Queensland /

AUSSIES are know to do some bizarre things, so much so that we have events that rival the most wacky and weird all around the planet. Surely that’s good enough reason to jump in an Australian car rental and hit the road for some crazy fun. We choose five to ponder.

1. Australia Day Dunny Race

We Aussies love a bit of toilet humour, so why not hold an event based on the humble Aussie dunny on Australia Day! This fun-filled occasion sees the road out front of the Sunshine Coast’s Ettamogah Pub turn into a thunderbox drag strip as contestants attempt to drag their dunny the fastest in a bid to claim the title of Dunny Race Champion of the World.

More http://www.aussieworld.com.au/events/australia-day-dunny-races

2. Parkes Elvis Festival

There is no shortage of these kind of events that pay homage to the King, but the one in Parkes come January every year is hard to top. From street parades to edible Elvis art and even a Miss Priscilla dinner, this event is definitely one to pack your blue suede shoes for and enjoy some talented tribute acts from January 7-11 2015.

More http://www.parkeselvisfestival.com.au

3. Henley-On-Todd Regatta

One of the Northern Territory’s weirdest but most wonderful, essentially it’s all about a boat race, where teams of rowers run down a dry, sandy riverbed carrying a pretend boat. Ironically, the event is about 1500km away from any major body of water!

More http://www.henleyontodd.com.au

4. Tunarama

This fishy event celebrates the mighty tuna fish and Port Lincoln in South Australia hosts the Tuna Toss World Championships. It’s another one that is held on the Australia Day long weekend and is a hat tip to the tuna fishing industry, the mainstay of the town’s economy. The event held on January 23-26 2015 and also features fireworks, food and wine, and music.

More http://www.tunarama.net

5. Camel Cup (pictured)

With a reputation reaching “far beyond Northern Territory’s soil”, the Lasseters Camel Cup is a quirky event held on the second Saturday every July at its own arena at Blatherskite Park, a section of the Central Australian Show Society grounds. The family and fundraiser event is well known for its unpredictable and very entertaining camels as well as the crazy riders

More http://www.camelcup.com.au



7 amazing things to do in Australia’s great outdoors before your croak it

By Melbourne / Northern Territory / Perth / Port Douglas / Queensland /

AUSTRALIA’S landscapes are so vast and diverse, with so much to offer travellers who love an unforgettable outdoor experience. Hit the road and explore the great outdoors (and underground!) with one of these exciting adventures.

1. Hang gliding in one of Queensland’s popular seaside towns

Where: Port Douglas, 67km north of Cairns

Hang gliding is probably the closest you’ll ever come to experiencing what it’s like to fly like a bird. Admire Port Douglas’ stunning beaches and blue waters from above, while enjoying the thrill of take off and landing.

2. Horse riding in the Snowy Mountains

Where: Bago State Forest, 240 km south west of Canberra

Explore a stunning landscape on horseback with Mountain Ash Trails’ half day and full day rides. Ride through the gorgeous Tumbarumba region and spot kangaroos, brumbies and kookaburras along the way.

3. Cave exploring in Gippsland

Where: Buchan, 355km east of Melbourne

Underground a wonderland of ancient caves awaits, formed nearly 400 million years ago as rivers cut through limestone rock. Guided tours take you to see some of the amazing limestone formations, including Fairy Cave’s decorative stalactites and stalagmites, and the Royal Caves calcite-rimmed pools.

4. Walk the Bay of Fires (pictured)

Where: 275km north east of Hobart

Famous for its white beaches, turquoise waters and large boulders dusted with orange, Tasmania’s Bay of Fires is a must see on every traveller’s list. Take your time to stop and admire the breathtaking views of this untouched wilderness at every opportunity, because you’ll never see anything like it again.

5. Canoe along the Coorong

Where: Coorong Wetlands, 85 km south west of Adelaide

Take in the natural beauty of the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong with a kayak trip through the Coorong Wetlands, one of South Australia’s ‘best kept secrets’. You’ll also learn about the area’s fascinating wildlife and its importance to Indigenous culture.

6. Snorkelling in crystal clear waters

Where: Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, 47 km south of Perth

This marine park’s beautiful limestone islands, shipwrecks, reefs and sea life provide for excellent snorkeling and diving. Swim near bottlenose dolphins, spot little penguins, sea lions and also seabirds, which are rarely seen on the mainland.

7. Camel trekking in the Red Centre

Where: Alice Springs, 1,500 km south of Darwin

Marvel at the unique beauty of the Red Centre with Pyndan Camel Tracks’ sunset camel ride. Trek along the intriguing Ilparpa Valley, looking out for some of Australia’s iconic animals such as dingoes and kangaroos. All against a backdrop of stunning mountain ranges.




Splash out at Howard Springs Big4 in the Top End

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

EVER wondered how you can beat the heat in the Northern Territory? Well there’s a few ways to “splash out” and cool off, and not many are better than the fun that can be had at a caravan park with a big interactive water play area.

The Top End of Australia is a tropical hot spot all right – hot for more reasons than one with temperatures averaging in the 30s all year round – but once you park your Darwin campervan rental or Darwin car rental at BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park just over 20km outside of the NT’s capital it won’t take long for the whole family to cool down in the venue’s brand new splash park. And there’s no crocodiles to worry about, either!

The first of its kind for BIG4 in the state, the zero-depth multi-level aquatic play area has interactive features to suit all ages. The new area incorporates a super-sized splash tipping bucket, spray cannons, water squirting frogs and play equipment to keep kids entertained and cool in the warmer weather. The splash park also has interactive ground sprays that are activated when a person stands on trigger spots and features a soft fall surface for safety.

Speaking of splashing out, it’s not the only new improvement at Howard Springs, either, as the park has installed four spa units, two three-bedroom cabins and a toilet block added in recent times and bringing the total cost of the park’s expansion to almost $3 million.

Viv Lavender, owner of BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park, says the past 12 months have been extremely busy and that’s largely thanks to their full range of family-friendly facilities. While it’s a destination in its own right, it’s also the ultimate launchpad from which to explore the Top End’s big attractions like Kakadu National Park.

“Our guests know they can expect a family-friendly holiday experience full of activities for adults and kids alike, including a huge jumping pillow, three salt water pools, three spas and now the new splash park,” Viv told DriveNow.

Visit www.big4.com.au for more info.



Big things in store on your next Australian road trip – Part III

By Australia / Darwin / Gold Coast / Hobart / Northern Territory / Queensland / Tasmania /

SO, you’ve hit Brisbane, picked up the keys to your campervan and thought, ‘wow, Queensland is big. Where do I start?’

Well, Nambour, 101kms north of Brisbane is the home of three “big’’ attractions, so that’s a good jot down for later. But to begin with take advantage of a few days on the Gold Coast, enjoy the fabulous holiday parks and check out the Big Golfball in Broadbeach and the Big Hard Rock Café guitar in Surfers Paradise during your stay.

When you are ready to head north again, the obvious attraction to see first in Nambour is the Big Pineapple. The heritage-listed prickly-topped attraction can still be seen and photographed, but don’t be surprised if it looks the worse for wear.  The 16 metre-high construction was originally opened in 1971 as part of a working farm, but fell into receivership a couple of years ago. The Big Cow, north of Nambour has also been on shaky ground, but is still worth milking for a photo. The Big Macadamia Nut, not far from the pineapple, stands 10 metres tall and five metres wide and is another sight you’d be nuts to miss.

If you have the time and the dedication to see all things big, other attractions in Queensland include: The Big Barrell, Bundaberg; the Big Barramundi, Daintree; The Big Brolga, Townsville; The Big Captain Cook, Cairns; the Big Dugong, Rockhampton; The Big Golden Gumboot, Tully; the Big Mango, Bowen, and The Big Mower in Beerwah.

If your travels take you as far as the Northern Territory, big things on the agenda include the Big Boxing Crocodile in Humpty Doo, the Big Stockwhip in Acacia and The Big Stubbie in Larrimah.

Even Tasmania, as the smallest state in Australia, has a few big deals. But the biggest advantage in visiting such a smaller area is that once you decide to hire either a car or campervan, you can see a lot in one day. Here are some beauties: The Big Apple in Spreyton, The Big Coffee Pot in Deloraine, the Big Penguin, suitably situated in Penguin, The Big Platypus in Latrobe, the Big Slide Rule at the University in Hobart, the Big Spud in Sassafras, the Big Tasmanian Devil in Mole Creek, and one to hit you for six – the Big Wickets in Westbury.

Have fun enjoying all those big adventures.



Top End touring a real treat for exploring a unique part of Australia

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

AFTER arriving in the Top End, I needed a way to get around and also a place to stay. Luckily both these problems were solved when I picked up a Darwin campervan rental. With the open road to keep me company, I first headed to the Howard Springs Big4 Holiday Park where I could power my new mobile home.

Howard Springs was the ideal home base for the first few days of my stay, as I was halfway between the capital city of Darwin and the amazing wilderness of Litchfield and surrounds. In my campervan I was able to cook my own meals while the holiday park provided me a place to relax in the swimming pool.

On my first day I headed into Darwin to explore the city. My first stop was the local art gallery and museum, home to the Cyclone Tracey exhibition and the stuffed body of infamous giant saltwater crocodile “Sweetheart”. Hours were spent in this interesting destination and, best of all, it was free. That night I enjoyed the fresh barramundi at the Darwin wharf while watching fish swim to the surface of the water for chips and any other food thrown their way.

Other attractions I enjoyed in the city included the World War II oil tunnels and the man-made wave pool. Swimming in the wave pool was a great way to cool off without fear of crocs or jellyfish.

Next I took my campervan into the wild and drove an hour out to the Adelaide River. After a few beers with locals at the local pub I went on the jumping crocs boat trip. Professional guides took myself and others on the river and fed large saltwater crocodiles that jumped metres into the air for their food. After that, I wanted to explore further into the Litchfield National Park. Once there I saw marvellous wildlife and indigenous flora and fauna. With my campervan I was able to stay and see the sights including magnetic termite mounds and cascading waterfalls.

A few nights later it was time to head back to Darwin to return the camper and my Territory adventure had come to an end. It was not going to be my last, however, with many more trips to the NT planned for the future.




Darwin and the Tiwi islands paradise

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

BEING surrounded by water means Australia has some of the most spectacular off-shore islands, none the least being the beautiful Tiwi Islands.
Located 80km north of Darwin where the Arafura Sea joins the Timor Sea, it’s well worth parking your Darwin campervan rental and spending a day or two on the Tiwi Islands.

We boarded SeaCat’s passenger ferry Arafuru Pearl just out of Darwin at Cullen Bay and set sail for the Tiwi Islands community of Nguiu on Bathurst Island. The Tiwi Islands are just a two hour sail by boat. The islands will give you the best insight into the Indigenous way of life. The Arafuru Pearl operates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays leaving at 7.30am each morning and returning at 2.30pm. It costs only $70 per adult each way. Arriving at the port of Nguiu you are pleasantly surprised by a war welcome from locals who are fishing the waters either side of the boat ramp. It’s here where the adventure really begins!

A short stroll from the boat ramp takes you to some of the local arts centres. Woodwork, pottery and some impressive local artwork will stay with you forever after visiting this place and understanding how it’s all done. They spend countless hours fine-tuning some of the most beautiful artwork you will ever see. The three art centres are committed to the development and promotion of both traditional and contemporary art and craft in the form of painting, pottery, carving, weaving, etchings, linocuts, lithographs, jewellery and screen-printed textiles. Naturally all of it is for sale with the money raised going straight back into the community.

Continue strolling in and around town and you will stumble upon the local Catholic church which is stunning. It takes pride of place on the local primary school grounds. You can enter at any time but if it is locked the school office will have the key. It is a church made solely of timber and was built way back in the 1930s. The interior walls are decorated with crosshatched designs and paintings of stingrays, crocodiles, turtles and pelicans. Built from cypress pine, the church has withstood several cyclones.

Overall you will be walking on dusty red roads with no footpaths – just dirt tracks leading you to all major areas. It’s actually refreshing to see that this place hasn’t been commercialised. It’s great to know they live far from the materialism of our mainland, and I can assure you that’s like a breath of fresh air.

The Great Australian Doorstep airs on Channel 7TWO in Australia