Crocodile feeding time at Timber Creek

Timber Creek is our first stop in the Northern Territory. Sam puts in a mighty effort catching up on bill payments, bookkeeping and BAS statements... while Budge puts in an even mightier effort keeping the kids entertained for the whole afternoon. Both parents collapse exhausted in bed.

An interesting marketing spin... at this caravan park we get to feed the local croc in the afternoon.

Liking Lake Argyle

In its former life, Lake Argyle was a cattle station of over a million acres. Once flooded and dammed in 1971 as part of an ambitious irrigation scheme, it became the biggest man-made lake in Australia. Nestled amongst the Carr Boyd Ranges, it also boasts some of the best views in the top end. We only stay for a night, but that’s time a’plenty to visit the dam wall, watch a glorious sunset, wake for a glorious sunrise, brave a dip in a gloriously cold “infinity” swimming pool (the kind where the water appears to just fall off the edge) – and even befriend the family in the caravan next door so that kids and grown ups can both stay up late playing together.

Jack giving Benji a piggy back to the car after another "I sit and refuse to move" moment.  The Argyle Dam wall can be seen in the background in the long shadow of a boab tree.
Serene Rikki nestled in a frangipani tree as the sun sets over Lake Argyle. Serenity takes a battering when she attempts to climb higher, a branch snaps and daddy catches her in the nick of time. No broken bones, but confidence very shaken and sobs ring out loud and long.
Jack braves the cool pool for the sake of photo.
Our car bored rangers. In the Carr Boyd Ranges.

Wyndham's Crocodile Penitentiary

Wyndham’s Crocodile Farm was the first of its kind in WA. The biggest, baddest brutes are sent to do time here and there are over 30 crocs (salties and freshies) to meet, with all sorts of crazy names including every member of the Flintstones. We arrive in time for the 11am guided feeding tour – and as great chunks of meat are tossed into the cages, learn everything there is to know about these natural born killers.

A big fella lazing in the sun. But when the meat is tossed in the kids find out just how quickly he can move.
Peering down at another big fella, right before he jumps up to grab his meat... and proves beyond any doubt that crocs can leap - and high!
1.... 2.....
.... 3. Snap!
A white crocodile. Extremely rare - and voted Rikki's favourite.  

Birds and crocs in Wyndham

Wyndham is the unofficial croc capital and northern most town in WA. We stay at Parrys Creek Farm in the Marlgu Billabong Nature Reserve, an underrated haven, and after quickly hooking up our hammock we set forth to explore every inch of the place. Two days later, we have added birdwatching and croc feeding to our repertoire of experiences, taken in more jaw dropping views and bought ourselves a bit of aboriginal art.

Birdwatching at the Parry Lagoon birdhide. The brochures pitch it as the perfect retreat to spend 2-3 hours spying on the birdlife and listening to the birdcalls. Our children last 2-3 minutes. 4 minutes tops.
The clearest sign that we are now, undoubtedly, in croc land.
It's about time!! We finally encounter another member of the infamous "biggest in Australia" family - this time its Wyndham's giant croc. 
Continiuing the theme of the massively oversized are Wyndham's very impressive Dreamtime Statues.  
Rikki with local aboriginal artist "Kitty" and her carved boab nut (of which we are now proud owners).
Budge and Rikki (waaaaay down the end there) at the Five River Lookout, the vantage point 350 metres above sea level where the Ord, Forrest, King, Durack and Pentecost Rivers enter the Cambridge Gulf.

Kununurra... just.

It’s our closest call yet, but we manage to get a site – finally – in Kununurra, at the last of the six caravan parks we call. Unpowered, sure - but we’re just happy to have a place to stay. We swim, shower, launder, stock up on fresh produce at the farmers market, and after checking out the few local sites, are on our way.

The creek at the Bungle Bungle caravan park where we wile away a morning before hitting the road for Kununurra. Had we realised how idyllic it was, we'd have arranged to stay another day.
The original road crossing to Wyndham from Kununurra. Our next stop is Wyndham but we choose to take the highway...
At the Diversion Dam in Kununurra, over which the main highway passes, and which provides water to the farming area by gravity fed irrigation channels. We are impressed to learn that as much water as fills Sydney harbour is released through the dam each day. But after a long hot day in the car, none of us are impressed enough to jump out for a photo so we take it from the passenger seat.

Birthday Bungle Bungles Part II

It takes us more than an hour to navigate our way by 4WD between the two hikes in the Bungle Bungles. Wouldn't have been an issue had we eaten lunch at the end of the first, instead of bundling the kids into the car and promising them we'd eat at the start of the second... "just a few minutes up the road". Who was to know the road would be so trecherous. Fortunately both hikes are so completely different, so incredibly spectacular, so totally engaging... that all is forgiven.

Giant pebbles paving the way into the Echidna Chasm are no obstacle for us Biharys.
Budge "Indiana Jones" Bihary peers up  and out of the Chasm. Quite impossible to capture with our little digital camera the immensity of sight and feeling as we edged our way through.
We are heading back to the car from Echidna Chasm and Benji does what he does best.. and frequently... and without any qualms whatsoever. Sitting down. Refusing to move an inch further. Happy to watch us disappear in the distance. Willing to wait until someone, anyone, anyone - please!! comes back to pick him up and carry him the rest of the way.
Crossing YET another river in the Parnululu National Park. We stop counting after 26... The continuation of the road is just visible far ahead on the other side.

Birthday Bungle Bungles Part I

The Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park - could there be a better place on the planet to celebrate a birthday? Amongst the black and orange beehive domes (a one-of-a-kind natural wonder), the Biharys celebrate Sam’s 39th birthday in true Sam-style – with a full day of hiking: Cathedral Gorge in the morning and Echidna Chasm in the afternoon.

Koala mum Sam with her baby koala bear. There is no denying that Benji has gotten ALOT heavier since we left Melbourne, so the days of piggybacking are numbered. Time to relish every single opportunity.
Biharys and the Bungle Bungle Beehives. We all feel spunky in our BiharysOnTour t-shirts too: Bushbasher Budge Snakespotter Sam - Jumbuck Jack - Redneck Rikki - Billabong Benji. That is, until some old bloke comments on the fact that Sam's nickname must've been chosen by "her old man". Dirty bugger! 
Leaping the length of the Cathedral Gorge river bed.
Benji belts out his own version of "Happy Birthday" in Cathedral Gorge.

Wolfe Creek meteorite is aw'right!

It’s a long, slow, bumpy drive south of Halls Creek down the Tanami Track (135km and corrugated most of the way) to get to the Wolfe Creek meteorite crater. But as the second largest crater in the world at an enormous 850 metre diameter, the journey to see it with our own eyes is worth every bit of effort.
At the base of the crater. It's a short climb from here to the top.
Almost getting blown away standing up on the crater'e edge. There is a path snaking its way down the side and into the heart of the crater, but with sandals and crocs on our feet instead of our hiking boots, we reluctantly have to opt out. 
Salvaging our very own bit of meteorite rock.

Corssing the Kimberley

From Derby we start weaving our way through the West Kimberley region, taking in any and all sites of interest. Our overnighter stays at Fitzroy Crossing and then Halls Creek let us visit Old Fitzroy Crossing, the Quartz Wall, Wolfe Creek Crater... and the freezer section at the local supermarket (photo below speaks for itself).

Yes, there are crocs in these waters, but you wouldn't guess it from looking at our barefeet boys here on the banks of the Old Fitzroy Crossing.
The China Wall of natural quartz protuding up to 6 metres high. 
Frozen Kangaroo tails. Hair included. On Special. Today Only. At the Halls Creek IGA.

Tunnel Creek tops the caves!

We’ve done caves that have lighting. We’ve done caves that are pitch black. Now, at Tunnel Creek, we do something new: a cave, in total darkness, filled with water! Hands down, it is the best cave so far, bar none. Clutching torches and wearing togs, we splash our way down its 750 metre length. For grown ups, the water comes up to the knees and sometimes thighs… which means Benji is chest deep at times and, not surprisingly, opts to be carried on the return walk back. Jack and Rikki, meanwhile, are in their absolute element as they discover that this is one hike that they can doggy paddle their way through.

In daylight outside the entrance...
In darkness, as we start our walk through...
A joyful Jack at the halfway mark where the cave walls part to let in some light.
Cuddles in the puddles back at the start. (It takes skill, but we do finally manage to coax the kids back to the car with the promise of real live Crab Races scheduled for that night in Derby. We burn rubber driving back, only to find the Race date had been a misprint and the much anticipated event was not happening for another fortnight.)

Windjana - WOW!!

In Windjana Gorge we see – for the first time – real crocs in the wild. Tucked in the splendour of the Napier Range, Windjana is an ancient limestone reef that snakes through a jungle that would do Tarzan proud, alongside a sandy shore where the freshwater crocodiles bake themselves in the sun. As we hike the Gorge we view the crocodiles from afar, we view them up close (amongst crowds of tourists, finding courage in numbers), and then – when we get to a bit of beach where we can count five of them grouped together … well, then we concur that we have hiked far enough, and turn around to tiptoe our way back.

Group shot before entering the Gorge. Everyone under strict instruction to NOT pat the crocodiles.
View from in the Gorge. Looking dead ahead.
Edging as near as we dare to two little crocs on the beach. All the crocodiles in the Gorge are freshwater, which is the "safe" kind... but still, when cornered, a croc is a croc is a croc.
View from in the Gorge, looking up.

Discovering Derby

Derby captivates us – unexpectedly – and our overnight stop morphs into a three day stay. We visit the Pioneer Cemetery and Boab Prison Tree, spend an afternoon at the local swimming pool (with another awesome water playground), stumble upon a cultural arts festival in the marshlands at twilight, and visit the jetty at high and low tide to prove to ourselves that Derby does indeed have the highest tidal range in Australia (and second highest in the Southern Hemisphere). Derby is also the base-camp for our day trip down the Gibb River Road to take in the stunning Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.

Budge and the ole ball n' chain at Derby's Prison Tree.
At the aptly named Long Trough outside the Pioneer Cemetery. Not sure if its the longest in the world but it's gotta come close. 
9.30am. Jetty at low tide.
3.30pm. Jetty at high tide.

Jack's Room Rules

Interesting what five months on the road, in cramped quarters, with very little personal space and even less privacy, can do to a boy. This sign appears one morning on the wall of his bunk bed. No further explanation needed. Gotta love it!


Shadow play in Broome

Mum and the kids at Point Gantheaume at sunset. 
On Cable Beach for a walk on our last morning in Broome.

Camels and Nudists

Sam and Rikki rode Horis. Budge and Benji rode Indy. Jack rode Zara (and was nuzzled by Oli from behind). The train of camels walked for 20 minutes, then turned around at the nude man with the suntanned bottom (for whatever reason, the camel walks happen along Broome's nudist beach). A great, great, GREAT time was had by all. Except maybe mister bare bum.