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Our Trip Up North
Tom and Dot Bacon

Tom and I took months preparing for our holiday by car to Darwin, Brisbane and back to Melbourne and we finally made it.


On the 9th July 2005 we headed off from Melbourne in our Holden Station Wagon along the Western Highway. Our first stop was Horsham, dropping in on Tom’s brother and sister in law for morning tea. We had rain all the way. After lunch at Bordertown we continued on to Adelaide for the night.  Next morning about 7.00am we were off again hoping to make Port Augusta that evening.  The drive was very pleasant and quite interesting scenery, Port Pirie was a very interesting town, but the view of the Flinders Ranges was magnificent. We arrived at Port Augusta and after settling into the Motel we did a tour of some very interesting places.  Next morning we were on the road again, but not before Tom took a beautiful photo of the sunrise over the Flinders Ranges.


Along the way we made many stops at places of interest such as Woomera, we spent quite some time browsing around and taking more photos.  Further up the Highway we came across Lake Hart, now this was most intriguing, at first it looked just like a large expansion of water, but as you got up close you could see that it was all salt.  You could walk out on it for a fair distance, as it was hard under foot. There was a sign warning people not to go beyond this point, as there could be unexploded ammunition in the area.


That evening we arrived at Coober Pedy. At first glance it looked like a tip with all the junk around, but once you drove around the main streets the place became very interesting.

We arrived at the Motel and from outside the front it was no different to a usual motel but once you got through the front door it was breathtaking.  Being underground there was a slightly unusual smell, but the entrance with all the furniture, etc was beautiful. We had a TV and Microwave and the room was lovely and warm.  We had a bit of time to take a look around at different places before we bedded down for the night.  Of course, with no windows, we could not tell if it was light or dark outside .  Next morning as we put our heads outside, we found it was raining, which they said was most unusual at that time of year.  But we had rain nearly all the way up so it did not surprise us. It was very sloppy under foot but that did not bother us, we had our coats on and off we went to make sure we had a good look around Coober Pedy.


We went into the Old Timers Mine which was quite an experience. I do not know how they can go down into those mines, but if you struck a vein of opals it would make you stay.  We were able to have a tour of one house.  We could have stayed for a few more days because it was such an interesting place.  But we had to move on

So up again early we headed off along the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs.  Of course we made plenty of stops along the way, one was the Meteorite Craters. They were well off the Highway but it was well worth a visit.  Camels were just roaming along the road.

Arriving at Alice Springs just on sunset and we checked into our Motel which again was very nice.  Next morning we toured around the Alice once again taking plenty of photos and we walked across the bed of the Todd River, which was right opposite the Motel. Then we visited the Transport & Truck Museum and also the Train Museum and that took up quite a few hours.

 The following day we planned to get to Tennant Creek that night, but once again there was so much to see along the way, such as the Devils Marbles and other little places.  Well, what was the use going all that way and not stopping at these places.

Katherine was our next stop, again we would stop at different places, such as Churchill Heads Rock, Renner Springs, Newcastle Waters (Drovers Memorial Park) and Daly Waters - now that was most unusual. 

 Sometimes along the way Tom would let me drive, so perhaps that is why we were stopping so much so he could relax. I would have a nap when he was driving but he never did when I took the wheel!

 Back to the story, we finally arrived at Katherine for the night, the next morning we continued on our journey, stopping at an old mining town called Pine Creek then onto Adelaide River, this is a lovely place, plenty to see such as the War Cemetery. This is a must for people to see, although it is very touching and sad, you do not realise just how many people were killed during the bombing of Darwin until you visit the Cemetery

We arrive in Darwin about lunchtime and Graeme our son was there to meet us.

Arriving in Darwin and after settling in Graeme gave us a grand tour around some interesting places in the city before for dinner. Although it was a Sunday there were people everywhere.

The following evening he took us down to the Darwin Yacht Club for an evening meal. It is a fantastic place to see the sun set, it is just unbelievable.  The place was just packed with people with cameras. The meal was also good. The Barramundi just melted in your mouth and the Prawns were yummy.  Hope I am not making your mouth water.

 One evening, just as I was getting dinner ready, Graeme decided to take us for a quick run to Gunn Point.  I would hate to think what he calls a long run.  After traveling well over an hour we came to this very secluded beach, only a few people fishing, but it was so peaceful.  Gunn Point is north of Darwin, situated on the Clarence Strait.

 Graeme took us on many of his short trips, such as the Lost City. Blimey, I thought we had got lost at one stage.  The road, if you could call it a road, would be great for the Austin.  It would have got lost in the first big pot hole.  But after 2 hours driving along this dirt track we arrived at the Lost City. You could not go there in a modern car.  It was good for reducing the hips etc. No room for passing, you had to pull over into the scrub. But it was an interesting place to visit.

 We went to the Darwin Show and that was a classic.  First we looked through the Animal Pavilion, that consisted of young children with their pets and a chap had his pet snakes allowing you to handle them.  Then there was the Flying Pig, it ran out up a ramp and jumped into a large swimming pool. Of course it was dressed in a tutu for the occasion!  The trouble was it went so fast you did not have time to take photo.  We did hear that it broke the World Record for jumping the long distance. The Grand Parade had new modern cars, hot rods etc, but no animals.  It was a very relaxing day anyway.

 One day we met up with friends from Probus who were on a tour and Graeme took us over the Naval Base, and showed us how they get the Patrol Boats out of the water. This was most interesting, more to the men. They place the Patrol Boat over a cradle which is on a platform, they lift the whole thing up out of the water, then the cradle moves along on a rail until it gets to a certain position, then the whole thing slides sideways to an empty parking space and they roll the boat and cradle into the empty space. It is very quick, which they need if the weather gets very rough. We either walked or travelled by car during our stay, we certainly covered a lot of distance going to many places.

Now there was one day that we like to forget, and that was the day we went to Doctors Gully to the Aquascene where you hand feed the fish. There are quite a variety of fish in the hundreds, you can only feed them at high tide.  Firstly make sure you don’t have the shoes on, and that your dress or pants are not dangling in the water, I did all that except for one thing.  While Tom was busy taking photos I was busy feeding the fish, when I realised my watch was getting wet, as I pulled my arm up I noticed the cord of my camera on my wrist and guess what - the camera was on the other end, dangling under the water.  I pulled it up and the water was oozing out.  So I broke the news to Tom, he took one look and said “Well I don’t think that will work”.  So calm and collected he was. We were able to save five photos out of 20.  Had to buy a new camera, I suppose it could have been Tom's Digital, and I would be Croc meat now.

 We went to Charles Darwin Park to see the Ammunition Shell Storage Bunkers that they used during the war. They were built into the side of the hills so the Japanese fighters could not see them.  But the doors were all full of bullet holes from the planes.  There were so many places to see, such as Wangi Falls, Nature Wildlife Park, Berry Springs and so on. On our last day in Darwin we went on a joy flight over the City, Naval Base etc. the Darwin Flying School runs it every year and the money goes to Kids with Cancer, the trip cost $25 for a 20 minutes flight.

 Next day we headed off down along the Stuart Highway, stopping again at Adelaide River, Pine Creek, Katherine where we stayed over night.  We were off again next morning stopping at Daly Waters again, this is a most interesting little place.  There is a chap who makes all sorts of plaques out of wood then he burns an image of the old pub and will put any message on it for you.  He had chooks running around everywhere. Close by was an old World War 2 airfield that  has the accommodation block and hangers still standing.  From there we retraced our steps back to Tennant Creek for the night.  We headed off the next day back to the Three Way intersection, where the Barkly Highway starts.  At the intersection is the John Flynn of the Inland Monument (A little bit of history - his father was a Principal at the Braybrook Primary School in Victoria. The school published a book some years ago)

We are now heading east down the Barkly Highway to Mount Isa.

After leaving the Three Ways Roadhouse we travelled along the Barkly Highway to Mount Isa, stopping briefly at the Barkly Homestead for refreshments.  Up until now the roads have been perfect, especially the Stuart Highway, the surface is great but also nice and wide. 

After crossing over the border at Camooweal into Queensland the highways were certainly a lot different.  We drove along a very old section of highway for approximately 170 kms of lovely red soil. At one stage a road train went past and you could not see if there was anything coming up behind him. No wonder they are warning drivers not to get too close to the road trains when travelling along this part of the highway, because it is just impossible to see. But there is always some clown that knows better. There were parts that had bitumen.  This part of the highway is now being upgraded. 

As we arrived at Mount Isa you would never guess, it started to rain.  Tom’s famous words were “Well at least the car will get washed while we are parked at the motel”. Famous last words - we arrived at the motel and all the parking was undercover.  So next morning where do you think Tom headed for, yes a Car Wash.  That filled in time, as everyone else was doing the same thing.  But it was good to see a blue car again.   

After a tour around the town we headed for our next stop Cloncurry.  As we were sitting down relaxing and having a cuppa this old truck pulled up and out jumped, or should say stumbled, an elderly chap and he came wandering over to the Service Station. On the side of his truck he had a sign “Worker Wanted”, he repaired windmills etc. and his name was Bruce. We struck up a conversation with him and he told us all about himself, he was a very interesting person to talk to. After an hour we decided to head off to Winton down the Matilda Highway and of course again stopping this time at the Roadhouse at Kypuna, the Waltzing Matilda Museum is here.  Finally we arrived at Winton for the night, now this was another very interesting place with plenty to see. One interesting thing was that Winton is where Qantas had their first meeting.  Actually the meeting was to form Qantas. Next morning we travelled onto Longreach the home of Qantas.  Now this is a great place to stop but make sure you have plenty of time, we visited the Qantas Museum and then went to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. 

As we travelled down the Capricorn Highway we came to a small township where there was machinery, tractors, cars and trucks just lining the highway, and they had everything intact not even a hub cap was missing.  Certainly no vandalism up there.  Just as we were heading into Emerald a road train carrying cattle passed us the next thing Tom had to put on the window wipers, as the cattle had decided to decorate the car. Could have been worse, we could have had the window open!

After our overnight stop at Emerald we visited the Historic Railway Station and town centre before moving onto Rockhamptom. Here we stayed at a Big Four Caravan Park, 10 out of 10 for these. The following day being a Sunday we went into town to get some food, well no shops open on Sundays.  Oh well back to the tin opener.  We drove on to Yeppoon, here we could see Great Keppel Island in the distance.  After a few days in Rockhampton we drove down the Bruce Highway browsing around Hervey Bay before stopping over night at Gympie.  Once again a terrific place to see.  

The next day we met up with Tom’s brother, who was soon to have a hip operation, and his wife at Eumundi.  Warrick was our next stop over, nice place but next morning it was minus 4 degrees. That certainly put a spring in our step. 

Travelling along the New England Highway to Glen Innes and Grafton for our overnight stop, then visiting Port Macquarie before stopping at Wauchope.  After settling in, the next morning we visited Timbertown, now this was one of the highlights of our trip. It reminded us a little of Sovereign Hill at Ballarat - old machinery, saw mill, miniature train plus a Steam Engine like Puffing Billy and lots more.  We spent the whole day there but could have stayed longer if time had permitted. 

Leaving Wauchope we continued on to Castle Hill, here we stayed a few days with my sister before setting off for Canberra to see my brother. Once again we were back in the car this time heading for Beechworth, where we stayed the night and, of course, we had to visit the Bakery! While we were there we met up with members from the Club, Barbara & Michael Sibley. From Beechworth we made for home, but first stopping at Gisborne to see our daughter Debbie and two grand children Shanleigh and Hannah. It was great to see them felt like we had not seen them for months. 

Arriving home we picked up our overnight bags, took them inside and left the unpacking.  If Tom said “let’s go off again tomorrow” I would not hesitate. It took us days to unpack and it is amazing how much more we came home with. The trip was fantastic, if anyone tells you driving up to Darwin is boring don’t believe them. The roads heading up North were by far the best, no trouble with road trains on any of the highways, the weather was perfect and the people are all so friendly, the only draw back was we had a time to be back. Where possible we accepted advice at times and drove on secondary roads to enjoy small towns and scenery. 

Overall we travelled just over 11,000 kms and not an ounce of trouble with the car. That is because it is a Holden! Next time we will travel back the other way and devote more time to other places of interest. Why go overseas when there is so much to see in Australia?      

    Dot Bacon.