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Travel Australia with Kids

Thursday 21st July 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Friday, July 22, 2011

We had about a week to kill before we could go into Lawn Hill National Park, so we drove straight to Gregory Downs rest area. What an absolute oasis in the desert!  We camped in the upper part of the rest area the first night as all the spots alongside the river were already taken.  But we moved down next to the beautiful Gregory River the following morning and had 6 beautiful days in the flawless winter outback weather.

The flow of the current in the section of the river along which everyone camps is quite manageable and everyday after lunch we would get in our swimmers and grab the boogey boards and come floating down - the best water park I've ever been to! Kia took to it like a fish, but Tiran had to be persuaded strongly (read bribed) to have a go with his life jacket on and hanging on to Mike for dear life!

Kia lost his first tooth on our 3rd day there - can't believe my little man is growing up so fast (so depressing!!!). He was very excited and could hardly wait to fall asleep so the tooth fairy could reimburse him - what's the going rate these days anyway?  The tooth fairy basically raided my change wallet and left a little bit of each coin under his pillow.

Our only flaw with Gregory Downs was its remoteness to groceries!  After an absolutely horrible dinner at the hotel - basically the only establishment at Gregory Downs, serving as fuel station, grocery shop, restaurant (I apply the term very loosely in this case) - and finding out that there would be no bread arriving for sale for another 3 days, we decided to head into Burketown (a very small town on the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, about 120km away on an unsealed roads) for some supplies.

We were travelling along nicely when we saw a group of 3 wedge-tailed eagles feasting on a kangaroo carcass on the road (the amount of roadkill in Queensland is mind-boggling).  I've had quite a bit trouble capturing these magnificent birds on film, so we slowed right down and although they all flew off as we approached, they landed in a nearby tree, close enough to photograph. So Mike is hanging out his window with the video camera while inching along slowly to get as close as possible and he runs over the carcass - no harm done as it was already dead, but 2km down the road we realise we had a flat tyre. What are the odds against running over a dead kangaroo and having a piece of its bone pierce your tyre?

Therein ensued our little comedy of errors:  after being unsuccessful at extracting the bone from the tyre, the decision was made to put on the spare and head into Burketown with hopes of repairing the flat. Then followed about 30 minutes of trying everything we could think of to retrieve the spare tyre from its storage position under the truck. We even had a lovely family on holiday stop to help but no luck at all. So Mike patched up the flat as best as he could, but he then proceeded to re-inflate the tyre with the air compressor with the truck engine OFF - a few minutes later and with the tyre not quite inflated, we now also had a flat battery. The second car we flagged down contained two extremely kind and helfpul sales reps from Elders, who wouldn't give up until they had jump-started us.  We headed into Burketown, had some lunch and had the tyre patched up properly - the mechanic had the spare tyre off after 2 tries and showed Mike how to do it for next time.  In retrospect we realised how very lucky we had been; we had no food or water with us in the truck and who knows how long we could have been stuck there (these aren't well-travelled or busy roads, we're in outback Queensland after all).

The road into Lawn Hill from Gregory Downs was quite rough and corrugated with a couple of river crossings, which were thankfully quite shallow at this time of year.  Adel's Grove is the closest community (very very small one) to the national park so we stopped in for supplies - thankfully they still had bread (all of which they freeze upon delivery) and eggs, but no fruit or vegetables; basically canned and dry goods only. And we had the best hamburger on the trip yet at their gorgeous cafe. It was quite warm now, with very little breeze, and every single day gave us cloudless blue skies and sunshine - I have never seen such consistent weather!

Put Lawn Hill National Park on your MUST SEE list immediately!  Our 3 days there - camped next to our lovely friends M & L - were fabulous and too short.  We opted to take our zodiac on the gorge (rather than hire the unwieldy canoes on offer) for the day - magnificently beautiful and calm on the gorge. Successful freshwater crocodile sightings, swimming in Middle Gorge  near the waterfalls, trying to paddle our heavy boat up the tiny little rapids to Upper Lagoon (Mike ended up having to get in the water up to his chest and pull us across) - it was perfect, perfect, perfect!  And there were plenty of other kids for Kia and Tiran to play with (doesn't happen too often).  We did some of the lovely walks around the park - my favourite being the Island Stack which has fantastic views of the countryside and gorges.

On our way out of the Lawn Hill we got another puncture in the same truck tyre (we were having a run of luck I tell you!!) and after yet another patch job (tyre was starting to look like a patchwork quilt) Mike realised that the air compressor's fuse had blown. So we were stuck (again) and in luck (again) when some lovely campers going into the park pulled over and lent us the use of their air compressor.  The tyre was still leaking and needed replacing, but it was good enough to get us back to Gregory Downs. We spent another 2 nights there, giving both Optimus and Ironhide a good clean before heading off further into outback Queensland.


Termite city - Outback QLD (09July11)That's a nice size perspective! - Burke & Wills Roadhouse, QLD (09July11)Magical oasis in the outback - Gregory Downs, QLD (10July11)Best campspot EVER! - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)
Kia and Michael boarding down the river - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Swimming was a lot more work! - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Kia's 1st lost tooth - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Not looking too impressed - Gregory Downs, QLD (12July11)
Loving every minute of it! - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Wedge-tailed eagles - en route to Burketown, QLD (14July11)More Big Sky Country - en route to Lawn Hill NP, QLD (16July11)Lawn Hill Gorge, QLD (17July11)

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