Singapore Stopover

Our stopover in Singapore is always an experience. We are on our way to Hanover and then Prague to begin our European Gems Tour with Travel Marvel and then join their European River Cruise at Budapest

Our pickup at the airport for our ride into our hotel took us along the most beautiful landscaped roads, with gardens, trees and parks lining the busy thoroughfare.

After a freshen up we started exploring the old town and enjoyed its historical architecture, with a mixture of Chinese, French colonialism and Indian.

The Masjid Sultan Mosque with its gold dome and beautiful decorated windows dominated the skyline. We wandered the narrow streets and we found beautifully coloured shop fronts and vendors all waiting for the evening crowd to arrive.

Waterfalls and wetlands of Lichfield National Park, Northern Territory

Litchfield National Park, 120kms south west from Darwin, is one of the prettiest National Parks I have witnessed. It features numerous waterfalls which cascade over the sandstone ridge which is Tabletop Range.

Florence Falls

Wangi Falls

Magnetic termite mounds, cool shady monsoon forest walks are a relief from the heat.

The best time to visit is during the wet season, although be careful of flooded roads and at the start of the dry season. We were a little later than the start of the dry and the waterfalls were not as spectacular as I would have wished for.

There are numerous tours leaving Darwin that will visit Litchfield National Park, however, we flew into Darwin and spent four nights relaxing in our resort and then hired a small SUV and with the help of a few tourists brochures and maps, we made our way through the park. We stayed a couple of nights at the Litchfield Tourist Park, which enabled us to relax in the evenings.

Hot Air Ballooning, Canberra ACT

I travelled to Canberra with trepidation. The last time I visited to watch the balloons they couldn’t fly, the weather was not paying attention, it was windy in the upper atmosphere. Our Balloon Aloft tour was part of the Ballooning Spectacular during the Enlighten Festival in February/March.

Hot Air Ballooning Canberra

When I phoned at 4.45am to check-in, I was excited to be informed that all was going ahead as scheduled. We were to be at the launch area at 5.45am. However, Canberra was fog bound,

It was to be an early morning rise. First we had to check in to ensure that the balloons were flying. Great joy, the weather was kind to us. The spectators were waiting and the take off was to be in front of the Old Parliament House, however, because of cloud and safety concerns, the commercial balloons were to take off at Coppins Crossing, to the west of the city. So we climbed into buses and headed west out past Yarralumla and eventually after launching test balloons, our guides started to unpack and inflate our balloons.

Firing up ready for take-off. As our pilot pumps air into the burning gas the balloon fills with hot-air. We have about 8 in our basket and gently we lift off. Finally as the sun was rising and we ascend into the morning light, over the horizon rising over the hills the private, smaller balloons are floating toward us. They are backlight by the dawn and the sight was surreal, the feeling of watching them float amazing.

I was lost in time and space, I guess we were up in the air for an hour we travelled by Black Mountain and the Telstra tower, which were immersed in fog, over Yarralumla and Government House, the Molonglo River. Being at the mercy of the air currents we eventually found ourselves landing in the middle of a fairway at Federal Golf Course.

Hot Air Balloons flying over Black Mountain covered in fog

Hot Air Ballooning Canberra

We touch down on Federal Golf Course, watched by the kangaroos and early morning golfers. The balloon needs to be laid out and rolled up and then literally squashed into the basket for transport back to the depot.

The second morning, I rose early again, phoned the information number and was delighted that the balloons were flying again, this time their takeoff was to be from the lawns in front of Old Parliament House. So, I along with hundreds of spectators watched as the smaller balloons, unpacked, setup and proceeded to fill their balloons with hot air from burning gas  bottles.  One by one they slowly rose into the morning sky, with all the spectators with their heads, phones and cameras looking skyward.

Hot Air Ballooning Canberra

Mr Nudie was a favourite with the crowd

Adelaide River Jumping Saltwater Crocodiles

Being only metres away from a man eating salt water crocodile, is an experience not to be missed. We had been travelling through Northern Territory and each time we came to a billabong, river or wetlands there were “Danger salt water crocodiles, no swimming”. This pre-historic monster is every Australians nightmare.

Our tour boat was the Adelaide River Queen, with a lower inside deck and an open deck on top. Our tour guide had favourite names for each of the crocodiles and they being territorial, he knew where to look for them in the murky river water and amongst the mangroves.

Raw pig meat tied by a rope and attached to a rigid pole, was hung over the side of the top deck and the crocs circled in the water below. Leaping half their body length straight into the air, to snare their free feast, this prehistoric reptile was giving us an incredible display.

The saltwater crocodile is a large and opportunistic carnivorous predator, it ambushes most of its prey and then drowns or swallows it whole. Its prey includes sharks, fish, crustaceans, birds, and mammals including humans. It will lie in wait, partly submerged and wait its opportunity, known to take dogs and humans from the edge of lakes and rivers.

Newly hatched crocodiles are small, around 11 inches long, but males can measure around 3.3 metres when they sexual mature at 16 years of age and females reach 2.1 metres at sexual maturity at 12 to 14 years of age. An adult male salt water crocodile can reach up to 6 metres long and weigh between 200 to 1000 kilograms. Female adult salt water crocodiles can measure up to 3.4 metres and weigh up to 200 kilograms.

Our tour lasted for an hour with The Adelaide River Queen Jumping Crocodile Cruise and was an experience that we would recommend to view these magnificent reptiles up close and appreciate their strength and verocity.

Yellow Waters, Kakadu National Park, NT, wildlife cruise at sunset

Dawn and sunset are the times of the day when wildlife come alive. They are searching for food and drink and come out of their hiding habitat before the sun rises and bakes the land and again when the air starts to cool on sunset.

The award winning Kakadu Tourism Yellow Water cruises are run up to six times a day, from sunrise to sunset.

We saw numerous salt water crocodiles, some extremely close to our cruise runabout. The bird life was prolific with ducks, egrets, eagles, hawks and the most exciting for me was being up close to the jabiru. The birds and the reptiles seemed to be able to live in harmony, or maybe the large “salties” were not hungry

The Ampitheatre, Carnarvon Gorge, QLD

Located in Central Queensland approximately 600 kilometres north west of Brisbane, it is 30 kilometres long and 600 metres deep at the mouth. The closest towns are Injune in the south and Rolleston in the north, we had travelled by vehicle, towing our caravan from the south on the Canarvon Highway.

Staying in the Takarakka bush resort for three nights we experienced Australian nature at its best. Teaming with birdlife, kookaburras, magpies and many smaller species they were all accustomed to humans and came quite close to our camp.

On our first day of discovery we hiked along the main gorge track. There were numerous crossings over stepping stones in the Carnarvon Creek, which runs through the centre of the gorge. Running water carved the gorge out of sandstone rock over millions of years and the magnificent Ampitheatre was accessed via a tiered ladder and a narrow chasm through sheer rock walls.

After the heat of the gorge outside, the cool moist air was welcomed. Surrounded by sheer cliff walls, the quiet was accentuated by the gentle sound of running water. The little stream was running down a channel in the rock wall and formed a little pool at the base of the ampitheatre.

Cycads and fan palms, along with smaller ferns, took advantage of the cooler climate and provided a beautiful oasis on the floor of the ampitheatre.

Wards Canyon, Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland

When exploring Carnarvon Gorge, the advice from National Parks is to trek to the farthest point of the Main Gorge Walk you wish to visit for the day and then retrace and explore each point of interest on your return.

Wards Canyon was accessed via a short, steep climb through spotted gums and we were rewarded with a cool, moisture laden oasis with King Ferns , tree ferns and smaller rainforest vegetation hugging the creek.

Wards Canyon is the only area in Central Queensland that still supports King Ferns.

Moss Garden, Carnarvon Gorge

A short walk off the main gorge track we found a haven of rainforest and moss and lichen covered rocks, trickling streams and a small waterfall cascading over a small ledge into a cool, welcoming pool created by the running water over thousands of years.  With towering cliffs surrounding this natural garden, it was cool and a calming respite from the heat of the main track. 

The walk into the garden with slender tree ferns, king ferns and water dripping down the rocks walls through lichen, and liverworts beside us, was almost as much a pleasure to experience as the pool at the end of the boardwalk.

The Art Gallery, Carnarvon Gorge, QLD

Carnarvon Gorge's rock art sites are believed to have been in use for over 3500 years with connection to the Bidjara and Karingbal Aboriginal people.
Carnarvon Gorge’s rock art sites are believed to have been in use for over 3500 years with connection to the Bidjara and Karingbal Aboriginal people.

A short walk off the main gorge track leads to a 62 metre long sandstone wall with over 2000 engravings, ochre stencils and free-hand paintings. With boomerangs, hands, feet, stone axes, shields, nets, and animal tracks.

The netting means that ancestors have been buried in this area
What lies within? the entrance to the very spiritual Aboriginal place.

Carnarvon Gorge, the Main Gorge Track

For over 19 kilometres the Main Gorge Track follows Carnarvon Creek into the heart of the gorge under towering cliffs, across stepping stones in the creek and you will discover Aboriginal rock art and cultural sites, fernfilled gorges, breathtaking sandstone structures, rainforest pockets. A wonderful oasis in the outback.

Located in Central Queensland approximately 600 kilometres north west of Brisbane, it is 30 kilometres long and 600 metres deep at the mouth. The closest towns are Injune in the south and Rolleston in the north, we had travelled by vehicle, towing our caravan from the south on the Canarvon Highway.

Staying in the Takarakka bush resort for three nights we experienced Australian nature at its best. Teaming with birdlife, kookaburras, magpies and many smaller species they were all accustomed to humans and came quite close to our camp.

When exploring Carnarvon Gorge, the advice from National Parks is to trek to the farthest point of the Main Gorge Track you wish to visit for the day and then retrace and explore each point of interest on your return.

The Main Gorge Track with take you to the Ampitheatre Walk, leading to the tired ladder and narrow chasm that opens into the vast Ampitheatre.

Ampitheatre

The track will also take you to the Moss Garden Walk. Following the board walk, with a cool stream on one side and lichen covered rock walls with water dripping from ferns and lichen, the air is cool and a welcome respite from the heat outside 

The Carnarvon Gorge, Moss Garden

Wards Canyon was arguably the most difficult location to access. If our friends had not been there before, I think myself and my better half maybe would have opted out of the climb. But once there it was certainly worth the effort.

Wards Canyon, Carnarvon Gorge

dsf4447-2Of significant Aboriginal cultural heritage is the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave.  

Our second day of exploring Carnarvon Gorge, took us to Mickeys Creek

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