Walk in my Wheels

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Destination Darwin

We have arrived at our destination; our new home in Darwin! Yep we made it.

Leaving Adelaide we traveled along the Flinders Ranges on our way to our first stop Port Augusta. We stayed at the Shoreline caravan park, Jes thought the cabin was dated but it suited my needs.  The interest the croc  is attracting is amazing with one fella wanting to buy it.

This croc surely has made us the most photographed vehicle on the Stuart Highway in 2016

This croc surely has made us the most photographed vehicle on the Stuart Highway in 2016

Up early and 600kms to travel to our next stay Coober Pedy, it's a pretty barren drive but we stop at Pimba and Glendambo and start our sticker collection for my toy hauler I'm towing up. Coober Pedy is a real example of anti social behavior in and around town going out of a night is not an option. We stay at a cabin at the Big 4 caravan park (Stuart Ranges Outback Resort) a little out of town and is a grouse place to stay with a little band playing away at the pizza bar next to reception. Refreshed from a good nights sleep and more travel today we head into town for the morning market, after chatting to many different characters it was sadly time to hit the road..

The Stuart Highway sticker haul on the toy hauler

The Stuart Highway sticker haul on the toy hauler

Another 600 kms today as we head for Alice Springs with Marla and kulgera stop at it is a pretty easy drive apart from the road trains and caravaners everywhere. It's Saturday night and Jess has been great so we decide to unwind with a couple of nights at the casino and relax and sit around the pool jess or gambling macca. It's a very luxurious place and is just what we need.

Monday morning we head for Tennant Creek traveling the Stuart Highway the countryside is stunning  as it changes all the time, we stop at Ti Tree, Barrow creek , Wycliffe Well and Wauchope for coffee and stickers and arrive at the motel about 5pm. We have tea at the restaurant and get a good nights sleep. We head into town and meet a few fellas and one particular bloke had me in tears as he told me the struggles of isolated life and his time in the war and how some locals treat him and three other diggers - a fair dinkum tear jerker. I had a couple of frozen crayfish with me and gave them for him and his mates to enjoy.

Crays caught in South Australia that made their way to an old digger in Tennant Creek

Crays caught in South Australia that made their way to an old digger in Tennant Creek

Daly Waters here we come - 400 kms until I can have a beer at the oldest pub in Australia. We collect stickers at Renner springs, Elliott, Dunmarra to name a few.  Temperatures have changed dramatically since Coober Pedy 18 degrees to Daly Waters 33 degrees, ah feeling better already. We book at the Highway Inn and enjoy the night.

Darwin and our new home at Howard springs are 600kms away it's a very easy drive with Mataranka and Katherine to enjoy with rivers flowing because of recent rains.

Although we did have our new toy hauler with us, it was so jam-packed with stuff and it was first of all too cold, then too hot and we don't have air con or heaters sorted in there yet, so we opted to find accommodation along the way. Below is a few pics of places we stayed, reviews on these to come.

 

My initiation into Darwin life has been one of going shirtless and shoe-less, and pouring water over my head in attempts to prevent myself from overheating (quads have no body temperature regulation).

Jess has also been struggling to adjust to the heat but her real initiation has involved the wildlife in her nightly trips out to the outdoor bathroom. This morning the squeals were due to a giant grasshopper perching on the shower curtain (a google search just showed this is actually a thing) and a green tree frog hiding under, and then refusing to get off the toilet seat.

There's going to be steep learning curve I think in terms of life in the tropical north. We just learnt today there's a scary disease you can catch from mossie bites... any other stuff we should know fellow Territorians?!

We've spent our first few days cleaning, unpacking, buying up furniture and home stuff, and exploring the neighbourhood... and we'll likely remain busy doing all of that for a few weeks as well as tidying up the property and house improvements... luckily I love to work myself hard, and Jess is a goer too, when not snoozing the afternoon away!

The plan at this stage is to spend the next few months in Darwin, and see how we go in the wet season, with perhaps a trip south in the new year. Let us know if you're coming up for a break, and tell any locals WE HAVE ARRIVED!

 

Tasmania Travels - Triabunna Cabin Review

For our first week we stayed at the Triabunna Cabin & Caravan Park on the east coast of Tasmania, about an hours drive from Hobart. It's a lovely quiet quirky little fishing town with everything within walking (or wheeling) distance.

We enjoyed our stay at this small but busy cabin & caravan park. We had the Superior Cabin which is a new one bedroom, wheelchair accessible (level entry) cabin with a roomy lounge / dining area, and full kitchen. It suited our needs well.

The owners were friendly, they introduced themselves upon our arrival and were eager to hear our feedback and to improve things where they could.

Only things that let it down was the shower bench wasn't installed properly and thus didn't fold up as it should - I was concerned I would injure my feet on it while showering - hopefully this will be fixed. Also the bed was a little too high (we usually find them not high enough!) but the feet could've been removed if we'd wanted it lowered, other than that it was a comfortable bed with lots of room (we had it set up as a king bed, but it can be separated into two king singles).

Other notes:

  • The laundry, main toilet block (for campers), & reception office were not wheelchair accessible. 
  • My companion dog was allowed to stay, but not in the cabin. 
  • The free wi-fi service was very good - much better than the usual camping ground networks.

One of the greatest attractions in Triabunna is the ferry service to Maria Island (pronounced Mariah -  like the singer), apparently a beautiful pristine island with great walking tracks - I'll never know as this proved to be yet another ferry service that has a strange definition of wheelchair accessible. This ferry is definitely NOT wheelchair accessible - hopefully thanks to the chat I had with the booking lady, they won't be telling people from now on that it is - there's no way I could make the trip sadly.

Highlights of the town for me was watching the activity on the wharf - there were tonnes and tonnes of squid being bought in while we were there, an archaeological dig that was underway at the old Barracks next to the Spring Bay Hotel, and the friendly locals including John who kept offering us plums off his trees.

Next stop... Snug Bay Cabin & Caravan Park...

 

Byron Bay Rainforest Resort - Time for a Change

We were fortunate enough to stay at the Rainforest Resort on the outskirts in Byron Bay, a complex of 9 small huts amongst remnant coastal rainforest. The remarkable thing about this property - aside from the beautiful setting – is that each hut is wheelchair accessible.

The open air porch of our cabin looking out to dense rainforest

The open air porch of our cabin looking out to dense rainforest

The original concept and initial three huts, an open air cabana and roll-in pool, that were built in 1987 were the result of Phillipa Nickol's vision, initially opening as the 'Wheel Resort'. Phillipa was an amputee herself, and had an awareness of the real lack of accommodation facilities at that time for people with disability. The huts were designed with a “South Sea Island village huts” feel in mind by well-known local architect Christine Vadasz.

In 1991 Catherine Carter – a wheelchair user as a result of a traumatic brain injury - took on a half share of the property, becoming full owners with her husband Murray in 1995. Six more cabins were added over the years, the Cabana was enclosed and improved upon, the paths around the property were paved, and air-conditioning units were added.

Catherine too was passionate about the vision for accessible accommodation, she was an outgoing person who continued to swim and ride horses post injury, although her mobility slowly decreased over the years. Sadly Catherine passed away almost three years ago and her husband Murray has been running the property with the help of the Assistant Manager, his 13 year-old daughter Cinta (an official title she has held since she was seven).

Murray admits the resort gets mixed reviews with many finding his “lack of anal retentiveness” in cleanliness and property maintenance not to their liking. Others, like us, have enjoyed the feeling of staying in a tropical hideaway and feeling like we have our own little oasis.

In his time Murray reckons he's learnt a thing or two about people, finding it interesting that although people will readily complain about many things, one thing that he doesn't hear much of is complaints about guests' dogs (the resort is pet-friendly) despite having a few “mangy mongrels” stay at times.

Since legislation was brought in for new accommodation facilities to need to provide an accessible room/unit the Rainforest Resort has catered less and less to those with disabilities as other resorts have been built in the area, and the majority of their guests are 'regular' travellers, often with dogs. Due to feedback from those 'regulars' they've shied away from installing further disability related features in rooms (such as ceiling hoists) so that the huts don't develop a “institutional feel”.

After almost 25 years, Murray has decided he's had enough of the “warts and all” 24/7 lifestyle of being a live-in resort owner and manager confessing “I'm pretty due for a break... I haven't had a proper holiday in all this time.” The property went to auction at the end of November and the paperwork is being finalised at present in the handover to the new owner.

Murray will be there until the end of January 2016 and then... well he's planning to take that well-earned break, time with Cinta, and may even write a book on climate change.

We are certainly hoping to stay again later this year – we have our fingers crossed the new owners will continue with the resort as it has been run with a relaxed, chilled feel and letting the surrounds speak for themselves – although maybe with a little of a refresh to the rooms and facilities.

Have you stayed here before? Tell us what you thought. Would you be sad for it to be closed down or luxury-ified?