Litchfield Gorge


For some reason our HEMA started making up routes just to mess with our heads. It would take us in big circles and bring us back to where we started from.  There did not seem to be any rhyme or reason. I suggested, as women are wont to do, that Derek take it in at night and read the instruction manual. He suggested, as men are wont to do, that he either could not hear me or did not want to hear me. Either way, it never happened and the manual continued on its pristine state, just laying there, in the box. So on this particular leg, we found ourselves driving to the end of roads that then led us to a pasture or that area traditionally referred to as “dead.”

Swearing at the Hema is part of the male coping mechanism. Evidently the louder you swear, the more likely that it is going to “stop doing that.” This is when it occurred to me that I needed to add the head phones to the first aide kit we carried in the truck. I should also share that burying the HEMA, while it might seem a logical thing to do, is harder to get away with than you think. No matter how isolated you are in the middle of nowhere or how how low to the ground you were when you belly crawled away into the night, you can be seen and there aren’t a lot lies that cover why you have his HEMA in one hand, the shovel next to a pile of dirt AND a big hole in front of you.

Being alone, in small spaces, with a madman and an ineffective piece of equipment – even though it is not technically a power tool that he holds in his hand and feels powerful, can push you over the edge. There is a reason so many of those people who designed or bought cute small spaces you all think are so “awesome” are now eating their young or wandering around the fields, off the grid, drooling on their pajamas.

Despite all that, we managed to make it to our next destination – Litchfield Gorge in the Northern Territory.  Derek found a place to stay, a short distance away from the Gorge and it ended up being one of our favourite parks.

The park was kind of an eclectic mix of this and that, something that I am sure delighted tourists. On top of that, the owner was a real character. The caravan park itself did not look like much, it was a field with some grass, with some big trees but it had a really nice feeling to it, kind of like you were home for a visit and parked near the house. Not a lot of people were staying there but there were was a good mixture of ages and camping preferences which is always interesting. It was clear a number of the younger people chose it for the price and were taking advantage of the opportunity to do their laundry. We picked a spot and set up and went to check out a few things. Of course, because Derek is “gifted,” when we got back, someone was parked right next to us. There were only dozens of other spots they could have chosen that would have afforded them complete privacy as well but no, …. because Derek.

Is it mean of me that when I hear a woman’s voice asking “what are you doing there” followed by, “so where are you from?” and then joined by a man’s voice saying “we are from . . . ” and then a non-stop sharing of the lives of two people you really did not ever need to know that much information about .. . that I just smile and leave Derek out there … unrescued?

I have to look up “passive aggressive” in the dictionary some day when I find the time.

The first night we were there the owner invited everyone to come down to the main house and have a sausage sizzle. Aussies love their sausages although they are not the kind of sausages that North Americans barbeque – they are almost like breakfast sausages but bigger. Anyway, they eat sausages like we eat hotdogs, except they use plain bread and sometimes throw in some grilled onions.  Aussies cannot get enough of sausage sizzles.  Despite the limited menu – and that is ALL that is served at a proper sausage sizzle – we went. Wine/Beer, sausages, onions, and bread – with a good selection of condiments. Not mustard. Just barbecue and tomato sauce (ketchup).

It was this a warm night and he had set up an outdoor café under the banyan tree. It was actually quite a magical night as we sat there drinking wine and talking. It is not every day you have a big man with a thick Eastern European accent, dressed in a singlet and a wraparound skirt cooking you sausages. I tried to buy Derek a skirt later in our holidays. The whole suggestion/gift/conversation was brought to a complete halt when he flicked the skirt open and put it on the table as a table cloth. You can’t wear a skirt with tomato stains on it.

That night we met people who had been traveling Australia in their caravan for 6 years.   We learned they had sold their home and this was now their life.  I already know that I could not do that.  Caravanning will be a huge part of our life but we have too many other things that we also intend to keep.  We had gone into this open minded to the possibility of selling everything but we knew within the first month it would not be enough.  They had friends with them who were like us, just beginning their journeys.  They gave us lots of good tips and advice via sharing their experiences at places we had not yet been to.

We explored for a couple of days and Litchfield Gorge was really interesting. The gorges are like the canyons in Utah/Arizona/etc in that each one is unique and really beautiful, even though, technically you are seeing the same thing – rocks and rivers. There were lots of “pools” at the bottom of the falls and because it was a long weekend, the place was packed with families and young people taking full advantage of it all. Some of the rocks they dive off of are pretty amazing.

As much as I enjoyed seeing people active in the area and seeing how they used the pools, Derek and I are pretty much married to quiet. Not big on having to queue up to see a waterfall or jostling through people stopped on the path to visit. Why is that groups of 223 people all seem to want to walk abreast on a path and refuse to move over? Some of those screams we heard might not have been just the people jumping off the cliffs into the water – they might have come from people falling to their death – bumped off the path by the 223 person who refused to yield any space to the oncoming traffic.

Also, anthills!  Different ones again – even a magnetic one. Also cool rocks, some of them like balls, AND forests full of specialty woods!  (Sorry we don’t stick our heads in those cut out character things and neither do we take pictures of BIG fruits etc.)