(written by Nancy)
Vince was off this morning just as we started to make our way out of the tent (at 6AM!) so we just said a quick good morning and goodbye to him as he left to make his way back to Darwin. We were not in any hurry as we had a very short day planned. As we packed up we had a little visitor on the tent – finally had to encourage it with a stick to hop elsewhere, it seemed to want to come along with us.
We had about 20k of the Stuart Highway to ride before we turned off on Crater Lake Road toward Batchelor. Along the highway we saw another cycle tourist heading south so pulled over to have a chat. It was Thomas Andersen, riding from Denmark to Sydney. He has been out 9 months and has made it through Europe, India, SE Asia, Indonesia and just left Darwin 2 days ago. He was travelling very light and seemed to be in good spirits and enjoying his first experience in Australia. His website looks quite interesting – take a look: http://www.cyclingtheglobe.com/.
We only made it as far as Batchelor, which is the main town before you head into Litchfield National Park. We decided to stop here for the night – there is a decent grocery store here and we can pick up enough supplies to get us through the park and onward. We are staying at a Big4 caravan park – no real camp kitchen but the camping area is nice, though I am not sure it is nice enough for the $32 they charged us for the non-powered site. We haven’t seen these prices since we left the east coast.
We had heard about a nice cafe at the Butterfly Farm so after setting up the tent we headed there for lunch for a treat. The food was very nice, as was the setting. It is starting to feel pretty tropical here and the Butterfly Farm felt completely different than the dry dusty places we have been. They had some odd paintings, including a mural of what appears to be American Indians on the wall – not sure how that goes with the Balinese-like setting, but oh well, it was that kind of place (the waitress wore a little bell strip around her ankle – Dave really like that). The food was good and they did have James Squire, our favourite beer so we indulged – and then had homemade ice cream for dessert.
The butterfly area was interesting – there were quite a few different types of butterflies floating around but we had a very hard time getting any pictures of them. It was a nice relaxing afternoon anyway – haven’t done that for quite some time. We even got to read the paper on the day it came out – what a treat.
There were also lots of tropical plants in the garden – great bunches of lady finger bananas, and even several plants (trees?) with big thick durian fruit hanging from them. This is well-known fruit from SE Asia that is supposed to taste good but smells terrible. We will have to try this when we get over there – I suspect we will smell it a bit too.
There is supposed to be a bird feeding here at the campground at 5:30 so we will go see what that is about. Tomorrow we head into the park, probably to a camping area called Florence Falls. We will have another stop in the park, probably at Wangi Falls, and then the plan is to head to Berry Springs via a partially unsealed road, where there is supposed to be a nice caravan park and a pretty good wildlife park. We have heard that there is no mobile signal in the park so fair warning that there may not be any postings for a few days.