Sunday Read part 1: Cross Country Road Trip Kununurra – Cooktown


Our 1st week on the road crossing the outback

Welcome to our first Sunday read, which contains our first part of our Australian cross-country road trip.

This article will cover the longest part of the trip, which was mainly outback driving, with stunning stops along the way.

We drove more than 3200 k`s in 5 days, slept in 5 different accommodations, crossed 3 states ( Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland ) and had lots of fun.

Our aim was to get to QLD a.s.a.p and then our real holiday would start. Don’t worry about us missing things along the way because we did this part quite fast, we both drove this route before from the other way around in our backpack time and we were ready for some different views then the outback.

Sunday 28 August

Our first lap was from Kununurra to Katherine.
We left Kununurra at 6.45, of course 45 minutes behind schedule but hey, still good for a family with kid and not going on a holiday but leaving everything behind and starting a new chapter in Australia.

Drove this 530 km from Kununurra to Katherine ( or the other way around ) for the 5th time and it never bores you, even though it’s all outback with a rock here and there, but it has this colours and scenery, it`s just amazing. In the future we will post lots about the Kimberley region, so stay tuned 😉

Close to the Victoria River Roadhouse is the Gregory / Judbarra National Park, we didn`t spend much time there this time, but we did on a previous trip to Darwin, and it`s a bit of a hidden gem, as you don’t hear much about it, but the nature is just amazing.

This time we just had a break at the Victoria River Roadhouse and hit the road again as we wanted to dip into the Katherine Hot Springs.

The Katherine Hot Springs are a real treat after a long day in the car and the water is crystal clear and amazingly hot. The surroundings make this place a real treat.
After our nice refreshing break we drove from Katherine to Mataranka (112 k`s )
We arrived at the Mataranka Homestead around 17.15 and did 655 k`s our first day.

Sem did amazing, he slept around 2 hours in 2 hits and was just chilling out by the hobbles and wiggles of the car.
And he can spend hours with the music book he got from uncle William and aunty Nicki. We also put some kids movies with lots of colours and songs on our iPad in case he was bored and that works a treat!  And of course little snacks and lots of fruit to nibble on.

When we arrived at the Mataranka Homestead we instantly felt on holidays.
A wonderful tropical Oase and the nature is just stunning in the middle of the outback with a touch of tropical rainforest.

After all the impressions of the first day and the trip Sem was vast asleep as soon as we put him down, so we had another beer outside our room and called it quits for the day as well.

Monday  29 August

We woke up around 5.15, our normal wake up time, but here in the Northern Territory we have got 1.5 hour time difference and it was still pitch dark till around 6.15.
As soon as the sun came up we went ff to the Hot Springs  and luck was on our side, as we were there with only another early bird couple.
The sun was coming up through the palm trees, the water felt as a warm blanket with lots of steam from the heat of the water and the cold temperature outside, and we had our own section of the springs. In other words ` hello paradise ` It was  absolutely magical.

That was an amazing start of the week.

When we were all ready with the Mataranka Hot Springs, we set off to Bitter Springs, which was close by and this was even more beautiful. Lion took on his goggles ( thanks Chris/Sandy! ) and even spotted a turtle!

Bitter Springs has a natural current, so you can just station yourself  in the water with a pool noodle, air bed or just you and your goggles and go literary with the flow.

Check out our beautiful pictures and read all about Mataranka Hot Springs and Bitter Springs ( click here )

After Bitter Springs we went for a famous home-made pie at the United Servo ( thanks Jeroen! ) This Pie was the best Pie we ever tasted here in Australia. And believe me, we tasted a lot of pies along the way. This inspired us as well for our mission to see if we can get any better along the way.

We decided to hit the road straight away as we still had a 552 km trip to go to the Three Ways Road house.

And we had to stop at the Daly Waters famous Historical Pub. What a unique and awesome place in the middle of nowhere.

Read about and check out our pictures of the Daly Waters Pub (click here)

When we arrived at Three ways roadhouse we did 1253 km in total ( 1/3 of our total k`s up to Cooktown. )
The last time I stayed at Three ways was at the camp site at the end of March, so straight after the Wet Season and the mozzies and sand flies attacks are still fresh in my mind. So we were a bit apprehensive about 3 ways, but we didn’t have much choice to stay somewhere else, as we wanted to drive all the way to Mount Isa the next day ( 637 km ) and apart from Three ways there is nothing around.
We stayed in a Motel room this time, and it was surprisingly nice. Basic and simple, but other sides also cosy and clean. Especially compared with the night before at Mataranka.
So we had a good night sleep. Sem took a bit longer to go asleep ( still needed to get rid of some energy ) and of course adapting a bit to the time difference of 1.5 hour in the NT compared with WA. so his bedtime around 6.30/07.00 pm was for his feeling way to early! So he stayed up for a while and we decided to go to sleep with him and have a good rest before 2 more big travel days.

Tuesday 30 August

637 km road trip to Mount Isa, which went very smooth and well. It`s all straight forward with a few little towns along the way and continuously changing scenery, but with nothing then endless stretches of land. It makes you realise  how immensely big our country is and that there is so much space, just for nature and wildlife, absolutely impressive.

We had 1 lunch stop, 1 small stop, 1 extra fuel stop and of course we had to take a picture with the ` welcome to Queensland ` board.

Sem did again very well, 2 times just before our stops he started to get enough of sitting, but after playing, eating and running around he was all good to go again and even though we had another half an hour shorter, as here in Queensland it`s another 0.5 hour later than the Northern Territory, so 2 hours later than Western Australia and 8 hours later than in Holland.

We arrived halfway through the day in Mount Isa, where we did some shopping and settled it into our Cabin.
We stayed at the Discovery Park Mount Isa in an economy cabin. These cabins are absolutely great!  It really gives you that holiday feeling.

Check it our here via  for your best price and pic`s of the park and accommodation.

Sem was off exploring the camping and the kitchen cabinets, we checked and reorganised the car a bit and chilled out before our biggest travel day of the trip the next day from Mount Isa to Charters Towers.

Also went for some shopping at Coles and we felt like kids in a candy shop.
Everything so clean, fresh and a massive amount of fresh fruit and veggies all nicely stored in baskets, which looks really nice. In Kununurra we found stuff in the supermarket was often crap, not a lot of choice, veggies and fruit not always really fresh, and the presentation wasn’t the best either. It is still ridiculous that we have so much produce of fresh fruit and veg in Kununurra, but it goes down south to get packed and all and then back up north and we get all the rubbish back. But that`s not our worry anymore, so hallelujah to nice supermarkets again!

Wednesday 31 August

Early days as we have got another big day ahead, driving from Mount Isa to Charters Towers ( 769 km ) . We drove off around 07.00 am
Worked a bit in the car and around lunchtime we arrived in Richmond, which is a small little town, where we fuelled up and while we were looking for a nice place to have a break and our lunch we bumped into this amazing park with water play ground and picnic area which was called the Lake Fred Tritton.

We had a nice break here with lots of fun and cooling down.

After our great break it was time for our 2nd part of the trip.
Again the landscapes changed all the time, from hills around Mount Isa to flat grass fields past Cloncurry.

We arrived at the end of the afternoon in Charters Towers, where we had a nice rest in the Charters Towers Motel. Great little place with spacious and very clean rooms. Let`s say the old fashion hospitality with eye for detail  and owners who care.  Coincidently we had a lovely Dutch couple in the room next to us.

Thursday 1st of September

Explored the historic town of  Charters Towers a bit. Been here before and it`s quite nice but more orientated on elderly people but great to have a little walk around.

After that we  drove to Undara National Park (383 km )  in the hope to check out the Lava Tubes. This was unfortunately ( but also understandable ) only possible by guided tour. We as adventurers are a bit allergic to guided tours so we had a look around and had a break in the wonderful surroundings of the Undara National Park.

It was around 15.30 by that time, so we were thinking about where to stay for the night and we decided just to drive and I would look for accommodation while driving, so I bumped into this really good last-minute offer via one of our partners   Only one thing,  this was in the Atherton Tablelands,  another 199 km.. Hmm considering Sem sleeping in the car, we were still in a drive mood, we just went for it and booked it for 2 nights, so we could enjoy and relax a bit more.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset in the car and going from flat roads to mountains covered in fog and clouds, this was awesome! We arrived just after dark and got welcomed by a really lovely lady named Liz at the reception of the Lake Eacham Holiday park.


Next Month: Part 2 of our epic Road Cross Country Road Trip ` The Atherton Table Lands `

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Happy Sunday!


*Photography as always by Woody World Packer


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