Darwin NT to Port Douglas Qld

Pinnarendi Station Stay and Cafe is a gem hidden in outback Queensland.

After Kakadu, we returned briefly to Darwin to get an upgraded auxiliary battery system installed in the car because the previous one did not have enough capacity to keep the car fridge cool when we stopped for more than a day.  The Freespirit Resort and Caravan Park in Darwin was lovely, very quiet. We secured a site under a big shady tree to help with the 40ºC heat. The only rain we’d had for months poured down in the few minutes it took Tim to reverse the van into site.

From Darwin we headed toward Port Douglas on the east coast, about 2,900 km when you stick to the bitumen.

Our first stop was a car wash to get all the bird and bat poo off our van and car. One spot had eaten into the car paint work.

Our first overnight stop was the iconic Daly Waters Historic Pub, NT.  Fabulous.

Second night was Barkly Homestead Roadhouse, NT.  Diesel prices had reached $2.06/L.

Some of the things we saw on the way.

I was particularly excited to get to the Queensland border, being born and raised in Queensland. The Northern Territory was an amazing place to visit but with the monsoon season fast approaching, we were glad to be heading away from the increasing heat and humidity.

After passing through Mt Isa, we reached the turn-off to Mary Kathleen, which was the west-most point of our 2015  counter-clockwise trek. Thus we had completed a full lap in a little under 5 years.

The third stopover was the little town of  Cloncurry, Qld.

Our plan had been to go into Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park for a few days to do some hiking and swim in the gorge. The road in is unsuitable for caravans so we were to leave the van at Gregory Downs and take our tent in. But with the temperatures sitting over 40ºC during the day and not much relief at night, plus high humidity, we decided to wait for another time when the weather is kinder. So our fourth night was in Normanton, Qld.  To celebrate Tim’s birthday we went to the Purple Pub.

Normanton has recently been invaded with some very tiny ants called Destructive trailing Singapore ant which apparently chews electrical equipment, cars and structure, as well as people. Thankfully they didn’t give us any problem, but we sprayed everything including ourselves.

Pinnarendi Station Stay and Cafe was our fifth and final stopover before Port Douglas. What a hidden gem! It is a working cattle station open to caravans in the dry season. Rob and Nadine own and run the place and are ‘foodies’ who make the most fabulous food (and coffee). Wood fired pizza, sourdough bread, real coffee, home made cakes and biscuits,  and so much more. The caravan sites are all drive through and only last year they put in amenity blocks, washing machine, and power & water to some sites. If you’re in the area, drop in for a coffee and say hello, or better still for a meal or stay the night. It’s 1 km off the Kennedy Hwy along an well-maintained driveway — no problem for a 2WD car and road van. The hospitality is wonderful. Even the temperature dropped to 25ºC with a lovely cool breeze.

Nadine and Rob’s 12 year old son Conner has his own business making things on his 3D printer and selling them in the store. You can e–mail him with special orders: check out his business card below.

Once we got to the Great Dividing Range the temperature dropped, the landscape became green, dotted with rainforest, and there was even a sprinkling of rain. We are in Port Douglas for the next week or so, enjoying the tropics.

Cheers til next time, Helen and Tim.