With an overnight stop at a donation only camp in Croydon, we were well on our way to Karumba. We knew Karumba would be our last chance to see the ocean in a long time. It also felt like we ticked off a milestone reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Pulling into Karumba point tourist village we knew straight away it was going to be busy. This place was flat out, people coming and going. Boats and caravans galore. This would be a quick two night stop for us.
We set up camp and relaxed for the afternoon, letting the kids play in the rocks and dirt. We cleaned up the two littles, fed them, dressed them ready for bed, then put them in the car armed with milkshakes and a movie all in preparation of going to watch the famous Karumba sunset. Initially we had planned to grab a beer at the sunset bar but it was far more convenient and a whole lot nicer to park the car further down facing the water. We had the quietest spot, and perfect unspoilt views. With the kids happy in the back, we perched ourselves on the bonnet, drinks in hand and watched the colours change right before us. It didn’t take long for the sun to completely disappear and for it to get cold. That was our cue to get back to the van and put the sleepy ones to bed.
With no real plans for us in Karumba and not a lot for us to actually do here with a 1 and 2 year old, we decided to take this morning easy and head to a playground. Coffees in hand, hats on heads, this mornings activities were sorted. Tom decided to take this opportunity to book himself a charter boat for the afternoon and try his chances at catching some fish. 12pm came around, kids went to sleep and Tom took off on his solo adventure. Boarding the boat with just a small handful of people, they set off down the river and into the Gulf. It was unfortunate that it was too cold for Barramundi at this time of year but there was plenty of other options. Five hours of fishing and a few beers under his belt, a very happy Tom returned home with a few mackerel. Now we don’t actually eat fish but Tom was just excited to bring them home and show them off. Lucky for us, with a full caravan park of fish loving travellers, they were easy to pass around and Tom quickly became the most loved visitor to the park. We did keep a fillet to bbq and try for ourselves but it just confirmed our dislike for fish.
A satisfied fisherman Tom and two relaxed toddlers meant it was time to move on. Packing up and hitting the road first thing in the morning, we headed along the highway with a quick stop in Normanton for the token photo with the largest saltwater croc ever caught. We took the opportunity to fuel up and grab a few essential groceries. Off we go again.
This was the first time we were driving on a corrugated dirt road for an extended period of time. Down went the tyres… all eight of them. The kids thought it was funny sitting in their seats bumping along, making loud noises so their voices vibrated. The bumps quickly sent them both to sleep. We knew we were getting close to our destination, in saying that we were not exactly sure what we were looking for, in terms of our free camp. We just knew there was a turn off on the main road that lead towards some dried up waterfalls on The Leichhardt River.
We found it easier then we thought, there was already three caravans that had just pulled up and finding a spot. The camp itself was simply a huge sheet of rock that had cracked open in sections. Deciding that our best option was to reverse in next to a van that had just parked, we carefully navigated ourselves into the perfect spot. No need for unhitching or setting up properly as this was just an overnighter. We all jumped out keen to have a look at where we were. This place was magic. Although there wasn’t a great deal of water, the rock formations easily showed us where the water flows and how full the river gets. There were sheer drops and massive cracks so keeping a very close eye on the kids was priority. We made friends with our neighbours and shared some drinks around a fire that evening sharing travel stories. That is one of our favourite things about being on the road, we meet so many like minded people. Our conversations were interrupted by a couple of very drunk cowboys who pulled their ute right into the middle of our camp, not quite sure what their intentions were but we tried our best to move them along quickly. Outback camping certainly has its interesting moments. We all went to bed that night with everything locked up tight and our wits about us.
That was one of the most beautiful, peaceful free camps we have been to. We highly recommend anyone driving that way to stop there.