About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

We glided over the rainforest.



Monday 27th

Today we were going to be treated like royalty. A VIP trip along the Kuranda scenic railway with own butler and waited on throughout the journey, followed by a Diamond 7.5 km gondola ride. A chap named Glen came from Northern Exposures tours to collect us at 8.30am. Not cheap by any means but although we paid a good amount for the excursion we ended up being the only two on this tour. A private tour would have cost double so in fact, we felt it money well spent.

Arriving at Freshwater station Glen took us to our 'butler' where the cocktails were waiting. Then he got us great seats on the best side in the gold carraige to admire the views and waterfalls and said he would see us at Kuranda. From then on the 90-minute journey along the Macalister Range was spent enjoying food and drinks at the click of a finger and being pampered. Wow.. I could get used to that!










At Kuranda, we had 2 hours to enjoy the town. Loads to see and do and not enough time. We shopped at the markets and went to the venomous centre. More snakes were held by yours truly as well as by Ian. I think calling him a wuss must have done the trick. Our guide Glen was waiting after the 2 hours ready to take us to Skyrail.




Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a 7.5-kilometre scenic cableway running above the Barron Gorge National Park and has the most spectacular views. With us being a Diamond class we had the gondola with the glass floor. Only every 9th gondola has this and is specifically reserved for those that pay a premium. As we glided over the rainforest canopy looking down it felt like we were flying over the trees. Quite an experience and not one for the faint-hearted. To do the 7.5km with two stops on the way took nearly 45 minutes. What a brilliant day and another recommendation by us. 










And the wildlife seen as we alighted from the train,

Amethystine Python.

Monday, 27 February 2017

A swim in a net

Saturday25th/ Sunday 26th

This morning, 2 km walk almost back to the airport to collect the campervan. 10 am was the pickup time and sure enough, the van was waiting for us....or so we thought.A peculiar thing, though, we were shown this newer van which had USB ports and a decent radio. The guy showed us round and even set the safe combination for us.Gas bottle was full as was the water tank. So I go and start putting our stuff in it. Then back he comes and said 'no this wasn't ours, the one just come out from the workshop was ours'. That one had no USB port, radio naff to say the least and it wasn't until we got to our first site in Port Douglas that we found the water tank was empty, gas bottle not full, electric kettle had no base so no way of switching it on and a damaged front wing! Their office doesn't open until Monday so we are stuck with it for the time being. Thankfully we will be passing back through Cairns so we will see what happens when we call in.



Driving this larger van was okay but I kept forgetting to give the corners a wide berth. Got to Port Douglas and found a great campsite near the town centre and beach. That night it rained, the humidity was very high and for once the aircon did the job of making sleep comfortable. How those other campers got on without AC in these temperatures (didn't drop below 29deg all night) I hate to think.

Sunday and we walked to the market. Bought no end of goodies to take back to the UK. Ah... and forgetting we only have 20kilo allowance on the flight home. May look into shipping our things across instead.

Then a swim in the net on 4-mile beach. The net is not for sharks but Box and Bluebottle jellyfish. Vinegar is also to hand to pour over a sting just in case. The Box can kill you in minutes!!!! 



Another trip had been planned on the ship Lady Douglas for later that afternoon. More of a wildlife trip with the possibility of seeing a proper 'Saltie Croc'. Into the mangroves, we went keeping eyes peeled along the banks. First to put in an appearance was an Archer fish followed by a Sea Eagle Osprey, Mudskippers, Mangrove Heron, Kingfishers, Flying fox, Torres strait pigeon, Curlew and then when we had all but given up hope, a Saltwater crocodile.



And that is where our boat is moored at Langley Mill!
 
White Sea Eagle




Osprey



Mangrove Heron





Bush stone Curlews

Torres strait pigeon






Sunset last night.

 A treat is in store for us tomorrow. We will be VIP's for the day. 



Sunday, 26 February 2017

No springs in Alice.

Friday 24th

As The flight to Cairns wasn't until 5.20pm and check out of the motel was at 10am.so what to do in the meantime. Well first leave bags with the motel receptionist and then walk the 4km to the Telegraph station. The heat at 30 deg was punishing but the walk along the dry Todd riverbed had its merits. We saw rock wallabies, eagle's, weird coloured crickets and small lizards. After an hours walk, we finally arrived. Would have got there sooner but kept stopping to check out the terrain.




The first building to view was the Barracks, the first major structure built in central Australia and in 1872 the Stations first telegraph message was transmitted to Adelaide. The message read 'CW Kraegen had died of thirst 100km down the line in the December heat'. He had been on his way to Alice Springs to take up the position of Stationmaster.









The Telegraph Station was midway along the Overland Telegraph line from Darwin to Adelaide and played a key role in Australia's development. Personal and business messages, which had taken  months by sea, now only took hours. It reduced the isolation of Australians from the rest of the world.
 

We then walked to the 'Springs'. Most people (myself included) assumed that the name Alice Springs  came about because of a spring at the telegraph station. In fact, the 'Spring' is just a water hole found by Government surveyor William Mills in 1871 whilst exploring the Macdonnell Ranges. He named it Alice Springs after the wife of Charles Todd who won the tender for constructing the overland line.



The river bed might look totally dry but dig down and the water is just underneath.



The 4 km walk back was even more draining. The temperature had soared to 38 deg and with very little shade it was an effort to put one foot in front of the other. We both had constant sips of water from the 2 Ltr bottle but that didn't help in quenching the thirst. I have come to the conclusion that these two Brits find it very difficult to cope in the very hot conditions.

Very glad to get back to the air-conditioned Motel. We only had 30 minutes to wait before the airport shuttle bus came to collect us. Got to the security check and I was once again pulled out for a search. It happened at Auckland and again here in Alice Springs. I must have that dodgy look! Anyway, we boarded the plane in glorious weather and landed in Cairns during a thunderstorm and torrential rain. To say it was a bumpy ride was an understatement. I was very frightened at one point when the plane lurched and seemed somewhat erratic. Boy, was I glad to get down on the ground safely at Cairns. And as for Ian...totally unconcerned, took the turbulence in his stride and called me a right wuss for being so scared!.



It's the last leg of the Aussie adventure next. We collect the campervan in the morning.

So the wildlife encountered on the walk,

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