Named VT Survivor Trip by our host 1+1 - Zig

4x4 Road Trip to the Top End of Australia.

2 Troup Carriers and 12 Brave VTérs head into the great Aussie outback

Disclaimer. There are photos here that are from my previous travel site Virtual Tourist. 

VT has shut down.

Please ignore that VT flag, thongs, VA's and other paraphernalia that may appear here.



Happy bunch aren’t we.

What we didn't know was the full implications of 'survivor'.
Not only did we survive days of rough 4x4 driving together
in the close confines of our troupe carriers, but we survived
dangerous croc country, getting bogged twice, punchered
tyres, concocting creative tucker, countless mozzie bites
and camping in tough Aussie outback conditions.
What we didn't know was that we had to survive days without
grog.   The biggest test!

Would we make it through this ultimate challenge?
Please read on.

I spent 17 years on a fantastic warm and friendly travel site
called Virtual Tourist.   Another travel site, Trip Advisor had
a plan.  Let's buy out the competition and then axe them.
It was a sad day when VT closed down in February 2017.
But they cannot stop our memories and now most of us
have joined  Travellerspoint, our new home.  

This blog is about happy memories in 2008 when a group of us
VT'ers hit the road on an amazing adventure that we all talk about many years later.
This trip is favourite for me and I reckon most of us.


Below is a quick capture of some of the amazing scenery we experienced.



This meet consisted of 2 parts, the survivor trip and then
a fun filled weekend in Darwin.

Host Zig (1+1) did an amazing job in organising everything
including survivor certificates and a pack of info for all
of us.
Zig is a Ranger and this is his home ground.   It was
very special to have Zig show us around including meeting
his adopted aboriginal family.   More about that later.

Following is a day by day re-encounter of our amazing
adventure plus plenty of scenery and tips for you if you
plan to do the same trip. 

So please grab a snack and a drink or 3 and follow along 
with me as I relive our unforgettable story.



MEET ZIG.   The man that organised this fabulous trip.

Here, at the final dinner in Darwin, Zig is showing everyone the
mileage that we covered.   A lot!


Well this was a trip of a lifetime!!   We had been waiting a whole year.

Ever since Zig (1+1) offered to show us around his neck of the woods at the big Perth VT meet in 2007.    But that's not what he'll tell you.  Reckon I twisted his arm or something like that.

Zig did a wonderful job in arranging this big survivor trip for us.
We all can't thank him enough!!  We felt safe in his hands because being a Ranger, Zig knows the area and has also lived in Arnhem land (Aboriginal territory) and been adopted by the locals.


It was time for the pre-meet.   First to arrive, yours truly and hubby.
Zig picked us up from the airport and took us to his home where we
set up our tent in his big back yard.   Making myself at home with the butterflies.


Next to arrive,  Gillian from Manchester UK.  We met at the airport.
Darwin airport is small, easy to navigate and welcoming.


Time to meet the rest of the brave survivor crew.

Kiwi Pam and Ralph from NZ, Deb and Bob from Adelaide, Suzi and Fab from Melbourne, George and Pauline from NSW.

We chose to meet up at the Wisdom Pub in town to discuss our travel plans.   

A local resident possum was there to make sure we didn't stray from the topic of discussion. 


We needed to arrange hire of our troupe carriers, food shopping and camping equipment.   There was a lot to discuss. 

Our transport for the next 9 days.  Two 4x4 troupe carriers to be named VT 1 and VT 2.    
How nice and clean do they look.
Not for long.

We had two-way radios to keep in contact.  Everything was coming together nicely.  😃

I joined the fellas in the camp hire shop.  
Hiring tents, cooking implements etc. 
Meanwhile, the other ladies were left to do the shopping. 

Zig got a little concerned about how we were going to fit all of this stuff in our 4x4 trailers?  Especially as he specifically requested that we use powder milk instead of long life cartons.  So what to they do?  Buy a whole stack of long life mile that was going to be a bit of a headache for Zig to pack into our limited space.  😒



Where the hell's Noonamah?   Northern Territory has funny names.

I think Noonamah sounds nice.  Rolls off the tongue real well.
Do you know what Noonamah means in Aboriginal culture?
It means "plenty of tucker and good things".

Well we had plenty of tucker rofl.
Noonamah is a small town south of Darwin just past Humpty Doo.  Blink and you'll miss it.
However it has its own selling point.   Plenty of caps, pens, coasters etc with "where the 'ells Noonamah?"   I just love it!   Our VA's loved it too!!!

VA's?    Never mind.   😕  I'll explain that later.

Nezz came to the Perth VT Meet

Allikat from NZ came to Perth & Melbourne VT Meets



So here we are, 12 brave VT'ers, 2 troupies at Zig's house in Noonamah, packing our goodies for the next 9 days and being presented with our survivor certificates.
Zig went over and above to make us special Survivor Certificates and folders with lots of pamphlets and information on our coming trip.  I love reading through pamphlets.

Can we survive this big outback adventure?  
All will be revealed soon.

Australia has a major problem with cane toads who were introduced a long time ago in Queensland to kill the sugar cane beetles.   Cane toads are now a major pest because they do not have many Australian predators.

Zig explained to us that recently cane toads have made it all the way to the Northern Territory.   That is an amazing amount of miles!!   Or did they hitch?   Disgusting creatures!!

I remember when I was young, born and bred in Brisbane Queensland, going around with the next door neighbours shooting these big fat ugly toads with slug guns!  My mother was worse, killing them by putting buckets of hot water around the front yard.  Go mum!


Meanwhile.... in Zig's backyard –

My VA's Tripack from Switzerland and PJ from Amsterdam
were having their last xxxx (good queensland beer).
Knowing that this will be the last for a few days.

Watch out for the Crocs, dudes. 


So now it's time to hit the road on an amazing survivor trip of a lifetime!!



Today we started our big journey today, heading into Kakadu National Park to stay the night in Jabiru which is the last stop before entering Arnhem Land - Aboriginal territory.

You need a permit to enter Arnhem Land.   Zig arranged this for us.

See on the map Garig Gunak Barlu national park?  That is where we are headed.   Right up the top end of Australia.



The Bark Hut Inn is located half way between Darwin and Jabaru, a good place to stop for a snack and xxxx (best beer).

The Inn was built by hand by a bloke called Baldwin who came from New Zealand seeking adventure along with the crocodiles, buffalo and barramundi.   Business boomed when the Arnhem highway was put through in the 1980's. 
Today the Bark Hut is an iconic halfway house. 



Next pit stop and leg stretch - the gate entering  Kakadu National Park.



Bowali Visitor Centre is a must stop at in Kakadu.   Here you can find a wealth of information on the area, places to see, things to do, accommodation and tours.



Our first camp stop for the night and good old Aussie bbq.

Zig's Aboriginal family joined us.  It was no nice to meet them.
Zig gave all of us aboriginal names and shared some stories of how aboriginal families live.   This was really interesting.

The real aboriginal culture is built around close knit family life, something I treasure myself and admire when I see others with the same values.

My aboriginal name is El Bangardi.   Kiwi Pam and I are both sisters of zig.  I feel very privileged.



Last minute stock up as we were about to enter Arnhem Land with no grocery stores for the next 5 days.    Zig needed to buy more ice for the frozen roasts that he had stored in the camp ovens.  We didn't want them thawing too fast. 

Meanwhile the VT 2 crew were storing up on casks of water.   Casks of water?   Huh?

It's not like we will be driving for days in the big Australian desert!?   Lol.

There is fresh drinking tap water in the NT - land of plenty of water haha VT 2 were also stocking up on mozzie repellent.   Poor Rosie got attacked the previous night by a ton of pesky NT mozzies.



This is the exciting bit.  

Cahill's Crossing is where we leave Kakadu National Park and enter into Arnhem Land. 

The adventure is about to start.  We were a little excited and apprehensive at the same time. 

See the green bits in the map?   That's National Park.   We were heading up to the National Park up the top end.   

Technically, you cannot stop for the night in Arnham Land.   So most people travel straight through to Garig.   However Zig had arranged for us to stay over-night at Mt Borradaile which has a camp site and special sacred caves with Aboriginal art. 

  We were all looking forward to seeing that.  

Arnhem Land is also dry, meaning no alcohol can be consumed here.  This is the true meaning of our 'survivor' trip!   Us VTt'ers had a challenge to survive for a few days without grog!!

Can we do it?.....



This is a very dangerous crossing.   There have been quite a number of deaths here, not only from silly tourists trying to cross without a 4x4 drive.... but with a 4x4 drive and no experience.  And let's not forget about the crocs.

Quite a number of people both tourists and locals have been taken here by huge salt water crocodiles.   Zig has had to hunt them from time to time following a croc killing here.
The danger signs are there, but some people are just stupid!   Don't mess around.  Know your 4 wheel drive and if in doubt, don't do it!

Because you need to have a special permit to enter Arnhem Land, a lot of people just come here to cross at Cahills and then cross back.   Silly really, but that is the mentality of some.

No, he didn't do it.

Yes, he did but then crossed back.  




Gunbalunya is a small aboriginal town with a great little art and craft centre where the locals take pride in making and selling unique homemade gifts, paintings and authentic Aboriginal articles.

I really liked it here watching the locals paint out the back.
I was looking forward to buying something to support the local community.

I bought a stick..

Ok.   You can stop laughing now.    It's not that funny!!!...
Hey,  I like my stick .  


It has beautiful art work and I just took a fancy to it.  
They arranged the shipping back home for me.

Zig had heard that the local Elders were having a special Ceremony in the hills so he could not take the shortcut, so we had to hightail it out of there if we were to make Mt Borradaile before dark.



Washouts are water crossings.   It is important to not take chances when dealing with washouts.  If in doubt, hop out and walk through first.  

Believe me, you are better off getting your leg bitten off by a croc than gunning it through a washout too deep and being swept away into the river and being eaten whole by a croc.

As you can see, Zig here is looking out for crocs before any of us attempted to get out of the Troupe.

PJ from Amsterdam comparing canals to washouts

OH_DK from Denmark is a bit scared

Elodie from UK feels safe with her BF Reno
Some French actor.....?

Gillian from UK feels super safe
as Zig checked the washout for crocs   ?

Hubby is not so sure, but has to check it out
just to make sure the 4x4 is safe to cross.... ;)

Big long washout on the road to Mt Borradaile. 

Below also is a video of this washout.   You can see how good 4x4 driving skills are needed here.




This was something special.   This camp site is remote.
People pay thousands of dollars to come here by private plane.

Btw, this is the air strip lol.

Zig did a fantastic job organising this.   

We were prepared for the next few nights of totally roughing it in the middle of nowhere. 

But instead we got to spend the night in these flash tents.



We had a fabulous day out at Mt Borradaile.

We did a swamp cruise, croc spotting, bush walking and saw some amazing aboriginal rock art in caves as well as a sacred burial site. 

My highlight was the swamp cruise.   I love swamps.



VT'ers (well ex VT'ers now that trip advisor shut down Virtual Tourist) are well known for great travel tips.

There's one in the photo below - can you guess...?

Dinner at Mt Borradaile Campsite.

If you saw beer and wine at the table, you are right!!

Yes.... Arnhem Land is 'dry', but this campsite somehow dodged the rules and has permission to sell grog!!

So no need to bootleg grog into Arnhem Land.  Just head to Mt Borradaile camp site.

Hubby and I spied it as soon as we arrived and entered the dining room.   Wasn't long before the others figured out our discovery lol. 

And we were all happy campers. 


Going in and out of Borradaile was tricky.   We had to traverse a big long washout.   You saw the picture and video last blog.

We also had to contend with a really huge boggy bit.  And both vt1 and vt2 troupies got bogged going in and going out.

The boys even had to use winches and tie them around trees to get us out.   What an adventure.

Tip, if you use a winch, stay clear.   If that thing breaks or slips off, it'll zing around and believe me!!   Your head won't want to be in the way!   Some vt'ers were a bit too
close for comfort.   Most of us stayed well away!



Outback australia is tough.   The trip from Mt  Borradaile to Cobourg Peninsula in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park up the top end of Australia was around 6 hours.   We were running late due to the boggy situation.

This part of the journey was the roughest, traversing more washouts and also dry dirt roads. We also passed some bits where the locals were doing a bit of back burning.   This is smart.

Aboriginals have worked it out over many years of harsh Australian living conditions that spot burning helps renew growth, better for animals too.   But also assists in clearing a lot of undergrowth and spreading out burnt bits so that it's less likely that super fires can take hold and destroy hectares of nature.



So we had left Mt Borradaile and passed through Arnhem Land and now we finally made it to Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, top end of Australia.

We made it! 😄




Check that out!!   Sunrise up the top end of Australia. 

We finally made it after driving through washouts, bogs, dusty dirt roads and 6 hours in the confinement of vt1 and vt2 troupies!

Camping up the top end of Australia was fun.

We arrived after dark at the Black Point campsite and pitched our tents with the aid of flashlights. 

There's no shops here, just the campsite in a rustic setting.   We stayed here 2 nights. 

margaretvn and aussirose washing clothes

Ooops, craic is hanging around with the washing...



The black point culture centre is located at the black point ranger station within Garig Ganuk Burlu National Park on the Cobourg Peninsula.  The museum displays evidence of Macassan trading and an old Indonesian canoe.

Indonesians were one of the earliest traders into Australia.   They arrived here at the top end to collect trepang, a marine invertebrate prized for its culinary and medicinal values in the Chinese mark

Macassan is another word depicting trepangers.  

kiwi, waalewiener, loripori and Gillybob phoning home

Gee!!! Take those pesky VA's away before they get us kicked out!!



Sunset at smith point up the top end was amazing!   Rugged rocks and crashing waves along with vivid sunset colours all made for a magical experience. 

The beach was stunning!   I couldn't help but set up our VA's on the beach for a photo shoot.   

Zig stood by to keep an eye out for crocs.




shohman - top end



Hubby loves his fishing.   He conned me into helping him look for crabs on the beach nearby the campsite to use in early morning fishing.

My favourite photo is early morning fishing.
Crocs didn't even cross our mind!!!

Lucky for us there were none around. but I can tell you, early morning up the top end is absolutely stunning!   It is a memory that we will never forget.



Was a team effort.  1 to change the tyre, 4 photographers and va's giving instructions.

Do check out the video.

peiter_jan_v from Netherlands

shohman finishes the job




We had a cooking and washing up roster.

Zig's idea was a real hit!   He had a couple of camp ovens.  Camp ovens are basically big cast iron pots with a lid that you can put into hot fire coals and leave for a number of hours.

Zig bought a couple of beef roasts and had them in the camp ovens slowly defrosting so that when we arrived up the top end they were ready to cook.

The boys and a couple of VA's left early in the morning to scout for plenty of fire wood.

Diosh from UK

shohman from UK

Dinner was real good this night roast dinner complete with baked potatoes.  Yuuum.

allikat from NZ

Pam & Elodie made fish potato cakes the next night.
They were also very good.



Speaking of VA's, there were more VA's that VTérs.

In case you have not figured it out, this is the VA story.

 VT'ers invented VA's.   VA's are Virtual Attendees from all around the world who cannot make it to our meets so we print and laminate them.   And our plastic people join us on our adventures.   VA's are well known for causing major disruption and havoc wherever we go.

Here are some more photos of VA's enjoying themselves up the top end.

Allikat & Bob sharing a Coke Zero

Craic hiding from doing the washing up

Margaret vn from UK

Craic from Melbourne

Lenski from Philippines

LoriPori & Waaleweiner from Canada

MATIM from Netherlands

SuzyQ from Melbourne

Tripack from Switzerland

Elodie & Jean Remo from UK

Marianne2 from UK

unravelau from Coffs Harbour

Naughty PJ from Netherlands

George & Tripack



We had no phone reception, no internet and no TV.
So what does one do without these?

Enjoy nature and relaxation.

We even got together and sang the Vegemite song for our overseas friends.

Sorry, my thumb got in the way because I was having so much fun.





Back in Kakadu.   We survived! 

We had survived washouts, bogs, dusty roads, no phones, crocs, hours of driving in vt1 and vt2 troupe carriers, camping up the top end of australia, fishing up the top end.  And the ultimate, days without grog.  Or did we?  😉

Now, back in Kakadu, could our fantastic adventure get any better?

Yes!  What to do in Kakadu?   Plenty.

Even if you are not driving to the top end of Australia there are plenty of things to see and do in Kakadu.   Here are just a few.


This area is steeped in aboriginal history and rock art.   The walk is easy and not long.   On the way are signs that explain aboriginal dreamtime stories and the meaning behind them. 

I found it very interesting and recommend this walk.



Zig had booked us on the yellow waters cruise so he chose a camp site close by on the banks of the yellow water billabong.  

Mardugal Campground was a nice shady spot with shower and toilet facilities. 

Hubby modeling his 4 day growth


I'm not sure if it was because we arrived late, but it was totally dark when we boarded the cruise boat.   It would have been better to have had a bit of light and then experience sunset on the boat.

The fun thing is that this cruise is run by a local  Aboriginal family.   The little girl stole the show with her singing and eagerness to help out.

During the cruise they had a spot light looking for crocs.   I didn't see any which was a little disappointing. it was nice still the same that Zig organised it.



This was the highlight of Kakadu and I would encourage everyone to do this tour.   Patsy is Zig's Aboriginal sister and she was amazing!   

Patsy showed us how to hunt for bush tucker.   I had my first taste of witchetty grub which I thought tasted a bit like pistachio nut.    No the grub wasn't alive.   But Patsy cooked it.   
However we did get to taste a live animal.  Green ants.   Yep!   Patsy got them out of a tree and smashed them in her hands but when I tasted them, some were still kicking.   Actually they tasted good - lemony.   Green ants are used to relieve headaches. 

Patsy showed us how she weaves baskets and zig had a couple of snakes in bags that he pulled out and showed us.

Patsy then showed us how to start a fire with sticks.   Zig and bob took over and finally after a lot of muscle power.   Got the fire started.   That was real fun to watch.

Then after, Patsy and her helper cooked us barramundi in fire coals underground, damper and bush jam etc.


And on top of all of this, we watched a stunning sunset over the flat savannah type land.   That was so magical!! 

Yes the first photo is hubby's and totally my favourite, but the others are mine and taken from my trusty point and shoot camera.

I didn't have a DSLR, but it was not long before I just had to get one.



We stayed the night at Zig's ranger house in Cooinda so we left the trailers there and headed to Jarrangbarnmi.

Jarrangbarnmi, also known as Koolpin Gorge is located on the south/eastern part of Kakadu. It is a world heritage site and as such, you need a permit to get into the gorge.   

It just so happens that Zig is a Ranger and had a key on him.

This was so much fun.   The banks of the river were sandy and the river was so pretty.  

Zig showed us the big croc traps they have here.   When a croc is caught, they locate it elsewhere. 

I would not go here alone without someone that knew how to spot if a croc was around. 

  Zig took us in the little boat here up the river where we climbed some rocks to a billabong where zig said it was croc safe.  He explained that it is too high for crocodiles to get to.

Then after Zig showed us the direction of the way out and we went for a wild bush walk whilst Zig took the boat back to one of the troupies and drove up the road to get us all.



This was another highlight for me.   I love paperbark trees.    The different colours of bark have a beautiful artistic look.   Coupled with white sandy paths, this was so pretty.

Zig explained that the floating white cork balls were there as a croc trap.   They are checked every day and if there are bite marks, then the rangers know that there is a croc here.
Zig explained that there were no crocs around today.  

Hubby went in for a swim.  The rest of us were not so game.






Last day of our big survivor trip and we still had some exciting stuff to do.  Zig really did an amazing job in organising this.   Love ya bro.  



Pine Creek is definitely worth a visit.   It is an old gold mining town.   There is an interesting railway museum with lots of history.

Pine Creek also has Mayse's Cafe that makes the hugest juiciest big burgers I have ever tasted!!   And next door is the Bottle-O for beer to wash it down with.

Driver Reviver station

Not much happening at the Races today.




Yes, as you can see, our VA's were still alive and kicking.  
But not for long.

We had a slight VA accident in outback pine creek.

Story goes like this -

Pine Creek is an old mining town.  VA's were warned about the possible danger.

OH_DK was warned about old mine shafts

PJ in Pine Creek

We set up Patrick from Switzerland and Ove from Denmark for a photo shoot.

Unfortunately,  Ove stepped back and fell down a mine shaft.   Never to be seen again.  OH_DK is probably still resting there.  Down the back of the mineshaft, between the signs somewhere.

Poor Patrick was left by himself.

Last sighting of Ove was here

OH_DK Rip in Pine Creek

Or did he?


The good thing about VA's is that you can resurrect them.  When we arrived back in Darwin, I took my memory stick to the local printers and just printed him out again.

Won't say what the printer guy said?    



Fast forward - 2009.

We were on our way back from the big Whitsundays meet, driving the top end from Cairns back to Zig's place near Darwin.

Back in Pine Creek.  This time we had Rich from Chicago USA with us.  Ove came back for a second appearance.   This time in full mining gear.   Haha!!

So here are Rich and Ove at the site of the accident and video to prove it lol.



We took the back road from Pine Creek to Adelaide river.  Primary to visit a small historical outback pub.

Along the way we crossed the railway line that hosts the famous Ghan train that runs between Adelaide and Darwin.  On the southern side of the crossing was a small railway station.


Tripack from Switzerland & Bijo69 from Germany

Switzerland & Bijo69 from Germany

diosh from UK





This was a highlight, meeting Stan the owner of this pub since 1934.   He had some interesting stories to tell and what better way to listen than on a stool at the bar with a few 
XXXX's (good beer).

The hotel has lots of collections on display including over 200 stubbies, all full, caps and car rego plates.   It also houses historical memorabilia of days gone by.

While we were here, we heard a train whistle in the distance.  Yes!   That Ghan train went by.  We all raced outside to wave.  That was fun.   I took a video, but unfortunately my video is
lost in the big busted external drive heaven, along with the video I took of us singing the Vegemite Song up the top end and the one of Zig making fire at Patsy’s place.


After a few well deserved drinks at the grove,  hubby happily relinquished his driving duties to Zig and Pam's hubby.   After all hubby had something to celebrate, driving thousands of miles up to the top end of Australia, dealing with washouts and bogs.  He did real well. Goodonya hubby!

So we are sitting in the back of the troupie with a couple of roadies and some chips.  I passed the chips to the boys in the front.  Unfortunately there was a steel fence between the boys in the front and us in the back.   So no chips for them lol.   Check out the video.




Our stop for the night as the caravan and camping ground.  Home of Charlie the buffalo from Crocodile Dundee.

We also visited the Cemetery here which houses many graves of the war hero’s.

During the wet season Adelaide River becomes a torrent.   Zig  pointed out some wood that was caught high up in the bridge.
 That shows how high this river rises during the monsoon.

Zig picked May for our trip which follows the monsoon season 

and so that is why we traversed many washouts and full 

billabongs.   Well done Zig! 


May in the Darwin area is late autumn so the next morning the temperature was around 18c.   A cold front was coming through and Zig and most Darwinians were freezing.   

The rest of us thought that was funny, especially Gillian from England who had a T-shirt on.


Finally back home at Zig's place in down town Noonamah.
Sadly, our holiday was at an end. 😞

Or was it?



Next up - the big VT weekend bash in Darwin.

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