Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Katherine – Thursday

When we were choosing our campsite at Litchfield I told Alex I didn’t want to be too far from the amenities block. Apart from disappearing off into the bush campsites we were about as far away as it was possible to get! To make up for that our campsite here has its own “ensuite” complete with laundry tub, washing line and sensor lights and we’re both enjoying the luxury.

The original town here was at Knott’s Crossing and today we went to see the site. Alex really excelled himself when he took a wrong turn and ended up on the hospital helipad! The Knott’s Crossing location is lovely. There were warning signs about the possibility of crocodiles so we kept a watchful eye out but all was peaceful. Having seen the size of the snake caught in some fishing line I’m very glad the path was clear.

The Katherine Museum was also on our list for today and we roamed about there until we reached overload. We learnt a lot though especially about the ethnic backgrounds of early settlers and their attempts to make a go of their farms. Where ever we go Chinese seem to have been involved in setting up market gardens to supply fresh food to the community.

A statue of a horseman has caught my eye a couple of times but today we took the time to check it out. Luckily we’d read about the man when we were at the museum but the statue is a tribute to not just one man but to the many pioneering families in the community.

Sabu Sing monument

Our last venture for the day was to the Katherine Creek for a swim in the “Hot Springs”. The benchmark for hot was set for us at Beduori so we give the water at Katherine a rating of only mildly warm or lovely and warm if you get back in after stepping out into a breeze. The setting was completely different though, Bedouri’s hot pool was a man-made structure whereas at Katherine it’s the river. Our enjoyment was magnified by that of those around us especially a young couple who were persuaded to “seal glide” over some rocks into the deepest part. They were so overwhelmed by the experience they went to the highest most accessible point and floated all the way down and over the rocks for a second time. Floating in amongst the little bubbles just over the rocks was like being in a lemonade bath.

Tomorrow we’re travelling down the Stuart Highway, probably to Dunmarra which isn’t much more than a wayside stop so it’s possible we won’t be able to access the internet.

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Katherine – Wednesday

It can’t be ignored, we’ve turned around and we’re heading back south, heading home.

New growth sprouting after a burn

We’re travelling for the first part down the Stuart Highway and although there were some vans going the same way most seemed to be heading towards Darwin. We stopped at Pine Creek where there was a railway display and a Miners’ Park with plenty of interesting old machinery.

Continuing on, our next stop was once again within the Nitmiluk National Park but this time through a more northerly entrance. We’d been told the Edith Falls were not to be missed and although the falls were nowhere near as impressive as Wangi Falls the setting was glorious. In the wet season there would also be water cascading over many different places. When we drove through the campground we saw a Pioneer, Mitchell set up, we’ve seen one on the road, that’s all. Maybe it was the same one, there aren’t many of us about.

Our camp tonight is at the Knott’s Crossing Resort and it’s a lovely, lush tropical style place. We’ll also be here tomorrow night.

Yesterday evening smoke was billowing into the atmosphere darkening the sky. It was a few kilometres form here but if I’d been at home I would have left the area because for a while we could even see the red glow of the fire. Before we went to bed though it had died down. This morning everything was covered in burn debris but nothing showed any sign of damage.

Fire debris

After hosing off the car we set off for Darwin. I needed to buy a new pair of sandals because my other ones broke and it’s definitely too hot for me to wear sneakers. We also wanted to have lunch on Stokes Hill Wharf, for old times sake. Along the way we passed several of the WWII landing strips, it’s difficult to imagine planes landing on them. City driving is stressful after so much time out on country roads but we quickly found a 2 hr park near the Law Courts and the cathedral.

If I’d wanted thongs I could have bought some from any of half a dozen places but the only place to have practical sandals as opposed to fashionable ones was a camping/ adventure shop. The store didn’t seem to have changed much since we were there about 16 years ago.

Crocodile Man

We went to the wharf after that where we had a nice lunch and I was able to upload a post using the free WiFi.

The Fisherman’s Wharf was our last stop before heading back to Litchfield. The boats moored there look all business, tough and purposeful.

These boats mean business

Back at camp I went looking for birds while Alex read the paper. It seems to us that every paper has some story about a crocodile …… possibly only during tourist season……. and today’s front page was about people being rescued at Cahill’s Crossing. The incident happened in May so they must have kept it on ice until there were no other croc stories.

Cahill’s Crossing

Litchfield – Monday

Last night when we were walking about we saw several Cane Toads and it makes me wonder if they’re the reason for us not seeing any small lizards or even bugs. There are plenty of dragonflies and butterflies but I’ve only seen one other little Shieldbug around here.

Cane Toad in the shower block

This morning we drove back into the National Park as far as Wangi Falls, they are tremendous and the lush Monsoon Forest was good to see. We heard bats arguing in some treetops. Alex fancied a nice big breakfast at the cafe but their power had been cut off somehow so the place wasn’t operating until that was restored.

Several roads are still closed so places like The Lost City, Surprise Creek Falls and Blyth Homestead aren’t accessible. Tolmer Falls were open though and we enjoyed the river walk. You don’t get close to the river because the area is undergoing rehabilitation but there are excellent viewing places.

After Tolmer Falls we were ready for a swim and cool down so we continued on to the Florence Creek where we were lucky enough to get the first rock pool to ourselves. The water is crystal clear so you could see leaves on the bottom and also the shapes and sizes of the rocks. It appeared to be an infinity pool with the water disappearing over a rocky ledge.

Rock Pool, Florence Creek

When we left the Florence Creek we headed into Batchelor for some lunch at the Rum Jungle Tavern. There were some interesting characters in the bar, I think the town must be a comfortable place for people who don’t fit in the mainstream. Bernie Havlik was a Czechoslovakian who left his mark at Batchelor. At first he worked underground at the Rum Jungle Uranium Mine then in the treatment plant when it changed to open cut mining until it closed in 1971. After that he worked as a town gardener and was frustrated by the rock pile in the garden so when he retired he started work on his castle. It took him 5 years to create and he was still adding finishing touches to it until he died in 1990.

Bernie Havlik’s castle

We came back to camp for a cup of tea but first we had to deal with the frog in the kettle!

Froggie in the kettle lid – it got into the kettle via the spout

Litchfield – Sunday

Today we started on the Litchfield Loop and our first stop was at the Magnetic Termite Mounds. Unlike other ones these are slim and oriented north/south to keep the nests at a reasonable temperature. I don’t know how the ones with the bulbous mounds maintain temperature, maybe they move from “room to room”. Some termites nest underground but in this region they would drown during wet seasons.

When we were at the Termite Mounds buses of different sizes started arriving. Some of the buses only hold about 10 people and they are usually catering for those willing to camp. The big buses hold about 40 people and those people generally stay in cabins or units. When one of the big buses arrives the sites quickly become crowded and we move on.

Our next stop was the Florence Creek. We took the creek walk to Buley Rockhole all along the way there are pools where you can swim. At the highest point on the walk there are big rock pools which were already busy with people who had driven straight there.

We walked back along the creek path then went along another path to the Florence Falls Lookout. People were swimming at the base of the falls but we didn’t fancy the 135 steps to get down there or worse still having to walk back up them!

Florence Falls

We drove into Batchelor and at a little cafe Alex enjoyed a coffee and chat with the “volunteer” barista ie the wife of the owner, while I accessed the net.

Outback humour

On the way back to camp we went into what we think was the site of the Rum Jungle mine, it’s now a nice billabong. Rainbow Bee-eaters tormented me, skimming across the surface and back up into trees. They looked beautiful with the sun shining through the colours of their wings.

Flycatcher maybe – Rum Jungle Mine site

This car is outside the Banyan Tree campground just before Litchfield Tourist Park is The Banyan Tree Campground.

Back at camp it was time for a refreshing drink followed by a long swim in the pool.

Campground drgonfly

Litchfield -Saturday

In Batchelor for internet so this is a day late.

We’ve left Corroboree Park and now I wish I’d bought one of their T shirts. I needed a cool one today and I liked the place.

We noticed “Happy Birthday” banners stuck across the door of a mining worker’s room, it seemed a lovely little gesture. The men are working away from home and family in very basic accommodation but they obviously prefer living at Corroboree Park to living at the mine. When I went over to check out the book swaps last night ( Alex found a “People’s Friend at Coomalie) someone was performing with firesticks and everyone from the pub was outside enjoying his performance. It was a great atmosphere.

Before we left I wanted to find out the story behind a foot hanging from the ceiling with, “Jack’s Back” written on it. I asked a local last night but she knew nothing about it. This morning I had more luck, it seems Jack was a regular drinker at the pub and at home he had the foot hanging from his air conditioner. When he died someone brought the foot to the pub and they hung it near the ceiling fan with the words, “Jack’s Back” written on it.

We called into the “Window on the Wetlands” which has excellent displays and information boards. The views are wonderful but there wasn’t much water to be seen.

Window on the Wetlands

Fogg Dam was the next place we stopped. Unfortunately we didn’t see many birds … apart from Egrets….. because half of the dam wall was cordoned off, we think damage was caused during the wet season and it hasn’t been repaired yet. Walking on the wall was also banned because of a big crocodile. Whoops, we didn’t realise that meant in the undamaged section until we saw the croc trap.

We stopped at a “Greasy Spoon” in Humpty Doo because we didn’t know the town was so big and there were more options.

We’re now at Litchfield Tourist Park and will stay for a few days. There’s no internet, there are a few weird places you can sometimes get phone service. Alex did get a few bars when he stood in the middle of the road out the front of the park.

Pheasant Coucal came out to say, “goodbye”

We left Coorinda this morning and drove back to Jabiru to pick up some supplies but also to connect with the Arnhem Highway and our planned stop at Bark Hut.

 

There were a few billabongs and marked bird sites which seemed promising. The Mamukala Wetlands was our first one and although it was a lovely billabong with an excellent hide there were very few birds to be seen.

Our next stop was at the Mary River and apart from a nice view of the river and some Crows there wasn’t much to see.

Mudskipper

As we drove along the road for kilometre after kilometre possibly for about 50kms we saw warning signs but they were too far away for us to read. Eventually curiosity got the better of us and we pulled over to take a photo so we could see just what the danger was.

Curiosity could kill the cat

We were disappointed to find The Bark Hut closed so continued on down the highway. Almost to the Corroboree Park Tavern and Caravan Park we saw signs to the Billabong but decided to continue on and book in before going to check it out. After we’d set up camp be drove back to the signs then followed the directions for much longer than we expected. When we eventually reached the river or billabong we discovered it was an access point for boaties and people going on cruises. I’m sure we’ll have more luck tomorrow.

Corroboree Park attractions