Monthly Archives: June 2022

Day 32 – Saturday, 25 June 2022 

A lovely cool breeze was blowing when we woke up this morning. It is very pleasant to got to sleep with all the windows wide open. Of course, once the daylight begins to creep in, we close them until we wake up. 

The public dump point is seventeen kilometres from Bruce and Kaye’s place and is next to the Darwin Showgrounds where they are hosting the Caravan and Camping Show over three days, so the highway was packed with cars waiting to access the area/. Luckily, we were able to continue on for a bit before we needed to access the dump point area. I think we will look about for alternative arrangements if we can. 

Bruce has indicated we could use the storm drain area, but Russ says it is a septic tank system and the chemicals in the toilet cassettes are not safe to put in them.  

I emailed the CMCA (Caravan Association) to ask if we could make use of their dump point which is just down the road near the famous (not sure why) Humpty Doo Tavern and only a short distance from Kaye and Bruce’s place. It was of no point to phone them as each separate CA park has a Custodian on site, and the phone number goes to their headquarters in Newcastle, NSW. 

We also called into Autobarn where Russ had made arrangements to pick up a replacement for the second battery that had died. What an interesting experience that was. They no longer had the battery in stock, and there were four people serving the public (two of whom were trainees and always having to ask questions of the two experienced servers so disruption all round) and the queque was consistently long while we were in the store. 

Finally, the young guy serving us was able to locate a battery that was suitable and able to be used in the Nissan Navara, and discovered it was also the last one on the shelves. 

We then headed to the Car Wash place where Hornet got a thorough going over. Russ swears that he went faster once all the dirt and mud had been removed, haha. 

Finally, we headed to the IGA store at Zuccoli (there are only two IGS stores in Darwin) and we were able to buy more mixed nuts, and only three dollars dearer than in Victoria. 

Russ headed off to get his afternoon nap completed but was interrupted by the power going out. Bruce had put the ice machine on to have enough supplies for the market tomorrow and it kept tripping the power supply. 

I spoke with Brett for a catchup, and he said he has been entertaining magpies in the cattery on a regular basis. They fly in and eat the crumbs from his deep fryer. The cats give them the evil eye but leave them alone. 

The rest of the afternoon was somewhat lazy, although there are always things that need to be done in a caravan. 

Day 31 – Friday, 24 June 2022 

We woke up to the sound of squabbling curlews, a sound we have not heard since leaving Townsville. Their cry sounds like a baby crying and is very eerie if you don’t know what you are listening to. 

Russ woke up with a headache that turned into a migraine when he scratched his left eyeball somehow or other. The eye cream I had in the first aid kit helped considerably but he was forced back to bed after we had completed the shopping at Woollies. 

Woollies at Humpty Doo is not far away from Metcalfe Road where we are staying so we finished our list, and broke the budget for the day, but as there are no other expenses today, we are all good. 

We managed to get everything on our list at the Amcal Chemist next to Woolworths, and the girls serving in there are very friendly and helpful. 

I discovered that I have inadvertently deleted the email I got from the Ontario Medical Clinic with my electronic scripts on it from Mildura. As I cannot get a telephone consult with my doctor for another two and a half weeks, I have made an appointment at Humpty Doo Surgery for late on Monday morning. 

The weather here so far is nowhere near as hot as it had been in Katherine, and for most of the time there is a cool breeze helping to keep the temperature in the almost comfortable zone. 

Once we got back to the van there was housework and washing to be done, and I finally got to do a good bit of reading. 

Day 30 – Thursday, 23 June 2022 

By 7:52am this morning we were all packed up and moving out the gate at Manbulloo Homestead Caravan Park. We headed through the Low-Level Nature Reserve Road, which cut out most of Katherine, and onto the big BP Truck Stop on the outskirt of the north side of Katherine. Diesel today was $2.26 a litre. 

 It was registering 16 degrees on the temperature gauge when we left and was 29 degrees at 10:30am. 

We travelled through hilly terrain with lots of big boulders dotting the landscape, along with a collection of pandamas palms every now and then. 

For the first time since south of Port Augusta we encountered overtaking lanes regularly, and the traffic was almost constant flowing in both directions. Four trailer road trains carrying ore or fuel were prolific. 

At 8:45am we crossed Fergusson River, and it had water in it. The Fergusson Bridge across the river was named after Sir James Fergusson, a Governor of South Australia. 

While travelling today the Navara has clocked over 90,000 kilometres. 

As we were passing through the town of Adelaide River, we were pulled over for breath test analysis. The area looks to be a permanent set-up for a breath test station with constant use and the young (most of them now are young to me) police officer was friendly with a sense of humour. 

On our journey so far, we have passed a lot of caravans, including four Blue Sky vans, but we are still waiting to find our first Brilliant Caravan. 

When we left Katherine, we were at 114 metres above sea level. We climbed to Emerald Springs, which is 245 metres above sea level, and finally at Humpty Doo we are at 32.6 metres above sea level. 

We followed Kaye’s directions once we reached Humpty Doo, and they were spot on. We passed a Millar Street on the way, Mum. (For other readers, Millar – with an a – is a family name on mum’s side from way back.) 

We were warmly welcomed by Kaye and Bruce when we arrived. They have their grandson, Tyler, staying with them for a bit as well. It didn’t take us very long to set up. 

The property they are renting has a large yard with lots of trees, and out van sits under the shade of the trees for most of the day, so it is very pleasant. 

Kaye and Bruce headed off to their mobile Sunset Slushie Van at the local Mindil Beach Market which runs from 4:00pm until 9:00pm on Thursdays and Sundays and go to other big events also. There are twelve different flavours to choose from, or just get a big sippy cup which fills with a rainbow of colours. There are also soft serves available. (I’ll look forward to trying them out while we are here when we head to one of the markets.) Mindil Beach is three kilometres from the Darwin Central Business District (CBD). 

We unpacked our summer sheets now that we have made it this far north and the polar fleece sheets and pillowcases have been packed away for when next required. 

I did lots of housekeeping before going onto the Internet to try and find out what unit my dad served with here in Darwin during WW2. He was in the Army from March 1940 until January 1944, made it to Corporal, and won the Military Medal during an action at Jezzine in Syria in 1941. His tour of duty also took him to Iraq and Iran. 

He then joined the RAAF in January 1944 after delisting from the army and served in the Darwin area as a Leading Air Craftsman until November 1945. However, none of our family records mention what unit he served with while here, and there is no mention of the unit from the Australian War Memorial records. I have his service number, so I am hoping to be able to find out more at the Military Museum here. 

After he delisted from the RAAF, he then re-joined the army in Victoria in October 1946 in the Royal Australian Engineers Field Training Battalion until April 1947. I have no knowledge of which unit he served with at this time either. 

It will be interesting to see if I can provide more light on his Darwin time. 

Day 29 – Wednesday, 22 June 2022 

It was hard getting out of bed this morning at 6:45am. We woke up to a beautiful sunrise.  

I made our coffee in the thermos flasks, and we grabbed some biscuits to take with us in case we got hungry. 

Yesterday when we arrived back at the caravan park Russ hurriedly exchanged his wide-angle lens for his zoom lens so he could take some photos of the straw-necked ibis (great shots by the way). 

When we went to get into the car this morning the wide-angle lens (worth $325) was still sitting on the bonnet where it had been all night. We are very lucky people, and our guardian angels are doing a wonderful job looking out for us. 

The temperature was already 19 degrees when we left the park at 7:45 am. We had a good journey to the Nitmiluk (pronounced Nit – me – look) National Park. The Park’s main entrance is located 30 kilometres northeast of Katherine on a sealed road. 

We arrived there with plenty of time to spare and were able to amble our way from the Visitor’s Centre to the Boat Ramp area, about 400 metres along concrete paths. The Nit in the name means Cicada as it is the noise that they make. The full name means Place of the Cicadas. 

After about five minutes spent trying to find the birds in the trees, unsuccessfully we might add, it was time to stand in line with all the other people who were going on the boat tours, waiting to have our names crossed off the list before boarding – almost like being back at school. 

We paid $90 each for our tickets today and it was definitely worth the price, especially when you see the logistics involved with getting the show on the road, sorry river, each time a tour group arrives. 

We had a majority of adults of mixed ages in the group on our boat with a handful of families with children. While talking to others waiting with us, I received another compliment on my hair. Thanks Vinnie. 

Our tour guide, and boat handler, was Stewart who would have been in his late 50s or early 60s. He was a very knowledgeable person. 

The boats used are a three hulled aluminium boat with two Honda outboard motors. Our seats were stackable plastic chairs in the first boat, and there was drinking water made available, and with a small toilet on board. 

We were only a few minutes late getting underway, and it was lovely sitting in the sunshine with the breeze from the water blowing into our faces as we went. 

For thousands of years Nitmiluk has been the foundation of the Jawoyn (pronounced Jar-win) Aboriginal people, providing an abundance of water and food, and a gallery of art and artefacts. Today it is the living testament of ancient Aboriginal culture. 

The Katherine River originates in Kakadu National Park and has been formed over millions of years, carving through ancient sandstone to form thirteen gorges, with rocks and boulders separating each gorge. During the wet season stunning waterfalls, rapids and magnificent vistas of escarpments form part of the amazing landscape. 

The Aboriginal people believe that Bolung, the rainbow serpent, formed this series of gorges in the Katherine River, and then returned here to inhabit the deep pool of the second gorge, and care is taken that they do not disturb him. Therefore, the Aboriginal people do not drink or swim in this gorge to show respect. 

In order to see all 13 of the gorges you need to take a helicopter tour, where a ten-minute flight will set you back almost $300 per person. 

And to stay at the Nitmiluk Caravan Park will set you back $70 for a site with power and water, or $34 for a free camp site. Our stay at Manbulloo with power and water is only $31 per night. 

For the first part of the trip Russ and I were seated in the second row of the boat, but as we generally lag behind the crowd taking photos during the walking segments, we were down the back for the remaining trips. 

We took heaps of photographs, although I don’t believe we managed to do justice to the beautiful scenery and incredible landscape. 

At the top of the first gorge, we left our boat and visited the rock paintings on the sandstone cliffs of the gorge before walking another 400 metres or so on a clearly defined pathway in very good condition to reach the start of the second gorge. 

As we started out on the cruise of the second gorge, we all got a heck of a fright when the boat hit a submerged rock under the surface. Russ banged his knee on the bar of the seat in front of us, and a little girl called Zoe hit the top of the seat in front of her. She got a blood nose and was very frightened and is going to have a black eye and another bruise on the bridge of her nose. 

Stewart apologised to everyone and to make up for her fright and pain Zoe was allowed to steer the boat on a safe stretch of water for a short time. She was very happy after that. 

We did not need to get out of the boat at the end of the second gorge but turned round and headed back to the start. 

The Rangers in the Park have a system whereby they can check to see if any crocodiles have been left in the number two gorge once the water level has subsided after the wet season. If there are any discovered, they are relocated to deeper water. Swimming and canoeing are not allowed until they are fairly sure that there are no crocodiles left in this part of the system. 

The Jawoyn are the traditional owners of this area, and it took them over eleven years to prove to the NT government that they were the people eligible to hold native title. 

As tourism was already a big part of the landscape here they leased the National Park back to the NT government with several conditions – mainly that they are involved in the decision-making process for the area. The Jawoyn Elders sit on the Board of Management along with the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission people. 

We arrived back at the starting point in the first gorge at 11:30am and had our coffee and biscuits before heading back to the van. 

As we approached the caravan park on the way back Russ stopped to take some photos of a tiny bird sitting on the power line. When he went to identify it later, he discovered he had shots of the uncommon red-backed kingfisher which spends winter in the north then flies south for the summer. 

Later in the afternoon we took down the awning and clothesline, pulled up and packed away the ground mat, and removed the locks from the wheels and tow pin so that we are good to hitch everything together tomorrow morning and head off bright and early (again!) 

Also learned from the News Notifications that Mason Cox (Collingwood Magpies, people!) will become an Australian citizen this afternoon at the MCG. Welcome Mason and Go Pies!!!!! 

The wood has been delivered to Brett at home, so it took him a while to barrow it all to the back yard from the driveway. (The delivery truck is too big to fit through the second garage door into the cattery.) 

Brett has been sending videos to us of the magpies visiting the patio to pick up crumbs, and of Sookie sitting on his knee giving head butts and purring her little heart out contentedly. (Sookie is our wild child and this is unprecedented behaviour for her.) The other two cats are going well also. 

Day 28 – Tuesday 21 June 2022 

We woke up before the alarm had a chance to go off as the kookaburras decided to have a very noisy squabble before 7:00am this morning. 

After showers and breakfast, we decided to travel out to Katherine Gorge and time how long it took us so that we can be there tomorrow morning on time for our Katherine Gorge Boat trip. 

It took us 45 minutes to get there after leaving the park at 8:20am, so tomorrow we will need to be on the road by 7:45am. We need to be boarding the boat at 8:45am. 

The temperature was 23 degrees when we left the caravan, and there was very little breeze at that point. There was, however, a lot of traffic going both ways on the way to and from the Gorge, and we had to pass through Katherine itself to get to the Gorge Road. We passed Shadforth Road and Cox Crescent on our way. 

We then headed to the Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park (CCCNP) and arrived there about 10:30am. The next tour headed out at 11:00am so we had a bit of time to look around while we waited. None of the literature tells you that you must wear closed shoes to go on the tour of the caves, and several people were turned away as they were wearing sandals and thongs. Luckily for two of them their shoes were in their vehicle. One other lady had to return to town to get hers and ended up in our group by the time she made it back. 

The tickets to tour the cave start at $28 for adults so we are wondering if we got the concession for seniors. There was no ticket handed out to us as the system was down, so we have no way of finding out. Kids tickets started at $18.00. 

A stockman droving cattle found the main cave while searching for misplaced steers around 1900 and named it after himself – Smith’s Cave, of course. His first name has been lost to time, but John was fairly common in those times.  

During WW2, serviceman visiting the area called it 16 Mile Cave because it was 16 miles from the camp base, and from the remnants found when building the tourism facility, it is believed that they used it as a party joint. Many empty beer cans and tobacco tins were recovered during the building process, and the evidence of shooting off the bottom of stalatites can still be seen.  

Some people have suggested that the firing of .303 rifles within the cave was a way that they could burst the ear drum and so, get a medical discharge from the army. There is no evidence left to suggest that any of them were successful, but there are the remains of bullets still lodged in some parts of the ceiling.  

They would not have given any thought to the possible environmental damage their partying did to a delicate ecosystem. 

In 1967 that area was handed to the present-day equivalent of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT, and cave tours began shortly after. 

In 1979 the area was renamed Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park after the Jawoyn people were given Native Title to this area.  

The lady who took us on the tour, whose name neither of us can remember, was from Victoria (Mooroolbark), and she was both interesting and entertaining, and spoke very quickly. 

She was a very good storyteller and some of the stories she told were actually factual. Any Aboriginal name that is repeated means Place of Many whatever it suits (such as Wagga Wagga – the place of many crows).  

Cutta Cutta is the Jawoyn name for Place of Many Stars, and it was forbidden for the Aboriginal people to enter the caves system as they believed that this was where the stars were kept during the day, and the microbats who inhabit the system collect a tiny piece of crystal from the caves on their way out at night time, place them in the sky as stars while they are hunting, before returning them to the caves in the morning for safekeeping.  

The caves were formed millions of years ago and are about 15 metres below the surface. They are still growing today but at a very slow rate as there is no water in the system during the dry season. 

Cutta Cutta is a limestone cave system, a system which is not common in sub-tropical Australia. The caves at Cutta Cutta are the only such caves accessible to the public. 

Distinguishing this system from those seen in southern parts of Australia are the obvious links between the caves and the landscape above.  

The Nature Park is dominated by tropical savannah and dotted with small clusters of rainforest thickets over pockets of chemically weathered limestone landscape (karst). 

The karst landscape contains many nooks and crannies which shelter wildlife during the heat of the day. It also provides protection for fire sensitive plants and rainforest species. The rainforest plants are able to grow in a seemingly dry landscape because their roots find moisture in the humid air of the caves below. 

The harmless brown snake is often seen in the park the cave area, (along with others that aren’t so harmless) and coiled upon the cave ledges. The caves are also home to five species of bat, including the rare ghost bat, and the horseshoe bat. We didn’t get to see any snake or spider in the caves for which we can be thankful. The bats had removed themselves to the warmer and moister sections beyond where it is safe for tourists to go, so we couldn’t see them either. 

During the tour our guide also explained about the scientists who came to investigate the caves during the dry season, but while there was still water in the caves. They brought with them some red pond dye (unlike food dye, this is very environmentally friendly to the eco system) in an effort to determine where the water went to when it disappeared from the caves. 

Much later after their visit there was a great deal of consternation in the area when the thermal pools all turned red, one after another, and people thought there had been a bloodbath somewhere. 

Our guide had a real knack for telling stories and this one raised a laugh from the tour group. 

We got back to the car about 12:30pm and reached the van at 1:00pm in time for lunch. Russ then went sleepy byes and I concentrated on the diary and did some washing. 

Day 27 – Monday, 20 June 2022 

Happy Birthday to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. 

Today we headed out to see the Tom Curtain’s Katherine Outback Experience which began at 9:30am and concluded at 11:45am 

It didn’t take us as long to get there as we expected so we arrived early, along with quite a few other people. 

When the show first began Tom asked everyone where they came from as an icebreaker. When it was our turn we said Mildura, and Tom said he was born in Mildura in 1979 before moving away when he was three. 

The Katherine Outback Experience is an outdoor hands-on experience located on an operating farm, just 6km south of Katherine. From the comfort of shaded elevated seating (with cushions provided), guests watch and learn as the young horses and working dogs are trained for life on the land. No horse is used more than three times in a show and no show is the same. The team explain the psychology behind the process, highlighting what can be achieved from a relationship built on trust. 

Guests are invited to pat and feed the station animals including Bernie the Buffalo, Cecil the Mule, Donny the donkey, Legend the horse and Tin Shaker the Brahman Steer, along with 2 water buffalo during the changeover from the Roundabout arena to the Rectangle arena. 

Tom’s affinity with horses started as a child growing up on the family farm in Kumbia, Queensland. He started his first horse at the age of twelve under the guidance of renown horseman Hurley Toomey. 

Tom and his four brothers built a large arena which was then used to train horses during school holidays for family and friends around the local district. 

Tom explained that he had always wanted to work with horses. He attempted to leave home after Year 7, but his parents told him he had to finish schooling first. 

His older brother is the brains of the family and had no problems winning a full scholarship to a prestigious college for his high school years. Tom tried for the same scholarship but failed. However, his mum said you have always liked music so try for the music scholarship, which he won, but it only paid for half his fees. 

Once he had completed his schooling, he said he was off to the Territory, but his parents explained that, as they had paid for half his schooling, he now needed a degree before he went anywhere. 

Tom went on to study a Batchelor of Applied Animal Science specialising in Beef Cattle Production at the University of Queensland Gatton Campus. 

After graduating, Tom packed his bags and headed for the Northern Territory where he landed a job in the stock camp at Mount Sanford Station, 600km south of Katherine. After a season in the stock camp of mustering and processing brahman cattle, Tom was moved to the horse training team where he worked alongside Martin Oakes. 

The team trained around 100 horses a year for the Heytesbury Cattle Company. It was here Tom started experimenting with different natural horsemanship methods and analysing the psychology of horses. 

From here Tom moved into contract horse-starting and would move from station to station every three weeks throughout the Northern Territory and Queensland. 

During the wet season he would write songs and perform at some of the Caravan Parks in the area. 

He was singing in WA one year when he came upon financial difficulties and, for the first time in his life, he needed to hitch hike. The farmer who picked him up took him to his property where Tom spent some time helping out. 

It was while he was here that the farmer’s daughter came home for a weekend, and the rest as they say is history. He convinced Annabel to return with him to Katherine where he was then based, and some years later they were married. 

Life on the road was taking its toll so he purchased a property on the outskirts of Katherine with a vision to build a horse training facility for the stations to send horses to him to train. This was going well until the 2011 Live Beef Export Ban. Overnight budgets were cut on stations which meant they could not afford for horses to be trained and Tom was out of work. 

They say when one door closes, another opens. This was the case for Tom, leading to the launch of Katherine Outback Experience in 2013. The outback show celebrates life on the land through real horse starting and working dog demonstrations. 

In 2013 Tom won the Young Guns Division of the National Colt Starting Championship. Throughout his career he has won and placed in many significant camp-drafts and challenges. Among his career highlights was placing 4th in the prestigious stallions’ drafts at the Warwick Gold Cup on his stallion Acres of Ra. 

Russ and I thoroughly enjoyed the very entertaining show. As Tom explained, the show is still part of the training that the animals go through, even without an audience. He said there were apt to be moments of sheer chaos, which certainly happened when the dogs made their appearance, and bouts of hilarity. He had to growl a few times at some of them but he was always growling at Trevor and Lucy who just wanted to be part of the workers. 

All the animals have their own personalities and quirks, be they horse, dog, water buffalo, donkey or goats – and Tom works with and around that in the show. 

Legend is an older horse and has been part of the show since the early beginning. He even learnt to push the pram around the house when Tom’s children were very young. The pram is now part of the experience as he showcases his skills. 

I am not a fan of much country music, but Tom has a good voice and quite a bit of talent as both a singer and songwriter. His songs tell stories about life on the land and are easily relatable to other people. He even manages to sing and play the guitar on the back of some of the horses he is training to do cut-out work with. 

He is also an ambassador for Dolly’s Dreaming. Dolly was a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide as a result of cyber bullying. A percentage of the proceeds from some of his CD’s and merchandise goes to this charity. 

Tom and his team will again hit the road over the 2022/23 summer (wet season), touring his music and the Katherine Outback Experience horse and working dog show through QLD, NSW, VIC, and SA (if all goes to plan). The tour will kick off mid-October on the east coast and work its way into SA in January. 

After the show we headed into Katherine and refuelled before going to Woolworths for some deodorant for Russ, and we also grabbed some more delicious and yummy rolls and bread. 

We have arranged with Bruce and Kaye for the best time to arrive at Humpty Doo on Thursday (between 12 noon and 1:00pm) so that they can be home and unlock the gate for us when we get there. It is Market Day for them. 

Just before tea we went on the Riverwalk at the back of the caravan park property, and it was more disappointing than the Riverlink Trail. There was nothing but trees and dirt to see. We did get a nice walk back through another part of the caravan park, however. 

Day 26 – Sunday, 19 June 2022 

Today we are going walking in the Riverlink Trail in the Low-Level Nature Reserve (LLNR) so we set our alarm for an early start before the heat of the day. 

Unfortunately, none of the maps which provide information on the walk give any indication of the exact length of the trail, and we (wrongly) though about 2.5 kms each way from the look on the map. 

The LLNR, a place associated with the river boiling and bubbling across rocks and through the weir, is rich in resources for the Indigenous people of this area and has been used for generations. There are also hot thermal springs in this section, and it is considered safe for swimming. 

In the 1930s, travellers on the North South Road began using The Low-Level River crossing. Whereas the original settlement, in 1972, had been using the Knotts Crossing. 

During WW2 the Low-Level Bridge was built, enabling traffic to cross the Katherine River. Underneath the Low Levl Bridge there is a concrete weir, offering a wonderful photo opportunity as the water cascades over the lower level. 

Impassable during most of the wet season (Dec – Apr), when the water level can reach over 12 metres above, during the dry season it is only over a metre high. 

Since being built, over the years the LLNR has become a popular local swimming hole as the depths along the bank are only 1-2 metres, with rock pools fringing the edge. A shady grassed picnic area is on one side of the LLNR, above the river bank, and with playground facilities for children to enjoy. 

The Riverlink Trail begins at the weir end and then rises to the ridge on the left-hand side of the Katherine River before it reaches the rail bridge in town, and then follows the Katherine River down the other side back to the weir. 

We began our walk at 9:00am (water, sunhats, sunglasses and cameras) and were totally stuffed by the time we finished the 7.7kms of the trail back at the weir. It felt like we had walked for ten kms when you take into account the temperature and hilly nature of the trail, although it is fully sealed all the way. 

We took some fabulous shots of different birds in this area, many of which we have not seen or photographed before, so although they are common to people in the Top End, they were an exciting discovery for us. 

I was disappointed with the walk itself because I thought we would be much closer to the river. Unfortunately, the trail was quite a way up from the river itself on both sides of the trail. We only got to see the river when we crossed the bridge at the halfway mark, and at the weir level. 

We finally got to sit in air-conditioned comfort in the car about 11:45am. It was 21 degrees down at water level, but the temperature climbed on the way back to the van. It reached a top of 29 degrees for the day, with a feels like temperature of 24 degrees. 

A rub down with Painaway was part of our afternoon program for both of us, and while Russ slept most of the afternoon away, I did more washing. 

Day 25 – Saturday, 18 June 2022 

Happy birthday to Paul McCartney of The Beatles fame for those who may not know his name. 

We woke up to a cool morning and only a little breeze, but the temperature is expected to reach about 33 degrees for the day. 

Our next-door neighbour on one side left this morning and we have new neighbours this afternoon. 

Brett went shopping for cat food this morning at Woolworths and came over all funny, dropping to his knees in the aisle. He was escorted out to his car along with his unpaid groceries (about $75 worth). When he said he hadn’t paid they assured him it had been taken care of and asked for his telephone number so they could check he was alright later in the day. How about that for Customer Service? 

I took the opportunity of a slower day to order some red gum to be delivered to him next week as he is getting low on wood and Victoria is expected to have the coldest and wettest winter for a long time. 

Russ and I headed into Katherine to the Information Centre, and we picked up some brochures for Darwin, and booked our cruise in the Nitmiluk National Park which houses the Katherine Gorge. Our cruise takes us along the two longest gorges. 

We also booked and paid for our Outback Experience Show later in the week. 

We then headed across to Woolworths and stocked up on water, ham, eggs and fresh crusty bread (yummy!). 

We had a very quiet afternoon to ourselves and a good rest. 

Unfortunately, after tea we had to listen to another country singer and she sure wasn’t Dolly Parton. She had a high screechy voice that grated. Apparently though, the rest of the people in the Caravan Park disagreed with me and went down to the stage area with their seats to watch her show, listen to the songs, and applaud at the end of each of them. 

I almost had to get out my earplugs and listen to Keith Urban who is one of the few country singers I like. 

Day 24 – Friday, 17 June 2022 

We slept well and only needed the blanket in the early hours of the morning. The park is nice and quite even though it is full. Some of the people moved on today, but not many have come in. 

Housework – and lots of it! 

We put down the matting out the front as we are not in a grassed area where matting is not permitted. We then put down the legs of the awning and pegged everything. 

There was quite a bit of breeze early this morning, but it had cleared away by lunchtime. We have found this to be the case for the last week in all the places we have stayed. 

Washed clothes, swept and washed floor, shook out the mats and carpeting, all of which badly needed attention. We also unpacked the chairs from the back of the car and placed them under the awning where it is very pleasant. 

Lots of birds in the park but not sure we can photo many as they blend into the trees. 

I also packed away the cold weather clothes and unpacked the shorts and t-shirts. Later today I will also unpack the summer sheets and put away the polar fleece ones. 

It didn’t take much time before the clothes were dry and I was able to fold and put them away. Russ’ are still on the bed as he has earned a lazy day and will do them later. 

Spent most of the afternoon catching up with the diary entries and will do the photos tonight. 

Day 23 – Thursday, 16 June 2022 

We woke up just before the alarm went off at 8:00am and left the caravan park at 9:15am with the temperature already sitting at 19 degrees. 

Before we pulled out, I took some more bird seed out to the Apostle Birds and thought they would probably fly away from me and then come back. How wrong I was. They flew towards me and squabbled all the way until they landed. 

We sat in line and waited to get to the fuel bowser behind a caravan. I counted eleven caravans, eight cars and several trucks pulled in line from the Darwin end of the roadhouse, waiting for their turns to get fuel. 

While we were waiting in our car Russ chatted with a couple sipping coffee on the verandah of the roadhouse who said they had planned on going to Larramah today (it is the next roadhouse on the highway) but when they rang this morning at 8:30am they were told there was already a line of vans waiting to get in, so they decided on another day at DW and a very early start tomorrow morning to beat the crowd. 

We paid $2.30 a litre for diesel and finally drove out of the Roadhouse area and onto the highway at 9:37am. 

We drove on a newly tarred surface but some of the bumps hadn’t been removed first so it was a bit bumpy. 

We passed the Alexander Forrest Monument at 10:16 am. This monument was created by a joint effort of the WA Historical Society and the Katherine Historical Society on 31 August 1979 to commemorate reaching the Overland Telegraph Line on 31 August 1879, after an epic journey from De Grey on the WA coast. 

His expedition party had a lot of trouble with the local Indigenous people, and they ran out of water 320 kilometres west of the telegraph line. They were travelling in the dry season and few people at that time knew that it could last for 8-9 months. 

Forrest, and another member of the expedition, volunteered to go and find suppliues. After many days they came across the Telegraph Line, which they then followed for 40 miles to Daly Waters. 

Men were sent out from Daly Waters with supplies and water to bring in the sick men of the expedition, and they were cared for until they were able to continue the search for Leichardt’s remains. I have been unable to find out if they were successful in that search. 

Without the outpost at Daly Waters the expedition would have perished. Present day mining magnate, Andrew Forrest, is the great, great nephew of Alexander Forrest. 

As we proceeded on our way towards Katherine, we saw that many of the white gums beside the highway were flowering. 

At one point we were passed by a very loud Toyota Prado and van and it sounded like he was pushing the capacity of the engine bu using high revs. 

A short time later we passed them pulled off onto the roadside verge and there was a very acrid, burning smell that stayed with us for quite a while. As they weren’t flagging anyone to stop, we continued on our way. 

Just before Katherine we passed the well-lighted, well signed turn off for the Tindal RAAF Base, and the temperature was 32 degrees. 

We turned off the Stuart Highway shortly after this onto Bicentennial Road, and seventeen kms later turned onto Murnburlu Road to the Manbulloo Homestead Caravan Park. 

It is a very large park with over 100 sites (not counting the camping area or cabins) and is set among lots of shady trees with the Katherine River just over the back of us – no swimming, big crocodiles! 

We paid for our week’s stay and proceeded to find our site and had set up in next to no time. We then finished our lunch before taking a well-earned rest. 

Later in the afternoon we printed out the diary (one copy only as the printer ran out of toner) for mum. We discovered it was a lot cheaper to buy a new printer (ours was a good five years old) than it was to buy more toner. 

We ordered the new printer from Officeworks in Stuart Park (Darwin) and can pick it up when we get there. 

In the meantime, Stef very kindly agreed to print out another copy and send it off to Trish, so she doesn’t get left behind. 

After all that drama we headed into Katherine and went to order a takeaway tea from the Chinese Restaurant (finally!). We ordered fried rice and Russ ordered honey chicken, while I ordered seafood combination. Russ said his honey chicken was scrumptious but somehow, I ended up with a seafood combination soup instead of with noodles. Thank heavens for fried rice! 

We posted mum’s letter on our way back to the van before I had discovered the soup situation. By the time tea was finished it had started to cool down which was good. 

Did you Know? 

The Finke River is considered ancient and one of the oldest natural watercourses in the world. 

Airbags in cars go off with enough force to break your legs if your feet are on the dashboard. 

Crocodiles: have a lifespan of 35 – 75 years and replace up to 4,000 teeth in their lifetime. Their top swimming speed is 35 kph and they can grow between 1.5 and 7 metres although there are records of a few who were longer. 

Cicadas: only the male cicada sings, and their song can reach 120 decibels. The females can lay up to 600 eggs, and in the nymph stage, they can live up to 17 years. 

Barramundi: most are born male and then turn into female at 3-4 years of age. They have been recorded over 1.2 metres long and weighing over 40 kgs. Incredibly, they can produce upwards of 32 million eggs in one season!!!! 

Katherine is situated on the Katherine River and is 320kms southeast of Darwin. It is known as the place where “the outback meets the tropics” and is the bottom end of the Top End. 

It is the central hub of the Savannah Way which stretches from Cairns in Qld, right across to Broome WA. The traditional lands of the Jawoyn, Dagoman and Wardaman Aboriginal people for thousands of years where ancient art and sacred sites abound. 

The town of Katherine, originally an 1870 settlement on the south bank of the river for which it was named (the present Knott’s Crossing) moved 3 kms downstream to the north bank. This location was named Emungalan (the indigenous name for “Place of Stone”), and a railhead for the North Australian Railway operated here from 1917 to 1926. This township quickly grew to 22 people, 90% of whom were male. 

The construction of the high-level railway bridge in 1926 established the final location of Katherine town, back on the south bank. Very little remains of Emungalan other than a small cemetery and a few building relics. 

The final settlement included a new railway station, and the town became an important transportation link. The Great Depression followed, bringing many challenges, which continued through until WW2. 

John McDouall Stuart passed through the region in 1862. Within 10 years the Katherine Telegraph Station was built. The completed Overland Telegraph Line bisected Australia and laid the groundwork for the railway from Adelaide to Darwin which commenced in 1878 and was completed in 2004! 

Katherine Railway works were intended to link Darwin (then known as Palmerston) with Port Augusta in the south. The line made it to Pine Creek in 1889, Katherine in 1926, and 8 kms south of Larramah in 1929, but work ceased, and the line then closed in 1976. 

The dream of the north-south line languished until that final section was finished through to Alice Springs in 2004, enabling passengers to travel all the way through from Adelaide to Darwin the famous Ghan. 

Word War 2 saw a significant military presence in the NT, to protect Australia’s northern shore from the outbreak of war in the Pacific Ocean. Katherine became the southern most point of bombing by Japanese aircraft, resulting in the largest bomb crater in Australia! 

The high-level bridge was constructed in 1976, at the cost of one million dollars. Finally, there was a reliable means of vehicles crossing the Katherine River. 

The bridge was the highest road bridge built anywhere in the NT and still provides reliable crossing to larger vehicles and road trains to this day. The bridge was named the Eugene Betti bridge in 1991 after one of the construction foremen. 

The Katherine River was named by John McDouall Stuart on 4 July 1862, after the second daughter of pastoralist James Chambers, one of his expedition’s sponsors. Its headwaters are in the Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge is here) and follows through the town, also a major tributary of the Daly River. It drops from 384 metres over its total length of 328 kms. 

Floods have been recorded throughout the years, the major ones in 1957, and another in the main street in 1974. 

In late January 1998, after heavy rain associated with Cyclone Les, producing 400ml of rainfall in a 48-hour period, the level of the river was raised by more than 21 metres, and flooded a large part of town. This caused the evacuation of two thirds of the community along with major devastation. 

In April 2006 a state of emergency was declared with the river peaking at 19 metres at the Katherine Bridge on the Stuart Highway.