On Sunday the 5th July, after logging 476 km, one of our longest drives to date, we arrived in Katherine, which is pretty much in the middle longitude-wise of the NT. Again we faced limited choice of CP sites (school holidays in all states as well as high season for all the grey nomads) and had to settle for a site change after the first night (we were actually lucky to get anything, but had the prescience to call ahead from Timber Creek en-route). The move after the first night was not a bad thing with adjacent council road work’s lighting generators running ‘almost’ all night (until I woke an hour before dawn and hit both E-stops to try to let Kris and the kids sleep in). Our next site, on power and with water, was much quieter and far more salubrious. Having driven all day and being Kris’s birthday, we decided to go out for a treat at the Katherine Country Club for a ‘posh’ (and I use the term loosely) dinner. Apart from the pokies and the jumping pillow, the place was delightful! Dress code is ‘no singlets and no hats, but thongs are OK’.
Every day for weeks now it has been clear blue skies and 28-32 degrees, and Katherine was no exception (even Kris has stopped checking the weather forecast). We checked out the local thermal springs, which were a pleasant 31 degrees water temp, but to be honest, were a little bit grotty.
Dr Fenton’s RFDS plane – The Katherine Museum.
Apart from a visit to the local museum to check out the relatively consistent flood history of Katherine and the Royal Flying Doctor Service plane, highlights included a ‘cultural experience’ with Manual from ‘Top Didj’, an indigenous artist who guided us through making our own aboriginal art using traditional techniques and ‘almost’ traditional materials.
I was able to light a fire by rubbing fire sticks together and getting the ember to light in some turkey bush, much to the detriment of my lungs! I can see why the smoke is an indigenous mozzie repellent. James was the only one of us able to use a woomera to successfully spear a stationary skippy target. All good fun, but it would have been better without the non-indigenous hanger-on business managers.
This was followed by a tour of the first two of the thirteen famed Katherine Gorges in the afternoon light – the ‘Nitnit’ tour . We were a bit ambivalent about seeing Katherine Gorge by boat (we have been to lots of gorges recently, and I was starting to feel a little fleeced; another tourist activity, another $260) but in the end we decided to do it as there really is no other way to see the gorge. All in all, worth the time to see, and to be philosophical about it, the other option of course is to not see it!
That night, after tucking the kids into bed, I jumped on the treadly and headed back to the Katherine Country Club to catch up with an old school friend who I haven’t seen in 25+ years. All in all a busy few days.