We were up at 6.00 am again, breakfasted, packed and onto the coach by 8.00am...destination Katherine. We had planned to go to the Warradjin Culture Centre but we were obviously too early...the gates were closed and no-one was home. So, on to our next destination, Pine River. If you have ever heard of the book “We of the Never Never” by Jeannie “Mrs Aeneas” Gunn, it was set in the area we were travelling through at a place called Elsey Station, 200 km east of Katherine. It’s a wonderful true story of a 20th century woman in a 19th century environment and how she coped and eventually found love.
We had a refreshment stop somewhere in the middle of the Outback that was obviously a truckstop. Val, our coach driver, who had a passionate interest in the environment, took those of us who were interested to see where a bower bird had built his nest. It was an arch shaped structure fashioned from grasses and decorated with white objects in front of it. White stones, shells, pieces of cardboard, pieces of polystyrene cups, etc were all arranged to impress his lady love. If she was not interested he rearranged everything to see if it would work the next time.
The bower bird's display in front of his nest...with a lovely pair of legs in the background.
Our next stop was called Pine Creek Townhouse, a truckstop for the enormous road trains that travel all over Australia. It was not too hot and there was a lovely breeze. I was taken by the beautiful spectacle of two bougainvilleas intertwined to make one giant structure covered in pink and white flowers.
How would you like to drive around town in this?
For those brave enough, the next stop was at Edith River Falls for a swim. It wasn’t hot enough for me, I don't get into the water until the temperature is at least 35 degrees Celsius. We had a picnic lunch at the tables outside and saw a number of the bower birds described above. They are a brown speckled bird with the thick beaks of the carnivore and they have a rather predatory look, I didn’t like the look of them very much. A couple of people went for a swim and, as I thought, said it was rather fresh! After all, this was the Northern Territory’s winter...30 degrees Celsius but no humidity.
After lunch we drove on and stopped just outside of Katherine at the natural thermal pools, which were tepid rather than warm and very nice to soak one’s feet in, which Mum and I both did. Walking back to the coach we belatedly noticed a sign warning that estuarine (saltwater) crocodiles could get into the pool undetected and although the authorities kept an eye out, sometimes they missed one. That was really a good time to find that out...after we'd soaked our feet...crocodile bait.
Mum soaking her tootsies and others off the coach having a swim in the thermal stream (sans crocodile...thank goodness).
We arrived at our motel (Frontier Katherine) at about 4.00 pm after doing a bit of shopping in Katherine. I bought some things for my grandchildren but when I wanted to EFTPOS them, was told they didn’t have that facility. They could take credit cards but would have to ring through to my bank for authorisation. No electronic transactions here. I also bought a Tatts lotto ticket for the $15 million super draw on the Saturday night. If we won, we'd have had to go back to the Northern Territory to collect our winnings...what a hardship that would have been.
Val took us down to the Katherine River where we could see the height of the Australia Day floods the year before...20 metres plus in height. There was a chair caught way up high in one of the trees, but the river looked just like a pretty stream when we were there. I remember hearing on the news about a crocodile caught...he was swimming down the main street, probably going window shopping.
The flood waters from the year before would have covered the coach and been up to the second fork of the left leaning branch.
Our motel room was large and comfortable in attractive surroundings – palm trees. Mum was rather nervous about the spiders and snakes which, Val informed us, liked living in the vegetation.
Dinner was at 7.00 pm but the bar opened at 4.45 pm. The airconditioning was going full blast in the restaurant and it felt like the Antarctic, so I suggested we sit outside where it was warmer. As I only had on a light sleeveless dress, I froze throughout dinner and was glad to get outside and thaw out! Mum and Harold, being from New Zealand were not used to the heat...even the dry heat...and tired fairly quickly but a cool shower and a rest would revive them. It was an early night though because we had to be up and on the coach at 6.45 am for a boat ride in the Katherine Gorge.
I'll post some of the photos through Picasa so you can enlarge them for more detail.