Continuing along the Stuart…
Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
79Trip End Nov 15, 2012
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Like the Tablelands Highway, the Carpentaria consisted of a narrow strip of bitumen at times with little or no shoulders. It was along this stretch of road that we encountered the most arrogant redneck truck drivers. Throughout our journey we have always gone out of our way to give truck drivers right of way and pull over to allow them to pass where necessary… Along this narrow road they just thunder along and do not budge even an inch off that narrow bitumen strip, one of these rednecks almost sent us careering down an embankment. We are sure there are better ways for them to get their kicks than by terrorizing travelers
With the highway rejoining the Stuart just down the road from Daly Waters it would have been rude not to revisit the hotel! When we were there in October there were only half a dozen vans in the campground, tonight it was full and had been all week. The pub was busy, the dining area full and they had nightly entertainment. A one man show, Chilli was indeed very entertaining with some oldies but goodies and lots of original stuff that kept us laughing.
Continuing north we stopped in at Elsey National Park where we couldn't resist taking a dip in the Mataranka Thermal Pool. We once again found the pool just delightful, at 34 degrees and surrounded by palm trees the crystal clear water is ever so inviting. It was hard to drag ourselves away however we had a few more kilometers to cover for the day.
Our next stopover was Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge), one of our absolute favourite places to stay. We not only loved kayaking the gorge but the campground and resort style pool as well. Of course in season all is different, with the campground all but full and the pool too busy to be able to indulge in a night time star gazing float
We set off early the next morning to paddle the gorges. Stroke after stroke for 13 odd kilometers the water was so calm it was like running the paddle through a cream sauce. So smooth and enjoyable without a ripple on the water we were witnessing the most stunning of reflections.
A stunning day had the walls of the gorge radiating hues of red, orange and terracotta, the birds were singing and we were so relaxed. We carried the kayaks up and over the rise from gorge one to two taking a little dip before continuing on. At the end of gorge two Rod scampered up the rapids dragging the kayaks whilst I supervised. With the hard work done here we sat perched on the rocks and enjoyed a coffee as we watched people on tours transfer from one boat to another.
At the end of the third gorge we climbed up and over the rocks spotting a crocodile lazing in a rock pool below us. We sat and watched it for ages before it went for a cruise down the rapids and then hid between two rocks. Funny, what you don’t see doesn’t hurt you… last year we swam there!
Now aware and alert to the crocodiles we noticed a couple more just sunning themselves on the banks as we paddled past them on our return leg, we gave them a wide berth
We were so pleased that we had come back to Katherine Gorge and again thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it is such a lovely set of gorges and having our own kayaks enabled us to take it all in at our leisure.
To complete our Nitmiluk experience we moved further north to visit Leliyn (Edith Falls). Our plan was to camp for the night, however when we got to the campground it was just too busy with people camped on top of each other so we decided to have a walk around and then continue on.
The Edith Falls Plunge Pool is a large waterhole lined with lush green flora, and whilst it looked very tempting the water was freezing so we gave swimming a miss! On the far side of the waterhole the waterfall was cascading down the sandstone escarpment and flowing into the pool producing a gorgeous panorama.
Back on the Stuart heading north it wasn’t long before it was time to take yet another detour, this time off to the west…
Highlights along this stretch of the Stuart:
- Daly Waters Hotel
- Mataranka Thermal Pools
- Paddling Katherine Gorge
- Crocodile encounter
- Camping in Nitmiluk National Park