Australia - Katherine
Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
124Trip End Ongoing
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Crisis averted we managed the last 20km of the journey into Katherine where we made straight for the visitor centre right before it closed at 5pm. Having picked up some local literature we then progressed to the campsite, picking up some shopping and diesel (had to replenish the emergency jerry can supply) on the way. Popping out to acquire dinner from the trusty local 'Subway' we returned to the campsite rejoicing in the fact that we didn't have to do any pesky washing up.
The highlight of the Katherine area is the gorge in Nitmiluk National Park; consisting of 13 natural gorges carved through sandstone by the Katherine River with rocks and boulders separating each gorge. The best way (and often the only way given the swollen river levels at this time of year) to view the gorge is via a river tour. The current extreme water levels meant that the only tour available was the two hour tour which only goes as far as the second gorge - all others are unreachable.
'Travel North' have a monopoly on river tours up the gorge and we were unfortunately unable to gain a place on the days 9am tour. Later tours would have prevented us from progressing up to Darwin later in the day as there was still over 400km to cover. In the knowledge that we would be calling back through Katherine on our return journey down to Uluru we were not too despondent as we could attempt the gorge tour then.
Our early start to try and get on the river tour meant that we were on the road at a record 8am and began our drive northwards to Darwin. With the extra time we now had we decided to make the brief 40km detour out to Edith Falls (PICS) which was actually much more picturesque than we had anticipated.
Sadly the high water levels meant that not only were the falls made to look much smaller in comparison but there were also an abundance of fresh and salt water crocs in the area...no swimming for us then.
The next detour saw us head out into Litchfield National Park to take a look at the popular Cathedral termite mounds (PICS) some of which towered up to 6 metres in height. The mounds are constructed such that the open face is angled to the morning sun to maintain a constant 30 degree internal temperature throughout the day and into the night. The two sides of the mound are noticeably different in temperature to the touch - clever termites!