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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Northern Territory - Katherine

We left Litchfield and our fabulous accommodation bright and early in the direction of Katherine.

We made a stop in Adelaide River for petrol and discovered a local market to have a look at. We also discovered we had a signal on our mobiles for the first time since we'd left Darwin. Normally we wouldn't be quite so excited we don't mind being disconnected, but there were a few people looking for us so it all worked out. The kids were instantly connected, they had friends having birthdays and competing in dance competitions and were eager to hear the results.

Just north of Katherine we made a stop at Edith Falls. Just another beautiful set of cascading falls and a crystal clear pool to swim in and green grass to relax on. We were feeling very spoiled. They way that all of this is here to see and is practically untouched is amazing.

From there it was a short drive to Katherine and our holiday park which was in a gorgeous resort.  The sun was still shining so the kids headed off to the pool while the adults spent some down time poolside.

This holiday cabin had actual walls. comfortable beds and a full kitchen. The bathroom while private was located beside our cabin and down a short path. But it was clean and the water pressure was great. Water pressure is very important when you come back every day sweaty and covered in red dust even though you've been swimming all day.

That night around bedtime I discovered I wasn't alone in there. I had looked down before putting the lid back down and discovered a frog butt. I flushed again and got a good look at it's lovely long legs and orange toes. Meet Brenda (Tyler names all the critters we encounter). She seemed friendly so we worked out a deal where she would stay hidden while anyone was doing their business and other than that she had the place to herself.

The next morning we got up early and packed up with the intention of going on a 7km roundtrip hike to the Northern Rockhole.  We drove over to Nitmiluk Park for a trail map and discovered we were out of luck a saltwater croc had recently been discovered up there and was therefore closed. Perfect timing as Scott was the only one in the family that woke up ready and eager to take that task on!

So we opted for a shorter, all though more vertical hike up to the lookout over Katherine Gorge.

At the base of the gorge there are hundreds of fruit bats. For an animal that's normally nocturnal I couldn't believe how noisy and active they were!

It was a long hot hike, but the views of the gorge were incredible!

I have to say that by this point in the trip the kids had already hiked some crazy tracks, a huge number of kilometres all in the heat and humidity. They had totally earned a cold treat, and it did say Canadian...

We still had a few hours left in the afternoon, but we were looking for an activity out of the sun so we drove out to the Cutta Cutta Caves.  We had just missed a tour but there was another one in an hour. We took the time to sit in the shade and have some lunch while we waited for what turned out to be a private tour. Not another soul on it with us. There were 30 in the one before us and another 30 after us!

They were really interesting to see and a bit different that most of the things we've seen on this trip. There was only one way into the caves, and they flood in the wet season so there is a short window of time to visit them. We saw a couple of brown tree snakes curled up, a rock wallaby and her joey and apparently there is a 3 metre python that has recently made the cave her home. Likely because of the wallaby. Needless to say Scott stuck pretty close to the guide!

The caves are full of stalactites and stalagmites and crystalline structures that sparkle when the mud is washed off when the water recedes in the dry season.

We were about to leave the caves and since we'd had a private tour our guide had been talking to Hannah about horses and suggested the Katherine Outback Experience just a few short kilometres from where we were.

Tom has worked for several years breaking horses and training dogs for numerous cattle stations in the Northern Territory. He put on a wonderful unscripted "show" where he worked with a horse he had recently been sent by a station to be trained. He demonstrated how he earns their trust and trains them to follow his lead.

He was fascinating to watch. At one point Toms's manager Annabel comes by and offers to take the kids to feed some of the other animals on the farm and they were too glued to the show to leave!

After that he brings out one of his own horses and sings a couple of songs and shows off a few of their tricks.

He also trains cattle dogs and has a number of his own that he trains to run different formations when they're not working. It keeps their minds working and busy and exercise when things are slow.


And at the end the pièce de résistance...puppies!! Seriously who doesn't love cuddly puppies? Perfect end to a very busy day.

Back at the cabin, frog watch continued. Brenda decided she was so comfortable with us that the toilet seat was a cool place to hang out. Not cool Brenda, not cool. This meant that for the rest of the night we had to walk down the road to use the toilets in the amenities block so as not to disturb her.

Our last day in Katherine was Canada Day and Territory Day. We weren't missing out on fireworks this year!

Our big activity for the day was kayaking in Katherine Gorge. It's actually a series of 13 gorges and we were free to kayak the first 4. However as a large saltwater croc had recently taken up residence in the first gorge, we were ferried directly to the second gorge to start the trip. 

Scott and Hannah got off to a quick start, Tyler and I had to work out some control issues before we could make any headway. Remind me to work a little further on the teamwork concept with this one!


I was worried that our afternoon was going to be ridiculously hot out on the water, but the gorge provides a nice amount of shade and there was a lovely breeze most of the day.

And the end of our afternoon there was plenty of time for a quick swim to cool off in the last bit of sunshine before catching the ferry back.

On the ferry ride back our guide pointed out a couple of the resident freshwater crocs that we had been sharing the gorge with. We were told that as long as we don't antagonise them they're happy to leave us alone. Ok...I guess.

Our holiday park in Katherine was more of a resort and of course had a lovely restaurant and bar. Since no one felt like cooking dinner after our paddle, we treated ourselves to a night out. The kids were amazing - they ordered for themselves off of the adult menu (they're over chicken fingers and pizza I'm told) sharing a steak and potato, and they were so grown up. We watched other kids yelling and running through the restaurant and we were so proud to see our kidlets eating politely and telling us all about their favourite parts of the year so far.

Dinner was over and the fireworks well under way so we called it a night. Brenda had even invited a friend over to keep her company during the fireworks. Which might I note went on for hours. Seriously, they started at 6:00 and continued well past 11:00!!

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