Monday, 6 June 2016

Half-lap Day 33: Mataranka -> Katherine

When I woke up it was dark and the bush was silent so I thought it was still a while until dawn – suddenly all the birds burst into song at once. Some of the birds made a hissing sound and one sounded like it was throwing up, but most of the birdsong was quite pretty. I thought I saw an animal move into the shadows and then heard donkeys running around, saw some hooves running on a path a little bit away from us, so I went for a walk to see if I could see any donkeys properly. I didn’t see any donkeys but enjoyed exploring the campsite a bit, then walked down to the river to see it just before sunrise. Tony went for a bike ride when I got back so he could see the river as well.

Those rocks really look like crocodiles
Packing up was easier than usual because I’d put most of the stuff into the car the night before, and we were pleased it wasn’t a big job because as soon as the sun came over the top of the trees it was burning. The girls had a quick shower before we left and we were on the road by about 9.15.

We listened to Harry Potter and had the windows down again and the trip went quickly, it was only just over 100km to Katherine. Tony had been given the name of an auto electrician by the mechanic in Elliott, so we called in there to see if he could look at our air con problem. The guy said to ring him at 2pm and see if he could fit us in.

We had heard about a cheap caravan park on the north bank of the river, but had heard mixed reviews – some said it was a great community, others said it was somewhere to avoid. It was only $20 a night and when we rang around the cheapest alternative we could find was $54. We had a look at it and chatted to the owner and decided to give it a try. He gave us a grassy spot with a clothesline, and we set up in the middle of the day heat, all feeling a bit hot and cranky. Some lunch helped, as did discovering a cage of puppies at the house across from us. The park has several permanent residents, in cabins and houses of various types. Some are only half built, some are campervans or caravans set up with awnings and fridges and little yards, some are permanent cabins that are like small houses. The kids went over to look at the puppies and were overwhelmed by cuteness. On the way back to our site the mummy dog came around from the other side of the house and ran over to the kids – we all froze as we didn’t know if she’d like people being near her puppies. Tony walked over to her and she came up for a pat and all was fine. There are also 4 male goats wandering around. Caitlin patted one and it tolerated it for a while then butted her in the leg. It scared us then by pawing the ground, we thought it was going to charge at us – but then it sat down and settled into the depression it had made and went to sleep.

As soon as we’d eaten we headed to the local council swimming pool. It was only $12 for family entry, so even if we come every day it’s cheaper staying at North Bank Park and swimming here, than staying at a caravan park with a pool. The pool was 50m long, and shallow at both ends, deep in the middle. It was 1.2m at the shallow ends though so Millie couldn’t stand up, she played on the steps and swam out and back to me or Caitlin and had a great time anyway. Tony had dropped us off and taken the car to the auto electrician, and planned to come back to swim once the guy had looked at the car. We got to the pool at 2.30 and loved being in the water, especially with one end of the pool under shade cloth. Caitlin practiced all her swimming strokes, even butterfly, and probably swam 10 or more full laps of the pool. We played with noodles and balls and had races and spent some time in the toddler pool. Tony was gone for about 3 hours, by which time the kids were ready to get out – even Caitlin said she was ready to go – but we stayed so that Tony could have a swim as well, and the kids got back in the pool with him and had fun while I read my book for a while. It was a great way to cool off and get past the heat of the day.

The auto electrician couldn’t find anything wrong with the electrical system in the car, so recommended a mechanic to Tony, we’ll ring him in the morning. We stopped at Woolworths on the way back to camp to get something for dinner – we were hoping for a hot chicken but there weren’t any left, and there was no bread, so we had rissoles and bread rolls again. While we were cooking dinner the mummy dog came over to our tent, and she stayed for the rest of the evening, watching us eat, asking for pats, sleeping on our carpet. We finished setting up the beds and I collapsed into bed as soon as I could, and everyone else came soon after.

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