Monday, 6 June 2016

Half-lap Day 35: Katherine

Our plan was to get up and going as quickly as we could to head out to Katherine Gorge before it got too hot. We were on our way by 9am, which is about how long it takes us to get up and have breakfast, play with the puppies, play some games and tidy up a bit. (Pumbaa, the biggest of the puppies, expanded his range enough to come over to our tent, so there was lots of puppy cuddles and amusement as he played under our table). The drive out to the gorge was interesting, seeing some of the outlying houses of Katherine and then the farms along the road. There was an old steam engine in one paddock (not a train, a road engine I think). We also saw a few horses.

We wandered in to the Visitor Centre which was lovely and cool – the morning was pretty warm already. Looking at the maps and chatting to the girl at the desk we decided on a walk to a lookout which would let us see the first gorge – about an hour return, which everyone felt ok about. As Tony was coming in a guy handed him a voucher for a bacon and egg roll which he didn’t need – so Tony and the kids ordered that while I went back to the car to get shoes and hats and sunscreen and food for our walk. It took the usual very long time for Millie to get her sunscreen on – she’s very thorough – then we headed off.

Before we got to the place where the boat tours leave we discovered trees full of red-nosed flying foxes. They were hanging in the trees and making a lot of noise. Very cool to see. The walk was quite pleasant after the boat ramp, through trees and with a rock wall on our right. There were stairs and rocks going up and down, and we stopped to rest a few times. After a while the path started to climb – lots of metal stairs, and about halfway up Millie stopped and wasn’t keen to go any further. I went on with Caitlin and LiAM, Tony and Millie followed after a while. The climb wasn’t too strenuous and we soon arrived at a small outcrop where we could see the river (with no fences) then it wasn’t far from there up to the lookout.

Even Millie was impressed with the view, she liked the sparkling sun reflecting off the river. It was great to see the high cliff faces with the river flowing slowly through between them, a beautiful green colour like all the rivers up here. We looked for crocodiles but didn’t see any. We stayed at the lookout for quite a while, enjoying all aspects of the view, and marveling that because it wasn’t quite on the edge of the cliff, I felt no fear at all, even though the consequences of falling from here would be just as bad as those other places where I was freaking out.

On the way back down the kids thought they saw a crocodile on the far bank, but it was hard to tell from that distance. We walked back a slightly different way, closer to the edge of the river, which was a little nerve-wracking, thinking about crocs. Swimming and canoeing in the river are closed at the moment as there have been recent crocodile sightings. We made it back without incident and watched the flying foxes for a while, then back to the Visitor Centre where we explored the display on the local area. It showed how the gorge had been formed and lots about the local people and culture. Exploring the gift shop afterwards, Millie found a sparkly plush crocodile which she really wanted – she decided to get it as an early birthday present and was thrilled.

We drove back in to town, stopping briefly at Knotts Crossing – a place on the river with a small weir, and easy access from the carpark. It was beautiful, although the sign saying a crocodile had been sighted here only 4 days ago made everyone a little nervous when we were close to the water – we didn’t linger.

Once in town we went straight to the pool. Caitlin bought some new goggles and we played in the shady end of the pool for ages. Tony watched some of the Collingwood game on his phone then joined us. He played with the basketball and hoops for a while too. I went and got the cold chicken and bread and stuff from the car and we had some lunch, then went back in the pool. LiAM had had enough before the girls, so he and I played Dots until the pool was about to close. I had quick dip to cool off again, then we went back home.

The kids spent most of the afternoon playing with the girls they had met the day before, and going to see the puppies. The owner of the puppies let them out for a play, and also let his kittens out of the house, so there were lots of happy kids playing with baby animals for a while. Tony went for a bike ride on the track that goes either side of the river here, and saw the low level rapids and the hot springs. I read my book and did some puzzles and had a lovely quiet afternoon.

Tony cooked sausages on the BBQ for dinner and then the kids played with their friends for a little longer - they went gecko hunting and were excited to catch one, until it dropped it's tail and ran off and they all felt really bad. After a while everyone headed off home to get ready for bed (which seemed to take us ages).

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