Tennant Creek to Kakadu

22nd July, 2003
23rd July, 2003

Tuesday, 22nd July, 2003

Stockman Statue photograph

Stockman Statue, Newcastle Waters

Drop Cap uch warmer today as we headed north from Tennant Creek. We are in the "transition area" between Top End and Centre and as such there were miles and miles of GABA which makes me fall asleep. We stopped at Renner Springs, which Mac and I remembered from our drive down in 1969. They didn't have the hat he left there in spite of their extensive hat collection.

Drop Cap ur next stop was Newcastle Waters, (owned by Consolidated Press, Packer's mob). This has an historic township attached and was the starting point for a bicentennial stock muster from here to the Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach Qld. There is a statue of a drover so we duly photographed it.

Daly Waters Pub photograph

Daly Waters Pub

Drop Cap oving along another few hundred ks we came to Daly Waters Pub for lunch. This is, or seems to be, an Aussie icon, going even further than Paul Hogan into the vernacular. It was crude, rude and very good humoured. We had a reasonable lunch and APT shouted us a drink at the bar. We chose lemon squash.

Thermal pool photograph

Mataranka Thermal Pool

Drop Cap nother few hundred ks on we came to Mataranka, in the Elsey National Park. In addition to the thermal pool which is well-known, there were pockets of palmy rain forest remnants with lovely little Agile Wallabies. Some of the group had a dip but as it is thirty degrees in the water and about the same air temperature, I didn't think it would be very refreshing.

Elsey Homestead photograph

Replica of the Elsey Homestead, Mataranka

Drop Cap lso on the property was the replica of the Elsey Homestead, built for the film "We of the Never Never". As I studied the book for two years at school I thought I must see that. The actual homestead, which has disintegrated, is several miles away in reality. If it was like the replica, and it probably was, it was quite reasonable by pioneer standards.

Elsey Homestead photograph

Replica of the Elsey Homestead, Mataranka

Drop Cap e are at Katherine tonight and cruise the gorges tomorrow. We have been racking our brains to solve some "lateral thinking" brainteasers which Rosemary gave us. She gave out a list of these today to fill in some of the long journey and we won the memorial pen for getting the most right (16 out of 18). So she gave us a sheet for which she does not have all the answers and asked if we could solve them. They are quite a lot more challenging! We have done more than half and have given up for now. We get 8 more people on the tour tomorrow. It seems a strange place to join for the last few days.

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Wednesday 23rd July, 2003

Katherine River photograph

We set off up the Katherine River

Drop Cap oday we saw our first clouds on an overcast cruise up the Katherine River to the first two of eleven gorges. It is already very warm and seemed like the pre-wet might be starting early. On our way to the boat, we passed an enormous colony of fruit bats, hanging like strange black fruit from the trees overhead. We had to take care to avoid attention.

Katherine River photograph

Cruise Boat, Katherine River

Drop Cap e piled into the open boat (it had a roof, but no sides above seat height) and it set off up the first gorge.

Katherine River photograph

First Gorge, Katherine River

Drop Cap t was very lovely; the first thing we came to was "Jedda's Rock" where the two stars of the 1950's film "Jedda" leapt to their deaths. When we reached the end of this gorge there was a rock bar which had to be scrambled over for about 500 meters to the next gorge. This was narrower and really spectacular. There were caves and holes and faux gorges - really great. A cave, imaginatively called "Swallow Cave" was a rookery of tiny fairy martins making little bottle shaped mud nests.

Katherine Gorge photograph

Katherine Gorge

Raining Rock photograph

Raining Rock in Katherine Gorge

Drop Cap hen we returned we drove back to Katherine for lunch and banking. There were small groups of aborigines getting money before the pubs opened at midday. The vast majority looked a real mess, barefoot, unkempt, dirty. Some of them looked OK and the rangers at the gorge and staff here seem a different race, somehow. Perhaps the mere ability to hold down a job confers the necessary self esteem.

Termite Mound photograph

Termite Mound, Pine Creek

Drop Cap fter stopping briefly at Pine Creek to photograph immense termite mounds and at Mary Creek for ice cream and toilet breaks we arrived at the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn at about 17:30. We have a ground floor room in the body of the beast, overlooking the pool. We have another night here and it is very nice. We rang Geoff and all seems to be well.

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