Hi there,

For those of you arriving late to this intrepid family journey through the heart of Australia, you may like to start reading at the beginning. Unfortunately, Blogger organises posts with those most recently created appearing first. So, if you jump in at the top, you're not going to get the full experience of this gritty blow-by-blow account of our adventure. As such, I suggest using the navigation window above and head down to March, where the first part of this journey began. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be hooked. From there you can scroll upwards to continue the journey. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Alternatively, simply click on the following link to jump right there:
http://theblackstump.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/.

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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Katherine Gorge - WOW!



The next day we all awoke suddenly to the thought that we had forgotten something… “Bugger,” I cursed under my breath “we didn’t pick up the pies!”. But, despite earnest pleas to all make the 200km round trip, I stood my ground against two very persistent boys. Damn my resolute resilience…. Damn!



“No, boys” I said firmly, in my best impression of someone who didn’t agree with them (well, not entirely, that is…); “get up and have some breakfast”. But to make up for it, I told them glancing at our itinerary, “today we’re going on a cruise”



Well, perhaps ‘cruise’ might have been a stretch, but the boys fell for it hook, line and sinker. To my mind, the word cruise conjures up images of large vessels, cocktails at sunset, meals at whatever time of day you might have whimsy to eat at. But, no… this was a boat! A flat-bottomed boat. Albeit, a boat piloted by one of the most skilful maritime chaps (does the word ‘maritime’ still count for vessels on freshwater too?) to take the helm of a water going craft that I’ve ever met. And, with only a handful of people on board (thank you ‘off peak season’), we were soon away.



Katherine Gorge is a truly spectacular part of the world, which everyone should visit as soon as possible… Seriously, if you’re currently breathing and have not seen Katherine Gorge, you’re wasting valuable time! Who knows, you might be struck blind at any moment, and where would you be then?! “Sure.” you might scoff, “I’m happy with the awesomeness I’ve already seen…” But, listen up and let me tell you why you are wrong!



Arriving nice an early for our 9:00 boat ride up three of many gorges that Katherine has to offer, we stood amongst a gaggle of other sight seers; each of us vying for shade under a few sparse trees (oh, yes, 8:30 and it was already HOT!)



However, the wait wasn’t at all unpleasant. While we stood there in the ever warming sun, we were entertained no end by the throngs of thousands upon thousands of fruit bats, which were roosting in the very trees we were cowering under away from the hot sun. These were amazing creatures; all adhering to a hierarchy of who got the best patch of a tree limb (whatever that means to a bat). There were constant squabbles amongst these winged denizens of the night. There were baby bats holding on for dear life to their mothers. There were sleeping bats, squawking bats, chittering bats, and flying bats. But most of all, at least to our untrained eyes, there was such a litany of bats dangling mere feet from our heads. And everywhere you looked they were doing something captivating.







Soon enough though, we were called forth to embark upon one of the most breath-taking and humbling boat rides of a life time. Heading down the small jetty, were we ushered on board a broad vessel (unsinkable according to the captain / guide – but we all know what happened last time a captain took that attitude… thankfully there were few ice bergs in this heat, but we scanned the horizon just to be sure!). Up the gangway we were greeted by rows of seats. The boys naturally wanted to sit right up front – so, as I was keen to take in as much as possible, I happily followed along (uttering half-hearted apologies to anyone who got in their way) as they pushed right to the bow of the craft and plonked themselves down. And so, seated in pole position, we were off.



At this point, for those that have been following along, I would typically embark upon a long-winded tale of our journey. But, luckily for anyone actually reading this, the photos speak for themselves. So, allow me to present a visual account of our boat trip…



…but first, a quick run-down of how the trip went down. Over the course of the morning, we visited three sections of this gorge. Each ended with a tight bottle neck of rapidly churning water. Given that our bat was built more for leisurely sight-seeing, rather than plowing our way through uncharted aquatic territory, the boat used for each leg of the trip couldn’t make it over these rolling and boiling waters. So our chipper skipper gracefully pulled the craft into a safe harbour at the end of each gorge and we walked a short length of river side path to the next (increasingly smaller) boat. Halfway down the third and final gorge, the boat was rammed ashore on a sandy beach and we disembarked to a hike up a steep hill, where we were led to a hidden valley amongst the cliffs and thick scrub. Having arrived at our destination, we were treated to an enormous waterfall; cascading down into a churning lake 100 meters below. The lake, albeit coloured in somewhat drab tarnished-bronze tones, was cool and refreshing; so anyone willing to brave the frigid waters was able to take a dip. We spent at least an hour in the cool embrace of the waterfall fed lake – glad to be out of the sweltering heat of the sun. Fish darted about between our legs as we quenched our hot bodies in the icy water, and we even took an impromptu shower under the cascading falls. Having been stung by the hail of water pelting down from above, we climbed rocks, jumped off ledges and lay on our backs in the middle of the lake gazing up towards the bright orange cliffs and cobalt skies – watching the white fluffy clouds pass serenely above us.



All too soon, dripping wet and thoroughly satisfied, it was time to head back to the boat. In the heat of the day we were pretty-well dry by the time we clambered aboard and started our return journey home. Stopping along the way, we traipsed up another embankment to view some rock art that had been lying untouched for 1000’s of years. We plaintively tried spotting crocs at the edge of the water line, without success (don’t worry – there are plenty of croc stories to come!), and eventually docked back at the starting point of our trip.



But that’s where I’ll stop typing up and let you have a glimpse of the sights we were able to gawp at along the way.













 Disembarking from the boat and heading towards the information centre, we suddenly came back in range of telecommunications and around us phones started bleeping like at chorus of polyphonic crickets. One of the bleeps also came from my own phone. It was Nat informing me that she had arrived in Katherine and had made her way to the town centre where she was in the local supermarket picking up groceries for the next part of our trip.



We headed back to the car and arranged to meet up with Nat thirty minutes later in the supermarket carpark. When we arrived, she was waiting out front – trolley brimming with goodies to see up through our trip to Hot Douglas Springs and Litchfield National Park.



Reunited as a family once again, we took Nat back to our sweltering piece of paradise under the palm trees of Shady Lane caravan park. We then watched her wince every now and then as her body was forced to rapidly acclimatise to the extremes of coming from a Melbourne winter to the tropical heat of the north. Oh, and the bugs were a surprise as well!



Bye ‘d bye,



Gregg


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