Mataranka 18th June
Decided to stay another day in Mataranka and watch the Barramundi feeding at Territory Manor and then stay the night at Mataranka Homestead, a nice park with entertainment from one of the ladies on the staff (good singer, canned music) who turned out to be having a year off from being the principal of an indigenous school and had some interesting stories to tell.
19th June Katherine
On to Katherine, a fairly large town where we restocked Jazzabout for the continuation of our trip and rather than get to Katherine Gorge late in the day we went out to Springvale Homestead where we were given a talk about the history of this property which was apparently the first in the Northern Territory although it was then known as the north of South Australia. We had a very nice dinner in the Cafe of (wait for it) Barramundi.
20th - 21st Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park)
Excellent campground with good facilities and a lovely swimming pool, The Information Centre is a great building with a cafe that looks out over the Gorge and has a lot of information about the area and you can book tours of all sorts, we met a group of people about our age who were setting of with one of the rangers for a 66 km, 5 day hike to the end of the Gorge. Not being quite so adventurous we settled on a 1½ hour boat trip up the first two of the thirteen gorges, which are more spectacular than anything we have seen so far.
22nd June Katherine
We then went back into Katherine to get some fresh spring water to take on our way and to post some cards, I was heading for the door we came in when Lorraine said we should go out the other door to the Post Office and just as I was about to walk out the door I was grabbed on the arm by no other but Michael and Heather, friends of 45 years that we knew were in NT but did not know where. It happened that they were staying at Springvale Homestead so we went back out there with them and spent another night and had dinner with them at the cafe with a lot of laughter and fun.
23rd - 26th Douglas Hot Springs
We told Mick and Heather we were going to Douglas Hot Springs and although they had come through that area they decided to come back with us, what a great spot, we were able to collect firewood thanks to Mick's chain saw and we sat round the fire and sang songs and drank a few ? wines. The hot springs were fantastic and we even got Lorraine into the water (a first) and we all really enjoyed our stay there.
27th - 29th Daly River
Mick & Heather had come from Daly River and wanted us to go back there with them as they thought we would enjoy it, and we certainly did. It is a community run by the Aborigines with a Hotel, a Store and a great campground which was lovely and clean and full of fishermen after the Barramundi in the Daly River, Mick had shown us a photo of a Barramundi he had caught the previous week that looked like he would need a semi trailer to take it home.
We ate at the Pub on the thursday night and watched the Carlton-Hawthorn match with the Aborigines barracking loudly and it was a lot of fun. Each night a paddy wagon from the community would arrive at the pub about 9 pm and start ferrying the drinkers home, it was interesting to hear them arguing loudly about who was going first in a friendly way.
30th June - 2nd July Litchfield
Stayed at Litchfield Tourist Park for 3 nights to catch up on some housekeeping, Jazzabout sure needed a good clean to get rid of the red dust that had accumulated during our travels and we needed to wash clothes etc. This is a good park with lovely shaded sites, good amenities and a nice cafe and swimming pool, so it was a nice place to settle for a few days. While we were here the hot water heater in Jazzabout sprang a leak in the stainless steel tank, but with a little help from a 10 cent coin and some liquid nails, I was able to repair it.
3rd - 6th July Darwin.
On the way to Darwin from Litchfield we stopped off at Berry Springs National Park and went for a walk to the springs, a great setup with many people swimming in the pools there. On to Darwin where we had planned to stay at the Robbie Robbins Reserve only to find there were no vacancy's and that was the case at all the other caravan parks except Koa at Malak, we were able to book 4 nights which gave us a few days to see darwin again after 14 years. What a change, the waterfront has been turned into a lovely area with a wave pool and very pretty gardens and the wharf in being upgraded and has some great eating spots.
Darwin now has many multi storied buildings and is beginning to look like a large city, but we found it very easy to get around in Jazzabout as the traffic is very light. On Thursday we went to the wharf and had lunch looking out over the sea and then went to Mindle Beach at about 2 pm and parked where the market is held and walked to the Darwin Museum and spent a couple of hours there before walking back to the market.
The Market really comes alive as the sun is setting and has a great atmosphere, the food stalls are many and varied, so it is difficult to choose but we managed. Today (friday) will be a lazy day and I am able to catch up on this entry to the trip journal. Tomorrow we will head into Kakadu, stopping at Humpty Doo Pub to catch up with Rod & Shelly Dowset. Rod is the country singer we first met at Mt Beauty and then at Wandilla Station and it will be good to hear him again.