Loading Map...

Katherine Gorge

Written on: Thursday August 21st, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

Katherine is the crossroads town of the Northern Territory where visitors pass through to head either north to Darwin, east to Cairns, west to Broome or where we were heading, south to Alice Springs. Katherine's main draw is Nitmiluk National Park and the Katherine Gorge that snakes its way within it, which was why we'd decided to stop off here.Our stay here in Katherine turned out to be quite a work-out in the end. However to start us off we visited the thermal pools to cleanse our bodies and relax in the stinking hot mid-day sunshine. Why we went to a hot-springs for this I have no idea, but very pleasant they were all the same.Our spring clean preceded my first shoot-around for quite some time. A very fortuitous thing it was that Coco happens to be a basketball player too, and even better actually had a ball with him in the car, so while Loz caught up with her journal Coco and I shot around for a bit.So far in Australia I've had a great time, but in all honesty haven't taken to it and enjoyed it as much as the rawness, simplicity and diversity of Asia. I've had to get used to first world country prices again, I've been crammed in to purpose built, accommodate-as-many-as-possible hostels, the food is all the same, they even drive on the same side of the road as us over here. And if you visit here for the first time, apart from the weather which is at least a healthy 30C every day, you'd be forgiven to believe that you were actually in England with the amount of Pommes that are here. Getting stuck in Darwin for as long as I did didn't help. I was simply wasting money on accommodation, food and drink and before going out and seeing the National Parks wasn't actually doing a lot. Just a few days back on the road though, with the music screaming out from the radio and I suddenly felt alive again. I was seeing more of the world than just a bar and meeting people that weren't as it seemed with everybody in Darwin, simply in Australia to earn money. Australia's main draw for me so far has been its incredible variety of animals that are so easy to see and interact with. I've always ridiculed twitchers with their binoculars and easy-wipe bird identification sheets, but seeing the huge array of brightly coloured birds out here has changed my thought somewhat. In the campsite in Edith Falls several different species of bird woke us up with their amazing morning songs, while a couple of hungry, beautifully coloured ibis came to join us for breakfast. Here in Katherine Loz was quite startled as she sat cooking our food when she turned to look over her shoulder believing it to be me or Coco sneakily grabbing a biscuit from one of the bags only to see a kangaroo standing right beside her. This wasn't to be the last time that night we'd be visited by these dopey, cute, bouncy marsupials. Over the next four hours we must have seen about 20 of them enjoying the freedom of the campsite. One even came as close as to sample a swig of my bottle of Toohey's Extra Dry!The following morning we awoke early and made our way to the main attraction, the gorge. Despite Loz being particularly apprehensive about renting canoes and spending the day rowing up the river we managed to get her in to one of the doubles in the end and set off cruising up the gorge. There are actually 13 gorges in total, but because of it being dry-season only four are possible to canoe, so four is what we did. The second and third were especially scenic with the gorge towering up on both sides, above the nesting sites of freshwater crocodiles lying beneath on the banks of the water. Coco, despite being in the Northern Territory for a while now had still not seen a crocodile, so I gave Loz the challenge of finding one. I agreed that if she found one then I'd eat the packet of chocolate hob-nobs that had been in the car since we began the trip and now, with the intensity of the sun bearing down on them had melted and moulded in to one solid biscuit. She relished the challenge and on the way back to the first gorge stopped off with Coco in the dual canoe to scan all the banks in the hope of catching a glimpse of a freshie. I spied a small young one perched on a tree branch but they got their sought after prize when they spotted a relatively big one camouflaged against the sandy bank and the branches lying around him. His eyes glared at us from his resting point, his scaly, jaggedy back raised aggressively out of the water. Although this particular species of crocodile is normally not threatening to humans unless provoked you still can't help but feel a little intimidated, especially as we were in his realm sat in what looked like a big plastic banana. Nonetheless I decided to get as close as comfort would allow to get a couple of pics. Coco on the other hand didn't seem to be enjoying his first crocodile encounter, scolding Loz for directing them so close to the croc's lair.Earlier on we'd been swimming in this river, quite unperturbed by the crocodile's presence. Until that was I saw and heard something fall from a branch in to the river on the opposite bank. Coco and I could still hear Loz in her tent that night laughing her head off at the vision impregnated in her mind of Coco and I swimming back like lunatics, quicker than either of us has ever moved before in an effort to get out of the water before whatever it was that entered on the other side presented itself to us. Thankfully we did.