We managed to get to Katherine in enough time to drop the van at our site, plug the power in and head to Toyota. We’d been told good things about Katherine Toyota and I mentioned the recommendation to the service guy – somehow I don’t think Toyota do ‘mates rates’ but with any luck they make an extra special coffee for Tracey next time she’s here.
Our first full day in Katherine and we’d already booked some things to do at the Information Centre yesterday, including a visit to the local Saturday morning markets. Miss6 had some spending money she’d got from Nanna and managed to find a gorgeous amethyst necklace to buy with it – a fitting way to spend money from Nanna I thought. It even came with a free crystal that the stall lady let her choose. It seems Katherine is getting set for ‘winter’ and most of the stalls were selling beanies and other such items – we’re officially in winter denial so decided to skip these stalls.
We’d booked in an Aboriginal cultural experience out at Top Didj so headed there in the afternoon. I’d met these guys at the Melbourne Caravan and Camping show and they were very friendly (the NT had the best stalls at the show I thought). Manuel shared his culture and some music with us before teaching us some traditional painting techniques (with lines instead of dots), how to light a fire (or at least how to attempt to light a fire for most of us), and spear throwing. Most of the other participants didn’t want to try their hand at spear throwing but we loved it.
After the workshop we hung around the art gallery and grounds feeding all of the baby wallaby that had been orphaned and now looked after by the park. Miss6 was in her element and got very excited when they showed her a tiny baby that they’d got only two days before.
Master14 had sent his biological father a text to find out if he still lived near Katherine – turns out he lives around the corner from our caravan park and wanted to see him. He came to pick up a pretty nervous 14 year old from a very nervous mother after work for dinner and a movie – it’s been nine years since he last saw Master14 though they’d spent some time texting each other over the past year. From all reports they had a good night and my mind was put at ease (it was eased earlier in the night when Miss6 and I had a girls night at the Big Fig restaurant on site and Mummy enjoyed a mango dacquiri!).
The next morning we were off to the Katherine Gorge for a four hour boat cruise. We got chatting to a lovely family with a little girl in the queue before boarding the boat with a very friendly and informative guide (and very easy on the eye). The cruise took us through the first three gorges where we took in some breathtaking views including Jedda rock (note to self: watch the movie even though the final scene in the movie was re-shot in the Blue Mountains in NSW after the film was damaged returning from the NT!), a freshwater croc casually swimming past our boat and finally a lovely little watering hole that we all got to swim in (no crocs here) with a waterfall and the little girl from the queue in a matching floaty jacket to Miss6 – instant bonding!
Apparently the NT have cottoned on to a thing called OHS – some folk thought it was the name of a royal ship or something like that, while others thought it might’ve meant not risking the lives of backpackers and grey nomads. Needless to say, the tours no longer include cruises of the fourth and fifth gorges so it was back to base for us.
We did have to wait on the boat for a while for a missing passenger who apparently ‘took a wrong turn’ walking back from the watering hole (there was only one track – the rather large camera and equipment bag over his shoulder gave me the idling suspicion it may have been deliberate…).
We followed up the gorge tour with a helicopter flight over the rest of the gorges, including a landing atop of the gorge for a quick photo and look around before boarding the helicopter for the return trip. On the flight to the gorge landing Miss6 was very excited, on the way back she got a fright at the angle they took off and her face told a different story!
Once back at the caravan park I was sitting outside and watched a motorhome reversing into a site only a few spots down from us – it was the family we’d met in the queue. Turns out they’re from Victoria too and we ended up having a drink together while the kids played.
The girls had discovered some weird looking tree with pretty foliage and berries on it – soon there were screams from Miss6 as her hands and legs were burning and bright red. I applied some ice to her legs and antihisthemine cream before putting an antihisthemine tablet on a spoonful of yoghurt for her to swallow. Not sure what those berries were but they left Miss6 with legs that looked like she was covered in purple freckles. We spent the evening with our new family friends and plan to go camping with them once we’re back to Victoria.
The next day we headed to Edith Falls for a swim and explore and our new family friends turned up later to swim with us. It was too hot for us to walk up to the top pool so we stayed at the larger bottom pool and swam all the way out to the water fall and played near the entrance with the archer fish and others that enjoyed nibbling on your feet. The swim out to the water fall was a pretty big one and I was proud of the kids efforts getting there and back.
Master14 got a message from his biological father asking if he could have a sleepover and spend the day together the following day – we both agreed to this and off he went at the end of the day.
Miss6 and I decided to have a girls day out at the hot springs after dropping the car for its actual repair with Toyota (the first visit was to check what was needed). The springs were within walking distance of the caravan park so we headed there with our noodle and towels. The water was crystal clear and there were a number of pools to swim in so we walked around to check them all out first. People were filling up some of the lower pools so we thought we’d try there first as the current wasn’t too strong.
As we were about to get in we noticed a ‘Caution: croc sighted here’ with yesterday’s date on it! The sign included a phone number on it so I gave them a call to find out more – there was a large agressive saltwater croc in the nearby river that the springs fed into but he doubted the croc would swim up too far into the warm spring water.
We took our chances after thoroughly inspecting the crystal clear water and hopped in as far up as we could. Funnily enough after we hopped in, all the other swimmers began asking what I’d been told on the phone – none of them had bothered asking before they started swimming!
I got another message from Master14 – he was going to have a second sleepover with his father so Miss6 and I had a quiet dinner together at the camp kitchen where we sat with another woman and her kids and shared dessert. Miss6 did the dishes for me and we headed off to bed before Master14 returned in time for pack up in the morning.