Thursday, March 31, 2011

Go(ing) west. This is what we did. Part IV

The Katherine River. Image source:
We'd arrived in Katherine in the early afternoon. Quite a famous town, but once you're there kind of wonder why.
Now that I think of it, I hadn't heard a lot about Katherine. I'd just heard it mentioned a lot. This may be because it's an actual town, and you can pretty much count on one hand the number of actual towns in NT.
It was nice enough but there was nothing sensational about it. I suspect it's true attraction lays in the reportedly spectacular gorges, rivers and parks, surrounding it. Attractions we didn't make the time to see. (One day, and all that).
At this point I must tell you about our camping fridge. It was both a curse and a blessing. A deep, cavernous affair, it was designed by Paul and a refrigeration mechanic friend (who also built it) with chilling multiple slabs of beer in mind. It even has a generous freezer section.
All that space was handy. Especially after our possibly excessive first shop in Mareeba. But things that provide a lot of space tend to also take up a lot of space. And space is at a premium when camping.
It also meant it was gut-poppingly heavy. Even Paul struggles with it, and he lifts most items so easily I often wonder if he has a He-Man gene or two.
But once it's in place, and filled with tasty holiday food and drink, I find myself quite impressed with it.
Anyway, by the time we got to Katherine the fan on the fridge compressor which (without going into specifics) keeps the whole show running was well and truly cactus. So it was fortunate we arrived in an actual town, where there was a good chance of buying a replacement, when we did.
However the procuring of a replacement fan that fit and lasted more than six hours was a different story. A rather convoluted one I won't go into here other than to say it did eventually have a happy ending.
We had four days at Katherine and stayed a few minutes from town at a place called Manbulloo Station, right on the Katherine River.
B set up in the camping ground and we booked into a self-contained cabin that had a (functioning) fridge/freezer and - joy! - it's own little bathroom.
As well as fixing the fridge, we (by we, I mean Mr Fix-it/Paul) were also able to address some other mechanical concerns. Eg the slightly essential brakes and tyres.
And we got in some holiday-style relaxing by the river, accompanied by the dogs and a good book or seven.
The final morning was a bit sad as B and baby left for Kununurra.
We went on to Darwin that day and had a trailer tyre destroy itself on the way. It was rather dramatic in its demise and ended up in strips along a section of Stuart Highway. Didn't take Paul long to change it though, him being Mr Fix It and all.
A larger-than-life bronze statue of a drover at the Junction Hotel/Store & the Drovers Memorial, dedicated during the Last Great Cattle Drive in 1988. This is on Newcastle Waters Station, which is actually closer to Tennant Creek than Katherine, but I thought I'd include it here.
Paul replacing the decimated trailer tyre. Apologies for not Photoshopping out the plumber's crack.
We made it to Darwin in one piece otherwise, and were able to stay with an old workmate of Paul's who now lives there.
And I'm not sure I can adequately express just how pleased Paul was to have another bloke to talk to after a fortnight with two women and baby.
The first beer was cracked and it was on - fishing talk this, hunting talk that, fitting talk, blah blah blah (his friend, Ian, is also a fitter-machinist). He even got to go to the tip - the Darwin couple had been doing some yard work - so finally felt like a man again.
Lee Pt, Darwin. The first place we visited upon arrival. Was so nice to see the beach again.

* I think I've overdone it with the talking here (may be turning into my mother) - all these words and I've only taken us from Katherine to Darwin. Will continue later with our time in Darwin, which included Gunn Point. If I had to name one place along the entire journey as the most magical, it would be Gunn Point.

Go(ing west). This is what we did. Part I
Go(ing west). This is what we did. Part II
Go(ing west). This is what we did. Part III

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