Bonus Day

Fri. 21st June 2019

Rusting vehicles at Katherine MuseumHaving driven from Kununurra to Katherine yesterday, we now have an unexpected day free. We utilise the Internet and desk space in our hotel room right up to the 10am checkout to try and catch up on emails and blog. Our next big town will be Darwin in a week and our Suffolk neighbour kindly reminds us we will be home in 19 days time! In the mean time, we are back into the wilds for a week and so need to stock up on food and drink. No alcohol though as the bottle shop does not open until 2pm, all part of the Responsible Service of Alcohol guidelines to address the problem of locals over imbibing.

Dr Fenton's original Tiger MothWe started the sightseeing with Katherine Museum to understand a bit more about the area. We are now in the Northern Territory and at the “Top End” of Australia. Katherine is on the main road from Adelaide via Alice Springs to Darwin and so we should not have been surprised that part of the museum was dedicated to the Overland Telegraph line, picking up on the story we left behind in Alice almost two months ago. It also picked up on the flying doctors story about Dr Clyde Fenton who learnt to fly so he could join with Dr Flynn with his venture. However as Dr Flynn had a policy of not employing doctors as pilots, Fenton bought his own second hand Tiger Moth for £499 and he formed NT Aerial Medical Service. Why it is surrounded by mannequins in wedding dresses I did not stop to find out.

A workshop of toolsThe Russian Peanut farmers in the Depression also piqued my interest as I studied their home made machinery adapted to enable them to pick and sort the peanuts. The Russians came as labourers to Australia to escape civil war in their country. When the work on the railways ended they stayed and leased land in by Katherine River. They had little money but plenty of manual labour skills and ingenuity.

Collection of memorabiliaAn unkind view of the museum would be to say that it was a collection of rusting junk and unwanted items. Perhaps that’s partly because I remember using some of the items on display when I was younger. The workshop exhibit reminded me of my dad’s old workshop and the display of China and crochet would appeal to my mum. It was, however, fascinating and would take a week to fully appreciate all the displays and information, we only have a morning. The tea room was tempting with more homemade scones, including pumpkin ones similar to those in Parry’s Creek Farm. What an odd combination.

Edith Falls possibly?!?Even though this is a bonus day, we still find many places we could visit and we want to squeeze in a visit to Edith Falls which is 60km away. The first part of the drive was on Hwy 1 heading to Darwin, which was full of road trains and caravans that were impossible to overtake on the windy road. It was a relief to turn off and head the last 20km to the falls. A pleasant surprise was that the road was tarmac, which I had not been expecting. We soon found ourselves in the busy car park with campsite attached.

There are some falls somewhereThere was a grade 3 loop walk called the Leliyn Trail, which is 2.6km long, to the top of the falls and back, a gentle stroll after lunch. The path started to climb, which we expected but it was steeper and rockier than other grade 3 walks we had done. It seemed an age before we finally reached Bemang lookout and I was beginning to wonder if we would ever get off the tree lined path and see some gorge and water action. I even scrambled up a steep slope to see if I could see more, but to no avail.

Sneaky view between the touristsFinally we reached the falls and plunge pool to be greeted by a mass of other tourists both in the water and on the surrounding rocks. We were distracted by a lizard sunning itself on a rock which we tried to photograph. I was just about to press the shutter when a chap tried to grab the lizard by the tail. Unsurprisingly the lizard was quicker and the chap slunk off after much reprimanding by other tourists. Pah! We weaved our way through, following the trail arrows to the falls. I have no idea if these falls have a name as the map showed the smaller falls by the car park to be called Edith Falls. In the end I didn’t really care and was ready to head back to the car. Now we are close to Darwin the number of tourists has increased and likely to stay that way through the national parks in this area.

I could do with five minutes peaceIt was time to head on to Nitmiluk National Park, where we have a chalet booked for the next two nights. I say chalet, but more like a wooden box with windows. [Ed. Think trailer-trash but with less class] It impressed us so much that we forgot to take any pictures of chalet or campground!! The chalet was on a campsite with a bistro pool bar and restaurant and we were hoping for burgers. My beef brisket was tasty enough and Dave enjoyed his kangaroo – but these were just about the only two options on the menu. This came with a buffet of veg and rice (but may have been couscous I couldn’t tell) which was not so good. On reflection we wish we had stayed in Katherine which was less than 30 min drive away and the accommodation would have been much nicer for half the price. Never mind, can’t win them all.

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