Stats for Katherine trip 2019

This is probably the maddest trip we’ve ever done as far as covering a lot of distance in a relatively short time. It was tiring, but we enjoyed it. Would we do it again – the distance most definitely, but at least three months would be our preferred time frame. Less than five weeks was just a tad crazy!

For those of you interested in cost and distance details, I’ve put together a few stats for you.

We were away from home for 33 nights in total.

The journey was completed in two legs for each direction, with a stay in Broome to rest before continuing our trip. We stayed for three nights in Broome on the way up to Katherine, and for nine nights on our return trip. We also spent two nights in Kununurra on the way up.

The first leg
The second leg

We were at the farm in Venn for a total of eight nights (Venn is 25 kms south of Katherine.) During those eight days we helped plan a wedding, helped with the decorating, and the catering, and helped with the clean up afterwards.

All other stopping points were for one night only.

The return trip – 3rd leg
4th and final leg

There were 8 driving days in total in each direction with an average daily distance of 513kms. The longest of those days was 818kms – and yes, it was to long! Between 400 and 500 kms is a good distance on WA and NT roads. More than that is too much, less than 400kms and you never seem to get to where you’re going.

The total kms for the entire trip, including all the daily trips when we were in one place for more than a night totalled 9680 kms. The total fuel cost was $2684.

The combined costs for paid accommodation was $819.

We travelled up the Great Northern highway to Port Hedland on the way there. On the way home we came via the coast road for a change of scenery. The distance is virtually the same whichever road you take.

The average cost per km worked out to .28cents. The average cost for accommodation was $26 a night.

So there you have it. – the statistics for an almost 10,000km trip in almost five weeks.

Time to relax at Edith Falls

With the wedding done and dusted, it was time for a bit of sightseeing and relaxation.

We’ve camped at Edith Falls before and loved it. It’s approximately 90kms north of the farm, and as Nikki hadn’t as yet been there we figured it’d make a good day trip. It’s in a National Park, so Mr Tilly had to stay behind. We figured he’d be okay inside the house with the air conditioning running (how wrong we were – more on that later).

A beautiful swimming spot for a refreshing dip

There’s a camp ground, a day use area, a kiosk, the lower area and another top area. The top area is accessed by a hiking track and has a beautiful swimming hole to cool off in after the hike I seem to remember from our last visit. This visit wasn’t about hiking though, it was about relaxation, so we stayed at the bottom pool.

Paul managed a quick dip, Kelvin dipped a toe in the water proclaiming it too cold, and Nikki (a non-swimmer) stayed clear of the water altogether. I though, couldn’t resist a chance to freshen up with a good cooling swim, and set out for the water fall. I’m not the swimmer I used to be so took it slow, with a few little rests on the way.

The waterfall’s a bit more powerful up close.
There was another little creek area that Kelvin managed to get into

There were lots of birds and lizards including this little wavy lizard – if you’re quiet and can get close enough he lifts his front leg and seemingly waves at you. I loved the little Zebra Finches too.

On the way home we called into the Katherine Hot Springs, a favourite place for locals, tourists and backpackers.

Theres a lot of work being done in the surrounding areas of the Katherine springs to upgrade the area, so I look forward to seeing how it all turns out on my next visit to Katherine.

It was nice to get out and relax after such a hectic week. Clearly though, Tills hadn’t been happy at being left behind. He had tried to get out, ripping the floor vinyl near the door in the process. Oh dear! In fact, he wasn’t very well behaved on the farm at all. He ran wild chasing birds and butterflies and wouldn’t respond at all when we called him – and now he had destroyed the flooring. What to do with him! I don’t know – clearly some serious training is needed. He needs to be adaptable in the different situations our future planned travel is going to be taking us. Mmmm – wish us luck on that one!

The Spotted Bower Bird

Bowerbirds are small, rather slim birds approximately 30cms long, closely related to birds of paradise.They’re unremarkably blackish-brown, apart from a lilac, retracting crest at the nape of the neck of a mature, bower owning, male. The lilac crest is vivid in colour, but only when he chooses to display it. They’re predominantly an eastern states bird, but we’ve seen quite a few in and around Katherine.

The lilac crest displayed on a male Spotted Bowerbird.
The lilac crest displayed on a male Spotted Bowerbird.

They’re well known for their complex mimicry vocalisations, including mimicking a dog barking, or the noise of a bird of prey should they feel threatened.

The male bowerbirds use twigs to weave a courtship tunnel (or bower). At both entrances to the bower he builds an intricate, colour co-ordinated, display court. Some of these bower sites may be retained by successive generations for upwards of 20 years.

Twigs used to build an intricate bower approximately 400 cms in length.
Twigs used to build an intricate bower approximately 40 cms in length.

There are several different species of Bowerbirds, and each builds their display courts in their own colours.

The richly coloured, yellow Regent Bowerbirds decorate their avenues with snail shells, berries, pebbles and leaves in colours of red-black and yellow-brown. Satin Bowerbirds decorate with blue coloured objects, and Spotted Bowerbirds construct neat piles using white, silver/grey and pale green objects.

Very close to where we’re camped we’re fortunate enough to have a Spotted Bowerbird busily tending his bower and court. He’s fascinating.

If you look closely at the objects in the mounds you’ll see lots of white and silvery grey pebbles, pieces of silver paper, white snail shells, broken pieces of green glass, a few nuts and bolts (most of which have green heads on bolts), and there’s even a 20 cent coin. There’s green leaves and small wild green lemons and green baby mangos.

Note the green heads on the bolts, and the 20cent coin near the left of the courtyard.
Note the green heads on the bolts, and the 20cent coin near the left of the courtyard.

Shiny pieces of crumpled aluminium foil.
Shiny pieces of crumpled aluminium foil.

A clothes peg, and piece of broken glass carefully chosen to colour co-ordinate
A clothes peg, and piece of broken glass carefully chosen to colour co-ordinate

Even the small wild lemons are chosen according to their colour.
Even the small wild lemons are chosen according to their colour.

I’ve raided my sewing box and have placed some small pearly buttons, some green buttons, and a few other pieces of shiny beads etc nearby. It’ll be interesting to see if these pieces take his fancy and end up in his display.

He’s managing to attract a few females to his bower using his special courtship style. This involves walking in wide circles with a raised head, open beak, cocked tail and drooped wings. He often uses props during his display carrying either brightly coloured leaves, pieces of fruit, or items from his courtyard.

He’s a joy to watch, but I’m not so sure he’s finding it such a joy to have us watching him. We’re distracting from both his house keeping, and his courtship. Sometimes nature provides entertainment for which there is no man-made equal.

What a pleasure.

Dunmarra Road House – worth a stopover

We left Mt Isa and headed for Katherine with two stops on the way. The first was uneventful at Barkley Homestead. The second at Dunmarra Road House had us socialising with some special locals.

I’m not sure what it is about cows and us. A lot of our more special memories from this road trip involve bovine creatures. We had read that Dunmarra has a few resident water buffalo, and if you’re lucky enough you may see one or two wandering between the caravans.

However, the water buffalo seemed to make a beeline for Paul ‘the cow whisperer’, and stayed nearby all afternoon and well into the evening.

Check out the span of those horns.
Check out the span of those horns.

Sharing an apple.
Sharing an apple.

I thought she was going to come inside.
I thought she was going to come inside.

Enjoying a head scratch.
Enjoying a head scratch.

We thought she was going to join us for a beer with the neighbours.
We thought she was going to join us for a beer with the neighbours.

But no, she just wanted another scratch.
But no, she just wanted another scratch.

There were two others that we managed to get close to as well, but these two were the most photogenic. We had a lovely time at Dunmarra. What a pleasure!

We’ve been in Katherine for more than a week now catching up with Kelv, and also our friends Bruce and Wendy. It’s been a busy time with lots happening. We look like having a spare day tomorrow,  so I’ll try and post again and bring you all up to date. There’s lots of news, and I promise – no more cows.

Mataranka Thermal Springs

We’re camped at Bitter Springs in Mataranka – history repeats, yes, we’ve been here before. That tells you how good it is, a repeat trip, and this time we’ve booked in for a week.

The campground is only a short walk from the natural springs, which are pleasantly warm at around 34 degrees. We’ve been starting each day with a walk to the springs, where we do two gentle lengths before walking back for breakfast. A length consists of slotting our thongs (flip flops) over the ends of a noodle (floatation device). Then into the water and let the current gently take us down stream to a bridge, climb out, and walk back to the start to do it all it again. The returning foot track is a bit stony underfoot, hence the thongs.

Gently does it.
Gently does it.

Happy and relaxed, a real pleasure.
Happy and relaxed, a real pleasure. His burkies on the ends of the noodle make him look like a contortionist.

There’s other springs here at Mataranka, but none have been left as natural as Bitter Springs. It’s a very popular place, so camping nearby allows us to take advantage of the early morning and/or late afternoon quiet times before and after the tourists all arrive and leave.

How gorgeous is this.
How gorgeous is this.

And this...
And this…

We could swim back to the start rather than walk, but swimming against the current, and worse, the crowds is too much like hard work, so we prefer to just drift. It’s forced relaxation.

Here he comes - note the sandals hanging on the ends of the noodle.
Here he comes – nearing the exit steps, where the crowds build up a bit.

The flora is gorgeous, and there’s no shortage of fauna to watch going about their daily business of doing what birds, spiders, turtles etc do. The Fly Catcher birds are a joy to watch as they flit down snatching small flies from the water’s surface. With luck there’s sometimes turtles to be seen resting on the nearby banks as we drift down beneath many  colourful spiders centred in their webs waiting for their next meal to get entangled.

We had a quick catch up with Kelv in Katherine the other night. He’s looking well and seems to be settling into his new job as 2IC at Mambuloo Mango Farm. The job comes with a brand new house – currently being built and nearing completion.  He seems nonchalant about having a house after so many years in his caravan, but I suspect he’s quite exciting and looking forward to it.

We’re still waiting for news that will dictate where to from here and could see us doing an about turn and heading back to Queensland and up to the Gulf of Carpentaria. If that happens,  I gather we’ll be there until the wet is due to start around November/December, at which time we’ll be heading back this way again on our way to WA. Hopefully we’ll get to have another catch up with Kelv again at that time, and get to see his new house.

Waiting for news is never much fun, but I couldn’t think of a better place to be waiting than at Bitter Springs. Despite the awful name, there’s nothing bitter about either the springs, or the experience of being here.

What a pleasure!

Outback Icon – Daly Waters Pub

We left Queensland earlier this week, and much earlier than was in the plan. This year Queensland is having an unseasonably wet ‘dry season’, thanks to La Nina,  and we found ourselves unable to do what we had been hoping to do. Sitting around in a caravan waiting for the rain to stop so as we could go snorkelling wasn’t in our plan, so we’ve upped wheels and headed for the warmer, dryer weather on offer in the NT – again! The northern Queensland coast and Tablelands will still be there for us to peruse at another time during a more favourable dry season.

We left Townsville last Monday. On our last trip up in this neck of the woods we missed out on seeing the iconic Daly Waters outback pub. We made sure we didn’t bi- pass it this time. Whilst no longer quite typical of the outback, it offers a very memorable outback experience.

Dusty main street into Daly Waters.
Dusty main street into Daly Waters.

There’s very little in the town. With a population of less than 50 people there’s no supermarkets or general stores. All they have virtually is a pub, a caravan park, and a small souvenir shop.

Outback souvenir shop.
Outback souvenir shop.

Loved the sign - sure beats neon.
Loved the sign – sure beats neon.

They serve meals all day, with a basic menu, small, fresh and well cooked, good honest food. We shared a fish (barramundi) burger for lunch, and both had the famous Beef and Barra barbecue for dinner.

Every area of the pub has something covering the walls - over the bar it's women's bras.
Every area of the pub has something covering the walls – over the bar it’s women’s bras.

Tin roofed open air dining shed.
Tin roofed open air dining shed.

For my overseas readers - Dunnies is Aussie for toilet, Sheilas is Aussie for female.
For my overseas readers – Dunnies is Aussie for toilet, Sheilas is Aussie for female.

Each night they have entertainment. Tonight they had a country and western singer for happy hour (5 – 6pm cheap drinks hour). He sang until 7.30pm and then was followed by an an old rock’n roll singer who was still singing the same rock ‘n roll songs he was probably singing in the 50s when they first released. These songs were even to old for Paul and I to relate to – in fact they made us feel quite young. We hadn’t heard of most of them, but the grey nomads there that were ten years or so older than us were rockin’ away and enjoying the memories of music from a by gone era.

Loved this photo - outback stage with water tower and gum trees in the background.
Loved this photo – outback stage with water tower and gum trees in the background.

We’re now camped at Mataranka Springs, just south of Katherine. What a magical little place this is. I’ll post some photos soon.

Where to from here – well somethings in the pipeline that may see us doing an about turn and heading back to Queensland,  this time near Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I’ll know more tonight.

In the meantime though – Mataranka, what a pleasure!