15 May—16 May 2002
We got off to a slow start today. During breakfast I dropped a tin of sardines and out of nowhere a swarm of bull ants appeared. This made packing up rather difficult, as the little buggers could really bite. Also, we sent Clare to the kiosk to buy bread and milk and she returned forlorn, having dropped most of the change on the way back to the camper trailer.
When we finally got underway, we drove to Katherine Gorge/Nitmiluk National Park. We hired two canoes for the afternoon and headed upstream with a picnic lunch. We made it as far as the second gorge, no thanks to a strong headwind. It was quite a job getting the two canoes over the rapids that separated the first from the second section of the gorge, but the effort was well worth it. We pulled up on a high sandy bank beneath the spectacular cliffs and had two sandwiches each, cobbled together with the aid of my pocket knife. The gorge is spectacularly beautiful. This must count as our loveliest lunch spot so far, rivalling Mataranka Falls with its ruggedness and beauty.
We headed back, shooting some of the rapids on the way down. We arrived back at camp completely exhausted once again, but very happy. I cooked a veggie curry for dinner, and everyone hit the sack early.
The following day we went into Katherine and checked our email, and then went shopping to replenish our supplies before heading North tomorrow. We dropped into the local Salvation Army op-shop to satisfy Susie’s predilection for everything second-hand and retro, and returned to the camp site. I cleaned out the gas jets on the camp stove while kids frolicked in the pool and Susan read a book in the shade of the Frangipani tree. When the shadows started to lengthen, I cooked up a kangaroo stew with some of the supplies from town.
It’s hard to keep up with the kids’ schoolwork; we’re having too much fun. Ruby is blooming into puberty and Clare is a raving chatterbox. I love having their company all the time. I picked up some photos from previous adventures. This is the holiday of a lifetime. I don’t want it to end.
The map below shows our route from Winton in Queensland to Katherine in the Northern Territory—about 1800 km not counting side trips.