Day 57 – Bitter Springs to Katherine

Another beautiful day in paradise, but we were soon packed up and back on the road heading north.

Last cup of tea before leaving our tropical paradise at Bitter Springs

Interesting statue in Mataranka

Our first stop for coffee was at the King Rest Area (Camps 9 #116).  This is a designated 24 hour stop and is equipped with drop toilets, some shelter, a water tank (no idea if drinkable but doubtful) and has plenty of room to camp on and off the bitumen.  There were a number of RVs obviously parked here (probably for more than 1 day but who’s counting) and there was a great deal of movement at the station for the word had obviously got around.  A Winnebago motorhome pulled in just after we arrived and promptly drove up to one end and parked off the grass – the slide-out was out and towels out to dry before you could blink.  As we were having coffee at the side of Bertha another converted bus pulled in close and we were joined by Steve and his not very fierce guard dog who stood at least 25cm tall.  Nearly 2 hours later we packed away the coffee cups and got back on the road to Katherine – Steve liked a chat and after we left he headed on over to the Winnie for a bit more of a chat with them!  We suspect he was going to stay there for the night and was just filling in some time.  He did have some great stories though!

Scenes along the highway – still burning off

Coffee at King Rest Area

Arriving in Katherine our first stop was at Woolies for some supplies.  We didn’t wait around in town for even a cup of coffee and as soon as we could headed slightly out of town to Shady Lane Caravan Park.

Welcome to Katherine

Welcome to Shady Lane Caravan Park, Katherine

We’ve been here before and it has a great tropical feel and very friendly owners.  The sites are all different shapes and sizes as they need to fit in around the many trees, but that also adds to the friendliness of this place.  We were allocated a great spot quite close to amenities, camp kitchen, laundry, etc.  We set-up Bertha, which required a bit of skillful maneuvering around a palm tree and it was then that we realized that we couldn’t wind up the TV antenna or wind out the awning due to overhanging branches.  Not to worry – a quick trip over the office and Phillip came over with his ladder and heavy duty pruner to fix the problem.  This did mean un-setting-up Bertha and moving forward so Phillip could reach the offending branches, but soon enough he had trimmed the tree and we moved Bertha back into position and were set to go with TV antenna and awning.  Great customer service!

Bertha at Shady Lane; freshly pruned trees for TV antenna; precision parking

It was great to have TV again after what seemed like weeks without it!  Strangely we can get a good range of channels but none of the ABC channels – usually it’s the other way around.  Still, at least we can catch up with the news, etc.

During the afternoon we had a great chat with some of our neighbors who were from the Trakmaster Caravan Club and who we recognized from Daly Waters Pub.  We had also seen several of them previously on our way north.  They were part of a group of 8 or 9 Trakmaster vans for whom Katherine was the last ‘civilised’ stop before they headed off-roading to Jabiru and other places in the middle of the desert.  They seemed such friendly, normal people before we realized they had this strange obsession with really roughing it out in the desert!  Much of their afternoon was spent rearranging vans and tow vehicle to accommodate extra fuel and water tanks.

As it got dark I headed over to the camp kitchen to cook lamb koftas for tea, accompanied by a delicious home-made salad.  We then settled in to watch the news on TV but the shows after that were pretty terrible so we ended up watching a DVD.

We are going to be in Katherine for several days and will post a further update in due course.

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