We have thoroughly enjoyed our time here in Katherine and have spent our time relaxing and driving our ‘big car’, Bertha, around.
Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk Gorge)
We couldn’t come to Katherine without visiting Katherine Gorge so we packed up Bertha and headed out the 30 kms or so to the Gorge (or Nitmiluk Gorge as it is also known). When we arrived we had a bit of walk around but with temperatures in the mid-thirties and a hot wind blowing, we decided to forego anything strenuous whether walking or on a cruise down the gorges (there are 13 of them). Swimming was definitely not an option!
Fortunately the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre was air-conditioned so we went inside to cool down before deciding to order an early lunch. Thinking we would be OK weather wise we ate our lunch on the shaded deck overlooking the river. Our view, however, was dominated by hundreds, maybe thousands of bats! They filled all the trees in front of the deck and although they had some novelty value worth a few photos to start, I’m sure that all visitors would have preferred more of an unspoiled view of the river and scenery in general.
Our pizza lunch was delicious but we went back inside to the cool to enjoy a very nice coffee. After lunch we visited the interpretive section of the visitor centre and we were extremely impressed by how well the various displays explained the geology that created the gorges so many millions ago, plus the native flora and fauna (and reptiles) and how the indigenous people interacted with their surroundings. There was a very informative slide show as well. This was one of the best information displays we have seen – and we have seen a few!
From Nitmiluk Gorge we headed back down Gorge Road into town where we found a great carpark behind the Katherine Tourist Information Centre where we collected some maps and brochures for the next leg of our adventure. We then crossed the road into the Target Arcade and visited Woolies to top up our supplies before heading back to Shady Lane and set-up Bertha again.
Today’s adventure again highlighted the advantages of travelling in a motorhome. On such a hot day we could load the shopping straight into the fridge and cupboards, plus we could enjoy a cool drink and a wash – how good is that!
We don’t always enjoy museum visits but the Katherine Museum looked quite interesting so we packed up Bertha again and headed off.
The museum is actually a complex of various buildings and displays. The main building was built in 1934 and was originally the passenger terminal and air radio building of the Katherine airport. Inside we were confronted by a display of the role that Katherine played in WWII. We didn’t realise that Katherine was bombed in 1942 and that at one stage the airport was under the control of the US military. There was a very interesting display of memorabilia and artefacts from wartime, plus stories about local servicemen and women.
From the wartime display we watched a video about the Katherine floods in 1998. Again, although it was on the TV news at the time we didn’t realise the level of the destruction caused by that 1 in 50 year flood. The water was at the roof level of Woolworths where we had shopped just the day before. The entire town was destroyed but has since been rebuilt and has withstood many lesser floods since. After looking through the bookshop area we headed outside.
There is a beautiful rotunda and the original Overland Telegraph display.
Outside were various old motor vehicles, farm machinery, and so on.
We visited ‘Wallie’s Shed’ where again there was an interesting display of farming equipment, kitchen and laundry displays, stories of the Russian Peanut farmers and recreations of farming life going way back. There were also some very interesting items of equipment, along with details of patents taken on some of the items. They seemed to be a creative bunch around here – but as they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
After looking at various other displays and items around the place, we visited the Clyde Fenton Gallery. This is a large air-conditioned shed and a Gypsy Tiger Moth takes pride of place. Clyde Fenton and the plane performed many valuable services in the area. Around the walls are descriptive panels highlighting many interesting stories about Katherine’s past, how it was named, profiles of some local celebrities and characters, stories about the stolen generations, and a whole more. This was a very impressive display and we spent quite a long time in this exhibit (OK – the air-conditioning helped).
From the museum we headed back into town and our parking spot for Bertha (you can’t park a 25 ft ‘big car’ just anywhere you know) and headed off to the Coffee Club for a delicious light lunch. Dining options on a Sunday in Katherine are quite limited but we did enjoy our meals and the air-conditioning.
So, that’s a bit about what we have been doing here in Katherine. Tomorrow we have a bit of a drive to Howard Springs near Darwin, and we’ll be staying there for a week.
Stay tuned ……