Saturday, 14 May 2011

May 10 Katherine Gorge Cruise

We were collected by the bus at 7.45 and enjoyed the 15 minute drive out to the Gorge information centre.  We did not envisage that there were any gorges around judging from the surrounding farmland.

We had time to kill so enjoyed a coffee on the large balcony overlooking the Katherine River and bushland.  The 400 metre walk to the boat jetty was on concrete paths and just alongside we spotted a small wallaby grazing totally unconcerned with the passing tourists. 

We joined the queue for the cruise and met our two boat guides and we climbed aboard excited for it to start.

Nitmiluk (traditional name) run the cruise and guided tours around Katherine Gorge.  Many of the guides and crew are aboriginal from this area (known as Jawoyn) and give their traditional stories about how the area was made, named and remembered by their elders. Nitmiluk gorge winds along 12 km with sheer rock faces more than 70m high.  Made up of 13 separate gorges, it is a maze of waterways sculpted from the sandstone over countless millions of years by the river.  Jawoyn tradition says that Bolong created the gorge and the complete story is quite fascinating.  Ask me to tell you some day.

At the end of one gorge we left one boat, walked over the rocks and onto the next gorge boat waiting for us.  Words cannot express the beauty – I’ll let the photos do that.

Back at the centre some 2 hours later, we decided to climb up to the lookout – a mere 280 plus steps up the gorge wall.  It was quite a climb and I didn’t count the steps but it was well worth the climb with the fantastic views from the deck.    Back down again, we definitely felt the need for shade and rest.  We lay on the lovely grass and listened to the flying foxes squabbling in their roosts – gorgeous but smelly creatures.

Back at the Centre we bought lunch and sat on the deck again, watching the birds scrounging around.  After lunch we wandered through the centre displays covering early settlement and the working co-operation between the indigenous and white settlers.  We also walked to the camping grounds which were very well laid out and sported a beautiful pool with mini waterfall and lovely gardens.

On board the bus for departure back to Katherine town ship, we asked the driver Todd, to drop us at the Hot Springs as that would be the only chance we had to see them.  Todd told us of his working arrangements with the aboriginals which was quite astounding. 

The beautiful hot springs come out of a hole in the ground and are supposedly 32 degrees.  It was clear then turned slightly milky white.  It felt warm but not soo warm and the swimmers said it had a sulphur like taste.  The area was very well maintained and very well prepared even for wheel chair access though the sign said not to swim due to both fresh and saltwater crocodiles being found in the area.

Once again we had to walk as there was no public transport.  We walked along the river pathway but as couldn’t see the water, deviated to the main road then stopped at a servo for a drink.  Finally we hailed a passing taxi returning us to our motel.  Whew long day again

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over Perth city (Photo: Greg Hill)

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Flying farming couple who live on 135 acres. Kev is obsessed by aeroplanes. Vicki is devoted to horses and White Swiss Shepherds.