Darwin to Katherine

The first section of our northern
Australia adventure was focussed on Darwin and the area between there and the
town of Katherine, to the south. We arrived in Darwin from Bali in the early
hours of Saturday 8th August, and once we reached our hotel we just
slept. Later we went for a walking tour of the city, including lunch on the
harbour pier where lots of food stalls are located. Darwin is a pleasant,
laid-back sort of place, mostly new because much of it was destroyed in a
cyclone in 1974. It was also bombed by the Japanese in 1942, so has suffered
its fair share of disasters.

 

During our time there we managed
to explore most of the city, including some of the older buildings such as
Government House; there was an open day which enabled us to admire its grandeur
close-up, and watch the sunset from the terrace. Afterwards we went to the
famous Deckchair Cinema, where you can watch films under the stars. The
atmosphere was great, but the films (a collection of short films, mostly made locally)
ranged from so-so to dreadful.

 

We had a couple
of other sunset experiences. On the first evening we took a sunset cruise round
the harbour, and the next night we went to the Mindil Beach market. Here there
are loads of stalls, including a great variety of food stalls, set up next to
the beach. Everyone flocks on to the beach to watch the sunset, and afterwards
we went and got our dinner from the stalls and looked at the array of other things
on sale.

 

From Darwin we did a 4-day guided
tour which took in Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge and Litchfield
National Park. We were driven around in a large 4WD coach by a guide/driver
named Crusty, and spent the three nights in tents with meals cooked by Crusty
(a man of many talents and grievously exploited by the tour company). We saw
some good scenery as well as aborigine rock art, and had a couple of boat
cruises which were probably the highlights. One at Corroboree Billabong allowed
us to get really close to saltwater crocodiles and to learn more about these
creatures. The cruise through Katherine Gorge was amazing, with fantastic rock
formations and great colours. There was a bit too much emphasis on swimming
holes for our liking (we would have preferred more walking), but altogether it
was a great experience.

 

After finishing the tour and
returning to Darwin, we picked up a hire car. This enabled us to explore the
outer reaches of Darwin, including the Casuarina Coastal Reserve, East Point
Reserve, the Botanic Gardens, Cullen Bay Marina, and the Charles Darwin
National Park. On the afternoon of Saturday 15th August we left the
city and drove south to the small town of Katherine, where we stayed overnight.
We’d passed through Katherine while on the tour, but now we were ready to begin
our long trek westwards to Broome and Exmouth, and on to Perth.

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