Saturday, 17 May 2014


Same same same same same same same. Maybe a little bit different. Same same same same same same same. This is STILL how I felt about the unfathomably long Stuart and Barkly Highways. Same same same same same same same same. Look a dead kangaroo and some whistling kites eating it. Same same same same same same same same. There’s a cow. Same same same same same same. Another dead kangaroo. Same same same same same same same same same same. Wait!There’s a white cow. Same same same same same… You get the idea.

So it was with GREAT anticipation that we drove into Katherine, marvelled at the double-laned highway running into town, its (gasp) Woolies and Coffee Club and what felt like massive crowds of people wandering around the streets. We had hit the Big Smoke on ANZAC Day after what seemed like months doing our own wandering through the Outback and Channel Country and felt like real bushwhackers with our open mouthed rubbernecking at every new shop and turn in the road. 

The Uys Huis in its natural environment... (Ha!)

Even better, we booked into the Big4 Caravan Park a few kilometres out of town and revelled in its 25 metre pool, grassy plots and spotless amenities (an enormous and thankful change from the Mataranka dust bowl). I went back into town and felt like I was having an out-of-body experience as I bought Marguerite and I new swimmers in Target and then groceries in Woolies. I won’t lie. At that moment I would have sold my soul to the global conglomerate of chain stores, their monopolisation of outlets, their shameless price fixing and edging out of any bourgeois competition. You can’t hate nappies at $30 a box (got them on sale- boom!). And as I walked out pushing a trolley groaning under the weight of first world groceries, I had a little Pick’n’Pay at The Strand (RSA) moment when I saw a parking engineer and then was asked by another man a little unsteady on his feet whether he could take my trolley back for the $2 coin inside it. Alcoholism and all its debilitating effects on society is a massive problem for some Aboriginal communities, and it really felt like the one in Katherine was one of those. Of course I gave him the trolley, and wondered why all the money and government grants, inquests and think tanks had not yet been able to alleviate the problems facing Aboriginal people in Australia. I thought of the people at Lawn Hill (Boodjamulla) National Park and those feelings of sadness crept over me as drove back out to my white existence, privileged in every way.

Edith Falls in the background.

Myself and Miss M.

The next day was spent in a fruitless search for someone to fix the spare tyre on the back of the campertrailer. We attach our bikes to it, and after the very bumpy and corrugated roads we’d been travelling on over the past weeks, the plate the tyre was attached to had started to come away. We thought it needed welding up, but the guy at the smash repairs (the only mechanical place open on a Saturday in the middle of a long weekend) had a look and stated quite clearly that it was “rooted” and that  the engineering place up the road would have to cut and affix a whole new plate. On Monday. We resigned ourselves to a longer stay than anticipated in Katherine.

Edith Falls, quite possibly the worst shot ever in terms of showing how good it is.

A bit better... Falls in the background, sandy beach in the front.

The next day we drove up to Edith Falls, one of the final gorges in the Katherine Gorge system. The climb up to the top of the falls was very steep and rocky with some beautiful views out over the National Park. The huffing and puffing was rewarded at the top. Waterfalls, little rapids, deep swimming holes, sandy beaches, beautiful cliffs and stained but clear water awaited us and we spent a few hours swimming with the backpackers and water goannas. It’s really difficult to try and convey how lovely this place is in words and photos: you just end up with ‘rocks and water’ pictures. But believe me, it was pretty special.

Fiela and Marguerite at the top.

Marguerite realising how high up she had actually climbed.

Stoked to be back at the bottom.

Overlooking the top of Edith Falls.

So special that when we took the long way around to the bottom (more Crying Games starring Marguerite), the enormous pool and high waterfall were a bit of a let down. Talk about being spoilt. And then it bucketed down with rain- and I mean buckets! Funnily enough it didn’t cool us down, but just turned everything from hot to hot and steamy.
From the top of Edith Falls looking down. Notice the plume of smoke: wet season over and the firing of the bush begins. 

We got back to camp wondering what we would do for the next few days when we were confronted quite pleasantly with the solution- the Braggs had arrived. The next few days were spent on and off with these guys, eating lovely food, doing a bit of fishing (rather, angling), solving the world’s problems with a few glasses of wine and swapping our collective travel stories. And the Travel Gods were certainly smiling the day they introduced us to these people, who graciously offered to take us up the Katherine Gorge in their boat, saving us hundreds of dollars it would have cost to do a commercial tour. Katherine Gorge by private boat- (thanks to the Braggs) that’s how The Uys Huis rolls!

Just before the Crying Games started up.

Rocks and water shot. Isn't it pretty???

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