Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Bye Katherine hello Daly River

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on August 21, 2010

Hi Everyone,

Well we didn’t make the museum at Katherine but we did go to see the Katherine School of the Air.  It was very interesting and you get to sit in and watch and listen to an actual lesson being taught online.  It has a lot of the history about school of the air and it’s an absolutely HUGE area of NT that they cover.

Well the clouds that had been threatening to rain for the last few days finally broke open; it just happened to be the same day we were packing up to leave:( We donned our rain coats and set about packing up when Joel started chatting to our neighbours,, who were also packing up.  Joel thought they looked familiar, then realised it was the parents of one of his school friends.  It is unbelievable the people who you meet on the road.  We had been right next door to each other for the last 4 days and now we’re both leaving.  They were heading up to Darwin and we were stopping in at Daly River and Litchfield National Park. We said we’d catch up for a chat in Darwin as they were staying at the same caravan park we were going to.

Umbrawarra Gorge

We drove through the rain and had decided to do a bush camp at Copperfield Dam, near Pine Creek, for a night or two but unfortunately overnight camping is now not allowed so we pushed on to Hayes Creek Caravan Park.  Nice park and the showers were huge! We used it as a base camp to go back and explore Pine Creek and the Umbrawarra Gorge.  We hiked into the gorge but it wasn’t a long hike and had a swim in a pool further in the gorge.  The rock formations were so spectacular, especially the pink and purple colours in the rocks themselves.

Pink rocks in Umbrawarra gorge

Pine Creek Lake

We stopped in to see the very large lake at Pine Creek, which was a town built mostly on/around a gold mine. It was an open cut mine and the mining pit was filled by diverting the Pine Creek to it. It took 14 months to fill it and contains 6800 Megalitres of water!  Headed back to camp for a late dinner and gear up for tomorrow.

Fenton Aircraft Graveyard

Headed out of Hayes Creek towards the Douglas Daly Area.  First stop was the old abandoned Fenton Airstrip.  Took a drag down the old airstrip, checked out the Airforce Fenton Camp and Headquarters, complete with ruins of empty buildings and drove through the Fenton Airfield Aircraft Graveyard.  A few old planes and bits ‘n’ pieces.  Lots to read on the signs about the Fenton Base and WW2, very interesting. Good History lesson for the boys.

Termite mounds

We also saw some of the biggest termite mounds I have ever seen – even bigger than the ones on the way to Coral Bay.  When we were all historied our, we headed off to the Douglas Hot Springs.  These would have to be the hottest springs I have ever been to.  There is a sign near the car park, where there is quicksand around the spot where the hottest water actually starts. You an actually see the bubbles and heat haze rising up out of the waterhole.  We ventured down where the spring was running and found the best spot was just where the cold creek meets the spring water.  One lady there told us there were people heating up tins of spaghetti in the water up closer to the springs as the water temperature is about 60 degrees.  We crossed in water that was only to our ankles but by god I thought it was going to burn off our skin!  We made our way to the spot where the cold water flows into the springs and laid in the shallows and vegged.  We met some fellow travellers who had been to some of the places we were yet to go, in NT and took in the advice of things to see and do.

Hot Springs quicksand

Once we were as wrinkled as we could get, we got out to have lunch that Daniel had gone back a little earlier to get ready.  Then we headed off to the Butterfly Gorge.  It is a beautiful gorge walk, mostly in the shade as nearly everything up here is in some sort of tropical forest!

Butterfly Gorge

We did some more rock climbing to get over to the sand bar but the water was a little to stagnant for us to want to have a swim.  We retreated to the air con in the car and headed on to see the Arches and pool where we thought we could have a swim before going back to camp.  It took a little while to figure out that the Arches were actually accessible through the Douglas Daly Tourist Park which has just been taken over by new owners.  They are lovely people and showed us the way to get there, adding “I hope you don’t want to swim as there has been a croc spotted and swimming is not recommended”.  No way! So we thought as we were here anyway we should go and have a look.  The arches looked very nice but it was deep and dark and thought if there is a croc then he wouldn’t be too far from here!  We headed downstream a bit further to find a nice little swimming hole and other people swimming in the water.

Swimming watching for crocs

We were so hot we jumped in and cooled off.  After a short while we noticed a crocodile trap just off to the right of us. Mmmm… we decided not to tempt fate and get out of the water as we had cooled off by now and it was getting on to 5pm, which is when the crocs come out to find a feed.  We headed back to camp for a shower, feed and bed.

What Crocs

Next morning we packed up and headed down to the Daly River area.  There are quite a few places to stay down there and all of them push the Barra fishing.  We stopped at the Daly Waters Pub,  which is near the Daly River Crossing and parked up.  Aside from fishing there are a few places to check out or 4WD to, so we went for an explore.  We headed to Brown’s Creek which is as far as the Daly River Rd goes and found a great place to free camp.

Brown's Creek

There were a lot of ruts on the road so we probably would have been pushed to get a 25′ caravan down here but there was a Winnebago there so it’s do-able for a smaller unit.  We parked up and got out the rug for a rest and take some photos of a few crocs.  After about an hour we could count about 15 Salties and were very glad we were up on a sort of cliff area as they looked pretty hungry!  There was a small boat on the river making its way back to the boat ramp further up-river and it was trying to negotiate the sand bars amongst the crocs.

Crocs at Brown's Creek

One old guy got out, into the water, to push themselves off the sand, and we just thought “Well it was nice knowing ya mate”!  It took them about 40 mins to negotiate this one turn in the river with all the crocs watching (and us too!) and then they were on their way.  Some of those Salties looked about as long as their dingy!  Glad it wasn’t us! Headed on back to the caravan and relaxed – well as much as one can, parked out the front of the only pub for miles – and it was Friday night!:)  Next morning as we were breakfasting, a young guy knocked on the caravan and asked if it would be possible for us to come and help him get out of a bog.  Apparently they had tried to cross a creek and gotten the back-end of their 4WD stuck on a sand bank.  Wade and I stayed at the caravan and packed up and did spelling tests while Daniel went with Joel and this guy and 2 of his female companions.  When Joel got to the creek, some 60kms away, there was another bloke there trying to winch out the car as their was another 2 backpackers who had stayed near the car overnight.  Joel finally got to use his Maxitrax as the car couldn’t get any traction, even on the winch. Daniel was in charge of photos and video footage but alas he forgot and we don’t have anything at all.  Joel and Daniel got back just before lunch so we hit the road to try to make Litchfield national Park before dark, stopping in at Adelaide River for lunch.

Adelaide River Tourist Bureau

Adelaide River has lots of WW2 sites around the town. We visited the Historic Railway which doubles as the local visitors centre.  There was no-one there and entry is through a gold coin donation. We looked through the old station and memorabilia housed there.  There was a lot of information about the early railway and the Overland Telegraph Line.  It was a telegraph line that ran from Palmerston (Darwin) to Port Augusta in SA, which was finished in August 1872.  The first official message from London was received in Adelaide, in October, after a 7 hour journey. (Makes me appreciate my internet and i won’t be calling it slow anymore!) Construction consisted of  36,000 wooden (cedar = termite proof) poles and  2900kms of wire and 11 repeater stations were required to relay the messages. There was a LOT of information in the railway cars and sheds but after a little while you tend to go into information overload – so when ALL the boys were complaining of being bored, we hit the road on towards Litchfield National Park.

Sunset at Litchfield CP

We reached the Litchfield Tourist and Caravan Park around 4pm, set up and headed for a swim in the pool away from all the crocs! Nice colours in the sunsets too.

Will leave this post here as we will spend 4 nights in Litchfield so we can see as much of it as we can and it will be way too  much to try to fit into this posting.

Till the next thrilling installment

Ciao`

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