Friday, May 29, 2009

Exploring Katherine Gorge By Boat!

I woke up around day break to the sound of the birds fluttering about in the early morning – so I stumbled out armed with binoculars and camera, and wandered around the camp ground following the chirping – I could hear and see a flock of Kakadus, but they were just out of camera reach!
Then I volunteered to do a coffee run, and enjoyed the walk over to the little café – and soon returned with our coffees, so we could get ready for our 9 AM departure from the boat ramp. Ordinarily it is possible to do the Gorge by kayak also, but they had spotted a few "Salties" in the river, so until they were sure none were there anymore, kayaking or swimming was out of the question!
So we boarded the river boat, and started up the first gorge, as our guide explained where we were going and pointed out sights along the way – among them the traps set for the salt water crocodiles – there are also the smaller freshwater crocodiles in the river, but they keep away if Salties are there – I guess they are also on the meal ticket of the big gluttonous Salties! Supposedly there is no danger kayaking when the freshwater crocs are around – they are not aggressive as the Salties are. I am not so sure I would feel completely confident to try out that theory!
The scenery was beautiful as we sailed along, and as we reached the bottom of the first gorge, we had to get out and walk over about ½ mile to the next gorge where a boat was waiting. Along the way there were several sites with beautiful aboriginal paintings on the vertical cliffs. We boarded the next boat, and sailed another couple of miles before we had to get out and follow the path to the third gorge where yet a boat was waiting to take us the short, but scenic ride up the narrow gorge to a path which led up over a rocky terrain to a picturesque swimming hole complete with waterfall. We had brought our swimwear to go for a swim, but Ian and Jann decided it was too chilly, so they just enjoyed the view, and Jann did test the water with her feet – and decided that was all she needed to get wet! I went for a swim – and yes it was refreshing, but when will I ever have the chance to swim in a swimming hole like this again? Afterwards it felt good to get dried off and enjoy a snack and a cold glass of mineral water.
We enjoyed the hikes and the boat rides on the way back, even though we went the same way back the light had changed and everything looks different seen from the opposite direction, and on one of the hikes I saw a beautiful snake!
When we got back to the camp we had lunch at the restaurant overlooking the river, and enjoyed the view and just being there.
We were all a bit tired from the morning's activities, so we went over to the pool area to rest and swim, and of course I was busy checking out birds, checking off the ones I had seen in my bird book, and soon I was dozing off in the shade of the warm afternoon sun. Later I went swimming to wake up, and then took a shower and washed my hair taking advantage of the nice facilities, so I would be ready for an early departure the following day, which was going to be a long day with a lot of driving to get down towards Alice Springs, which was still over 1000 KM away.
Ian grilled the lamb chops while Jann and I got salads ready, and we had an early dinner and I headed off to bed soon after!

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