Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Road Trip Begins!

Before 9 AM we had everything packed and there was just enough room for me to fit on the back seat as we set off down Australia's Hwy 1 - the Stuart Highway - heading towards our first stop Katherine Gorge some 500 km down the road.
The weather was beautiful, blue skies and sunshine, and the road was good with very little traffic. We pulled into the campgrounds at Katherine Gorge around lunchtime, and soon we were busy setting up camp in the lovely campground complete with swimming pool! I was thrilled with all the birdlife I saw right there – I had a hard time concentrating on getting the tent raised as dozens of colorful birds fluttered around in the flowering gum trees! In no time we had camp set up and it was time to explore a bit, and get our tour of the gorges arranged for the next day. I was so impressed by how well-equipped the campground was – as mentioned a beautiful swimming pool, complete with lounge chairs and the bathroom and shower facilities were very nice, much more updated and spacious that most American campsites. To my utter delight the shower and bathroom stalls were equipped with hooks – one of my pet peas – most American facilities are lacking in the hook department, which I always find extremely frustrating when you are trying to take a shower – there is no place to hang your clothes and towels to keep them dry while you shower!! Anyway, the Aussies got it down, I will say!
Of course their kitchen and barbeque facilities were top-notch as well. Not to mention the laundry facilities – washer, dryer, washing lines to hang your laundry on, if you didn't want to use the dryer – lots of wash basins if you wanted to do laundry by hand – and hot water everywhere – nice shade trees around the camp ground, and as mentioned – birds galore! After having taken care of all the practicalities it was time to check out the pool, and soon we were enjoying a refreshing swim, and lounging in the chairs until we were ready for a glass of wine at our campsite.
As we were sitting there the birds were feasting in the trees, and I constantly had to get my binoculars, camera and newly purchased Australian bird book out! As the sun was getting low a wallaby came hopping into the campground and she was not particularly shy – so I got a couple of good photos of my very first wallaby! Ian did the manly thing barbecuing the steaks while Jann and I got the trimmings ready, and soon we were enjoying a lovely camp meal under the night sky of the Outback! Ian pointed out where the Southern Cross was as the night grew dark and the stars shined brightly – we had another glass of wine, and then decided it was time to turn in, so we could be ready for the adventure of the Gorge in the morning.

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