(written by Nancy)
We have had a couple of great rest days in Katherine and we are taking another day off tomorrow to finalise all of our chores before we hit the road again. The campsite is nice and we have a good spot, other than the lack of a single blade of grass…. For the last two nights we have heard barking owls during the night – there is one not too far from our campsite who hoots (barks really, I guess) and who is answered by another owl a little ways from the campsite. Dave tried to find the one near the campsite last night but could not quite see it in the tree.
Yesterday we had the traditional homemade egg and bacon rolls for breakfast and lazed about a bit, then headed into town to get groceries. On the way we stopped to check out the Katherine Hot Springs, which are just out the back of the caravan park. Lovely signage to make it warm and welcoming – I love the ‘do not disturb’ point… The springs are on a river but there is an area that has been developed a bit where people go to lounge in the water and I don’t think any crocs would get up to that area. We may go down tomorrow to do a soak but we’ll just make sure there are enough people closer to the river entry than we are (you know the old saying that you don’t have to be faster than a bear, you just need to be faster than the other guy…).
By the time we got to town it was just about time for lunch so we ended up at a coffee shop where we could get free wi-fi with a purchase. We were trying to download some new security software and unfortunately the connection was being a bit temperamental. Dave worked on the computer and watched the bikes while I walked to various stores to get groceries and supplies to try to get some of our other to-do items crossed off the list.
We finally gave up on the download (just wasn’t working), checked out another internet shop and then headed back to the campsite it was almost 5. The camp kitchen here is quite small and gets a bit crowded in the evening so we started cooking dinner pretty early. Dave cooked up a good butter chicken with zucchini and cashews. We had that with rice and a nice glass of red (one of my many stops of the day). Too much food – we were both stuffed! It’s good to eat while we can though.
Today is Saturday and the local community market was on in town. We ate a quick breakfast of cereal and caught a ride in to town with our travelling friend Nikki. The markets were quite small but there was a fresh produce stand as well as various food stands (Thai mostly) and a few aboriginal art stands. We nabbed some fresh produce to use for dinner and tomorrow and wandered a bit looking at the art and the other stands.
We did a bit of work at the art gallery/internet cafe and crossed a few more things off our to-do list. The Katherine Fringe Festival is on at the moment and there were some musicians playing at the markets when we stopped on the way back, plus the usual folks you see around at these types of festivals. We listened for a bit to some high school kids playing the guitar and singing – pretty impressive for 11th graders. One was playing the guitar at the same time he played the harmonica and beat the drum with his foot. There were a fair number of townsfolk out to watch and it looked like the market had a good day as there was very little left in the food stands. Tonight there are more Fringe Festival events in the town centre – I suspect we will be able to hear a bit from the campsite.
So, now on to the bigger news. After some thought we have decided to head up into Asia from Darwin, rather than continue on to WA. We both want to make sure we continue to have enough stamina, and get enough pleasure, from riding to enjoy travelling by bike through Asia and on through Europe. There are lots of beautiful places in WA, but it looks like there are lots of empty spaces between those beautiful spaces. It is quite wearing on the body and soul to ride through that empty space day after day – you have to be in the right mood for it. We’ve had a bit of it to get where we are, and we think it will be better if we save the rest of it for the tail end of the trip. My hat goes off to those that do the circumference of Australia in one go (including Steve, our riding mate for a few days) – I think it would be one very hard trip!
We have booked tickets out of Darwin to Singapore for 19 July so we have several weeks still to get up there. We are really looking forward to experiencing some different countries, different cultures and eating some great food. I am sure there will be lots of challenges of different types once we hit Asia – we may long for those open empty spaces after a few weeks. We haven’t mapped out the route yet but the general plan is to ride from Singapore up through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. We may criss-cross the countries a few times to make sure we see all we want to see. And, I guess if we get tired of it we will head to another country.
We are still trying to decide what route we take up to Darwin, whether we go through Kakadu National Park, through Litchfield National Park, or perhaps both. We should have some shorter days than we have had the last few weeks and some good rest days thrown in, so that should nice.
Off to cook dinner now before the kitchen gets too busy… Another rest day tomorrow but it should be a quiet one. Dave is already on to the main chore of cleaning up the bikes…