(written by Dave)
We had another day in Katherine today – this was a more typical rest day with cleaning bikes, laundry and making a plan for the next few days/weeks. In the afternoon we made one last trip the grocery store and coffee shop. The Fringe Festival was still going on today but by the time we got out of camp, it was pretty much over. Nancy still got my photo in front of the festival banner. I felt a sudden rush of “hippy” posing but had regrets that I had not started growing my hair out sooner than 6 weeks ago. A tie-dyed shirt would not have gone a stray either.
For the third day in a row we stopped at the Coffee Club coffee shop for proper macchiatos and free internet. We had some real laughs asking for macchiatos at times on the ride up here. So many of the stops have the ubiquitous espresso machines from a company called EspressoEssential. It is good to see that the shops have upgraded from instant that we used to find when we moved to Australia. But it is quite hard to get a coffee without way too milk from one of these machines. No combination of buttons (“extra shot”, “splash of milk”, etc.) seems to make much difference, all you get is a flat white, and a weak one at that. And you usually have to pay at least $3.50 for it.
Passing through the outback it has also been very rare to find free or even paid for Internet. Even asking for it has been difficult – saying “free Wi-Fi” or even “free Internet” was often met with looks of puzzlement. Perhaps it’s my accent. Anyway, Coffee Club proved to be a great find here in Katherine.
Tomorrow we are heading out to Nitmiluk National Park (that is its traditional aboriginal name, it is also known as Katherine Gorge). We don’t have to leave too early as it is only a 30k ride. We plan to spend 2 or 3 nights there and are pretty sure that we will not have Internet (or Wi-Fi) of any kind so there will likely not be any updates for a few days. We have a sunrise/breakfast cruise booked for Tuesday and plan on doing a bunch of the bushwalks in the park on the other days. We are told that the caravan park is nice but that food is pretty limited. Not an issue as Nancy has us well stocked up.
There are supposed to be some nice pools and waterfalls in the park however, this year they are not allowing swimming. There have been some salt water crocs sighted – brought up during the floods. I guess the rule is that they only allow swimming once it has been more than 60 days since the last sighting. They have lots of traps set as well. If they catch a freshie, then they let it go. If they catch a saltie, they relocate it away from the park. Salties can be upwards of 20 feet so catching and relocating one has to be difficult.
We’ll post updates from the park if we can, otherwise we’ll do so when we come back through Katherine. The trip to the Gorge is an out and back trip. After the the gorge, we plan to ride to Edith Falls, a similar park a little further up the Stuart Highway. We have some time to really smell the roses now as our flight is still nearly a month away. And I’m sure we’ll have more than ample chance to get in a few more EspressoEssential coffees along the way, and try a few more button combos.