We took a tour bus to Katherine (just in case everything got shut down due to the you-know-what of 2020). We were easily socially distanced as there were only 8 of us on the 54-seater tour bus. The bus driver was a font of local history and a good orator, which was fortunate as it was a 3 hr drive to Katherine.
Along the sides of the Stuart Highway are strips of old bitumen, with weeds growing through most of them, they are called Strauss Airstrips. There were a total of 500km of them built between Darwin and Alice Springs during 1942-1943 when Darwin was being bombed during WWII. Adelaide River (named after the wife of the explorer Stuart’s sponsor not because the river runs to Adelaide) was the forward line in the North of Australia (the Japanese fighters couldn’t get this far inland).
The Adelaide River War Cemetery is a beautifully maintained memorial garden/cemetery for those killed in Darwin. It has good information displays and is very peaceful; it would be lovely place to attend an ANZAC dawn service – Just a bit of a drive to get there from Darwin.
On the way to Katherine we passed through the town of Pine Creek, the bakery of which houses an original oven made from a termite mound. I wonder if the termites had already moved out before they smelled baking bread.
During a dissertation about the feral animal problem, mentioning the usual pigs, horses and buffalo, Mr Bus Driver told an interesting story about sightings of the odd animal that had been liberated from a private zoo back in the 80s; antelope were mentioned and apparently those with big teeth were rehomed. He was also of the opinion that the current biggest environmental problem is the Gamba Grass; it is a very fast growing highly combustible grass which is taking over from the native plants all around Darwin.
Nimiluk National Park is a neighbour to the famous Kakadu National Park. Kakadu is on the top of the huge escarpment and Nimiluk National Park (Katherine River) cuts through it. This gives rise to a very different experience (to what had in February when we went to Kakadu).
The package tour included a boat tour of the Katherine River run by the local indigenous group. The young guides were excellent; enthusiastic and with a good sense of humour.
Not as spectacular as King George River Gorge, but a lot easier to access.
And it is well set up for safe and environmentally friendly tourist access.
One of our favourite places to go walking and cycling is the Darwin Botanic Gardens (and Ivy’s Café there is pretty good too – a bit slow on the service side but the food and coffee are good).
I’m pointing at some serious spines on a Madagascan something (fan in hand essential). In Peter’s photo what you can’t see is the sweat just pouring off as it might only be 28 0 but 80% humidity (I have not adjusted terribly well and managed to faint while doing a blood bank donation – my doctor advised not donating again until we get to cooler climes). My sister is of the opinion that all the sweating must surely be cleansing; in which case I am well and truly cleansed – mind you we were on our way to the coffee shop.
Our loving boys sent back a reply to this photo asking why Peter had taken me out before my morning cup of tea – got to love our boys. There is a cute dinosaur display in the cycad area of the gardens (the two used to go together back, back, back in the day). The Gardens also have an orchid house, fountains, some huge trees, many palms, a community vegetable garden and an orienteering trail. There are many well located benches throughout and a clean toilet block. We visited the gardens many times as there was always something different flowering or changed.
Peter finished his training with SMIT and now has a Certificate III Maritime Operations – Master up to 24m (although he can’t get full accreditation as he won’t be doing all the commercial time required), a Certificate III Maritime Operations – Marine Engineer Grade 2 and a Long-Range Operators Certificate of Proficiency (for VHF and the HF radios). That should help keep the insurance company happy.
Getting around Darwin by bike can be problematic when getting home from what became a ‘who makes the best margarita’ night. Peter swears that the verge garden jumped out at him.
After seeing how accurately Andreas was casting with his overhand reel, Peter went out and bought himself one (the competition for ‘he who dies with the most toys’ runs strong with our people). This presented the problem of learning how to cast it properly – cue trips to the local park with a hookless lure.
Boat Works: (Discussed in more detail in Peter’s Tech Talk)
We pickled/preserved the water maker as we wouldn’t be using it for quite a while.
An oops moment while pickling the water maker. This is Peter putting the piping for the water maker back onto the thru hull after it burst off (I forgot that I’d closed the thruhull while we were in the marina and it built up a bit of pressure when we turned it on).
Installed shelving in the Harry Potter cupboard (the wardrobe under the stairs now has shelving so I can more efficiently stack our boxes of spares)
Peter serviced the genset (counts for his current study)
Replaced the toilet hosing (not as bad as we expected)
Did an overall diesel and oil filter change on all the units in the engine room
Turning thruhulls and cleaning anti siphon valves (with their really cute little duck valves). Those little things are an absolute bugger when you drop them down to bottom of a locker and of course you absolutely have to put them in the correct way or else they will do the opposite job and that would be bad – water on the wrong side of the hull bad.
Anti-siphon valves are located at the top of the half loop fittings on hoses that go through the hull from units located below the water line in the boat (the tank pump outs, genset water supply etc.). The little duck valve in the top ensures that there is always some air at the top of the loop to prevent a solid pipe of water forming that would follow gravity and suck water into the boat from outside (think ‘the physics of draining a fish tank’ with a plastic tube).