The third day on the Ghan, we stopped at 9 am in Katherine, famous for the Katherine Gorge, the Katherine River and being the first permanent water source heading north from Alice Springs! This time we opted to just take a shuttle to town and have a look around. It was another HOT day, and walking too far wasn’t an option. Town was quiet. The population is mostly Aboriginal: Jawoyn and a few other groups mostly. Music played from loudspeakers in the green space running down the center of the main street. People sat along this area, mostly talking amongst themselves and smoking cigarettes, watching tourists walk back and forth.
Later, we visited the Katherine Low Level Nature Park on the banks of the river, and the nearby Springvale homestead, which was established in 1878 by Ernest Giles ahen he arrived after 19 months, having driven thousands of sheep and cows into the area on horseback all the way from Adelaide. The homestead and surrounding grounds were innundated by water a few years ago when the river overflowed and the lowlying areas of Katherine were completely flooded. We walked down to the lazy green river, wondering how many crocs lurked beneath the water. Here in the trip we started to see our first signs warning people of this danger.
Back at the Ghan, we settled back in for a quick (?!) five-hour journey on to Darwin. The landscape had changed a bit, and the feature that grabbed our attention the most were the termiote mounds. There were thousands of them in different shapes and sizes. Some were taller than a person, and some were made by magnetic termites. These are shaped like a tombstone, and always run north-south, so they can be warmed to the maximum by the heat of the sun. When we arrived at 6 pm the real heat of the day had diminished , but we could tell it was still about as warm as it had been on the previous two stops. We checked into Elke’s Backpackers, very near the action of Dawin’s main district, and went to look for our first real meal for the past few days. A place called Nirvana had been recommended for their seafood including the famous local barramundi, but we couldn’t get a table until much later, so we opted for some quick take-away instead, saving us as much as a night’s lodging anyway. Huge fruit bats swooped around as it got darker, adding to the feeling we’d truly arrived in the tropics.
Click here for my photos of the journey.