Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Darwin Daze

So our brief 2 day sojourn draws to a close. I'm sitting out on the back verandah at Jock & Leslie's house, which backs onto the RAAF base at Darwin airport. Yesterday afternoon and evening and this evening as well, the air is periodically rent asunder by the sound of jet engines as the RAAF F/A18's and aircraft from other nations take part in Exercise Pitch Black 12. Good to see/hear our tax dollars at work.

We've had a pleasant break from travel and camping for the last two days, but tomorrow will start heading south to The Alice, and the homeward leg of our travels. Yesterday we sought out good coffee in the am and then had a look at the Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards at the NT Museum and Art Gallery before seeking out some sushi.

A lazy afternoon doing some washing, reading and a swim in their plunge pool before a quiet evening at home sharing a meal with our hosts.

Today - a quick walk around the Darwin Waterfront, taking in the Wave Pool and Stokes Hill Wharf.

Afterwards, back into town seeking coffee at a recommended cafe where we run into one of Leigh's musician friends - Eamon. Last time we saw him was a year ago in Paris. He's in town playing at the Darwin Festival. #SmallWorld

We decided to take in a movie - suffering as we are from MDS - Movie Deprivation Syndrome. 2 hours in air conditioned comfort was welcome and the movie - The Wife - was superb. Highly recommended.

Back to J and L's place to start packing for tomorrow. At their gate we encounter their son Elliot - clearly distressed and holding his arm in obvious pain. It turns out that he came home, forgetting that yesterday they had "acquired" a new dog that they are going to be looking after while the owner is away. Based on the evidence, the dog - clearly feeling abandoned and not really recognising Elliot - jumped out of the shadows, snarling and causing a startled Elliot to jump back, stumble then trip and fall on his arm before fleeing from the front garden back to the safety of the street. Celeste examined his arm and judged it broken. So a call to Jock who returns home and takes Elliot off to hospital where the break was confirmed and poor Elliot awaits having it pinned and set. When Leslie gets home from work, Celeste drives her to the hospital where as I write this, they all remain.

On the bright side Elliot is bound to have at least a couple of days off school as well as the consequential bragging rights about how he was set upon by a ferocious hound and barely escaped with his life!

The down side is I'm home alone with only the sound of F/A18 Hornets doing "touch and goes" as they perform endless circuits around the house for comfort. That and a cold beer.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Barkly Homestead to Bitter Springs then Darwin via Edith Falls

Departing the salubrious Barkly Homestead we continue West another 200km before reaching 3-ways. Here the East-West Barkly Highway meets the South-North Stuart Highway. Some sort of milestone or intermediate goal is reached. A brief stop at the 3-Ways roadhouse for expensive & mediocre coffee and expensive fuel. Then we press onwards and northwards. Easy driving on cruise control set at 115km/hr - way under the 130km limit. You can tell the NT drivers, they're the ones who pass you doing 150km/hr.

Roadside lunch at Elliot amongst the peacocks. Making good time we decide to head for Mataranka and Bitter Springs. In the end - after 8 hours on the road, we've covered 740km - our longest day yet!

Set up camp in the caravan park and then the short stroll to Bitter Springs. Another remarkable place to add to our already impressive list. The same aquifer that feeds Lawn Hill Creek and the Gregory River over in Quuensland is responsible for the springs in this area as well. They emerge from the ground at 33 degrees, crystal clear and wander gently thru the bush. Perfection after a long, dusty day on the road. Drop in at one spot and then drift gently with the current down stream where you can climb out via a convenient staging point. You then wander back up the concrete pathway to the start and repeat the cycle.

Locals and those in the know arrive with floating chairs, tubes and "noodles" - some come with built in stubby holders for their cool drinks. Very civilized. After a couple of laps and having developed the familiar "prune" look on our extremities - we retreat to camp for dinner. We fall asleep listening to Radio National....

This morning, after breakfast and packing up, we return for a morning bath. In the early morning light with even fewer people the experience is even more pleasurable.

Back on the road, pausing in Katherine for coffee at a trendy pop-up cafe on the river bank. (Yes - the Melbourne Hipster Apocalypse has reached Katherine!).
Still - the coffee was excellent and at a more reasonable price.

A quick supermarket shop for picnic lunch and on to Edith Falls. This has to be amongst our favourite places - another idyllic swimming place. Clearly it's fame has spread and the caravan park has already full, with the campsites rapidly filling.
We will return later in the week and should be there by late morning, hopefully ensuring we get a campsite.

And so to Darwin, arriving late afternoon. A few days of R&R before we contemplate the road south to The Alice and beyond.