A Travellerspoint blog

Day 97 - Friday 10 August 2012

Katherine

As Katherine has a plentiful water supply we decided to spend the morning washing both the Ute and the Van. After lunch we decided to visit the historic Springvale Homestead that was located just a few kilometres up the road from our caravan park. Springvale Homestead offers budget accommodation and a caravan park in a shady parkland environment with grassy camping and caravan sites - not that we could see much grass. The Homestead offers free tours of the Homestead at 3:00 pm every day so we went along to do the tour and check out the caravan park.

Springvale Homestead was built in the 1880s and is the oldest standing homestead in the Northern Territory. Spring Vale Station was one of five adjacent 500 square mile pastoral leases taken up by a Dr W J Browne, and managed by Alfred Giles. Browne was one of the many men who believed the Territory could support large herds and supply meat to the miners who were rushing into the newly discovered gold fields at Pine Creek and Timber Creek.

The journey from South Australia with 12,000 sheep and 2,500 cattle took 20 months. After arriving at Springvale Alfred Giles built Springvale Homestead and sent for his wife to join him from South Australia. They had many children at Springvale and South American Raintrees were planted for the birth of each of their children. Those trees are now more than 120 years old and are enormous. Many other unusual trees were planted at the homestead including a Bark Tree that hosts a Tawny Frogmouth Owl - otherwise known as a Mopoke.

In 1999 the Homstead was inundated with water when the Katherine River flooded - the story goes that the River was ten kilometres wide and a crocodile was found in the Woolworths Supermarket meat section.

Springval Homestead - front view

Springval Homestead - front view

Springvale Homesetad - side view

Springvale Homesetad - side view

Storehouse

Storehouse

South American Raintrees

South American Raintrees

130 year old Boab Tree

130 year old Boab Tree

Cork Tree

Cork Tree

Tawny Frogmouth Owl - better known as a Mopoke

Tawny Frogmouth Owl - better known as a Mopoke

Tree clearing chain

Tree clearing chain

Furphy's Farm Water Cart

Furphy's Farm Water Cart

Katherine River Rail Bridge - under 1.5 metres of water in 1999

Katherine River Rail Bridge - under 1.5 metres of water in 1999

Keeping sheep and cattle in the Top End proved challenging for Giles. Initially it was believed that the cattle would be able to eat down the tall tropical grasses and then the shorter grasses suitable for sheep would thrive. This did not happen and the north was too hot for sheep to thrive, and the cattle were the wrong breed and also did not prosper in the hot climate. Over the years Springvale Homestead has changed hands many times and now comprises only one square mile, which is operated as a tourist destination.

Back at the caravan park we finished the day at the bistro listening to the live music and having a meal.

Posted by TwoAces 05:35

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