A Travellerspoint blog

August 2012

Day 98 - Saturday 11 August 2012

Katherine to Darwin

We were packed up and on the road early for our 300 km trip from Katherine to Darwin, where we arrived safely at about 2:00 pm, unlike a car and caravan that came to grief about 2 kms south of Hayes Creek - about half way between Katherine and Darwin. The car was in the middle of the road on its roof, and the caravan was on its side off to the side of the road. There did not appear to be any other vehicles involved in the accident and the car appeared to have lost control of the caravan. As there were more than enough other cars stopped at the scene with people controlling the traffic, we continued on our way. We saw no Police of Emergency vehiles coming from the North, so perhaps they would have to come from Pine Creek or Katherine. Hopefully there were no serious injuries, but it certainly makes you think about how lucky you are, and you slow down for a while!

PS - The morning paper reports that the two occupants of the vehicle were walking around the crash site when authorities arrived at the scene. They were taken to Katherine Hospital with minor injuries. The paper went on to say that 10 cars had rolled in 10 days in the Northern Territory with 2 people being killed. The speed limit here is 130 kph and everyone seems to drive too fast, even in built up areas!

Later on we stopped for a morning cuppa at the Bridge Creek Rest Area - Bridge Creek is an approved 24 hour camping area and has been upgraded since we stopped here two years ago - the area has been enlarged and new facilities installed - fireplaces and wood BarBQs are provided and wood is also provided.

A shady spot for a morning cuppa

A shady spot for a morning cuppa

Bridge Creek Rest Area

Bridge Creek Rest Area

At Adelaide River we were stopped again for bridge works and waited our turn at the single lane detour, the large roadtrain passing the other way while we waited.

Waiting our turn to negotiate a detour at Adelaide River bridgeworks

Waiting our turn to negotiate a detour at Adelaide River bridgeworks

Roadtrains take precedence

Roadtrains take precedence

When we arrived at the Darwin Free Spirit Caravan Park we were assured that we had been given a nice roomy site for our 5th wheeler - there was nothing wrong with the site if you ignored the Palm Tree positioned right in the way. The site was angled at about 60 degrees to the roadway and could only be accessed by reversing on the left hand which is the most difficult for the driver as he cannot see where he is going. With a bit of help from our opposite neighbours, one who moved his car to give us more turning room, and another who provided guidance to David while he reversed around the tree and on to the site, we made a reasonable fist of it. A couple of people passing by offered the use of their chainsaws. We might have to provide some feedback to park management on the unsuitability of the site for larger caravans and 5th wheelers in particular!

Our camp site

Our camp site

Where's the chainsaw?

Where's the chainsaw?

After setting up camp for two weeks we headed for the nearest shopping centre at Palmerston which is a only 3 or 4 kms from the caravan park. We were looking for a newsagent at the Palmerston Shopping Centre, but he has gone broke and closed down a few weeks ago, and we were directed down the road to the Oasis Shopping Centre for for a Weekend Australian, and a coffee. Palmerston has a Coles Supermarket, while the Oasis has a Woolworths Supermarket.

Posted by TwoAces 20:24 Comments (0)

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 Comments (0)

Day 96 - Thursday 9 August 2012

Katherine

It was a little cooler last night than we have had for a few days - 12 degrees. Yesterday when we arrived in Katherine the temperature was 32 degrees maximum, but the humidity was 78%. Today it is a little more bearable - still 32 degrees but only 23 % humidity. A very slow start to the day - we slept in until nearly 8:00 am, but after breakfast we went into down-town Katherine to visit the Tourist Information Office, Caltex/Woolies for diesel and Woolworths for som groceries.

Its interesting how the price of diesel changes - $1.809 in Kununurra, $1.985 per litre at Timber Creek, $1.779 at Victoria River, and $1.559 at Katherine - all in 500 kms. However diesel is a bit like beer - you can't do without it! Its a bit like the newspapers - The Australian in Broome was $4.30 and a day late, in Kununurra $4.30 and a day late and sometimes not at all, and $4.00 and a day late in Katherine. Given that we have only seen 3 or 4 papers in the last couple of weeks you could soon learn to live without them. But - I hear you say - just wait until we have Julia's high speed broadband across the nation and we will have no need for newspapers - particularly that biased Murdoch press!

We have stayed at the Katherine Big4 Low Level Caravan Park before because of it good facilities which include a pool and the Big Fig Bar and Bistro. The park is called the Low Level park beacause it is near to the low level bridge over the Katherine River.

Our camp site

Our camp site

View across the caravan park

View across the caravan park

The Pool area

The Pool area

The Big Fig Bistro

The Big Fig Bistro

Bar and Bistro

Bar and Bistro

Posted by TwoAces 21:25 Comments (0)

Day 95 - Wednesday 8 August 2012

Victoria River to Katherine

There was no rush to get away this morning as we only had about 200 kms to go to Katherine, so after breakfast we walked down to the Victoria River Bridge for a few photos. Victoria River is located on the edge of the Gregory National Park which extends from Timber Creek to Victoria River. The river winds its way through the Victoria River Gorge with high cliffs and rugged country which attracts many visitors to the National Park. About half way to Katherine we had to get off the road for a wide load going the other way.

The old and new bridges over the Victoria River

The old and new bridges over the Victoria River

Looking south from the Victoria River Bridge

Looking south from the Victoria River Bridge

Looking north from the bridge

Looking north from the bridge

Di on the Bridge

Di on the Bridge

A view towards the escarpment

A view towards the escarpment

The escarpment

The escarpment

Another view of the escarpment

Another view of the escarpment

The station behind the roadhouse

The station behind the roadhouse

Our campsite at Victoria River

Our campsite at Victoria River

A wide load coming

A wide load coming

We arrived at Katherine shortly after lunch and set up on a large grassy sight for 3 nights. While we had a walk around the caravan park Di ran into an ex work colleague - small world.

Posted by TwoAces 19:25 Comments (0)

Day 94 - Tuesday 7 August 2012

Lake Argyle to Victoria River

We had contemplated staying at Lake Argyle for an extra day as it is such a beautiful place and not having a stop en route to Katherine, but when we realised that as well as the trip being 520 kms, about 6 hours without any stops, we would also lose 1 1/2 hours as we went back into the Northern Teritory, we changed our mind and decided to have a stop on the way to Katherine. We had initially considered staying at Timber Creek, but had heard some good reports of the caravan park at the Victoria River Roadhouse, so pressed on a further 90 kms to Victoria River.

After emptying our holding tanks we finally got away from Lake Argyle at 10:00 am. On the way out to the highway we found the "Great Wall of China" that we had looked for yesterday - it was nearly all the way out to the highway, and we had not gone far enough yesterday. However no photos as we could not find anywhere to stop with the van on behind.

Shortly after after turning left on to the Victoria Highway we crossed the border into the Northern Territory - now we can do 130 kph!

Quarantine checkpoint going in to WA

Quarantine checkpoint going in to WA

Di at the border crossing

Di at the border crossing

Speed limit signs

Speed limit signs

We continued on to Timber Creek where we stopped for fuel and toasted Bacon and Egg Sandwiches. We arrived at the Victoria River Roadhouse at about 3:00 pm, paid our $20 camp fee and found ourselves a suitable powered site. No mobile coverage, no TV signal, and too lazy to put up the satellite dish, so we eventually headed for the Roadhouse for a couple of drinks. The menu looked OK so we decided to stay and have a meal - Salt and Pepper Squid with salad and a shared plate of Wedges.

Victoria River Roadhouse

Victoria River Roadhouse

Under new management

Under new management

Victoria River caravan park

Victoria River caravan park

Posted by TwoAces 19:23 Comments (0)

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