Stokes Range, Victoria Highway
on the road to Victoria River from Timber Creek.
Leaving Timber Creek we were a ‘tad’ excited as we were now on our way across to Katherine, a town we have visited a number of times and we have always enjoyed being there. Our first stop was at Victoria River where the Victoria Highway crosses the Victoria River. There is not much here, a good camping ground and a roadhouse that services’ passing traffic and the campers’ makes up this spot on the map. We called in to see what happens here and have a cool drink as it has constantly been around 30C for the past few months now, every day!
Now everyone knows, (or should do), about the ability of having a very likeable dog in tow to attract conversation. Sitting at a table outside whilst having our drinks a conversation starts with the people from the next table with ‘we had a Jack Russell just like that’. They were well dressed and in what I recognise as standard country clobber for ‘going out’ somewhere. We enter a conversation that was intriguing, they own Waterloo Station on the Duncan Road, which we have just driven along, and are off to catch
Just like being back in the Kimberley's again ! magic !
a plane to Brisbane for a friends daughter’s wedding. We are sorry they are not returning from the wedding as we would have gone home with them! During our chat it turns out he jackerooed for Scottish Australia as a young man. I mentioned that I also took that route and when I tell him where I jackerooed he says that the first property he purchased was Ballyhooley, one that I had worked on for James Barnes in the Boorowa district of NSW! We then introduced ourselves, they were Col and Alison Brett. They purchased the property after the James Barnes property portfolio was wound up and over the next hour we discussed their time at Ballyhooley and all the people we knew together, Alison was originally from Cowra. Great people, it was a shame we could not have stayed and chatted for longer, maybe a visit to Waterloo Station is in order for the next trip.
The rest of the trip into Katherine was uneventful, however when we arrived in town it was as if a caravan convention was going on! There were vans and vehicles everywhere and more disturbing no vacancy signs at all the parks. We
'John Wayne country'
headed off out to Springvale Homestead to stay a night after booking a site at Knotts Crossing Resort for the following day, for the week.
Katherine is a town in Northern Territory, situated on the Katherine River (after which it is named) , 320 kilometres southeast of Darwin. It is the fourth largest settlement in the Territory and also the closest major town to RAAF Base Tindal located 17 km away and provides education, health, local government services and employment opportunities for the families of Defence personnel stationed there.
Beginning as an outpost established with the Australian Overland Telegraph Line in 1872 on the North-South transport route between Darwin and Adelaide, Katherine has grown with the development of transport and local industries including mining, a strategic military function with RAAF Base Tindal and also as a tourism gateway to the attractions of nearby Nitmiluk National Park, particularly Katherine Gorge.
The first inhabitants of the area were the Jawoyn people and Wardaman people, and Katherine was an important meeting place for these tribes. Explorer John McDougall Stuart passed through the area in 1862 on his successful sixth journey across the continent from north to south. On
Stokes range -- waiting for the Indians to appear on the ridge!
4 July 1862, Stuart crossed the Katherine River (90 km upstream from the present town) and recorded in his diary: "Came upon another large creek, having a running stream to the south of west and coming from the north of east. This I have named 'Katherine', in honour of the second daughter of pastoralist James Chambers Esq."
In its early days, Katherine benefited from the proximity to nearby gold fields including Pine Creek and Mount Todd to the north. Katherine’s destiny was secured when the North Australia Railway was extended to Katherine with construction beginning in 1923 of the Katherine railway bridge. During construction of the railway, the town's centre was relocated to the eastern side of the river. The bridge was completed in 1926 and the first train crossed on 21 January 1926
Katherine has experienced some significant flooding in its history during the wet season and walking around the town you will see in shops and on walls marks detailing where the high water mark reached during some of the significant floods including 1957 and 74.
On Australia Day in 1998 a major flood devastated the town covering an area of 1000 square kilometres, affected
Victoria River Roadhouse
...carpark with a great backdrop.
1100 homes and cut off many roads in and out of Katherine. Three people drowned in this flood. The April 2006 floods placed parts of the town under water (including about 50 houses), caused millions of dollars of damage, Town residents were given warning that the river might flood on 5 April, and the town centre was underwater before noon the next day.
Katherine itself is an amazing place with quite a bit to see and do, much of which we have seen on other trips here. The famous Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) would be Katherine’s jewel and we had already taken a cruise up the gorge, canoed it, and flown over it in a helicopter, which is the best way to see the sheer enormity of the Katherine Gorge and view the spectacular scenery. So what could we do this time? A sunset and dinner cruise would be our splurge on this month’s budget!, and what a great thing to do, it was fantastic. Without a doubt, (in my mind anyway), Katherine Gorge is by far and away the most spectacular of all the gorges we have done.
Of course we visited the art galleries in
Victoria River Roadhouse
enough said...'yes dear'
Katherine has specializing in local Aboriginal art and met some amazing people and saw some beautiful work…again!
For a refreshing swim we went and visited the Katherine Hot Springs, always a popular spot, and nothing has changed! The water is crystal clear and the springs are great to swim in or float down through with current. I said to Trish, ‘now this is what I would like in a backyard’!
At the southern end of town, near the visitor information, is a magnificent bronze statue in tribute to a great stockman and great station manager, Sabu Sing, who tragically died in a car accident in 1993. I love this statue of this stockman and his horse and it was great to get a photo of it with Jackie playing the ‘cattle dog’.
We also visited Cutta Cutta Caves, which for some reason we have not been to before. They are located only 27km south of Katherine. The cave is a series of limestone caverns dating back 500 million years featuring sparkling columns, pillars and flowstones of calcite crystal. This was a great visit made even better by a young guide only two weeks into her
from the bridge at the Roadhouse
job who was refreshing and fun to be with.
Just 8km west of Katherine is Springvale Homestead, the oldest original homestead in the Territory, it was built in 1879 by Alfred Giles the former Overland Telegraph linesman. There is a historical tour of the homestead and grounds which is quite interesting but we had done this before so opted to partake of the ‘happy hour’ at the café as we were staying there one night.
We were keen to visit the Katherine School of the Air again and the good work that this school does servicing the needs of remote families not only in the ‘Top End’ and the Kimberley’s, but also over in the islands to Australia’s north is amazing and well worth learning about. It is quite an emotional journey listening to the stories of all the kids enrolled in the school and seeing how well adjusted their upbringing and education is in the absence of many distractions that the majority of children are subject to elsewhere.
We stayed the rest of our time at Knotts Crossing Resort, where we were spoilt with our own ensuite site at half the price of a standard site
Outside the school of the air.
in an average park in WA, it is good to be back in ‘the East’. This is a great place where we have stayed before and enjoyed great times, I don’t remember the pool being quite so cold last time though! Katherine seemed busier, a little bigger and definitely more ‘prosperous’ (if I had to choose a word), than on previous visits, the place was ‘buzzing’. Still a favourite of mine, this visit has not changed that, and a great place to stopover. Nitmiluk and the Katherine School of the Air are a ‘must see and do’ , we think.
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