Day 18…

TITLE: Darwin Dreaming

Rise and shine! The beautiful Katherine Gorge awaited! We had all chosen to book onboard the Nit Nit Dreaming cruise. We were about to discover the beauty and cultural significance of the first two gorges to the traditional landowners – the Jawoyn people. I had done the cruise once before, four years ago on the first stage but I was looking forward, in particular, to sharing the experience with Mum. Nitmiluk National Park covers a vast area of escarpment country including thirteen gorges carved from ancient sandstone that wind along 12km of sheer rock extending more than 70m high.

Stepping aboard we took our seats and cruised through the first gorge listening to the informative, yet unobtrusive commentary. Upon reaching the end of the first gorge we disembarked at the crossover. From here we walked beneath the gorge walls while taking in the aboriginal art as we made our way to the next boat awaiting our arrival four hundred or so metres up ahead. Onboard our guide skilfully manoeuvred the vessel out into the second gorge. It was difficult to imagine this place in the wet season when these striking cliffs are swallowed as the river becomes a mighty torrent.

What a stunning and relaxing way to have spent the morning.

Sadly this was the day we were due to part ways with Jason so, in order to prolong the inevitable, we decided to a visit to Edith Falls together – about an hour further up the road and say farewell there.

The lower pool at Edith Falls is a mere 150m walk from the carpark and well worth it for both the view of the waterfall and to take another refreshing dip. Paperbarks and pandanas fringe this natural swimming hole creating a scenic bush setting that could easily entice you to stay. The small kiosk back near the carpark was an oasis of a different kind with children and adults alike enjoying an ice-cream and some shade.

The time had come, we couldn’t put it off any longer. My friend and confidant who had been, without doubt, the best support vehicle driver anyone could ever hope for was about to set off on a journey of his own, continuing on the Savannah Way to Broome and well beyond as it turned out. I gave him a big hug, “thanks for everything Jason, I couldn’t have done this without you.” Then a few tears fell out, lately it seemed they were never too far from the surface. Jason has his sunglasses on but I spotted a tear or two slip down his cheek – I pointed them out, just in case he thought he’d gotten away with it. His trademark grin soon returned and with another hug we were back on the road, albeit without Jason and his troopie visible in the rear view mirror. About an hour into the drive I realised I still had his spare UHF radios we’d been using since Cairns (I’ll sort this Jason).

The Stuart Highway was a haze of smoke, when driving in the Northern Territory, it is not uncommon to see fires burning on the roadside or in nearby bushland. These fires are usually ‘prescribed’, controlled burns, which are conducted by the emergency services to control the spread of wildfire. Still it does create a lot of smoke and can be a little disconcerting.

We pulled into Adelaide River Inn a while later, this local pub is brimming with character and ‘Charlie’ the Buffalo certainly adds to this. Charlie, made famous by Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) whilst being hypnotised to the ground on the movie Crocodile Dundee passed away in 2000 and now stands proudly on the bar. After a nice big glass of icy cold water we were back on the road with another hour and a half to go before we reached Darwin.

Mum and G had already checked into our hotel having had a night there before driving down to meet me. The hotel was perfectly positioned on the Darwin Waterfront so even though it was getting late by the time Mum and I arrived and G returned having dropped Fred as his hotel we showered and went downstairs for dinner. The next day was to be the first of five relaxing days together in this wonderful city.

TIP: Take your room key with you.

This tip comes from two nights earlier when Mum and G first checked in at the hotel.

Upon arriving back at the door to their room Mum said to G, “Do you have key?”
“Yes, I’m just looking for it. He says. “I can’t find it, have you got it?” He asks.
“No I haven’t got it.” Says Mum.
“I’ll go downstairs to reception.” Says G.
“I’ll sit here and wait then.” Says Mum – the walk to the room longer than any of us could have anticipated.

Downstairs G had some trouble getting a new set of keycards, mainly because he wasn’t me.

“Hi I’ve locked myself out of the room, could I please get another key to get back in? Asked G.
“No problem, what room?” He asked.
“Room ***” G replied.
“Bridget Mahony?” He asked.
“That’s right”. Said G.
‘I’ll just need her to pop down and show her ID so that I can confirm you have authority to be in the room.” He said.
“Sorry, she’s not actually here at the moment.” G said.
“Oh, okay. We’ll need to give her a call to confirm then.” He said.
“Um, well you can try, but she might out of range, she’s on the road. I checked us in yesterday without her being here, are you sure there isn’t some other way?” G enquired.
“I can escort you up to the room to confirm your belongings are there, and confirm your identity?” The receptionist suggested.
“Well that might work. But I paid for the room yesterday on my credit card, would that be enough to confirm?” Suggested G.
“Yes that’s fine. I’ll re-program you some new keys.’ He said.

Having finally won out in the end G returned to the room to find Mum sitting against the door eyeing off the lamb shanks our neighbour would soon enjoy courtesy of room service. She’d been there a little while.

TRACK: Lanks – Hold Me Closer

KMS: 391


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