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WARNING! Towns On The Map May Be Smaller Than They Appear

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 10 May 2012 | Views [955]

"Hands of the Artist"

Cooinda, Mary River and Pine Creek are prominently shown on our NT map.  Like Burma Shave limericks without the punch-line, signs announcing their approach - "Pine Creek 201kms," "Mary River 90kms" - line the roadside.  Signs and giant termite mounds, which turned out to be more exciting that town.  Mary River, for example, consists of only a run-down campground and a roadhouse selling petrol for $A1.75/litre.

So we pushed on to Katherine, population 10,000, with actual traffic lights and a Woolworths!  We had our choice of three - count them, three - campgrounds, all reasonably priced, and decided to spend a couple of days.  We picked a remote site under spreading mahogany trees, secluded the first night but, wouldn't you know it, we have neighbors now.

At least there are no cockatoos!  Not even a murder of inky black crows can compete in volume with a handful of sulfur-crested white cockatoos.  Three, five, half-dozen at a time glide into the treetops, screeching like wild banshees.  Each landing displaces earlier arrivals who noisily force others from their perches.  And so on, like late arrivals at church or theater goers with weak bladders or a popcorn addiction.  The din continues as darkness falls then, suddenly, they fly off to who knows where.  Peace at last!

Katherine is also the access to Nitmaluk National Park and the Katherine River Gorge.  The best way to see the Gorge is on a boat tour, just as expensive as the Yellow Water trip.  We watched as Artist-in-Residence "Long John" Dewar worked on some "Dreamtime" paintings then took a hike along the escarpment.


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