Katherine Gorge and ‘Swagging It’ at Daly Waters

After an eventful first few days in Oz we headed off to one of the Northern Territory’s most famous beauty spots, Katherine Gorge – located in Nitmiluk National Park. As we were walking into the park we spotted all sorts of wildlife including wallabies, birds and fruit bats.

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From here, we walked up rocky cliffs towering over the Katherine River where we got fantastic views of our stunning surroundings.

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Most of the group then followed a 2.8km trail through scrubland, which took us back down one of the gorges. The trail came out at the Katherine Gorge visitor centre where we learnt more about how the land there was formed.

Just five minutes drive from there is the Katherine Hot Springs. We decided to stop there for lunch and have a dip in the thermal pool by the banks of the river. The water there is a constant 32 degrees celsius but actually felt quite cool compared to the heat of the air around us!

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Whilst we were leaving the thermal pool, Rich asked Mark about the chances of seeing an actual Kangaroo rather than wallabies. We weren’t quite in Kangaroo territory yet but Mark had a little surprise! He pulled over beside a house and motioned for Richard to get out and look into the front garden. Sat there was a 14 month old Red Kangaroo!

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The owner of the house looks after a few Kangaroos who have been orphaned by local hunters. After telling us the Red Kangaroo’s story she headed back into the house and returned with two little sacks. Inside were tiny baby Kangaroos – one didn’t even have any hair yet! They were so cute. Everyone else got out of the bus and took turns holding them. It was such a privilege to be able to see these animals up close.

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We were soon on our way to our stopover destination for the day – a place called Daly Waters. Daly Waters has a population of about five (seriously!) and the town is centred around the quirky Daly Waters Pub, the oldest pub in the Northern Territory.

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Motorbike enthusiasts may recognise the Pub from the TV series ‘By Any Means’, as this is where Charlie Boorman and his team stayed whilst travelling through Australia! It’s a really unique place with all sorts of memorabilia scattered around the courtyard and bits of clothing (including underwear!) hanging up inside the bar!

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That night we had a gorgeous meal . I had a ‘ringer ration’ (aka Steak Sandwich) and Rich had a ‘chook burger’ (aka Chicken Burger) with chips and salad. We also treated ourselves to a bottle of Aussie wine and thoroughly enjoyed the lot of it! A great night was had by all at Daly Waters and we sat outside chatting with some of the other Oz-busers long after the bar closed.

We had a bit of an unexpected ‘treat’ when we were told that none of the tents that were ordered for us had turned up. For most of the group that wasn’t a problem as they all opted for a free upgrade to a shared dorm. We, on the other hand, were not keen on getting split up and sleeping in single sex dorms, so opted for sleeping in a ‘swag’ under the stars instead! A few of the others also wanted to try out a swag – a traditional outdoor sleeping bag/mattress – so us, along with Tyler, Ross, Andrew and Chris picked a nice spot in the middle of a field and prepared for an interesting night.

It was absolutely baking and I think we lost around 2 stone by sweating so much whilst tucked up in our swag bags, but we were so conscious of ants and other insects crawling over our faces and limbs that we didn’t want to unzip them! The sky was fantastic that night – all we could see when we looked up was thousands of stars. Halfway during the night, I got up to go to the loo and as soon as I switched on the torch, I spotted a wallaby about three metres away from us! I couldn’t believe that we had been lying so close to it.

The swags were a great experience, but we only got about an hour’s sleep. The heat, humidity and continuously brushing off insects made it impossible to get comfortable, but I’m glad we did it and am actually looking forward to being able to do it again when we camp as Ayers Rock!

We got up at around 5am the next morning as we were off to Alice Springs, in the centre of Australia. It’s over 900kms away from Daly Waters so we were in for another long day of driving through the Outback…

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