Friday, May 30, 2008

DAY 218: Day off Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge

Thurs 28th May 2008
Scattered cloud, 27 deg C
Elevation of destination 125m
Distance to date 13312 km (8320 miles)

The Wallabies were very active, grazing aroung the tent all night, so I slept a little fitfully even though they didn’t try and get in the food bag. One did try this yesterday while I was away from the tent and a lady shooed it away.
Eventually I went off for a walk up to the Lookout - a platform built 100m up at the top of the gorge wall about 1 km from the campsite - along a rocky path which is steep but safe, being very solidly built. This walk continues back to camp in a wide loop of about 4km, and it made for pretty hot walking despite the strong wind. I met a guy from Ayrshire photographing birds, and we had a good nattter for a while as we watched the small Buff-Chested Honeyeaters darting around.
After a sandwich lunch I hired a canoe for a couple of hours and paddled up to the end of the first gorge and back - around 7km all told. I enjoyed this more than the cruise yesterday - you get to see a lot more and at your own pace, although it was sometimes difficult to paddle against the strong SE-erly wind. The canoes are very light and easily blown around though, and even coming back downwind the thing kept trying to go sideways so I had to keep paddling to keep it straight. It was fun to paddle into the little geos / fjords, some of which went right under the vertical rockface for 15m or more, then with a good push of the paddle against the rock you come flying out backwards into the river again.
I returned to the Info centre cafe again after this, and noted the low prices here - only $6 for muffin and iced coffee - it’s certainly not a rip-off type of place. The terraced cafe overlooking the river is very nice indeed.
I went back up to the lookout to watch the sunset around 1815 and got talking to a young German man, and we were still talking half an hour after the sun had disappeared. The sky was spectacular for ages, until it was almost dark - streaks or bright orange turning to red, then grey. We could just about see where we were going on the rocky path down, with lots of rustling creatures in the dark undergrowth on either side getting away from us.
After another big camping stove feed I again sat outside, untroubled by mozzies, fanned by the usual gentle and warm evening breeze.

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