Tuesday, June 03, 2008

DAY 220: Pine Creek to Mary River Roadhouse


61 km @ 15.1 km/hr
Sat 31st May 2008
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 122m
Distance to date 13493 km (8433 miles)

After the 2 noisy nights at Katherine I was looking forward to a peaceful one very much, but it wasn’t to be. It was fairly quiet for most of the evening but then at 11 a band started up in the pub just 80m away. A very loud band indeed, together with drunken shouting and cheering. I couldn’t believe it, I was almost asleep, but now sleep was impossible. How does the Lazy Lizard caravan park management think it right to take money off people to stay the night and then keep you awake taking money off others? I thought it might end at midnight; then 1; then 2, and it actually stopped at 0210 to be replaced by recorded music not quite as loud, but loud enough. Added to this, during quiter moments, a dog was howling just a few metres away in the CP. I’d had enough by now, and got dressed and marched into the bar at 0240 where some 20 people were still drinking, although the bar was shut. I asked the manager / owner, who was behind the bar, why he took money off me - $15 indeed, more than any other CP since Mt Isa - knowing this concert was going ahead. I said to him that I would have gone somewhere else had I known. He didn’t answer; just shuffled off, but a young blond woman snarled at me “it’s a f****** pub isn’t it?” - Yes dear, and right next door is a jointly-owned caravan park! Some of the gathered were sympathetic and said they were about to go home, but I walked out to intimidating sniggers and titters behind my back. Of course I was too angry to sleep then and didn’t get off for ages.
I slept from 4 to about 7 and woke to a wide variety of bird calls, many of which I didn’t recognise, and I looked out to see a male Bowerbird doing his dance again with female in attendance kind of dancing away from him, only this time I could see the bower he had made - see pic. It was a clump of coarse grass with some stones laid inside it - not very elaborate really. The contortions he was making were quite funny, sticking his neck out and strutting on tip toes for example. The feathers on the back of his neck open to reveal a shiny purple patch when he’s in this kind of mood too. That cheered me up a bit, but after packing up I was determined to get my $15 back - the owners shouldn’t get away with this, and having enquired at the shop I learnt that they were still in bed, and I went and knocked them up lol. The guy came out all grumpy looking but after stating my case and refusing to back down he went in and got me the $15. Thank you saith I.
A little earlier I had been talking to a caravanner from Brisbane, and he too was disgusted at the noise last night too. Furthermore he told me that when he and his wife arrived the day before the toilets were in such a mucky state that they found brush and mop and actually cleaned it themselves before they would use the facilities - how bad is that?
Anyway I hit the road feeling a little better, and after 2km on the Darwin highway turned right onto the Jabiru / Kakadu NP road. I had expected a headwind but it wasn’t too bad - mostly on the side and sometimes a little behind - and for the first 30km I made good progress. Traffic was very light indeed. Scenery-wise it was becoming more interesting with lots of bends and gentle undulations, huge boulders strewn around, and little red rocky mountains.
After 30km the undulations turned to hills and this lasted for the rest of the day; up / down / up / down a la Toblerone. The slopes ranged from 3% to 6% but weren’t that long. It felt hotter than recently, but this was probably due to the sun beiong in my face, giving an illusion of being hotter. The landscape got even wilder-looking and is very interesting to look at.
After 50km I was getting quite tired, and my right foot was giving me some pain, so I was glad when the roadhouse hove into view. Again, there are no other buildings en route today. The roadhouse CP is OK, a bit dusty, but only $8, and I celebrated with an iced coffee and chocolate cake as my ‘reward’. It was only 1430 and I could have carried on for a few more hours, but fatigue, plus the knowledge that there are no camping areas for another 60km and that you aren’t allowed to camp in the NP without a permit that takes a week to get, made it an easy decision to call it a day.
I finally got to have a sort-out of my gear which I’ve been wanting to do for a few days, and managed to dump a bagfull of unwanted stuff, and separate out a small parcel for sending to Lyn’s of stuff I’m not using.
After a good supper it was diary then bed at 2100; in fact many other campers were already asleep it seemed - they go to bed and get up early here!
I’m just a few km from the Kakadu NP boundary now, and tomorrow I should be at Yellow River, where there are extensive wetlands.

No comments: