26/7/21 - 2/9/21
WOW…… it's been our longest gap between our blog posts. Where o' where have we been????
After leaving Darwin we stopped for the night at Purple Mango Café & Brewery, out at Marrakai, on the way to Kakadu NP. We arrived at lunchtime, set up DABUS before heading to the café for a delicious wood fired pizza and tasting paddle. Kylie & Adam, the new owners, invited us back for dinner $10 all you can eat, so we got to sample all their stunning pizzas and a few more beers. The night was finished off with their beautiful homemade mango cheesecake.
The following day we went on a fantastic Corroboree Billabong Wetlands Tour, which is part of the Mary River Wetlands, home to the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world. We enjoyed getting up close to plenty of croc's, in their natural environment and sighting a huge variety of birds including jabirus, sea eagles(sitting on their nests) brolgas, Jesus birds and many more.
The rest of the week we enjoyed time at Berry Springs, Dundee Beach (stunning looking out over the Timor Sea and stunning sunsets) exploring the surrounding area of Dundee Beach. Friday saw us back in Darwin for Alan to have a test done, as his is having issues with his hand. We spent a couple of nights back at Howard Springs.
Sunday we explored Litchfield NP and it was the first time we have completed the circuit on the fully bitumen road. We then spent two nights at Adelaide River CP and received Alan's results….all good but it hasn't given us any answers.
Thursday 4th August, after spending a night at Edith River camp we arrived in Katherine, a quick stop over for food, fuel and water, or so we thought.
Just out of Katherine we heard a massive BANG……pulling over into a side road, Alan discovered DABUS had burst her boiler. A massive split across the plastic top of the radiator. We were lucky we were within phone range, as a call to the RACV was made and within an hour Katherine Towing and tow truck driver Chris came to our rescue.
This was a sad day to see our home DABUS sitting up high on the back of a tow truck. On arriving at the yard of Katherine Towing, Chris allowed us to back DABUS onto green grass between two large gum trees, he organized us power and gave us a list of mechanics and a run down on the place. After a call to the only mobile mechanic on the list we had a visit by Ken the owner, who explained we're in the NT and we will be here for at least a week, so if we didn't want to cook dinner, he'll drive us to and fro to the Victoria Village, a FIFO village which is next door, were we enjoyed a smorgasbord dinner for $20.
After a promise from Tim (the mobile mechanic) we expected him on Friday, only to finally see him arrive Monday morning to check out our problem. Yep….the radiator had to come out for measurements. Tim advises us he'll come back with ramps and tools etc…..see ya soon….mmmmm…..waiting waiting waiting. Tim finally arrives back HOURS later (he is working on NT time) and bingo the radiator is out from underneath DABUS. On Wednesday 11th, a week after breaking down, a new radiator had to be ordered from Japan, as none were available in Austraila, and would be delivered in 12-14 days.
But No Worries eh!!
As we didn't know how long we were going to be in Katherine, we held off getting a hire car from the RACV, we had plenty of supplies on board and we are within walking distance to the Hot Springs. We kept ourselves amused with reading, cooking, cleaning then Alan got the job of moving the sprinklers around the lawns and I took it on to weed the front garden bed.
Our friends, Ted & Jean were still in Darwin and were heading on their way back home to SA and were called upon to visit us with a wine delivery, as we had no vehicle to get to the pub.
The tow yard is a hive of activity with broken down, smashed up cars and caravans coming in regularly. We have met and enjoyed happy hour with all the crew that work here. They are a great bunch of people.
On Tuesday 10th August a Ford Ranger and a Palomino Slide-on arrived into the yard and we were greeted, by our new neighbours, Ray and Pam, from Bendigo. The tail shaft on the Ranger had dropped and they needed repairs.
Later that evening Clare with her Mercedes Motorhome, Jemima arrived atop of a tow truck. Jemima's problem is a ceased compressor for the air conditioner which also broke the engine belts.
Drinks and getting to know about each other's breakdown stories were the entertainment for the night. Later throughout our stay we decided we were in an exclusive club and we called ourselves "The Breakdowner's"
On Monday 16th August we had arranged a hire car but by the time we received it Katherine, along with Darwin, were going into a 3-day lockdown. As essentials were required; food, drinks and washing needed doing, we could at least get out and stock up, do the laundry so we could get into clean beds.
Other people had broken down during our stay, one woman with five children (but only for one night) and two sisters, Emma & Julia, from Adelaide Hills SA, who had flown into Darwin, purchased a car only for it to breakdown and they stayed with us for a week before getting their car transported to SA and they have both flown home. Hopefully once their car is fixed they can continue their travels.
During our time in Katherine it has been like Groundhog Day, same stuff, different day. We amused ourselves with weeding, watering, fertilizering the lawn and garden. We dined out at the Black Russian Café, Pop up Rocket Café, Victoria Village, Katherine Counrty Club and enjoyed communal dinners together and enjoyed drinks and a fire.
One of the truck drivers invited 'The Breakdowners' to his home where Scotty and his wife Michele put on wonderful dinner. It was like Christmas Day with roast lamb, roast pork (with 10/10 crackling) and not one but two roast chickens with roast veggies. We were all made very welcomed into their home and met their son, Charlie and his partner, Hailey. NT hospitality at it's best.
The places we explored were the Katherine Gorge, Katherine Musuem, Cutta Cutta Cave, The Katherine Cup, Lower Level of Katherine River, Knotts Crossing, NT Rare Rocks, Katherine Airport and the Katherine Hot Springs.
Every afternoon happy hour was enjoyed amongst 'The Breakdowners' and the workers from Katherine Towing, in the shadow and shade of DABUS.
In writing this blog we are still awaiting the radiator, fingers crossed, it will arrive soon. Katherine Towing has been our home for the last 29 days. We are grateful to Ken the owner of Katherine Towing for allowing us to stay here for the duration; he is a gem of a man.
It has been a great time and pleasure meeting Pam, Ray and Clare, lots of stories and laughter have been share, lots of drinks have been consumed and great friendships have been formed.
Clare has since left us to continue her and Jemima's journey into Western Australia and we hope to reunite back in Victoria.
It is a bit of a race to see who gets out of Katherine first, Pam & Ray or Alan & myself, but as we all are travelling southward bound to get back into Victoria we will catch up with them again in our travels.
Still after 23 days since the radiator has been ordered and there is no sign of it.
NT Time at it's best
We look forward to getting DABUS repaired and getting back on the road again.
Photos: Please click on Photo tab to see all the pics from this episode of our blog.