We regretfully bade farewell to Mataranka and moved on to Katherine, only 100 kms away. Arrived mid-morning on Saturday, just in time to catch the tail end of the weekly market. It wasn't a very impressive market, except for one exceptional find - fresh mangoes, by the boxful. Apparently this is mango season here. I was happy to buy five or ten, but George insisted on a whole box - over 30 mangoes. We were only planning to be here a few days before moving on to Kununurra, and we could not take any fruits over the border. He was pretty sure he could rise to the challenge, and ate two or three mangoes right there and then to prove his point.
On our previous travels we had tried to stay in a caravan park in Katherine called Riverview, which was right next to the hot springs, but it was the busy season and they were booked out. This time, we had no problems. In fact half the caravan park was closed down, and the open half was less than half full. The weather was getting quite warm, so we headed down to the springs straight away.
It was a five minute walk there, downhill, meaning it was uphill on the way back, which was not so good. The springs themselves were cooler than Mataranka, but certainly warm enough, and quite refreshing. The setting, however, was a bit more developed with paving and concreting all around. It lacked the natural feel of Mataranka. So, although we cooled down well, by the time we went back we were hot and sweaty again. Quite an unpleasant night.
Katherine is the point where you can turn left and head to Kununurra, which we planned to do. But before we did, we decided to visit Litchfield National Park again, another one of our favourite places from last time. It was over 200 kms further north, but we decided it was worth it anyway.
The terrain up to Katherine, although growing greener and lusher, was still fairly flat. At Katherine, of course, there was Katherine Gorge running through the ranges there. Heading north towards Litchfield the terrain changed completely. The road was windy with steep uphills and downhills. We came across overtaking lanes, which we hadn't seen for a very long time. Within Litchfield it became even more hilly, giving the van a good workout.
There are several waterfalls in Litchfield. Florence Falls was as majestic as ever, but we found Tolmer Falls to be little more than a trickle. It was the end of the dry season, and there was very little rain yet.
Our favourite place was Wangi Falls, a large majestic waterfall where you could swim, and also camp. We spent the whole afternoon in and out of the water. You could swim right up to the waterfall and climb the rocks, and feel it pelting down on your head. Because we were camping there, we could stay in the water right up until sunset, and that was glorious.
We barbecued some meet for dinner, with a bit of salad. As we ate, I had my last bit of meat on my fork, poised halfway to my mouth, when there was a flurry of feathers for an instant - and the meat was gone. A kite had soared down, stolen the morsel, and flown off again. He left the salad untouched.
That night a storm blew through - short, but very powerful. We felt the rain pelting down and were glad we had retired into the van by then. By the morning, the sun was shining again and it was hot, as if nothing had happened.
Back to Katherine this morning, ready to head off to Kununurra tomorrow. The heat is getting quite oppressive, so we are certainly happy to be heading west to the coast and the beach. And then south to cooler climes. Spent the evening in the pool in the caravan park to cool off.
Katherine was very hot and humid, so sweat was draining fluids faster than you can drink. Unpleasant during the day with no relief at night. Yet, any time I am visiting a place in the wrong time of the year there is Mangoes to cheer me up. Had a holiday in Cairns in January once. Wet tropical rains bucketing down. Yet, in Atherton market there was the freshest mangoes that has made their way without being refrigerated or gassed.
Estimated how hard the Wangi falls hits you. The height was about 10m and that gave each drop of water a time of about seconds. Using g as 10m/s2 it will hit with an estimated velocity of 14 m/s or about 50km/hr. And that is why it felt hard, cold, and very refreshing.
It turns out that Eva's admiration of birds of prey (kites) is mutual, and was corroborated in a friendly food sharing episode.