We seem to have stayed ages at Kununurra (in fact it was our longest stop – 9 days). On our last day we felt we needed a bit of exercise, so on to the bikes and off to Hidden Valley. This is a must see because it’s a mini Bungle Bungle in the heart of Kununurra (but not a substitute for the real thing just an amuse bouche). Also, possibly forgot to mention that we did have some exercise earlier in the week with a round of golf. We should also mention that we’d heard that a saltie (the man eating variety of crocodile) had been spotted in town’s lake that week. Well, the golf course abuts the lake and at the No 1 tee we kept a good look out for any predators approaching the fairway. What was even more worrying was that the first hole was sponsored by – Alligator Airways! Was this another omen? Fortunately we got round safely and finished 3 under par ie by this we mean we found 3 balls – this is now how we judge a successful round. But eventually we were on the road again and bound for Katherine. After about 3 months in WA, 40 kms from Kununurra we crossed the state border into Northern Territory, and an hour and a half time difference. We’d got so used to WA it seemed strange suddenly to be in a different state – our 6th since arriving last December, only Queensland and ACT (the only one we’ve NEVER been to) left unvisited so far. The difference in the ‘state’ of the roads (excuse the pun) was immediately apparent. It was a real test of driving skills to evade all the potholes – clearly NT doesn’t have a decent sized roads budget! The difference in the landscape was also readily apparent – soon we were saying farewell to the red sandstone escarpments and hills of the Kimberley and back into vast plains of cattle country. Katherine was a two day drive so we pulled into a caravan park at Timber Creek for a couple of nights. We’d only read about this park in a magazine only a few days before and it turned out to be good value, with shady sites and a swimming pool. These aspects were very welcome as the temperature was decidedly warmer and we both noticed a definite increase in humidity. A further attraction of this park is its nightly crocodile feeding on the creek after which the village is named (it’s hard to know what to call it – it’s got a population of less than 400). From a precarious little footbridge over the creep – we wondered whether we’d all plummet into the waters below to the crocs’ delight – we watched while a very relaxed looking croc leapt out of the water to attack fresh meat dangling from a stick. Out on our bikes again we enjoyed a cycle along the Timber Creek heritage trail and, although we’d previously decided that we’d had enough of organised trips/tours for the time being, felt so upbeat that we booked a sunset boat trip on the Victoria River. This is one of Australia’s greatest rivers and it turned out to be a very interesting trip. In our 40 km downstream journey we were treated to loads of wildlife sightings – crocs, Jabiru (Black Necked Stork), Kites, dingoes, cormorants, heron, egrets, feral cat (so large we first took it to be either a wallaby or a dingo), and a magnificent sea eagle (see Katherine photo album. We also witnessed an event where nature would possibly take its toll. Halfway downstream, where the river is very wide, we came across a white Brahman cow swimming across the river, possibly tempted by the more lush grazing on the opposite bank. At this point the river was about 400 metres wide and the poor beast was very tired as it reached the muddy bank. It didn’t seem to have the energy to get out of the water and when we returned two hours later it seemed to be stuck fast. As the river is tidal it may have been able to float free as the tide rose but with the prominence of salt water crocodiles very much in evidence its survival is unlikely. Sounds sad but given the nature of the land and the distances involved nothing could have been done to help. Sadly, we’ll never know its fate. We made Katherine in good time (driving through Victoria River Crossing where the scenery of red sandstone cliffs and escarpments was quite spectacular, it was a pity the camera wasn’t handy) to feel a further increase in the temperature to 31 degrees (remember this is winter!). This is again time for Annie to have a service, ie and oil filter change, but can only get her booked in on our return journey south from Darwin. This was also Margaret’s chance to start the search for information on her Uncle Bill. Some of you may already have heard the story of Uncle Bill; he was an older brother of Margaret’s mum who emigrated to Australia in the early 1900s and settled in the Katherine area. He hunted crocodiles, had a mango farm and in the late 1920s invited Margaret’s mum to join him. But obviously she declined! He also sent a letter by the first airmail from Australia to the UK in April 1931. However, some time after that he was attacked by a crocodile and subsequently died as a result of his injuries. There’s not a lot to go on but Margaret has been looking through archive newspaper records, and has a meeting set up with the Northern Territory Archives Service and the Genealogy Department next week. A further line of inquiry – Margaret is stopping every old codger in the street asking “Did you know my Uncle Bill?”. Any success will be reported in a future blog. We’ve been to Katherine before on a previous visit to Australia so are treating this as fairly low key – mind you we don’t recognise any of it – so we won’t be doing the obvious things that first time visitors would do. We’re staying at a caravan park on the Katherine River near Spring Vale Homestead (the oldest homestead in the Northern Territory) where we took a tour, and where Margaret asked the guide “Have you heard of my Uncle Bill?”. This whole area is renowned for its springs and thermal pools and we cycled to our nearest ones (unfortunately the long way round) to be rewarded with a swim in a lovely warm natural setting of river and pools.