Wednesday 23rd July 2014
We were up before the sun had rising already! But the sunrise was really spectacular today. We had another long drive to Daly Waters which was an important stop for travelers who were passing through to the Kimberley's in WA. What travelers used to do was leave a little money at each road house, enough for food, a bed for the night and maybe a pint for the journey back!
There was also an airstrip which was a centre for the London to Sydney air race of 1926, a refueling stop for early Qantas flights to Singapore, a World War II Air force base and more recently an operational base for joint military manoeuvres. Although the aerodrome was closed to commercial traffic in 1965 the original Qantas hangar still stands, housing exhibits of photographs and equipment from the area's aviation past.
The name Daly Waters was given to a series of natural springs by John McDouall Stuart during his third attempt to cross Australia from south to north, in 1861-2. Stuart named the springs after the new Governor of South Australia, Sir Dominick Daly.
Stuart's first attempt, in 1860, had reached Tennant Creek. The second, in early 1861, pushed further north but again Stuart turned back. The third journey left Adelaide in October 1861 and reached Daly Waters on 28 May. The party had been pushing through difficult lancewood scrub and harsh terrain at a little over a kilometre a day. This journey was successful, reaching the north coast near modern Darwin on 24 July 1862. Stuart's Tree has an 'S' carved into it by Stuart during his journey.
We stopped at Daly Waters pub for a BBQ lunch and an ice cream. The pub was decorated with random items, underwear, money, ID cards! After lunch we were back on the road.
Dave told us about the first aboriginal who got his land back after it was taken by Europeans when they first arrived on the mainland. Vincent Lingiari who was a member of the Gurindji people, went to Sydney to speak to the government about his claim of the land that the British pastoral company Vesteys took to use as a cattle farm. It took Vincent eight years to finally get his land back. Aboriginals don't have deeds to lands like we do now, he had to show them via the dream lines and songs and relate it back to the land. This is how aboriginals tell each other and other tribes what land is who's and also what laws they had. An important and symbolic event in Australian history occurred when, during an emotional ceremony in 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured the local sand into Vincent Lingiari's hands, symbolically handing the Wave Hill station back to the Gurindji people.
Dave played us a song about the case of land ownership which was very insightful, "from big things little things grow."
We stopped at Mataka which is officially crocodile land! I am very excited to see my first croc! Salt water crocs can live in both salt and fresh water, but they can only stay in salt water for three months before they have to return to fresh water as they need to clear their glands. If they don't they could die!
We stopped at the thermal springs here, which was gorgeous. The water was such a clear blue and the water was actually really warm. I was a little concerned about crocs in the area but the water was so clear and there was a lot of people I thought it would be ok. But I didn't venture too far!
After our quick dip we were back on the road to Katherine to get beer and food. Katherine is the 4th biggest town in NT.
We drove to Katherine gorge for sunset, it was a bit of a climb to the top of the gorge but it was a great sunset. Some idiots were actually swimming in the river!!! Bloody morons! Katherine Gorge, a deep gorge carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River. Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen gorges, with rapids and falls, and follow the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu. During the Dry, roughly from April to October, the Katherine Gorge waters are placid in most spots and ideal for swimming and canoeing.
There may be freshwater crocodiles in most parts of the river, as they nest along the banks, but they are harmless to humans. Saltwater crocodiles regularly enter the river during the wet season, when the water levels are very high, and are subsequently removed and returned to the lower levels at the onset of the dry season. Thus, swimming in the wet season is prohibited. Cruises of various lengths go as far as the fifth gorge.
To be fair I wouldn't want to go in any water with the risk of any kind of croc being around! The fruit bats were heading out and it looked pretty spectacular against the seeing sun!
We went to our camp for the night and got dinner ready which was fantastic!! We slept in our swags outside tonight which was great! Half of the camp were too scared and slept inside!