A Wee Sunday Outing

We thought we'd drive up the road a bit (about an hour) to a gorge that J had heard about from a friend. We left Katherine around 1 pm, expecting to be gone a few hours, and didn't return for 12 hours. See if you can imagine it with just a few images:
A car that won't start.
A (22 km long) dirt road with no traffic that ends at the gorge.
Add utter darkness (we couldn’t see our own feet or each other), broken by blinding lightning bolts of a very nearby lightning storm, multiple washes and streams to wade through, cheerful and good-humored companions, and a good friend who was willing to get out of bed and drive an hour each way to come get us.

We ended up walking non-stop from seven pm to 11:30 at night to get to the highway. I have some blisters today. Maybe I'll write more later if that doesn't seem to be enough info for youse.

The Umbrawarra Gorge walk was a bit more of an adventure than we had planned it to be. Posted by Hello

J checks the second of many floodways on the track to see whether the car will make it. It does. Posted by Hello

Anyone know what this one is called? Posted by Hello

Heading up the gorge. Posted by Hello

What giant toddler stacked those up? Posted by Hello

This does not convey the real redness of the rocks. It is truly remarkable. Posted by Hello

Enjoying the gorge, despite the nasty biting flies (that's insect repellent on my skin). Posted by Hello

The clouds roll in beautifully. Posted by Hello

Some kind of water goanna we reckon... Posted by Hello

Who is that under the car?! Posted by Hello

Waiting for R at the side of the highway at the Umbrawarra Gorge turnoff. Posted by Hello

Solar Cooker. I've just about finished making it (need to blacken the bottom inside piece; am thinking of just using a piece of black cloth since I'm not sure about the availability of nontoxic paint). Looks pretty good, huh?
Posted by Hello

Bike Riding Saturday

Part I: Nighttime Surprises
Saturday, January 22nd was a full day, beginning around 3 am when the phone rang. Nobody there. Before we could fall back asleep, we began hearing a rooster crow, not normally a sound that awakens me or keeps me awake, but Justin and I both noticed and remarked on it. Then a neighboring drunk got home and started shouting. Lots of shouting ensued. Justin wondered whether he should call the police, but we decided that it really just sounded like one very drunk and angry man and a handful of other men trying to calm him down or shut him up or perhaps just expressing their own anger at having been woken up. From the interactions we’ve seen so far between the police and Aboriginal people, it seems best not to involve the police unless someone is actually getting hurt.

Part II: Garage Sales
Due to that unplanned chunk of nighttime wakefulness, I did not arrive at the garage sale at its opening hour. I did finally get out of the house and enjoyed the bike ride to the southeast end of town. Along the way, I encountered a roadtrain of 22 caterpillars humping across the sidewalk and felt compelled to take pictures. (see photo postings)

At the first garage sale I bought a nice Chinese teapot (the kind with the rice embedded in the porcelain, leaving delicate little light blue spots) and two large food storage jars. I’ve been trying to get away from storing any food in plastic and it’s quite a challenge. Check out this website on plastics (lots of interesting links there too) and then check out your cupboards and fridge!

The second garage sale did not yield anything I wanted but did provide an excuse to ride further into the curving streets of that neighborhood (a lot of the streets here are “Crescents”).

On the way back, I saw a bunch of these black cockatoos. They are really impressive and have bright red in their tailfeathers which only show when they’re flying (unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of them flying).

Part III: Exploring the Outskirts of Katherine
Then I ran into Justin who was on his way to find me. We dropped my loot back at the house and took another nice ride in a different direction. We decided to find Knott’s Crossing which we’d heard was somewhere behind the hospital. We rode quite a ways up the road past the hospital (which is also the road to Nitmiluk Gorge) and passed the authentic WWII Japanese bomb crater site, among other things. Eventually we turned around and found that the road to Knott’s Crossing is really right behind the hospital and unmarked. Locals only, I reckon. It looked like a nice place to swim during a different season.

Part IV: Across the River
In the late afternoon we rode over to R & J’s house where I took pictures of their funny-looking chooks (see photo postings). I also got some extra veg seeds from R and took a few cuttings to try to root.

Part V: Concert and MoonRide
To round out the day, R & J rode their bikes over to our place and M, Justin and I joined them at the local fundraising concert to benefit victims of the Asian tsunami and the recent bushfires in South Australia. Without being too unkind, let me just say that the music did not compel us to stay very long. It was nice sitting on the grass and watching fellow Katherinites enjoy themselves, but we soon decided to leave for a little moonlit bike ride. Under the nearly full moon we enjoyed a nice ride out to the old airstrip with a stop at a park playground for some sliding and swinging. (see photo postings)

Finally, we made our way back home.

Almost-full moon at the park. Experimenting with night photography. Posted by Hello

Justin wondering whether the music would get better. Posted by Hello

R and N (a local doctor) at the concert. Posted by Hello

J & M enjoying the concert. Posted by Hello

Chooks in R's backyard. Posted by Hello

A rooster showing off his hip foot-feathers (he probably doesn't know that he's not long for this world). Posted by Hello

Chook--a lucky hen who will escape the dinner table (at least for awhile) Posted by Hello

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos. Posted by Hello

22-caterpillar road train! Posted by Hello

Signs of Katherine

Please enjoy the pictures posted below of various signs and buildings around town. Sorry I'm not in any of them, but you can imagine me behind the camera, cackling with delight.

I am really enjoying myself here. Not working is only part of it!

I don't know whether I reported that I've joined the library. I've borrowed various garden and plant books, though nothing like a good plant ID guide, and also cookbooks. I've also taken out Bill Bryson's book about Australia (published in the US as 'In a Sun-Burnt Country' and in the UK and here as 'Down Under' and in Germany as 'Breakfast with Kangaroos').

After having been in the library several times and not seeing anything that looked like a computer catalog or a card catalog, I finally asked a librarian today. She said, "I can look something up for you," and went back to her desk and her computer. Not the best set-up for just browsing books on a given subject, but it is an awfully cute little library AND air-conditioned (so much so that I'm usually grateful for the heat when I get out). It turned out they didn't have the book I was looking for (Arc of Justice,which my book group in Chico is reading) in the Katherine library or indeed anywhere in the Northern Territory!

I'm going to try to get up in time for two garage sales tomorrow morning!

One of two drive thru liquor stores in town.  Posted by Hello

The side of Rod and Rifle. Isn't this great? Posted by Hello

Rod & Rifle--home of "A Den for Men" (I'll try to get a picture at some point) and my favorite camping store. This picture doesn't really do justice to the very fine large fish on the roof. It really shines in the full sunlight! Posted by Hello

My favorite graffito in the alley by the bank. Lajamanu is an Aboriginal community a few hours from Katherine. Posted by Hello