Aus Update 9 - Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls

30-Aug-2006

27th-30th August 2006 So we left the town of Katherine to see the Gorge.  The main tourist spot was very nice and very good amenities.  We particularly enjoyed the displays about the region, it's history, the land, and the culture of the traditional owners (that being the Jaowyn People).  I hesitate saying too much about it, not wanting to offend anyone.  What has happened to the aboriginal people in Australia was/is appalling, I sure don't know the half of it.  What impressed me about this cultural display is the traditional owners of the land don't deny their recent history (last 100 or so years), they instead record it as history and adapt, keeping their traditions and passing them on, as well as working with the white culture that has been thrust upon them, good or bad (I am certainly not able to make that judgement).

Well, moving on... We did the 2.6km (short) walk to the lookout to see 1 of the 13 gorges.  It was unlike any other short walk we have done to date, for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, the temperature is around the 40's.  Secondly, it is up an escarpment (their word, basically a rocky cliff face).  It is all good.  The view was worth it I guess (the heat coloured my view slightly).  This area, while having a camping ground was very crowded with tourists so we decided to go to the other end of the national park and see Edith Falls, another of the gorges.  It was only 90kms away and hopefully the campground wasn't so crowded.  Firstly, a couple of photos of our short walk up to the lookout.

Edith Falls was amazing.  We planned to stay 1 night and then move on to Kakadu, we ended up staying 3 nights.  It was a green oasis in the middle of a dry parched land.  The trees were looking a bit slim, as in they were loosing their leaves, which is apparently what they do this time of year, to survive another month before the rains come. The birds however were incredible.  In our 5m square piece of grass one afternoon in 41 degree heat there were 10 birds playing, I saw 5 different species.

On our first night here one of the campers (a very musical family) put on concert.  It was very good, fun, an all round good time was had by all. On our last night at Edith falls we got to hear the ranger's slide show talk under the stars, it was really good to learn about the local wildlife, fauna, and see the area in the wet season.

We went swimming in the plunge pool.  I don't know why they call it 'plunge' pool, either it is the crocodiles and you don't want to stay in very long or the temperature difference between the water and the air is large and you can't stand to be in for very long.  Here are some pictures from around the camp and the falls.

On our second day there I got up early and did the 2.6km walk (they seriously all seem to  be that length, like a magic number, or maybe my brain is stuck on that number).  It was a very nice walk, well worth it.  I got up early because the day time temperatures are pretty high.  I actually really enjoyed it.  There is a 4 day walk between the campsites and that would be an awesome walk to do, you get to see most of the gorges. Another trip maybe...  Here are some photos of the walk, I took heaps to show Chris what he was missing out on.

I hear you asking about the crocodiles.  Well they label all the waterways really well.  There are freshwater and estuarine crocs.  The ranger said there were only about 7 or 8 freshwater crocs in the plunge pool and they will only harm you if you bother them.  They feed at night and you aren't allowed to swim between 7pm and 7am, not that they will harm you, it is so the crocs get a bit of peace, and their waterway to themselves.  Estuarine crocs (saltwater) do come in to the pool but they remove them as soon as they know one is there.  Hopefully someone spots it before it has some lunch on an unsuspecting tourist on holiday.  We swam in the middle of the day when there were lots of others in the water, better odds.  Below is the signs they have up.