Even though we arrive in the late afternoon, it feels a lot warmer when we open the car doors. No wonder, we’re more than a thousand kilometers north of Ayers Rock now and almost back in Australia’s tropics.
Katherine Gorge National Park is a series of thirteen gorges, with a river meandering through them. In the U.S. it might be a state park, here it’s considered one of the top sights to see between the center and the top end of the country … which shows you how few of them there are. The campsite has a pool and is quite nice (with dozens of wallabies looking for food scraps), so we decide right away to stay for two nights. We are tired of spending the days in the van and are looking forward to a day with a slower pace.
The next morning we realize that the only way to actually see the gorges is to either hike (a full day in the blazing sun and heat), take a very expensive cruise or to rent kayaks and paddle ourselves. We opt for the latter, but are a bit concerned about the crocodile warning signs. The girl at the visitor center tells us that they are mostly “freshies” (fresh water crocs), which don’t get too large and usually don’t bother humans … but you never know, once in a while a “saltie” might swim up the river (which would not be good). But she thinks we shouldn’t be too worried, they haven’t seen one in the last few weeks. Still, I’m a bit concerned about swimming, especially when we meet a French couple that told us they’ve seen a croc and turned around.
By the time we return to the camper, the sun is about to set and a large colony of flying foxes is waking up for their nightly hunt. I’ve seen quite a few bats in my life, but never anything even close to the size of the ones here. The larger ones must have a wingspan of well over a meter and it’s quite spectacular to see so many of them flying out over the river and into the sunset.
I’ve put a few more pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uwefassnacht/sets/72157634296243472