Around Australia: Darwin to Timber Creek

We retraced our steps from Darwin to Katherine to pick up the Victoria Highway towards Western Australia. Out of town we passed yet another cattle muster point but this one was full of cows waiting to be loaded up to the road train. I wondered how far they were going and in temperatures in the high 30s, how much water they will have. Back home there is a campaign to reduce the time and distance live animals are transported when they could be slaughtered closer to their source and we have good refrigerated transport. Trucks are an improvement on the days when cattle had to be driven large distances to market. Some of the old drove roads in Scotland are long distance walks. This morning’s coffee stop was at Adelaide River in a quirky café. After topping up the caffeine levels, I nipped to the toilet and this notice raised a smile:

Coming into Katherine we could see a large amount of smoke hanging over the area and hoped that our road would not be closed by bush fires. Fortunately, it was not closed but we did see several small fires still smoking along the way. The termite mounds are smaller out here. We had lunch at a rest area observed closely by a magpie who had to be shooed away from stealing our food a couple of times.

Highway One is in the process of being upgraded in several places between Katherine and Kununurra. Some parts are complete but others still underway. We wasted about 30 minutes sitting at three different sets of traffic lights. I did spot some colourful vegetation out of the window at one red light.

There are large cattle stations and on a hot day, dozens were crowded together under the trees, trying to get some shade. There were large numbers of crows and raptors at every dead wallaby on the road, some a little reluctant to move as we drove past. Red sandstone cliffs appear near the Victoria River and then the road enters the Judbarra/Gregory National Park. Apparently, the name is in the process of being changed. We passed two memorials today. One to Noel Buntine who seems to have been a local cattle transporter and road train pioneer and one to T.C. Durack who I am still trying to place. Eventually we arrived in Timber Creek. When I checked in at the store next to the hotel, I discovered that the receptionist was from Liverpool. Our good fortune continues, as another guest wished to extend his stay and not move out of the room we were due to be in, we were upgraded to a motel room with a bit more space. She also told us that while they no longer feed crocodiles in the creek, we might see some around 5pm. We did not but did see lots of fruit bats hanging in the trees and another small bird which I will identify when I have a bit more wifi time as I had to leave my bird books at home.

Today was payday so the bar was full. The hotel, motel and campsite tend to dominate the town but there are locals here as well as workers and travellers. The bar/restaurant have rather utilitarian décor, vaguely reminiscent of some of our older prisons but there were some interesting old photographs on the wall of the local area and community. Today’s mileage was 368 miles and the total so far: 4,950.