Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
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15 August 2006 - Timber Creek to Katherine

Location map The road from Timber Creek towards Katherine runs along the broad valley of the Victoria River for about 90 km to Victoria River Roadhouse where there is a bridge over the river. This bridge is so often flooded during the wet season that a gate has been built to close the road when the river rises. Much of the land around Timber Creek and Victoria River Roadhouse is part of Gregory National Park which is being developed as more of a 4WD park than some others.

Once clear of the Gregory National Park we passed through pastoral leases where considerable dry-season burning was in progress or had recently been completed. Consequence of dry-season burning were easy to see on the right of the road which had been extensively burnt. Five to six metre high trees were blackened up to about 1.5 metres but leaves in the crown were not scorched, the old grass had gone and small trees or shrubs had been destroyed. Only trees and newly grown grass were left.

We saw no more boab trees after we left Timber Creek which is the eastern edge of this species' geographic range. The limit of distribution is very sharp, boabs are common west of Timber Creek and there are a couple of superb, large specimens growing in the caravan park, but not a single one was seen east of Timber Creek.

Kapok trees with their large bright yellow flowers and leafless branches remained common in patches; they prefer rocky ground and we didn't often see them away from visible rock outcrops. Otherwise the vegetation was mainly woodland with grass and rarely any other understory. How much of this vegetative structure is due to regular burning and how much to other factors is not known; burning is certainly one of the causes.

Most of the traffic (mostly caravans and motorhomes) on the road was going in the other direction; in the three and a half hours it took us to drive from Timber Creek to Katherine we saw only two other vehicles going the same way as us but more than two dozen caravans going towards Timber Creek.

Arriving at Katherine we made our way through town, negotiating the single set of traffic lights, to the caravan park. I checked in for two nights and selected a shady site with a slab. In the afternoon we drove into Katherine to get details on Northern Territory places. The night was quite warm with 23 at 8:30 p.m. outside and 26 inside the van. The bugs weren't too bad and we have to remember that we are now in cane toad country.

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