Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
10 June 2013

Katherine to Douglas-Daly
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We drove out of Katherine on a sunny, very quiet, public holiday Monday morning and turned north on the Stuart Highway bound for a turn-off north of Pine Creek which would take us to our destination of Douglas-Daly Tourist Park. The Douglas-Daly Region is named for the Daly and the Douglas Rivers which flow through the region.

Leaving Katherine we were quickly caught up in northbound traffic. Some slow (80 kph) caravans slowed traffic and those behind ignored the requirement to leave 200 metres between caravans in the Northern Territory so the fairly frequent sedans had difficulty overtaking. To make the drive even less pleasant the Stuart Highway immediately north of Katherine was not particularly good.

But things improved after the Edith Falls turnoff. The slow caravan turned off to Edith Falls, the road improved to the high standard we have come to expect on Northern Territory main roads, and there was a long section of dual highway along which traffic could sort itself out by speed with the faster vehicles getting well on their way. Traffic was heavier than we had experienced previously on this highway. Sedans with Northern Territory registration were quite common heading north; we had no way of knowing whether this was because today was a public holiday, but it was certainly noticeable.

North of Edith there were several sections of overtaking lanes already in use and, according to roadside signs, several more sections were planned in the near future, or were being built now with stoppages for road work fairly common. Additional overtaking lanes will be most welcome as the highway was fairly busy with many caravans heading north and south and a surprising number of horse-floats going from Darwin towards Katherine. I often judge traffic by the number of vehicles in sight at any time; on this occasion there were three or four vehicles in sight at any time over a distance of two kilometres in front of and behind us.

We temporarily turned off the Stuart Highway to go through Pine Creek to see what was there. The township itself was not remarkable but the number of caravans parked in, and near, the town was notable. It would not be at all surprising if the locals had seen enough caravans for the season by now.

Just past Hayes Creek (as far as we could see Hayes Creek comprised a roadhouse) we turned off the Highway into the Douglas-Daly region with a little more than 30 kilometres to go to the caravan park at Douglas Crossing. The road was sealed for the entire way but the first six or eight kilometres were rough and trying; we were down to 30 kph to ease the bouncing but the ride was still rough and uncomfortable. Traffic in the opposite direction was moderately heavy; mostly 4WDs with camper trailers and box trailers. We were later told these were Darwin residents who had been camping in the Douglas-Daly for the long weekend. Then the road because comfortable, a little narrow but not a problem to drive on at 80 to 90 kph all the way to our destination.

Termite Nest Several groups of these large termite nests were passed on the road to Douglas Crossing but they were neither widespread nor common.
Katherine to Douglas-Daly- page 2
From the Stuart Highway to Douglas Crossing he road initially ran through woodland typical of the Top End; occasionally there were signs pointing to World War Two airfields. Along the road were entrances to cattle properties although we saw few cattle. There were several groups of the tall termite nests which seem to be a speciality of the Northern Territory. After some time we came to large cleared paddocks with piles of rectangular hay bales dotted around them; we guessed the property had grown its own cattle food. Then plantations of African Mahogany lined both sides of the road; trees varied from less than half a metre high to three metres high; rows of trees were less than two metres apart so there will have to be considerable thinning if any of the trees are to reach the size we have seen for fully grown African Mahogany. These thousands of trees are being grown for their timber with furniture and flooring nominated as typical uses.

Arriving at the Douglas-Daly Tourist Resort we selected a large site in the late afternoon shade of a well-grown African Mahogany and set-up for four nights. With no television reception and limited mobile telephone coverage the visit promised to be very quiet.

Tree Plantation Plantation of African Mahogany trees being grown for timber. This was one of many timber plantations along the road in the Douglas-Day region.
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