Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
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28 June 2013

Rum Jungle to Katherine
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The morning was warm and very humid; packing up and connecting caravan and Pathfinder was unhurried and we were soon away from Rum Jungle on the bouncing road out to the Stuart Highway. Once on the highway we settled down to steady cruising on the good surface. Traffic was light with the number of caravans heading north very obvious. The road was gradually climbing and reached about 210 metres before descending a little into Katherine; vegetation along the road was the tropical woodland based on eucalyptus trees and pandanus which seems to cover the Top End.

masked lapwing Masked lapwings at Bridge Creek rest area were the northern variety with small black caps, no black side patches and with large yellow wattles (the skin hanging down beside the face). The southern variety has very small wattles and black side patches.
After a brief stop at Bridge Creek for a morning cup of coffee we stopped again for lunch at a cleared area on the side of the road. By then we were counting caravans heading north; in four hours until we reached Katherine we passed 90 caravans on the road heading north for Darwin and saw another twenty to thirty beside the road (at Adelaide River, Pine Creek and in wayside stops) which could have been going north or south. There seemed to be similar numbers of caravans heading south towards Katherine; whenever we stopped at the side of the road we were passed by three or five vans going in the same direction as ourselves.

This conservative count resulted in a figure of 100 caravans travelling from the Darwin area to Katherine in four daylight hours. If this is a typical day and there are an average of two people in each caravan this is thousands of caravan travellers in Darwin during the season. Yet Darwin and Palmerston local authorities give the impression they regard caravans as a nuisance. The reasons for this attitude are unclear and may be based mainly on ignorance of the numbers involved.

During the day we stopped briefly on the side of the road for various reasons and soon noticed a welcome change in the weather. The sun still blazed down and it was hot outside shade but the humidity had dropped so that the heat was no longer unpleasant.

Arriving in Katherine we were reminded of the ever-present mining industry when we were stopped while a five-metre wide load crossed the bridge over the Katherine River ahead of us. This was a very large piece of wheeled mining machinery which required us to pull right over to the edge of the road while it passed.

In Katherine we went to the caravan park we have previously used and checked in for the weekend. That evening we went to the restaurant in the park for an excellent meal before returning to the caravan which seemed much cooler than it was in Darwin.

28 June - page 2
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