The endless blue skies and long straight road led us out of Darwin south towards Katherine. First we stopped at Pine Creek, a small town with a historical past. I was interested to see that at one time the Chinese well outnumbered the Europeans who were all there for the Gold Rush.
Today it is a quiet town which services the tourist industry mainly. However, it is a good stopping point to take a small rest before conquering many more kilometres.
The iconic windmill which was so common in the past and now is seen less often in favour of solar power.
The next stop was Victoria River Roadhouse which also has accommodation and where many keen fishermen make their base before setting off on the Victoria River for barramundi. It was very hot, very dry and there were lots of flies, so I was keen to keep moving but not before we called in for a chat with the owners. Someone has a great sense of humour – see below:
Crocodiles live here so no swimming and great care is taken to put boats in and out of the water.
The road began to curve after this and the scenery started to change to hills and escarpments. A nice change from the flat terrain we had become accustomed to. Now we are in The Big Country and this is where the Durack Family made their mark by settling on leases in the Northern Territory and walking hundreds of cattle up here from Queensland. Several books have been written about the family at this time – the most well known being “Kings in Grass Castles” by Mary Durack.
Finally we arrived at Timber Creek after some 610km from Darwin. It was a relief to find the Hotel/Motel/Caravan Park and the big surprise was the amazing location. In a dry, dusty landscape, this was a little oasis.
Lovely grassy areas where children could play and shady barbecue and picnic areas were dotted around all with the creek in the background.
Huge timber trees along the creek edge obviously gave the place its name and the creek now has several resident freshwater crocodiles. Wandering down to the water’s edge I was amazed to see quite a large croc just slowly surface from what seemed the calmest millpond. There was absolutely no indication that the reptile was there!
Other residents of this gorgeous place are the fruit bats – of which we have lots in North Queensland and consider them a pest – however there are some people who think they are “cute”.
This morning we drove up to a lookout and learned the story of the “Nackeroos” – The North Australian Observation Unit (NAOU) or “Curtin’s Cowboys” which was formed in March 1942 after the bombing of Darwin and was made up of a group of soldiers and Aboriginal guides who patrolled Northern Australia looking for signs of enemy activity. They operated in small groups and most of the patrols were on horseback. They lived in the harsh bush conditions and were aided by Aboriginal locals who had knowledge of the area. Their story is inspiring and a monument has been built to honour them.
From this location is a great view of the town of Timber Creek and the Victoria River in the distance.
Now it is on to Western Australia and Lake Argyle in the Kimberley – the road changes from here on!