Day 2 of Leg 2: Banka Banka to Katherine

— 18 Aug 2012 —

Today was the day I was most looking forward to. I was finally going to be able to down a refreshing beer at the territory’s oldest pub, Daly Waters Historic Pub. More on that later.

First, we needed to get this show on the road. One thing I like about Keith, is he doesn’t like early starts. Nothing earlier than 07h00, which was great for all of us.

The Journey

Point A: Banka Banka
Point B: Katherine
Distance: 571km

I was quite excited to see the scenery was changing as we drove north. The spinifex bushes were fading and the white eucalyptus trees were starting to tower over the horizon, with a plenty of green shrubbery in the background and a whole lot of termite hills in between it all. We saw some weird ass looking ones (they’re called cathedral termite hills) while picking up firewood for the night.

Quickly moving on, we dropped into an old WW II base and airport for a history lesson. Keith parked in front of the gate and got us to trespass onto the land, two things we WEREN’T meant to be doing according to the signs. Pfft, who reads signs nowadays right?

Acting like we were “Authorised Personnel”, we scouted the place and learnt a simplified version of WW II. There was an old communication box, and you know it’s old when spiders of all sorts have made it their home, and lots of information boards describing the communication process and how the base worked. I can’t remember whether or not the airstrip is still in use today.

There was also a modern day fold out camping chair in the stores however Frank decided he wanted to break it.

After all that history, it was definitely time to get a beer at Daly Waters. Thank goodness it didn’t take too long to get there as we were all hanging out for a cold one. But before that, Keith decided to take us on a tour of the township. It took all of 5 minutes. We saw the town hall, the accommodation rooms and that’s about all. The most interesting thing in the township was the Maccas sign on top of the local souvenir store.

And the interesting looking souvenirs, which we’re assured is NOT Made in China. Anyone fancy roadkill backscratchers?

Done and dusted with lunch, beers and just being plain old tourists, we set off to Mataranka thermal pools. A chance for us to get our kits off and wash all the sweat off. The AC wasn’t working very well anymore.

Unfortunately when we got there, it was peak hour and EVERYBODY was there. Locals from around the corner, camper van travellers, us, trailer trash, you could find all sorts there. And it felt kind of gross in the pool because it’s a thermal pool so naturally it was hot, but with that many people, you couldn’t tell whether it was warm because of nature or from so many people being in the pool at one time or from kids peeing in the pool. It’s gross just thinking about it now.

Once we had had enough of the abnormally warm waters, we headed off to our camp and just chilled. Preparations for dinner were underway, and as usual, Keith gave his marching orders to a few of us, while the boys went to be manly (put on the fire) and the girls went to do girly things (shower, read “Fifty Shades of Grey”).

For some reason, David and Frank decided we needed another fire for the night and went to be like bushmen, trying to make fire from wood. They wanted to see whether they could do it like the hosts did on National Geographic. What the hell.

Do you see the irony of them attempting to make fire when we already have one lit? They literally spent an hour on this and towards the end, they were using their lighter (unbeknownst to others but me as I was sitting in the right spot at the right time). And when that didn’t work, they finally gave up and enjoyed the fire that Ryan made, with hand sanitizer as the agent.

That night we chatted around the fire and toasted marshmallows. The guys could find sticks to put the marshmallows on and ended up using massive tree trunks. One advantage to that, there was more than marshmallow holder. There was TEN.

What a great group we had.


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