[Day 64-66] Northbound encounters

Having checked off the things I wanted to see in the Outback, I headed back to Katherine, up north.

But before I write about that part of the trip, let me show you one last picture of the West MacDonnell range that I  found on my cellphone. No filters or photo manipulation of any kind :)! If this doesn’t convince you to go check it out, I don’t know what will.

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Who needs Photoshop when there's the West MacDonnell mountains?

Anyway, back to my trip. The morning of May 3rd, I walked a very short  (500m?) trail in the Devils Marbles. This seemed to be the only trail there, but then again the area is rather small to begin with. There were quite a few interesting boulders, many of them split due to water expanding in tiny cracks within.

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Many of the boulders at the Devils Marbles are split like this one.

The remainder of the day was rather uneventful, although I did treat myself to my first Australian meal not cooked by myself: a humongous hamburger :). I spend the night near Matarkana, where I had dropped off Kirsten the week before.

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Bun, burger, baked onions, cheese, bacon, pineapple, red beet, tomato, carrots, lettuce, French fries: check :).

The next morning I visited the Matarkana hot springs. Having a swim in the crystal clear water in the middle of nature was super refreshing. On the way back to my car, I encountered a wallaby that wasn’t afraid at all, which was super cool. Naturally, a photo shoot with my new best friend was in order :). Besides the wallaby, I also spotted a couple of intensely colored orange-green-blue parakeet, but they weren’t as keen to hang out.

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My new best friend, Wally, checking out the hot springs.

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Oh, how we laughed!

Afterwards, I drove to Katherine, did some grocery shopping, and then decided to set up camp early near Katherine Gorge NP. This was a welcome change from the last 11 days, when I always drove until near sundown. I was rewarded for my decision by a couple of campers who gave me some delicious homemade cake.

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The view from my camping spot: rolling grassy hills in every direction.

Early next morning, the 66th day of my trip, I drove down to the park and had breakfast surrounded by hundreds of flying foxes. Most of them where sleeping, but a couple were keeping a close eye on me while a few others were making a horrendous ruckus and beating one another in order to get a better sleeping spot.

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Hundreds of flying foxes sleeping in the trees at Katherine Gorge NP.

I sampled some of what the park had to offer by hiking a short 3.4km up to a lookout point. It was pretty nice, but couldn’t really compare to the sights I had seen the days before. I guess I’m spoiled :). There were some beautiful animals here as well, such as flocks of green-red-blue parrots flying around.

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The first of Katherine Gorge NP's eight gorges.

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Pretty flowers along the trail.

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This butterfly was feeding and didn't seem to be bothered by me.

Instead of spending the remainder of my day hiking in the park, I decided to start heading westwards. My destination is Broome, from where I will continue my journey to the south. But, since that’s almost 1000km from Katherine, I’ll be visiting some other things along the way. For example, I had my lunch on a hilltop overlooking beautiful lush green valleys and reddish mountain plateaus. One could do worse :).

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Lunchtime view over the Victoria Highway escarpment.

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The Gregory tree: a big boab where a famous expeditioner set up camp.

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