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Days 4

Katherine, Australia

Hi Gear Heads- Adventure is well and truly on its' way now with two days of road work under my belt in the cheap car.

When I left Peter's house his advice to me was "Start slow and break her in and drive your temperature gauge", wise words, indeed!

My goal today was to find a dirt road backway into the Litchfield National Park which is an area of waterfalls and natural swimming holes. I first went to the gas station and filled up the car and both of the 10L jerry cans and then to the store for drinks, snack and ice for the cooler. Finally on the road.

The cars performance was ok- still a little sluggish on the pickup but once I got to speed the temperature was nominal, right in the middle and she ran well. One thing I noticed though was that between 1900-2300 on the tach if any kind of hill came along the engine began to shake like a rumblely seizure hit it under the load. Since I was going up quite a bit this was uncomfortable to say the least and a little disconcerting.
But I put up with it for now since everything seemed fine otherwise.

Unfortunately I did not read the map well (I blame the shakey engine) and even though I was on the correct road I missed my turnoff for the dirt road and lost out on that portion of the challenge- 0 points for dirt driving. Eventually I came to the in and out route into Litchfield thru the town of Batchelor and drove 34 K into the park. The first sight I came to was the Magnetic Termite Mounds. These termites are different than the ones I have been seeing forever on the bike- they build their mounds in direct alignment with magnetic North and South, a natural compass!

The mounds look like oddly angled toombstones stretching off into the distance both directions I can see- for all I know they go on to infinity. The tallest look like they are about 6 feet tall or so and they are narrow on the East/West axis and stretched out North and South. Pics are on this blog.

Also at this location is the largest termite mound. It is at least 40 feet tall and wide as 4 men across at the bottom. If the termite invasion begins this will be the HQ!

Moving on from the insect world I drove to a place in the park called the Buley Rockholes- I had no idea what I would find there but I found a slice of paradise.

The Buley Rockholes are natural pools that are interconnected by a river so that the river flows from one to the next in small cascades. Some of the pools are over 12 feet deep and 40 feet across. I could see people at one in the sun jumping off rocks into it but I was attracted to a quieter pool mostly in the shade below the crowded sunny pool.

When I first drove into the parking area I met a backpacker who was returning to his camp and I asked him "what was going on here?" and he said, "swimming and you can get a free massage." I could see what he meant about the massage- the small cascade creating the pool was flowing like a giant whirlpool jet and if you could sit in its' flow it would pound your shoulders and back with watery delight. And you know what- there was a natural seat right in the middle of it!

I jumped in after stripping to my Ex Officio Boxer Briefs and dove to the bottom of my pool. The temperature was perfect- refreshing, but not cold because the water flows over so much hot land before going into the pools and the sun warms it. I found the seat in the flow and what a release of tension as the water caressesd my shoulders and back and neck....mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Sweet.

Spent about 20 minutes in the earth jaccuzzi and then swam over to where I left an iced coffee drink which I slowly sipped while floating and drifting in my own private paradise pool (pics on this blog).

Two boys were coming down the trail when I was ready to leave and I got one of them to hold my towl in front of me while I got the briefs off and into my shorts again. Then a short hike back to the car and off to the water falls. Now the falls can be swum at also, but I only tried to get a picture and the viewing area was closed for "Urgently Needed Repairs"- since it hung over a 400 foot drop I did not bypass the the warning signs and go out on it anyway.

Back to the car and out of Litchfield and now on to the Katherine Gorge approximately 300 K away. When I hit the highway the speed limits here go from 60 kph to 80 kph then to 100 kph and finally on the open road to 130 kph! Because the temperature was holding well and I had a long way to go I cautiously began to up my speed over 100 kph to 110 first and I noticed that as I went faster the car ran smoother! So soon I was buzzzing along at 130 kph and 3,000 on the tach which the Blue ? really seemed keen on. I thought that maybe this car had not seen a lot of highway driving and this will be something she will take to like a duck to water.

I filled up again about an hour after Litchfield and calculated the mileage as about 9 kilometers per litre of petrol. At about $1.70 per litre average cost this was going to be expensive, but the mileage is comparable to about 23 miles to the gallon or a little better by my rough and possibly inaccurate calculations- we all believe what we want to and if you want to do the math it was 45 litres for 407 Kilometers.

I arrived at Katherine without incident about 3:30 pm and filled up with gas again then went to Mc Donalds to use the free wireless and get a snack. Then back in the car for the short drive to my next destination- The Katherine Gorge! I will camp there tonight and see the Gorge in the morning.

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on September 3, 2012 from Katherine, Australia
from the travel blog: Mike's Top Gear Challenge
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I am a Yank retiring abroad and going a fun journey starting now and ending.....?

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