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Day 5

Tennant Creek, Australia

Hi Gear Heads---off on day five of the challenge and today we will detour from cars into the realm of boats and then go about 500 k down the road in an afternoon rush to the Banka Banka Outback Station for a good night rest!

I camped in the Katherine Gorge last night and today I found out they have cheap backpacking sites ($3.50) and no permit required- pity I don't have my pack!

Yesterday I booked a two hour, two Gorge tour on a boat that leaves at 9 am. I woke up early enough to have coffee and break camp and even had time to call my folks in Idaho before boarding the boat.

The Katherine Gorge is made up of 33 different Gorges that are roughly in the shape of a snake as drawn by the Native Peoples. Our guide says the Gorges are seperated by rocks in the dry season and resemble a hershey bar with each little segment being another gorge. In the wet season though it is one raging river with the water levels rising over 30 meters (100 feet approx)!

We are on a 70 passenger flat bottom boat and it is not quite full. At $79 a head though they are doing all right and there will be 4 other trips today on this boat alone.

As we head into the Gorge our Guide explains about the crocodiles and how salt water crocs (the dangerous ones) will get in when the water levels are higher than they are now and he shows us a trap they set for them. "Salties" as they are called here, can grow to 6 meters or more and easily eat you. But we don't have to worry because of the time of year, water level and the precautions the park service takes.

The walls of the Gorge are about 100- 200 feet high around us and occasionally we come across some sandy beaches. They are marked for 'No Entry' and our guide says they are the nesting grounds for the Fresh water crocodiles- "Freshies" and if they are disturbed the fines are thousands of dollars! he showed us drag marks where the crocs had come on the beach to check the sand temperature to see if it was right for incubation. According to the Guide, the temperature determines if the hatchlings will be male or female!

We move on through the first Gorge and take lots of pictures- there are some day kayakers paddling on the glassy water and it looks delightful. We see a small freshie and stop so everyone can try to get pictures, he got bored and swam away, but I think I got one of him (pic on blog).

Then we reached the end of the Gorge and transfered to another boat in the second Gorge. After a short walk we boarded and set out passing a famous cliff that was used in a movie that was the first Australian movie featuring an all indigenous cast in a story about the indigenous people. In the movie two characters leap from the cliff. Actually two dummies were used to make the splash at bottom.

We move past several side gorges including one you reach by a day hike that ends with a small beach and swimming! Nice.

Then we see the main Gorge and line up for an iconic photo showing the river running between high rockwalls as far as the eye can see. Cool. A little more cruising and we start back.

By the time I get to the car it is after noon and I head to McDonalds again for a snack and the WiFi then to the Woolworths store to get more ice and dinner supplies.

Then the road- today I will bash the old car and drive with the A/C on and check the mileage. The A/C is blowing beautifully cold as I start out and for about 1/2 an hour is awesome. BUT- as soon as I got out of the city and accelerated to 130 kph it stopped working....could not feel cold air at all. I think the belt might just be slipping but I just soldiered on without the air for now- if I find someone in a caravan park who knows their stuff maybe they can take a look for me.

They car ran all day at 130 kph and handles like a whale---roll into the corner, roll out of the corner- big time oversteer. But she runs! 2 fill ups and 500k later and we are at Banka Banka camp before sunset.

After dinner I visited at the bonfire with the owner and his family. They had helped me out with a bolt when my downtube clamp bolt had broken so they knew about the bike ride. We chatted and drank a beer and then I went to bed for a good nights sleep before Day 6 - On To Alice Springs!!!! Enjoy the Photos and please send me comments or emails!

permalink written by  Mike_Veine on September 4, 2012 from Tennant Creek, 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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