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The Ooh Tour

Katherine Gorge, Australia

May 04, 2011: Jabiru to Katherine

Kakadu is very old geologically. Its rocks pushed upward towards the endless sky even before the Earth had an oxygen atmosphere. Covered several times in oceans and prehistoric seas, they became part of lush forests, desert wastelands, and even isolated islands a times. Eventually the waters receded and left the rocks behind as facades and tall escarpments, craggy edges to high majestic plateaus. Washed clean of their topsoil, in time the highlands helped form the fertile low lands of Kakadu. These exposed ancient rocks are with us today. Painted on by aboriginal peoples, and forever lost to the remoteness of this place.

Julia and I drove for three hours through the isolated Australian Northern Territory from Jabiru to Katherine. A famous gorge is located in Katherine and we plan to explore it by boat. However, all we could experience, during our first day at Katherine, was its river walk, its hot springs, and its main street. We also visited the Katherine Museum. A charming elderly female caretaker there explained to us the layout of the place by saying, "That's where the Tiger Moth is. That's the barn with old farming gear in it. And that's Wally's shed, but there's nothing in there."

May 05, 2011: Katherine Gorge

We were up early and headed down a lonely outback road to Katherine Gorge. We made a quick visit to the information center before we began our cruise down the river. We found a well-presented display of the gorge, its animals, and its geology there. The display has a focus on the geology of the place. This is unlike many of the displays we encountered in Kakadu; where the emphasis is on the mythology of the native people. Mythologies are fine, but I prefer to know the facts about a site, such as its geology, rather than imaginary creation stories. We have enough of those in our own societies.

The cruise into the Katherine Gorge was more than I had expected. It is an extremely attractive place made up of multicolored sandstone canyons, fast flowing waters, and exquisite flora. Of course, no passage on a Northern Territory waterway would be complete without spotting a crocodile, which we did. The trip we took had us visit three of the 13 gorges that form the total Katherine Gorge complex. Rocks protruding up out of the river form a natural whitewater barrier separating each of the gorges. At these junctures, we had to moor our watercraft and walk to another boat, moored in the next gorge, to continue our wonderful journey. The trip ended with a swim in a crystal-clear waterhole, which was a basin for a tall waterfall. This was a welcome end to a most joyous journey.

May 06, 2011: Katherine to Darwin to Melbourne

We drove for three hours from Katherine, north to Darwin, on a lovely sunny Northern Territory morning. This drive was the first part of our all day journey from Katherine way up north, to Melbourne way down south. We were both feeling very tired after just the first leg of the trip and a whole day of travel lay before us.

Next, we flew from Darwin to Adelaide, which is located in south-central Australia. This took three hours zooming through the air at 600 miles per hour. The final leg of the journey was a flight from Adelaide to Melbourne in the east. We arrived very well-travelled and ready for bed.

May 07-12, 2011: Melbourne

We spent the night in a hotel at the airport. This enabled us to make the long drive to Pearcedale in daylight. Having been raised in Melbourne, there once was a time when I could navigate by memory its complicated streets, but alas, my internal street map has long since faded into that bucket of lost memories we accumulate, as we get older. Along the way, we stopped at a street I lived in when I was eight years old. It was good to see the place again and it had not changed beyond my recognition, even after 44 years. Finally, we left the buzzing metropolis of Melbourne behind us and drove into the very green lands of the Mornington Peninsula, and arrived safely at my brother's home.

Julia and I spent the week visiting with my relatives and friends. It rained, and even hailed at times, so much so that we did not have the opportunity to enjoy the lovely countryside around my brother's home. We did manage to walk on the beach at Frankston, and it was as invigorating as ever. We also walked out onto a freezing cold headland in Mornington one frosty evening, but that was the full extent of our hiking. It was illuminating to catch up with everyone, to share our stories, and hear theirs. Some were new, most were old and well worn, but all were welcome.

Thank you everyone for allowing Julia and I to be part of your world for a brief moment, we both enjoyed ourselves very much.

May 13-15, 2011: Honolulu

Jet travel is amazing. We zip through the air at 600 mph, flying over vast oceans, over horrible weather, all while watching movies and eating our TV-dinners. Of course the downside of any long flight is; it is long. Sitting in cramped conditions for more than 10 hours at a time is all I can take these days. That is why I recommend stopping in Hawaii when making trans-Pacific flights. Yes, you could upgrade to business or first class, but for much less, than the cost of these over-priced upgrades you could be lying on a beach and drinking a Mai Tai in Hawaii. Besides, from this obvious advantage you will also give your body time to adjust its circadian clock. I find I need two things to help me recover from jet lag. The first is sunshine and the second is fresh air, Hawaii has copious amounts of both, so it is the perfect place to stopover.

Every Friday night at twilight's last gleaming, on Waikiki Beach the dark star-filled sky bursts into light with breathtaking fireworks. Usurped for a launch pad, part of the idyllic beach becomes sparkling and ablaze with the rockets" red glare and bombs bursting in air. Glittering balls of lights and multiple colored fireballs have locals and tourists spill onto the famous beach to gasp, ooh, and aah in unison. Oh, it is good to be back in the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Video from Katherine Gorge

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