Exit WA, enter NT
The final stop in our five month WA odyssey is Parry Creek farm, near Wyndham. It has birds birds birds galore, plus one (or maybe two) saltwater crocs in the billabong alongside the camping area (eek!). The local town, Wyndham, feels like it has a tenuous existence. One of those places that seems perpetually on the verge of dying entirely, only kept going by occasional bursts of economic activity (meat processing, iron ore shipping, military).
We could easily spend another five months in WA, and not visit a single place for a second time. It's been great. Now to the border. At our first overnight stop in NT we are rudely awoken at 4am by a departing tour group doing maintenance on their trailer and noisily packing. Not cool. We chat with the roadhouse staff, who are also unhappy. A lot of the “Experience the Top End” tours are actually run from out of state, with the money heading south along with the departing tourists.
Next stop is Katherine. We visit the gorge, this time by boat not on foot, as it is permanently full of water. Spectacular. Some freshwater crocs are sighted, and traps which are set for saltwater crocs who visit during the wet season. This part of the world is close to where T used to teach, but we can't visit the community due to COVID restrictions. We leave some gifts for the kids at the education office in Katherine, and later receive some wonderful thank you notes.
Heading south along the Stuart Highway (the main road in the NT), we stop at the hot springs at Mattaranka. More warm than hot really, but fun to take a dip in the middle of the bush. Our overnight is at the Daly Waters pub, which is heaving. It's clearly the place of choice for tourists heading north or south between the top end and Alice Springs or Adelaide. Good food, some real beds for a change, and some entertainment. D2 plays in the pool with some other kids until 10pm!
More landscape changes as we head further south, with more red dirt and spinifex again. A lovely overnight stop in a national parks campground at Karlu Karlu. Stunning rock formations. We are getting into the red centre now.