Katherine…my home for the last 3 weeks. What a crazy few weeks it’s been! This has been the first 3 weeks I’ve spent alone and in a new town, in the first week I called this experience character building now I think of it as one of the best things I’ve done for myself.
After dropping Chocco at the airport at 5:30am it was straight to the hospital for orientation, this consisted of “here’s the hospital…now do you think we can get this guy up? He’s broken his pelvis in 3 places.” I got thrown some keys during my lunch break, had to go hunting for my accommodation that night and brave the local Woolworths at 7pm (a culturally thrilling experience). This was probably for the best, if I had time to sit and think about what the hell I had got myself into I would probably jumped on a plane home.
Over the next week I got the hang of crazy country hospital life. From insane cowboy injuries, indigenous children with heart disease, horrific domestic violence injuries, Friday night arm (fell asleep drunk on arm, now its paralysed), they’re all made complicated by the fact that almost everyone lives 3 hours or more from the hospital and usually discharges themselves to go to the pub before catching the bus home, never to be seen again. Services are hard to access, most people only speak their local language and never went to school…challenging is an understatement but it’s been THE best experience ever.
Katherine has so many places to explore, I spent a lot of time walking Nitmiluk Gorge…while it was amazing it came to be a place of constant hazards. The first time I trekked 8kms for a swim only to realise that there was a crocodile still lurking in the gorge, second time I had a Mexican stand off with a snake that WOULD NOT get off the path!! I considered myself dead after no amount of stomping or rock throwing would scare it, until a lovely unsuspecting old man got it to move and then lucky for him (or unlucky) I accompanied him all the way back to the visitors centre, too scared to walk alone. Third time lucky? Not a chance, I decided I should run the gorge and took a massive stack and chunks out of my kneecaps…the scenery was beautiful, I think.
Edith Falls was another amazing place to hike and swim and with the hot springs (local bathing area) being the only other easily accessible (safe) swimming hole it was the place to be with your carton of XXXX beer on a Saturday afternoon.
After 3 weeks I was starting to feel like a local, I helped mark the track for the Katherine adventure race, attended Marksie’s Camp Tucker night so many times I got a bottle of wine and certificate for being a champion billy spinner and attended my first Territory Day celebrations! Territory Day allows anyone to buy fireworks one day of the year and set them off whenever they want and at whoever the want for 24hrs…apparently this year was a record with only 6 fires in Katherine and 15 hospitalisations. That’s a good record according to the Territory Government, these people are CRAZY!
I couldn’t believe how hard it was hard to leave after 3 weeks, but it was time to pick up Chocco from Darwin and begin our next journey to Cairns along the Savannah Way…I was itching to get back on the road!