It’s Sunday night and, having just had a couple of hours asleep, I feel a little bit “wired”. I needed the sleep after the weekend in Katherine for the Country Music Muster – it was a “full on” experience.

Katherine is about 320 km from Darwin. We left mid morning yesterday, After an hour or so’s drive, we called in to a small community, Pine Creek, where the Northern Territory Gold Panning
Championships were underway. Pine Creek is an old Gold Mining Town and has a very strong Chinese heritage.

As the Northern Territory has an unlimited speed limit for much of the Stuart Highway, the trip to Katherine was relatively short (shorter coming back!), and we arrived there around, lunchtime, which meant an immediate to Thommo’s Bakery. Thommos is, apparently, quite legendary for its pies, but I thought they were quite dull. More exciting culinary delights were to great me later in the evening.

At about 2 o’clock, when it was clear that no one had to turned up for the Country Music Muster yet, we decided a quick trip to Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) was in order. It’s roughly half-hours drive from Katherine, so we were sure we could go out, take a few pics, and return by the time people had decided the temperature had cooled sufficiently enough to leave the house for a bit of country music.

On the way to the gorge, Dennis entertained us with his stories of travelling around the world, and running entertainment at Lake Tahoe Resort in the early 1970s when Elvis was performing there. He said Elvis was a man of little words, and that those around him were far more interesting individuals. So there you have it: Elvis was DULL.

A couple of observations though, based on this, my second visit to Nitmiluk. There weren’t as many people there on this occasion, possibly because it’s still quite early in the Dry Season, the most popular time of the year for tourists, since, during the wet, many roads are impassable. There were lots of fruit bats in the trees. The colour of the bark of salmon gums was more spectacular than I had remembered. In a couple of weeks time, I’ll be able to write about what will then be my third visit to Nitmiluk in greater detail.

At about 4pm, we returned to Katherine and set to work, gathering from recorded material from the Country Music Muster. Amongst those we spoke to were the legendary, Ted Egan, a Northern Territory “icon”, and Gus Williams an Aboriginal man from Hermansburg, near Alice Springs (relatively speaking). It was moments like that, really “down home occasions”, that I thought, just briefly. I could actually live in the Northern Territory.

Dinner at the Knotts Crossing Resort was spectacular. Although the wine was very overpriced, compared to what I’m used to in Sydney, the meal was one of the best I’ve had in my life. I made a “tourists choice”, Crocodile Fillets, and was very impressed, as was everyone with their meals.

Tonight, I’m planning to go the supermarket to get a few things I need, as it’s a Public Holiday in the Northern Territory tomorrow, celebrating May Day. Yes, May Day is a significant day in the Northern Territory. With a significant “left wing” community, and a young population, people here talk about the day with some passion, though I think they might all enjoy the holiday, too.

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