I had really enjoyed my first taste of Australia. Quite literally in fact as I was able to find a relatively local Australian themed resturant which sold Kangaroo steak. I found the meat to be pretty tough although I don’t know if that was the Kangaroo or the chef’s ability leaving something to be desired. Still, it was an experience entirely driven from this tour. Maybe I’ll find some other Australian food as I continue through the country.
After being away from the Around The World tour for so long, it was finally time to get back into the swing of things again and plan the next leg. I used SkyVector to look at the route. This is an online map showing airways, airports and other aviation navigation details. Simply enter the departing and arriving airports along with any other waypoints and the site generates a full “NavLog” for the journey. This navlog advised of a distance of 153.4 nauticle miles which would take roughly 1 hour 39 minutes. I was also able to look at the details of the Katherine YPTN Airport. This is actually a military airfield but it was good to know the runway lengths and directions as well as the radio frequencies. I wondered how acurate the flight sim would be when it came to details such as this.
REX SkyForce is an addon piece of software which provides ennhancments across the board for the simulator. Most notibly weather. The clouds, sky colours, lighting, weather effects are all tweekable although it is the real time live weather updates that are imported to the sim which is my favorite part. If there is a thunderstorm over Darwin when I am due to take off in real life, there will be a thunderstorm in the simulator too. Wind direction, temperature, air pressure is all loaded in and effects the performance of the aircraft accordingly. It truly adds to the immersiveness and adds that extra element of planning. – http://rexsimulations.com/skyforce.html
Here in the UK we are entering the autumn months and the weather has noticable taken a turn. On the other side of the world the weather was improving and I was pleased to see that Darwin had clear skies with a light wind of 11 nmph heading South East. This would give me a helping hand as I would be travelling the same direction. That will cut some time off the flight.
07:00 local time (Local for Darwin) and I was once again back in the Carenado Beechcraft Baron 58, making adjustments to the familiar cockpit. Barometric pressure – 29.94 Check. Heading bug correctly aligned – Check. GPS and Radio systems all correctly configured and tuned – Check. Along with the full pre-flight check lists completed.
The tower provided my route along the taxiways to Runway 29 so I knew I would be taking off to the West. Precicely due west would be 27 for the 270 degrees on the compass. North would be 00 or 36, East 09, South 18 etc etc. As I crossed the runway as part of the taxi route I noticed that the wind sock was pretty much dead. Not a lot of breeze to disturb it at ground level despite the advised 11 nmph wind advised. By 07:16 I was ready to leave the City of Darwin, climb into the sky once again and take on the rest of this adventure.
The city passed by below as I climbed a little. I wanted to see what I could of Darwin before continuing. The city appeared to be very lush and green although this soon gave way to expanses of brushland and forest. I was suprised to see the low sun glistening from the large number of rivers snaking their way through the terrain as well.
By 07:38 light clouds were appearing ahead although I knew they would not be a concern. The ground stretched out below and I considered it to be very flat until I dropped lower for a closer look at some of the rivers. On closer inspection the terrain was full of rolling hills. Not very high but very condensed. I found a main road and followed this over the hills and wasn;t too worried about following the purple GPS route line perfectly as I knew I would make decent time due to the tail wind anyway.
The rivers widened as I got closer to Katherine and I saw a large area of drier, dusty ground. I was later to learn that this was Nitmiluk National Park. A large nature reserve with spectacular river canyons cutting through rock. I would certainly look more into this when I had landed.
Katherine is situated on the Katherine river whilst the Tindal Military field YPTN is located outside, a little SE from the main population. I made my way in for a left downwind circuit of the runway lining up with runway 32 at 08:22 and my wheels touching down smoothly only 6 minutes later. I took a wrong turn during the taxi route to general aviation parking. I will have to do more research on each airport and see if I can find the taxiway labels as well. I was parked up by 08:35 and immediately took to Google and Youtube to find out more about this rather remote looking place.
I was amazed by Nitmiluk Nation Park. It’s Croc filled rivers, large red rock cliffs and spectacular waterfalls would certainly be something to enjoy first hand. I was impressed to learn about the Jawoyn Aboriginal rock artwork.
“Nitmiluk is the Jawoyn name for Katherine Gorge. It is pronounced Nit-me-look, and literally means Cicada Place. The name was given by Nabilil, important figure of the Creation Time. As he travelled through the country he came to the Gorge where he hears the song of the Cicada, “Nit, Nit, Nit!” The Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park and Jawoyn Association logo is a painting by a deceased traditional owner of Nitmiluk. It depicts Bolung (the rainbow serpent), Nitmi (the cicada), mussels, fish and rocks. By tradition, Bolung still inhabits the deep pools of the second Gorge at Nitmiluk and care must be taken not to disturb him.”
The Katherine Hot springs also seemed to be a popular destination. Looking at the clear waters and idyllic scenery, I can see why.
I also found a great Aboriginal Art center along Gorge Road leading north from Katherine which featured some amazing traditional arts and didgeridoos for sale. I would love to have been able to get one of these as a souvenir. Check out their site: https://topdidj.com/
Life In Katherine – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydZVg7NgL5o
Top 15 Experiences Katherine NT – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_dlb3sns5A
Katherine Outback Experience – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=95&v=6sqJef5pVFg
Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls, Hot Springs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDRiqWQ1QKY