Day 72 – Douglas Hot Springs and Butterfly Gorge
Temperatures dropped over night, for which I’m thankful. It was quite convenient then that we had some awesome (and free) hot springs a short walk from our campsite. Unsurprisingly, we were not alone. We also lost the nice bath/pit that I dug last night (it made me sad to see it being used by another). So, with only a slight chip on my shoulder, we headed a little closer to the source to start digging a new pool. We tried close to the source (you could see it bubbling to the surface through the sad), but it was pretty damn hot. There was even steam coming off it! I think the bath that we dug would have been somewhere around 42˚C, which is pretty much ideal for me. Hotter is nice for a short dip, but the sun was shining strong, and I wanted to spend some time relaxing, reading my book.
Innot Hot Springs was similar (hot water bubbling to the surface on the side of a small creek), but the creek there was pretty dirty looking. The water here was beautiful (small patches of algae, but they were in stagnant pools near the source) and the bottom of the creek was nice coarse sand. Easily recommend the detour for a day to relax. After about an hour, the sun was getting too strong to stay where we were. Plus, we really need to get moving and get to Western Australia.
But before returning to Katherine for one last time, we took a detour to Butterfly Gorge. Risa was talking to a Grey Nomad one day while filling water cans and he told her about the gorge (and the hot springs). So, we went and checked them out. It was 17km along mostly good unsealed road – some stretches of corrugations, some rutted sections and a few small creek crossings. From the car park, we noticed there was no information about the area or the walks… We started walking, but had no idea if it was going to be a 5 minute walk, or an hour… Luckily we met some other walkers that were returning and they eased my concerns – it was only a short walk, but there were rocks to climb over.
There were only three or four trail markers on the whole walk, and the trail eventually ended up at a 10m high set of rocks. Surely these weren’t the rocks we had to climb? It wasn’t difficult, but it really felt like we were lost… But, once we got to the top we could see the gorge and knew where we had to go – down the other side of these rocks/cliff.
The gorge was pretty, and if it was safe to swim (it was recommended not to due to crocodiles) I’d have liked to swim to the actual gorge. The murky water also put me off. How I wished to have an inflatable boat/mattress/esky right then. I could hear water flowing over rapids, but it was all hidden from view – such a tease!
Now it was time to get back on the road. A quick stop in Katherine to re-stock on fuel/water/food and to catch up on business (left my eftpos card in an ATM so had to cancel it, which also cancelled any payments coming from that card) and we were finally headed towards Western Australia. …but, since the sun was setting as we were leaving Katherine, we only made it 35km before retiring for the night (and a feast of bangers and mash!).