The next morning we got an early start so we could do a two hour hike near our campsite. Despite our attempts to beat the sun, it was hot and sticky from sunrise on, but we still had a very enjoyable time. It felt so good to be out of the car using our bones and muscles to explore the land.
After our hike we were sweaty and stinky so we made our way to the next attraction on our list: Bitter Springs. Bitter Springs was a beautiful thermal stream nearby. The water was crystal clear and with a pair of goggles you can see all sorts of underwater plants beneath the surface. The three of us swam a great deal in the springs. We explored underwater and when we had the bottom of the spring memorized we floated with the current as far as it would take us. Bitter Springs was nice because it was all natural, aside from steps that led into the water. From the water the view was amazing. The roots and systems of the plants are eye level to swimmers. It was very interesting to see earth from such a different perspective.
The next day we packed up and drove into the town of Katherine. Here we met up with our friend Danny, who we met on Kangaroo Island. She just happened to be working in Katherine planting sandalwood trees. She told us all about her excursion of the west coast and listened as we told our stories of surviving the outback. Eventually we had to say goodbye so we could make one last stop before setting up camp for the night.
Edith Falls was recommended by several people. It is a beautiful waterfall swimming area outside of Katherine. The water was extremely cold but to see the falls up close you had to swim to it. The three of us swam the hundred meters or so across the lake to the falls. It was beautiful. The open skies and huge cliffs around us made for a beautiful backdrop to the water.
After we swam we joined other visitors on a green grassy spot outside of the water. Here we laid in the sun as it dried our clothes, skin and hair.
That night we camped in the most remote location of our trip. The camp site was free so there was little more than a patch of dirt for us to park the car on. At first we wondered if it was safe but soon we all three agreed that the deafening silence was really nice. That night I studied the stars for a long time. The clarity in the wilderness was breathtaking. And, for the first time I had a bit of phone service and battery so I used my star-gazing up to learn a few new constellations. The southern hemisphere had many intriguing constellations that the northern hemisphere did not. I found sagittarius, scorpio and a few others as well.
The next morning we were awaken by the most beautiful sunrise. Being so far away from everything gave room for the sun to show off its beauty. We admired it while we ate breakfast and packed up camp. Once again we needed to get an early start to beat the sun. Today we would do a 5k hike around the Katherine Gorge. I can now say the Katherin Gorge hike is my second favorite hike in the outback (King's Canyon is number one.)
Throughout the hike the three of us laughed and joked about everything possible. It was the best way to take our mind of the heat. Things got so silly that we actually came up with alter-egos for each other. Mine was Big Bertha. This was because when I got tired or hungry my inner sass came out in the form of a large, obnoxious woman whose thoughts relied mostly on food.
Matthew's alter-ego was a nerdy guy who counted and calculated everything. His name was Eugene. We mostly just liked to laugh and say the word Eugene.
And for Maggie we chose, Molly. Molly would be the side of Maggie that only comes out when she lets go of all her inhibitions and dances wildly. We hadn't seen Molly yet, but we knew she was in there. We decided to coin the phrase, "Molly in Bali" so we could meet her there.
By eleven o'clock our blood was pumping and the sweat was rolling off our bodies. It was time for a swim. A nice young man at the Katherine information center had recommended the Katherine Springs inside the town so we decided to find out for ourselves.
The springs were beautiful. We met a young family from the east coast on vacation. They had just visited Kakatu National Park, which was where we were headed next. They gave us lots of recommendations for what to see and do inside the park, which was perfect because that's where we were headed next!