Monday, May 31, 2010


26 May 2010


The day did not start well and got worse. Last night we left our camping chairs out and I had hung out a small load of washing. It rained hard last night so this morning everything was just dripping wet. I had to find a way of hanging the clothes inside.

We stopped at the local mechanic’s place at Matatanka and he recommended two places in Kathering that may be able to help us.

So we are on our way. Only when we got to Mataranka township that I realised what a fool I was. I am in ‚Never, Never Land‘. I was right near the rebuilt old homestead last night and had not even given it a thought. Just before leaving Canberra I was reading the book by Jeannie Gunn „Never, Never Land“. Obviously too much on my mind.

Hubby promised that we would return to Mataranka and look at it when we come through Katherine before going to Nhulunbuy. Katherine was not that far- 105km. In Katherine we went to the mechanics. No luck as he was out but will ring us when he gets back. We went to the information Centre and I rang NRMA to check on our entitlements under Premium Services that the Oka is subscribed to. I had to get an AA assessmsent done to get the service activated if required. So we waited for the AA assessor to come to the Imformation Centre. Hubby had also rung an Oka spare part supplier mate in Melbourne. News was grim. You cannot get any spare parts for our gear box. The speculation is that a bearing has collapsed. We have to weigh up what we want to do – take out the gear box, and try to source a part that would fit or replace the gear box. The price difference was minimal. We got a second opinion and same story. Result – we have to get a new gear box – OUCH!!!!!!!

Second problem was where do we get it. Lots of calls later one is ordered from Melbourne and is to go to Darwin where there is someone that knows Okas. So we have to make our way to Darwin and hope that the gear box holds up as it has now also jumped out of 1st gear.

No sighseeing - we are heading straight for Darwin. Hubby does not want to stop unless we absolutely have to in case he can’t get it back into fifth gear from third. However, he did agree to go to Bitter Springs, so named as the water tasted bitter. When we were at Mataranka he told me that he was sure that the springs he went to in 1971 were not the ones we were at. So the detour to Bitter Springs was about seeing whether this was the place he had been to back then. Sure enough it was. It was very different to the setting at Mataranka.

As we crossed the river going out of Katherine hubby told me that last time he was here he had to drive across on the railway bridge, along the railway line as the old low level crossing was flooded.

As we travelled north I soaked up the strong colours and contrasts of the countryside

and the constantly larger and larger termite mounds.

The dramatic clouds provided a strong background canvas for the surrounding countryside.

In the end we decided to stop at a rest area about 80km out of Darwin as we were getting very tired largely due to the extreme humidity.

There was a lovely picnic area near an overgrown creek/river. It looked like potential crocodile country so we knew to keep away from the bank. We were dripping wet from the humidity and decided t was better inside the van, where a fan could keep us comfortable, than outside.

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