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We spent the day walking through gorges and relaxing at the Zebedee Hot Springs before attempting to cross the Pentecost River back to our campsite for the night, only to be met with this:
Apparently the rain earlier in the day moved through the catchment of the river and it rose significantly, picking up speed as it went. It made for a very interesting river crossing, especially because our camper was not as tall as the 4wd in the photo. We did make it across with no problems though and had a very nice evening before waking up to see this guy hanging out on our drying towels.
The butterfly must have been attracted by the bright colours and decided to stay and warm up before heading out for the day. From El Questro we headed east to Kununurra where we cleaned up after the Gibb River Road, doing laundry and washing the camper. We drove out for a visit to the Ord River Hoochery for a bit of a rum tasting. The rum was tasty just as we hoped, but they had a very interesting corn based scotch which was very unique. Unfortunately they had sold out of it earlier that day so we couldn’t snag a bottle. We planned on going south to the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park) but the roads were still closed because of the persistent rain. Fortunately Kununurra has similar rock formations, although in a smaller scale, located in a national park within the city limits. Below is a photograph of the rock formations with one of the native flowers whose name escapes me.
It took us a further two days of driving to reach Katherine because we stopped at several sights along the way. Admittedly they were not huge tourist destinations, and if you blinked you could have missed them, but we were certainly glad to stop and see them. Below is a photo from Manbulloo Abattoir which used to provide fresh meat to USAF and RAAF troops during World War 2.
The decrepit abattoir and airfield were our introduction to the Northern Territory’s World War 2 history. We found out that there were multiple airfields and other various WW2 sights between Katherine and Darwin. One of the interesting facts we learned was that the Japanese bombed Australia as far south as Katherine. There is a lot of history in this region, and unfortunately most of it is being neglected. One of the better preserved and very interesting sights is Fenton Airfield where the USAF and RAAF flew out of during WW2. The airfield was being used by B-17s and B-24s to conduct long range bombing missions. Below is a photo from the airplane graveyard where some of the planes that were destroyed by enemy raids or accidents were retired.
The planes in the graveyards were often used for spare parts. This cannibalization combined with souvenir hunters has resulted in only a few recognizable pieces being left, like the above wing portion. Driving through the empty airfield which is getting quickly over grown was a haunting experience, and drew a sharp contrast between the fine tropical climate and the destruction of war that was visited on it.
The next entry will wrap up this trip as we drive north from Katherine to Darwin.