The next day we stayed at the caravan park as we didn't want to drive the car too far so took advantage of the facilities & got all the washing done, hoping to leave on the Monday. Monday morning rolled around & we were waiting at Toyota at 7.30am when they opened. After some initial "go away we are booked out for the day" they had a look at Ruby. Yes, as we expected the transfer case seal was blown, then came the even worse news they couldn't fit us in to get it fixed for a week & a half, sh!t. After some negotiations we finally got it booked in for Friday morning of that week. They topped up the oil for us & told us to drive back to the caravan park & leave the car there till Friday which suited us as we could run the fridges on 240v power. We then rang our roadside assistance company, who didn't want to honour our claim because the car wasn't staying at Toyota. After many many phone calls & going further up the supervisor line, we finally managed to convince them that it was in the best interests of the car to be parked at the caravan park so our fridges could be run & they finally honoured our claim. So it was then off to a hire car company to pick up our set of wheels for the week, a Camry but at least we could have a look around.
I actually lived in Katherine for 6 months, 7 years ago, so knew there were plenty of things to keep us occupied, even though we were disappointed to miss out on travelling with the family. The family rolled into Katherine from Mataranka on Tuesday morning & decided to stay for the night, we think out of sympathy for us! But it was lovely to catch up & it was also Mats cousin Adams birthday, so we had a nice lunch out & then came back to the caravan park to catch up some more & drink too many beers. We also all decided to do a sunrise cruise at Katherine gorge, so the next day it was up early to get to the boat in time.
We did the 2 gorge cruise, where you walk between the two gorges & change boats. It was lovely in the early morning with the fog on the water & as the sun came up the colours on the gorge were beautiful. It was over by 9am & we headed back to camp & the family packed up & headed up into Kakadu, it was a bit depressing being stuck at the park, but we definitely didn't want them to delay their holiday because of us & we planned to catch up with them as soon as the car was fixed all going well. That afternoon we headed into town & went for a swim in the hot springs in town. It was lovely but busy, a great free thing to do in town.
The next day we decided to check out some of the sights just out of town as we had plenty of kilometres on the hire car. Firstly we went to Cutta Cutta caves about 30km south of Katherine. The tours cost $20 per adult & it's a guided tour, after a short walk you enter into the cave. We were very lucky as we only had 10 people on our tour so we could get lots of photos. These are very interesting caves, you only have access to about 250m of them, but you see lots of different formations along the way.
Once we were finished at the caves we ventured further south to Mataranka. We firstly visited Bitter Springs, a lovely blue waterhole that was nice & warm. A great spot, but it was pretty busy, so after a swim we headed out to the other hot springs in the area, the Mataranka thermal pool, again this was lovely, but heavily commercialised. Instead of still being in its nature setting like Bitter Springs, this pool was just like a swimming pool, with everything tiled & concreted. Good for kids but it did take away from the natural beauty of the place.
After another swim we made our way to the Territory Manor a restaurant & campground that has free Barramundi feeding twice a day. The Barra were 14 years old & huge, now that is the size Barra you want to catch!! The kids got to feed the big mummas, & it was a great thing to watch.
We then made our way back to town, did some shopping to get some supplies ready to get out of town once the car was fixed. The next day we were at Toyota at 7.30am & by 2pm Ruby was fixed, thank god, no further issues were found. We went back to camp & packed what we could ready to get out of Katherine early the next day. The family had been into Kakadu & we met them just outside the park at Mary River Wilderness Park, where we stayed for 2 nights. It was a great campsite with plenty of room right on the Mary river. The boys hired a boat for 4 hours one morning, but other than a huge catfish, didn't catch that elusive Barra. It was then off to Shady camp to see if we could rectify that!