9 January, 2017.
What a way to start the new year – with a trip to Uluru and the Field of Light installation. We’ve been planning this trip for quite a few months and yes, we know it is a hot time of year to be heading to the Rock, but there are a few pros. There will not be much traffic on the roads; there will be no problems getting into any caravan parks; there won’t be any issues with long queues and lines at rest stops, service stations, tourist attractions etc and we will pretty much have the place to ourselves. The cons – it will be HOT.
So with all that in mind, off we went. The Troopy is all packed up with the new drawer system Damian designed and built. The dogs all have their own tie down points for their harnesses and they have their own beds to lie on. They are all window height so they can see us and they can see the passing view. Thumbs up!
The Aussie Swag is loaded and packed with clothes and food and she’s ready to go as well.
By the time we got away, it was about 8:30am. We had to fuel up and put more air in the tyres to cope with the load on the Troopy and the Aussie Swag. I’m keeping a tab on the cost of fuel at the different places we stop at – for you guys and for our benefit.
Coles Service Station, Daly Road Darwin – $156.09/l
On a slightly overcast morning with the temp sitting at about 29C, we passed Adelaide River at about 10am. It’s beautiful to see how very green it is from Darwin all the way due to the recent monsoonal weather we’ve been having. We are experiencing a real ‘wet’ this season.
We tend to stop every 2hrs or so – for all of us to stretch our legs etc.
The first stop this morning was at Pine Creek which is a small town in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, Australia. According to the 2001 Australian census 665 people live in Pine Creek, which is the fourth largest town between Darwin and Alice Springs.
Pine Creek is just off the Stuart Highway (the road from the south to Darwin) and is still a notable tourist stop. A number of events are held each year to promote the town in the region. These include the annual Goldrush Festival, featuring the NT Gold Panning championships and Didgeridoo Jam, the Pine Creek Rodeo and Pine Creek Races. In 2005 a prominent resident of Pine Creek, Edward Ah Toy, was recognised as the Northern Territorian of the year.
We did a little tour of Pine Creek before we stopped for a cuppa. First, we headed up to the Enterprise Pit/Pine Creek Goldfields. Here’s an interesting timeline:
1871 Gold discovered at Pine Creek near Gandy’s Gully (about 2kms north of Pine Creek)
1906-1915 The Government sponsored a diamond drilling program which led to the sinking of the Enterprise Shaft. However, work ceased because of the war.
1933 The Enterprise Mine sold by tender to J. Smith-Roberts for 49.0.0 pounds.
1960’s Enterprise Shaft re-opened by R & M Blake and worked intermittently for almost 20 years.
Late 1970’s Jingellic Minerals purchased the Blake leases over the Enterprise.
1981 Goldfields Exploration commenced operations at the site as part of a joint venture project.
Sept 1985 Mining commenced in September 1985 as Pine Creek Goldfields on the Enterprise Pit. Further deposits at the Czarina Pit commenced in July 1992 and ceased in July 1993 as operations at the Gandy’s Hill & International deposits commenced.
Oct 1995 Operations at this Pine Creek Goldfields site ceased.
The former site seen in the photos below is the open cut operation that commenced as the historic Enterprise Shaft in the early 1900’s.
The Depth of the mine at the base of Enterprise Pit is 135mm below water level.
The Width of the mine is 250m wide at the widest point at water level.
Over the lifespan of the Goldfields (1985-1995), 764,000oz was produced worth $393M was the total produced in all pits.
In 1993, Enterprise Pit was filled with water by diverting Pine Creek into the Pit. It took 14 months to fill and contains 6800 megalitres. See photo below.
After visiting the goldfields, we headed back into town to stretch our legs. This really is a pretty little spot and well worth the visit.
There is this beautiful historic building that I just had to photograph.
The Bakery 1889 – Pine Creek, NT
The Pine Creek Bakery started life in 1908 as Jim Ah You’s butcher shop at Mt Diamond on the goldfields.
When he moved to Pine Creek, building materials were scarce and expensive, so he took the shop with him! The shop was relatively easy to move, however to rebuild it, he had to cut local timber for the frame. He carted antbed mortar from the bush to make the ovens which are still standing out the back.
Jimmy Ah You and his son Jimmy Ah Toy baked bread for the community of Pine Creek until WWII when the family was evacuated south after the bombing of Darwin in 1942. The bakery was taken over by the Army and used to bake bread for the troops.
When the Ah Toy family returned to Pine Creek after the war, the bakery was in a very bad condition and soon after was shut down as larger bakeries opened in Darwin.
Once we’d all stopped for a breather and had a cuppa for us and water for the dogs, we headed on down to Katherine where we planned to spend our first night. It’s only a 4 hour trip to Katherine, but we were in no hurry and didn’t want to spend 8 hours in the car a day so just took our time.
We pulled into Katherine but after checking out the caravan park we had identified on Wikicamps, we kept going and looked further afield. We ended up at Riverview Tourist Village which was literally on the doorsteps of the Katherine Springs.
What a beautiful spot to camp. Lots of huge avenues shaded with big trees. Lots of space to spread out. Dogs are more than welcome. As it was the wet, there was loads of space so no one was camped on each other’s toes. We camped on the back fence so it was really just a quick walk to the springs. We took the dogs (though not usually allowed in the Dry) and, mindful of crocodiles, we took a quick dip to cool off. I pretty much stayed on the stairs and wet my feet.
Later that evening, a storm rolled on by freaking Poppy out. This is really her first time out camping with us so not only was she getting used to the back of the Troopy, but she also had to find ‘her spot’ where she felt safe. This she found under the camper between the wheels.
The storm hit with a vengeance – lots of rain for a shot while with the thunder still rumbling a couple of hours later.
Accomodation: Riverview Tourist Village, Katherine
Cost: $38 – powered site.
Anyway, time to hit the sack. In our next post, we travel from Katherine to the famed Daly Waters Pub. I’ll show you some pictures of the inside and the outside of this iconic Aussie pub.
Til next time,
Follow the Sapper
Damian & Vanessa