Katherine, Tuesday 14 February 2006


The Ghan halts. That train has been on the move for two days and two nights. Such a train journey is an untimate celebration for me, the ultimate tranquility spot. Staring two days at a desert is very relaxing. Actually these huts on board should be for sale. I'd be at the head of the queue for buying one.

The last couple of hours the desert got greener and greener. Tropical Katherine is approaching, including the tropical showers. The Northern Territory optimists call it The green season. And it is right in the middle of green wilderness where the Ghan now halts. The speaker anounces a Welcome in Katherine. Eh, I beg your pardon? Looking right of the train from my cabin I see nothing but green wilderness. Now, are you telling me that this uncivilised area is my destination?

The left side of the train appears to have halted at Katherine's train station. And still no Katherine in sight. No house till horizon. Welcome in Katherine? So, where is it? My credo:

No shortage of planning, but a maximum of flexibility
is streched beyond the max here.

Most passengers are on to Darwin. They board coaches for a short tour. After the last coach has left the ticket salesman brings me to my place to sleep. His work at the station is done for the moment. The counter closes. Train arrives here 2 times per week, 1 time on its way to Darwin and 1 time coming back.

My place to sleep in the Riverview Tourist Village appears to be a cabin, with electricity and aircon. Especially the aircon is nice when it is 38 degrees Celcius.

The ajacent Hot Springs are flooded in the green season. Now it looks like some mud pools. Crocodile warning signs make the disappointment complete. Eh... I think I stay out of the river for the moment.

38 degrees is hot, very hot. Here I am with my experience in the tropics and the Northern territory. Sweat is running down my spine.

And still I have not seen Katherine yet. There is a path along the river for cyclists and it must end down town. Now, would it be a long walk to Katherine? Armed with several bottles of water in my backpack it is bound to succeed. No lack of planning, but a maximum of flexibility. Hm, which idiot has invented that credo?

My water is running out when reaching Katherine. It is a small town. The main street has some shops targeting drivers from Alice Springs (1177km) to Darwin (310km). My water is finished after a small stroll and my head starts to get overheated. No bicycle for rent in town. There should be an internet café, but it is too hot for searching any longer. I'm running out of water and flexibility. A cool taxi takes me to my airconditioned hut. In this cool, tranquile environment I program a few graphs for SCA's Staff Planning System.

Katherine, Wednesday 15 February 2006
Don't ask how, but... I have borrowed a bicycle! My view of the world changes. Katherine is now well within reach, a short 15 minutes of cycling. 38 degrees suddenly is a pleasent temperature. The Katherine Internet Café is between post office and old train track. A pile of emails awaits me. Hurray, back in business, with an opportunity to upload some software.

The Shanghai Chinese Ku Lo Yuk is disappointing, but it can't spoil the fun of this happy second day.

Bummer: The laptop refuses to start up. I hate it, just when I found such a nice, tranquil place to work. The motherboard of the laptop is damaged. Grr, that will mean waiting a week for spare parts to arrive from Darwin, when I'm lucky. There is no alternative, so SUMit will have to work for a week without development machine. Back to paper and pencil.

Suddenly I have a spare week to have a bit of holiday. The national parks around Katherine are gorgeous, but out of bicycle reach. And there is no tour from Katherine that lastst a week. There is one from Darwin, with 2 nights accommodation in... Katherine. Het is me best. De flexibilitiet is terug van weggeweest. Very well, could I have a one way ticket to Darwin and the longest tour available? No lack of planning, but a maximum of flexibility. What a great credo that is.

Till next nut,