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Full Circle

Day 127: Katherine

Michael Palin - Full CirclePeter Trembath seems unfazed. He smiles a wholesome toothy grin and decides to get up into the air 'and see what we can find'. After the rains, flying conditions are more stable, the air currents less volatile. He flies his own aircraft. Such are the distances he has to travel on his rounds. There's no other way of getting to his customers. We bump and bounce off the red sand and sparse grass of the airstrip and head north. The Northern Territory is bigger than France, Great Britain and Germany put together but has only 160,000 inhabitants, a quarter of whom are descendants of the Aboriginals who came to Australia across the islands of Indonesia, forty thousand years ago. The first white man to reach this remote land was the explorer John McDouall Stuart in 1862.

We're crossing a tableland of intricately incised escarpments, red crusts of rock pushing clear of a thin green carpet of trees. The canyons grow deeper and more spectacular as the Katherine River cuts into the high plateau of Arnhem Land and Peter banks and turns to give us the best view of the river turning this way and that, being harried into dramatic ninety degree swings as it picks its way through pale-red gorges.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 127
  • Country/sea: Australia
  • Place: Katherine
  • Book page no: 181

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