That’s what they say about this town.
This place is wild, difficult, attractive and I love it. My first 17 days in Katherine are about to be condensed into a very, very short summary because the students have well and truly worn me out and it’s Friday and I can barely string a sentence together?
The weekdays are tough. The school is a catch-all for so many children who need the entire staff to themselves for the nurture and attention and boundaries they lack. Some kind colleagues have helped me find my way in the job and in the life of the town. It’s thanks to them I had a plate to eat off and sheets on my bed for the first 14 days before my freight (mostly) arrived! But it’s been hard. That much is certain.
The weekends are stunning. On my first weekend, I invited myself on a drive to Edith Falls with three other women who work at Katherine High and definitely felt like I was in a Northern Territory tourism ad. I also found a green tree frog in my toilet.
On the second weekend – the long one – I went camping in Litchfield National Park with some other people I met through a colleague. More luxuriating in clear water beside stunning escarpments, and a few good campfires to boot. This weekend, I’m taking a solo drive to the Bitter Springs in Mataranka, about an hour’s drive out of town.
Check out Instagram (@stephsomebody) for photos of the aforementioned excursions! Finally, here’s a lightning round Q&A because I know you’re bound to ask…
Q: Is the dirt really red?
A: Yes. The dirt is red. My shoes are red. My car – once white – is red. My dry laundry is red. At dusk, the sky is red.
Q: Have you seen a croc?
A: Not yet. I will, though. I bloody well will.
Q: Have you met anyone called Katherine in Katherine?
A: Yes! A Sydney friend named Kathryn linked me up with a contact of hers in Katherine, whose name is also Kathryn. It’s okay if you need to read that sentence again.
Q: Is alcohol really expensive?
A: No more than in Sydney. However, there’s a cop in every bottle shop and licensed premises, and you need to show your drivers license so they can check you’re not on the Prohibited Drinkers Register. The Services NSW app doesn’t count as a license, and they’re pretty suspicious if you don’t have a Northern Territory card. So I got one yesterday.
Q: What are your students like?
A: Fascinating. In my short career as a teacher, this is the first time I’ve come across kids who’d rather be shovelling manure on a station, herding cattle or mending bridles for the rodeo than watching a movie in History class. It’s also the first time I’ve taught Year 8s who read at a Year 2 level due in part to the effects of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome…
I’ll write again soon. Right now, I just need to fry up some frozen dumplings and watch several episodes of Killing Eve.