The last few weeks of May 2013 were spent in a whirl of packing boxes and sad goodbyes but before we waved farewell to the land down under there was some unfinished business to take care of. We still hadn’t managed to visit either the Northern Territory or Queensland. So 3 weeks in June were set aside to correct this terrible failing. Here’s what we got up to in the ‘Top End’.
A splendid last few nights in Melbourne, once all was packed and tidied – spent in the grandeur of the Hotel Windsor.
One last Melbourne brunch and coffee at Hardware Societe.
We flew up to Darwin on Sunday afternoon and spent an evening taking in the Mindle Beach Sunset Market. No hanging about though, we collected our ENORMOUS camper van first thing Monday morning, stocked up in the Darwin shops and headed east on the Arnhem highway to Kakadu National Park and Jabiru. Picture above is a view across the lake at Jabiru at sunset.
Tuesday was spent bouncing along the red dust roads of Kakadu in a 4WD with Steve from Kakadu Tours A totally brilliant day that I’d recommend 100%. First stop, a walk through the forest to Barramundi Falls and a dip in the lovely warm waters. Steve had promised us there were absolutely no crocodiles lurking in the green waters, then proceeded to show us the spot where he’d found some croc eggs a few years earlier…erk!
But croc safety is taken very seriously. After the ‘wet’ the crocs have all moved around so weeks and weeks are spent testing pools and billabongs for new inhabitants. We saw quite a few huge croc traps at the edges of rivers and tourist spots are only opened when the park rangers are 100% sure that nobody lives there. The famous Twin Falls were still closed at the time of our visit as they hadn’t yet been given the all clear.
Next, a lesson in what 4WD vehicles are actually for – the road to Jim Jim falls – don’t try this in a camper van! The 40 minutes of bouncing and half hour of rock scrambling are all well worth it for the amazing falls and pools. Impossibly clear water and a perfect beach, could have stayed for days.
Wednesday: rock art and a Yellow River cruise. Some of the beautiful Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie.
A Jabiru very kindly catching a fish for the cameras at Yellow River.
The resident croc
On the road to Katherine. Very Australian.
‘Tiny’ our not-so-small camper parked up at Shady Lane Campsite in Katherine. A quite ridiculously lush and tropical campsite.
Walk to a view point overlooking Katherine Gorge in time for a pretty good sunset.
Lots of fascinating stories of outback hardships and determination at Katherine Museum.
Croc spotting AND canoe hire you say. I’ll pass. (Having said that, we did just that the following day in Katherine Gorge – fresh water crocs don’t bother with humans – apparently)
Amusing array of tea and coffee choices at the Katherine Museum cafe. More excellent top end tales from the locals over tea with scones and cream – ha!
Thursday: Up early for a paddle through Katherine Gorge. Passed lots of beaches that were reserved for croc nesting.
Entertainment courtesy of a bunch of completely crazy French Canadians who felt the need to leap off every cliff in the gorge.
Which canoe to choose?
Friday: On the way back up towards Litchfield and Darwin we came across the Adelaide River Show and stopped to watch a spot of cow chasing. The aim seemed to be to chase your cow away from the other cows then around a short obstacle course. The cows all seemed to have other ideas about what they should be doing on a Saturday afternoon and most of the contestants seemed to get eliminated.
Cow chasing is a family affair in these parts.
Sunday was spent in Litchfield National Park – first stop – magnetic termite mounds! All built on an angle to catch the most sun. Very odd.
Yikes! A bush fire. Very normal round this way.
The cascades. A lovely walk up the cascading river past a series of beautiful fresh water pools. Another dip then. Ahhh.
Nice line-up of 4WD bottoms in the cascades car park. And our camper at the end ruining everything.
The stunning Wangi Falls. We did a walk up the right hand side to a viewing platform, over the river just before it takes the plunge and then back down the other side. Just time for a swim then legged it back to Darwin to catch a plane to Cairns for some Queensland adventures.
Part 2 coming soon!