The Top End… Bitter Springs, Katherine, Edith Falls, Pine Creek, Kakadu & Darwin!

Having just travelled long distances on dusty roads and tracks through another beautiful part of Australia’s harsh, dry and desolate country, we were finally back in civilisation!

Our journey has been full of surprises over the past couple of months but there was something quite mesmerising and relaxing about travelling through the ‘Gulf Country‘! A sense of freedom and space we never thought possible as we travelled through the remote areas of this ‘outback by the sea’! It was more beautiful than we ever imagined and it just beckoned us to keep exploring!

If you haven’t already been following our blogs, come join us on our travels at www.tassiesnowbirds.com.au… we are having the time of our lives.

Pack your bags… this enormous country awaits us all and it’s time to head on again!

We had just spent a lovely night camped at 12 Mile Yard campground, an old stockyard just out of Mataranka, on the banks of the Roper River.

Set in the Elsey National Park it was hard to leave this peaceful campground but it was time to hit the road again, this time for Katherine to stock up on supplies. Our plan from there was to head a bit up the road to Edith Falls, and our next camp!

As well as the Rainbow Thermal Pools, Mataranka is also home to the Bitter Springs Thermal Pool and before leaving the area a visit was definitely on our agenda.

We were really looking forward to soaking in these springs again as they are a lot less crowded than Rainbow Springs, situated in a more natural setting with no concrete or walking platforms, and despite the lack of other humans, they were no way short of other creatures. There were lots of fish, beautiful birds, monitor lizards and even a couple of snakes hanging around in the grass beside the stream. The good thing about most National Parks in the Northern Territory, entry to these springs is free and they are well worth a visit if you are travelling up this way!

A short walk from the car park with towels and goggles tucked under our arms (don’t forget your goggles… what’s under water is pretty amazing too), we discovered the beautiful clear waters of a lovely flowing stream. Access to the stream wasn’t difficult as there were a number of steps at different locations and clear signs telling us where to stop to avoid disturbing wildlife. The springs branch off into a stream and with the gentle current we drifted downstream to a bridge then climbed out and walked the rocky path back to the beginning to start all over again.

The water temperature was around 28-30 degrees, slightly cooler than Rainbow Springs, but still quite warm! Taking a swim in these warm waters with an outside temperature of 36+ degrees might not sound that relaxing to most, but believe me, it was actually incredibly rejuvenating, soothing away any driving tension from the long haul over the Gulf Savannah!

Reluctantly leaving paradise, our next pit stop was Katherine, a bit over a 100 kilometres up the road along the Stuart Highway.

The Stuart Highway follows the route that was led by the construction of the Overland Telegraph line and built to connect Australia with London in 1870 – 1872. The telegraph line was constructed between Adelaide and Darwin and connected with a submarine cable, which connected with Java in Indonesia. The Overland Telegraph was still in use until the 1970s, however the international line was cut during World War II in anticipation of Darwin being invaded by the Japanese and was subsequently never reconnected. 

The impact of World War II was also a notable feature along this highway with many locations where military bases and infrastructure were established to help prevent Australia from being invaded by Japan.

Just 15 kilometres from the city of Katherine we came to the Tindall RAAF base and pulled over to watch as Hornetts and F1-11 planes fly overhead as they headed for the airbase.

Katherine is where the ‘outback meets the tropics’ and sits on the banks of the Katherine River. It takes the gong for being Northern Territory’s third largest town with a population of around 11,000 including a huge Aboriginal population and it also possessed the first set of traffic lights we had encountered for quite a while. 

This town has a rich history in cattle and just near the Tourist Information Centre we were greeted with a magnificent bronze statue of a famous Aboriginal stockman by the name of Sabu Peter Sing. This statue of one man, was a tribute to the thousands of drovers and stockmen who have worked this country.

The first people of the area were the Jawoyn and Dagomen who lived from the resources of the Katherine River. An ongoing tug of war still continues between these mobs today with the Jawoyn people claiming native title in and around Katherine, the same area the Dagomen people laid claim to 18 years ago, a claim that has never been settled. 

In 1844 a European Ludwig Leichardt passed through this part of the country, however Katherine wasn’t named until 1862 when John McDougall Stuart named the settlement after his sponsors 2nd daughter.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Katherine, just long enough to stock up on supplies at Woolworths and visit the Visitor Information Centre to refill our water containers and purchase our ‘Visitors Pass’ into Kakadu

The Visitor Centre was like Grand Central Station when we arrived and quite difficult to find a park. There were easy 50 vans in the car park and just as many people in the centre. Katherine is the stop off spot for most tourists travelling north, south and west and consequently a very busy little stopover.

Unknown-1 copy 2Unknown copy 2

We love Information Centres, and this one was one of the best (along side Normanton that is)! The young Aboriginal lady who sold us our pass couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly, providing us with heaps of information and as an added bonus, a recipe to ward off the dreaded ‘midgies’ and ‘mosquitos’!  (1/3 detol to 2/3 Reef Suntan Oil (50+) mixed together)… then after collecting every leaflet and brochure I could lay my hands on we were on the road again.  

natures_way_tile.png
Download Guide here

On our last trip to Kakadu in 2009 there was no cost to enter the park, but since 2016 a seasonal fee has applied. The fee during the ‘dry season’ which is the peak season (from 15 May to 31 October) for an adult is $40 or $30 if you hold a seniors card and $20 for a child 5-15. In the wet season (1 November to 14 May), it is $25 or $19 for seniors. The cost of this pass includes entry to the park and free ranger guided walks, talks and cultural activities as well as supporting Kakadu’s traditional owners and helping preserve the park for future generations.

We had planned a trip to Arnhem Land to visit an acquaintance at Ramingining where we hoped to spend some time helping at the local school, but after talking to the lady at the centre, our plans were soon dashed! As it turned out access to these communities was harder than we first thought. Not only would we have to wait anything up to 2 weeks for permission from the ‘Elders’ to enter their community, there were also a number of other hurdles we would have to cross to get there… and that was aside from the fact it was an 800 kilometre trip of rough gravel road!   

On the edge of Katherine, the Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk Gorge National Park) is home to 13 deep sandstone gorges carved out by the Katherine River on its journey from Arnhem Land to the Timor Sea.

This world-famous park is joint managed by the Jawoyn people and the Parks and Wildlife and all commercial operations in the park are fully owned and run by the Jawoyn people. Only three of the gorges can be accessed via cruises or kayaking trips and if you’re a hiking enthusiast and up for the challenge there is the 62 kilometre Jatbula Trail walking track, a 4-6 day hike to Edith Falls in the north of the park. 

We didn’t visit Katherine Gorge this time as we had been there before but it is worthy of a visit if you are in the area and there are some great walks. The 12-kilometre Butterfly Gorge Walk was well worth the effort when we tackled it last trip, as was the 3.2 kilometre loop walk that took us to a lookout where we had great views out over the gorge. The shorter walk from the river, although a steep climb to the lookout, was worth the effort also. There are other walking trails in the park, and if you are tempted to set up camp here on your travels, the sunset walk down by the river is absolutely amazing, as is the sight of hundreds of fruit bats flying over the river.

Leaving Katherine we headed along a part of the highway otherwise known as the ‘Nature’s Way Loop‘, a 735 kilometre loop that links Darwin, the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park and Litchfield National Park. All parks rich with aboriginal culture and outback pioneering history and steeped in an abundance of nature and lush tropics.

Only 60 kilometres from Katherine we arrived at the turn off to Edith Falls (Leliyn). Arriving at the t-junction on the Stuart Highway we were surprised to see the off-road parking area full to the brim with nomads… then a little further down the road we found out why! We were greeted with a very large sign advising there were no sites available for caravans and campers at the Edith Falls campground! Consequently everyone had decided to set up camp to wait patiently for ‘site available’ to be flashed along the screen!

Edith Falls (Leliyn) is beautiful and we couldn’t drive past without a look! Just a short distance (20 kilometres) off the Stuart Highway and bitumen all the way is a hidden gem that is well worth a visit. We really enjoyed a stay here last trip so on the off-chance there might be something available for our small setup we decided to head in. If we couldn’t get a campsite we would do the walks, have a bite to eat in the ‘day use area’, and then continue up the highway to Pine Creek.

Nitmiluk means ‘Place of the Cicada’ to the local Aboriginals and Edith Falls is known as Leliyn. As mentioned previously this land is traditionally owned by the Jawoyn and Dagomen people and the Katherine River was the foundation to their culture as it provided an abundance of food and water.

The campground here operates on a first come, first served basis and it was our lucky day! We arrived to find just 2 unpowered sites available, each bordering a lovely grassed, shady area and just big enough for our setup. This once dusty campground was now pleasantly revamped with 51 well established, unpowered campsites and a basic but very clean amenities block. 

After choosing our site and setting up camp, we had a bite to eat then set off to explore the area. With the temperature reaching 36 degrees and the humidity making us feel hotter than it actually was, our first stop was only a short distance to the plunge pool where, surrounded by beautiful pandanus, we swam in the clear water to the falls on the other side. We were joined by only a handful of tourists, small nibbling fish… and a couple of rather large water monitor lizards sunning themselves on the rocks.

Refreshed and feeling energetic we then chose to walk the steep 1.2 kilometre walk to the ‘Upper Pools’ at the top of the escarpment. Arriving soaked in perspiration and breathless at the beauty that surrounded us, we scrambled over the many rocks and found our way into the water where our exhaustion was soon washed away as we splashed and relaxed in the cool water… it was a magical place.  Only a dozen or so other people were enthusiastic enough to make the trek to this pool and while some sunned themselves on the rocks, others splashed and floated around in the clear water or soaked their exhausted muscles under the falls. The falls, the pool and the surrounding sunburnt rocks were so picturesque. 

Finally dragging ourselves away from one paradise we headed to another as we made our way further up the track to Sweetwater Pool and another tranquil swimming hole then back over the rugged, rocky ground we headed back to our camp below…. the heat again warranting another swim! We swam several times that day and it was difficult to drag ourselves back to camp but with a nice shady campground to welcome us it was good to sit back with a nice glass of wine, catch up on my blog and read a few pages of our books!

Edith Falls (Leliyn) is also the finishing point of the 62-kilometre Jatbula Trail walking track, which begins at Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park) and for those hiking enthusiasts there are well over 100 kilometres of walking trails in this region. The challenging and famous Jatbula Trail begins at Katherine Gorge, and ends at Edith Falls and can take anything from 4 to 6 days as it traverses through lush scenery, plummeting waterfalls and Aboriginal rock art.

We were awestruck with the majestic beauty of this scenic park and the Katherine River and the few days we had spent exploring this remote and untamed region were truly memorable!

Map-NTTC-Kakadu.gif

Sadly, it was time to move on again but with more adventure awaiting us we were looking forward to another visit to Kakadu.

It was a nice easy drive up the highway, more traffic than we had had for a while and lots of livestock road trains running south, but a pleasant drive all the same.

The first thing we noticed when we turned on to the Stuart Highway from the Gulf Savannah a few days back, was the Northern Territory speed limit… and our immediate thought was we would need more modifications, possibly turbo boosters, fitted to Harry to have any hope of reaching the 130 kilometre speed limit in this part of the country! Cars and trucks whizzed past us as we chugged along at the 100-110 kilometres we were used to!

The next town along the highway was Pine Creek, a small town where we had camped a few years back… at the back of the service station.

This little town, known for gold and diamonds, is steeped in history and back in it’s hey day it was an important transport hub during the 1870s’ mining boom. In later years it was also instrumental in WWII as it was one of the towns that was not bombed by the Japanese and a hospital camp was set up nearby and an airfield constructed as an emergency landing ground to serve the military units based in town. It was a fascinating little town with well preserved and restored old galvanized iron roofed buildings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just up the road was the turn off to Kakadu and as we headed out of Pine Creek we knew we would return to check out the history of this small township on the road back to Katherine as we headed west.

Now, Kakadu isn’t for everyone but if you have adventure in your heart, love nature and enjoy learning about ancient cultures, this is one of the best places in the world!

When we travelled north on our last trip a great number of people told us Kakadu was overrated and could easily be missed, others told us it was one of the most beautiful places they had visited.

People’s perceptions of places varied from one person to the next and ‘Kakadu do’ or ‘Kakadon’t’ was usually the advice we were given from mostly seasoned grey nomads, many of whom had never been off the sealed track. It was funny how their visits were recalled and we were even given advice by some who had never visited, only heard comments through hearsay or media. 

Time and time again we heard the term ‘Kakadon’t’ and we soon came to understand that people either loved or loathed this park.  My advice to fellow travellers is don’t take any notice of that saying… go to Kakadu, at least to see for yourself, it really is a magical place. Please don’t compare it to Litchfield National Park… it has its own special qualities and fortunately for us, we don’t take advice too seriously when it comes to visiting iconic places… and now we were back for the second time.

A short distance further north from Pine Creek we turned on to the Kakadu Highway and continued our journey into Kakadu National Park through dry country sprinkled with more termite mounds. 

For much of our outback trip through Queensland and the Top End we were surrounded by giant termite mounds, and as we drove closer to civilizations it was easy to see why many buildings were built of bricks and steel. What amused us most though was we couldn’t help but wonder what some people must carry in their cars… as many mounds were ‘dressed up’ in all sorts of attire!

Kakadu National Park is a huge park covering thousands of square kilometres and can be accessed by two highways that run through it to the town of Jabiru situated in the west of the park. You can come in via the Arnham Highway on the northern end from Darwin or the Kakadu Highway on the southern end as we did.

The Aboriginal people of Kakadu are known as Bininj (bin-ing)/Mungguy (Moonggooy) and it has been home to these people for more than 50,000 years. Today the Aboriginal traditional owners and the National Parks jointly manage this park, which without a doubt is the most famous National Park in Australia and is one of the very few places ‘World Heritage’ have listed for both its cultural and its natural values.

The name ‘Kakadu comes from an Aboriginal floodplain language called Gagudju and although this language along with others such as Limilngan are no longer spoken on a regular basis, their descendants still live here. The main languages spoken today include Kunwinjku in the northeast region, Gun-dejeihmi in the central region and Jawoyn in the southern region and the Jawoyn people believe that powerful creation ancestors rest in this region and should not be disturbed.

These people recognise six major seasons in the yearly cycle of natural events and their calendar is most easily represented as a circle and signifies a view of their environment during the conduct of their hunting activities, ritual life and the annual cycle of movement across the land and seascape.Unknown.jpeg

These 6 Seasons are known as:

  • Dhuludur – the pre wet season. The fires are small and isolated now. The winds are mixed up, each blowing at different times, often within the same day. The male thunder shrinks the waterholes and the female thunder brings the rain called Dhuludur.
  • Barra’mirri – the growth season. Heavy rain comes every day and the plants grow quickly. Soon there is heavy growth throughout the whole bush.
  • Mayaltha – the flowering season. There is very little bush food. There are a lot of plants that flower, bright sunny days and sometimes rain.
  • Midawarr – the fruiting season. The grasses are forming seeds. It’s the season of fruiting plants and the east wind signals the beginning of the time of abundant food.
  • Dharratharramirri early dry season. The nights are cool and there is mist early in the mornings. Large flocks of mudlarks arrive and the southeast wind, Buluna, swings further south to become the wind Dharratharra. 
  • Rarrandharr – the main dry season. The warm southeast wind blows as the pandanus fruit begins to fall to the ground. As soon as the stringybark tree flowers, snakes lay their eggs and all types of honey can be found.

A short distance along the highway we pulled in at what use to be the Tourist Information Centre at Mary River Roadhouse to pick up some information, but to our surprise the roadhouse was now Goymarr Tourist Park.IMG_1555

Continuing on we passed the sign telling us we’d entered the National Park then a little further down the road we pulled in to the Ranger Station. Mary River was the first of one of 7 regions of Kakadu we came to and was the start of some spectacular 4WD tracks, bushwalks and waterfalls. Next along the road was the turnoff to Gunlom Falls.

Once off the main road we dropped our tyre pressure to help smooth our ride along the 37 kilometre dusty, corrugated track and we headed for the beautiful Gunlom Falls, a perfect place to start our Kakadu adventure and spend a night or two camping, swimming and exploring the surrounding area. The road into Gunlom wasn’t exactly what we would call a nice ride and was one of those roads we could easily put up there to equal ‘the worst roads we had driven on’ especially up Cape York and across the Gulf Savannah! It had a little bit of everything to contend with… water crossings, rocky sections, washouts, ditches and corrugations and it felt like we were riding on top of a washboard as we travelled along!

We finally came to the very crowded campground and could not believe how things had changed since our last visit. This once desolate campground, although still very dry and dusty, was now a well maintained National Park campground with flash amenities and lots of campsites… only problem was, it was ‘show week’ in Darwin and it appeared all the Darwinite’s had moved to Gunlom for the long weekend!

Eventually, after tucking ourselves into a rather tight campsite, we set off to check out the sights! First up was the very famous (and crowded) Gunlom Falls surrounded by a beautiful magical plunge pool and shaded by tall gum trees and a small sandy beach.

This plunge pool and waterfall was made famous in a scene from the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ where the heroine almost ended up in the jaws of a prowling croc so keeping this in mind we were pretty careful not to swim too far from the shore.

Last time we visited we were reluctant to swim in the bottom pool, especially after reading the sign that read ‘saltwater crocodiles may move in unnoticed’. This time the pool was crowded and with quite a few tasty morsels swimming out in the middle of the waterhole and close to the falls we figured while they were out there splashing around we were pretty safe close to the bank with only the little fish to tickle and nibble at our toes.

Climbing the very steep escarpment, we explored the top waterfall where, as well as safe from crocs, we felt we were on the top of the world. The walk up was overwhelming and probably not for the faint hearted but it was well worth the effort just to see the breathtaking views of the South Alligator River Valley! 

Each place we stopped at on this trip we expected to see some amazing sights, and for most, not even our photos could do them justice! 

At the top of the walk there were a series of shallow rock holes with sandy bottoms and crystal clear water that lead to an infinity pool with views over the escarpment and the campsite below. We splashed around under the cascading water of the small waterfall and spent ages swimming in the clear waters and clambering over smooth ancient rocks. We couldn’t have timed our arrival better as there were only a handful of people to share this small piece of paradise with but when it came time to leave we passed dozens of people making the journey up the hill.  

That night, as the sun set behind the gorge and cast the sky in a pink film, we settled into our camp. Dingoes howled from somewhere in the scrub, a haunting sound in this inhospitable country then next day we tackled the rough road back to the highway and headed toward Gagudju Cooinda Lodge camping ground in the Yellow Water Region.

Kakadu has some of the most spectacular tropical wetlands in the world with the Yellow Water Billabong the most famous wetland that is located at the end of Jim Jim Creek, a tributary of the South Alligator River. This river system is the largest in Kakadu and its extensive wetlands are flooded for most of the year.

One thing that confused us to start with was whoever named this river didn’t know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator as there are no alligators in Australia… but as it turned out our question was soon answered. The West, South and East Alligator Rivers were named by explorer Lieutenant Phillip Parker King in 1820 in the mistaken belief the crocodiles were alligators… but I guess it’s too late to correct this error now?  

If you visit this area the dawn ‘Yellow River Water Cruise‘ on the crocodile infested South Alligator River is a truly amazing experience and was certainly one of the highlights of our trip.

Up very on the first morning we headed to the jetty to board the boat for a trip along the crocodile infested waters of Yellow River. The mist was sitting on the water with the suns rays turning it into a shimmering pale yellow lake. It was such a magic sight, a photographer’s delight and well worth the early morning rise.

This cruise was spectacular with beautiful birds and water plants, lots of river channels, floodplains and backwater swamps. Whistling ducks and magpie geese were plentiful and we passed tall jabirus and brolgas. Buffalo and wild horses grazed on the floodplains and crocs lay hiding on the muddy banks almost completely hidden from view… only large beady eyes and nostrils to be seen. As we watched, they slowly opened their mouths to catch the suns rays in the back of their throat. Apparently, they do this to regulate their body temperature to help warm up after a cold night! As the sun came up, more and more crocs began to stir and emerge from the murky waters to bask on the riverbank. Their sheer size and swiftness was amazing!

Our stay at Cooinda Lodge was spent riding our bikes around the billabongs and visiting the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, also known as ‘The Turtle’ where a large display and video room offered detailed information on the history and culture, going back to Dreamtime creation, of the Aboriginal people in Kakadu and our last evening was spent watching a magnificent electrical storm light up Kakadu before the heavens opened up! It was an incredible end to an amazing day!

The following morning broke to brilliant sunshine. The birds had come alive, the trees seemed happy, animals were out and an eerie mist hung across the landscape. It certainly was a special place and a place of magical moments.

Along with the rains also came the creepy crawlies and our early morning silence was broken when Guy returned from the loo with an amusing story of a cane toad he thought was a turd attached to the toilet bowl… and no matter how hard he flushed, it would not budge! It is amazing how each time a story is told, the creature of interest always seems to get bigger!

Any hope of an early start that morning was hampered by a wet tent, but with the need to move on, we decided to pack up in the hope we would be able to dry it out at the next camp!

A short drive from the resort we came to Mirrai Lookout where we climbed a steep 3.5-kilometre track to an elevated platform on top of Mount Cahill and any memories of the steep climb were soon replaced by the panoramic views that stretched out before us over the escarpments and floodplains of central Kakadu! We were so in awe of this gorgeous country and felt so privileged to be part of it!

Next on our agenda were the Jim Jim Falls. Last time we travelled this way we had missed the Jim Jim Falls as the track was limited to 4WD only… but this time, with tyres deflated, we were happily on our way!  

Travelling over another corrugated 50-kilometre gravel road, we arrived at Garnamarr campground, an amazing campground perched on the edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment. Garnamarr means ‘red-tailed black cockatoo’ in the Kunwinjku language and that is exactly how the campground got its name…  from these spectacular cockatoos, which are a common sight here.  

Passing through the gate beside the Garnamarr Campground we continued along a narrow 10-kilometre, very rough 4WD track, crossing a couple of creeks and drifting in and out of the sand patches until we finally arrived at the Jim Jim Falls car park. The gate back at Garnamarr is locked from 8.30pm to 6.30am so with the day still early we knew we had plenty of time to explore the falls. 

With hydration packs and sandshoes on, we followed a not so easy 1-kilometre track through monsoon forest, over boulders and rocks, to a deep plunge pool and the falls. This short walk over very rocky terrain took us a bit over an hour to complete! 

What started off as a pretty easy walk along the edge of a billabong, complete with a crocodile trap on the far bank, soon turned into hard work but it was well worth the effort to see the stunning falls and gorge, and although not in their glory they were still pretty specky. Jim Jim Falls are Kakadu’s biggest waterfall and at 200 metres high are even taller than all the waterfalls at Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks. 

Water tumbled over a high cliff face into a big pool below and if it hadn’t been for the surroundings, you could be forgiven for thinking you had arrived at the beach… the crystal clear water lapped gently on a beautiful sandy area that stretched around the edge of the plunge pool. Tall cliffs towered all around and it was an amazing feeling to sit back on the warm sand and experience the peace and serenity of this remarkable landscape in the middle of nowhere!

Access to these waterholes is only available after park staff have trapped and removed crocs that have moved in during the wet season. These areas, known as crocodile management zones, are extensively searched at the start of each dry season to ensure the risk to visitors is reduced and the traps remain in place for the entire dry season just in case a rogue croc is on the move!

Heading back out the way we came in, we pulled in to Garnamarr Campground for a cuppa and a bite to eat. 

Our next port of call was Twin Falls and the much talked about cruise run by the local Aboriginal community. This cruise takes you through the gorge and drops you near the falls then it’s another walk over rocks and along a boardwalk to a plunge pool at the bottom of the falls although we were advised that there was no swimming at this plunge pool.

To get there however, we first had to tackle another 9-kilometre 4WD track from the campground that we were told was a bit rough and had one major obstacle… a river crossing. We were keen, but quite disappointed when we arrived at the gate only to find it locked with a large sign advising ‘Twin Falls Cruises Closed’ hung across the wire! 

Heading back out to the main road, we continued further up the highway to the turnoff to Jim Jim Billabong. Following another gravel track, we came to a fork in the track and as there wasn’t a lot of signage we took the wrong fork ending up at a watercrossing (no doubt croc infested) and a 4WD only sign. It was at this point we knew we were on the wrong track. Our map didn’t indicate a river crossing or 4WD access for that matter!

Turning around, we headed back the way we had come and down the other fork, which lucky for us was definitely the correct track and we soon arrived at Jim Jim Billabong, a large a campground with basic facilities and only two other campers to keep us company for the night!

This campground was situated on the banks of a billabong with lots of bird life and a resident salt water croc which, after watching from a distance for what seemed ages, finally disappeared under water. We didn’t see it again that evening but we knew it was there and we were thankful of our rooftop tent that night… and a quick look before we left the following morning revealed the croc was still there, only this time sunning itself on the opposite bank!

Back on Kakadu Highway, we continued to explore everything this wonderful park had to offer. Further along, we turned off the highway again and travelled another 12-kilometres to Nourlangie, known for its incredible Aboriginal art sites.

It was still quite early in the day when we arrived and the temperature was good for hiking. Beating the busloads of tourists, we headed to Nourlangie Rock and proceeded to the circular path leading to the Gun-warddehwardde Lookout. We passed an ancient Aboriginal shelter and several incredible art sites with paintings that explored the relationship of Aboriginal people to their country and beliefs.

The walls of Nourlangie have served as a shelter and canvas for paintings for thousands of years, providing evidence of a rich spiritual tradition. They also kept us dry from a sudden downpour. We climbed a short track to Gunwarrddehwardde Lookout, which offered great views over the Nourlangie and Kakadu’s escarpment before we continued on to Anbangbang Billabong to enjoy another walk with Nourlangie as a dramatic backdrop.

Nourlangie Rock has been a hideout and ancient shelter from the hot sun or wet season rains for the local Aboriginals for at least 10,000 years, probably the reason why so many paintings can be found here.  Many of these paintings featured a number of important mythical beings such as Namarrgon the Lightning Man, his wife Barrginj, Namarndjalong and his sister and Gulubirr the saratoga fish.  

Our next stop for the night was a free camp just along the road at Malabanjbanjdju (now if you can pronounce that you are doing well because I can’t!). It was a nice camp with basic amenities and fire pits. A short walk meandered quite close to a creek and we shared this bush camp with only a couple of other campers, making our stay a very quiet one. 

That night we made dinner then climbed into our tent in an effort to avoid the annoying mosquitoes. After lighting double coils in an attempt to deter the vampire insects, they still attached themselves to the fly screens making it quite difficult to escape them when nature called!

The skies were clear, the moon was full, and the temperature was still in the high 30’s as we snuggled in for another night under the stars.

The next morning our early morning walk was cut quite short when we came across advisory signs stating ‘crocodiles have been seen close to river banks’!

Abandoning our stroll we packed up camp and made our way to Muirella Park camping area where we stretched our legs along the four-kilometre Bubba wetlands walk, a very flat circular walk through several wetland habitats.

Heading on we came to an intersection where we continued to Jabiru, Kakadu’s main settlement and a small town in the back of nowhere situated on the East Alligator River. There was nothing fancy about this little settlement, only a couple of stores, a supermarket, a service station and mechanical services and accommodation.

Jabiru was set up to house mineworkers of the ‘Ranger Uranium Mine’. About 10 % of the uranium that powers the world’s nuclear power stations comes from this station. However, fears of contamination mean that all water that falls on this 700-hectare site has to stay within its boundaries… hence Ranger’s retention ponds!

These retention ponds have become a wetland haven for birds and a couple of saltwater crocs that have managed to evade the traps set at the water’s edge. This uranium mine, has not been without environmental incident though, with over 200 incidents since 1979. With this number of incidents, it made us wonder about the risks of a uranium mine on this Indigenous land, surrounded by the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park… let’s hope the local legend at Gunlom ‘that if Buladjang country is disturbed people will become sick’ doesn’t extend as far a this mine site?

Heading out-of-town we turned off at the intersection and headed on a bit over 40-kilometres towards Cahill Crossing on the East Alligator River. This crossing marks the border between Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land, and after stopping briefly at the Border Store, so named as the last point between Kakadu and Arnhem Land, we headed to Cahills platform to watch the crocs in action.

When the high tide pushes up over the crossing here, the incoming tide actually reverses the flow of the river and the strong upstream currents bring in an influx of bait fish and barramundi far inland from the sea… and this is where the predators come to dine at a twice-daily gourmet buffet!

Just upstream, we watched a 4WD stall half way on the crossing and further up one had met with disaster over the edge. Fishermen stood on the rocky edge on both sides, some too close to the edge for comfort but keen to catch a big fish! This location has become quite famous over the years for the number of human attacks and deaths and thankfully, for us we could watch the croc feeding frenzy from an elevated and somewhat distant viewing platform without the risk of loosing life or limb.

We were a bit disappointed we didn’t get to cross the border in to Arnhem Land this trip, but it will certainly go on our ‘bucket list’ for another time! Arnhem Land is 91,000 sq. kilometres of undeveloped natural landscapes and has a small population, predominantly Aboriginal people, whose traditional culture remains largely intact. It is also the birthplace of the didgeridoo and apparently home to more spectacular art sites.

It was then back down the road to Ubirr, one of Kakadu’s major Aboriginal rock art sites where we hiked a short distance onto the rock plateau which offered a fantastic panoramic view over Arnhem Land and the escarpments and the flood plains of the Magela River. For those that remember the movie Crocodile Dundee, this is where Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) took Sue (Linda Kozlowski) and said ‘this is my backyard’!

Following a circular track, we took in the galleries of Ubirr Rock. These natural stone galleries gave us an insight into the culture linked with this amazing artwork telling stories of law and creation.

At another group of rock outcrops on the edge of the Nadab floodplain there were several natural shelters that had a collection of Aboriginal rock paintings, some of which are over 20,000 years old. We saw pictures of creation, ancestors and animals from the local area such as barramundi, catfish, mullet, goannas, long-necked turtles, pig-nosed turtles, rock ringtail possums, and wallabies.

There are three main galleries of art. The main gallery contained many breathtakingly beautiful examples of “X-ray art”. Also in the main gallery we saw paintings of white men with their hands on hips called Mimi spirits who were so thin that they almost looked like they could slip in and out of cracks in the rock. At the northern end of the main gallery, we saw a painting of Tasmanian Tiger… in Kakadu of all places, which apparently has been extinct in the area for more than 20,000 years. 

It was early afternoon when we passed Merl Campground and considered stopping in for the night but instead we decided to continue in the hope of finding a free camp for the night.

Back at the intersection, we turned right onto Arnhem Highway and made tracks passing Aurora Resort where we had camped last trip then after a further stretch along the road we turned right at the signpost for Two Mile Hole.

Aurora Resort was a lovely campground with lush tropical surroundings and a lovely billabong walk. The surrounding area offered us an exciting opportunity to observe stunning wildlife when we visited last trip… wallabies, corellas and magpie geese.

At Two Mile Hole signpost, we turned off the main road and continued 13-kilometres along a very bumpy 4WD track, through savannah woodlands, crossing 2 creeks along the way until we came to a large billabong that formed part of the Wildman River system.

The cleared camping area had fireplaces, lots of wood lying around, no toilets or running water, no designated camp areas and no other campers so we found a shady area and set up camp! It was quite a pretty spot with lots of bird life, obviously the odd croc, a popular place for fisherman and well known by locals although apparently rarely sees tourists detour this far in from the main road!

That night we sat around a campfire with several mosquito coils smoking away to ward off the swarming mozzies. We also tested out my new homemade repellent using the recipe we had been given by the Aboriginal lady at the Katherine Visitor information centre… and no surprise it actually worked except our legs and arms were very greasy.

This was our last night in Kakadu and as we relived stories of our adventures over the last couple of days and sat back and relaxed with a glass of wine, another couple pulled in for the night. 

One of our favorite things about camping was sitting around a campfire at night. Some of our best memories have been made around a campfire; it is where we boil our billy, cook and eat our meal, share our stories and lose ourselves under the big starry night sky.

The next morning we woke to an extremely wet tent where heavy dew had settled over night… and a spectacular sunrise that shed its glory over a low mist hovering above the billabong.

There was definitely something magical about this place and we could only imagine how wild and beautiful it would be to visit in the wet season with water in abundance, pounding over the waterfalls, filling the floodplains and turning the vegetation green and lush.

Heading on we made our way back out to the Arnham Highway. This sealed road would now take us to the Stuart Highway and then on to Darwin. 

‘Kakadu or Kakadon’t’! You really can’t see everything, or for that matter very much from your car seat with the window rolled down; you have to make the effort to get off the beaten track! This park was still every bit as good as we had hoped and if you are ever in this area and are thinking Kakadu or Kakadon’t…KAKADU! We did and absolutely LOVED it!

Travelling on through ever-changing savannah woodlands, we headed out of Kakadu National Park with our first stop the Adelaide River where we pulled in for the ‘Jumping Crocs’ cruise. At $40 each we thought this to be a very reasonable tourist attraction. 

The Adelaide River is one of 8 rivers in the Top End, which have large floodplains in their catchments. It snakes its way south from the Van Diemen Gulf, through Djukbinj National Park, to the Adelaide River settlement on the Stuart Highway. The Arnhem Highway took us across 5 of the 8 rivers, Mary River included.

Boarding the  ‘Adelaide River Queen’ we settled in to take a trip along the dirty, dark waters of the Adelaide River where crocs could be seen in abundance doing what they do best…FEEDING! It was amazing to watch these huge six metre crocs jump their body length out of the water to reach their prey… a dead chicken dangling from a long stick! 

Crocodiles have very strong jaws and do not chew their food. They swallow it in large chunks and the food is broken down in their stomach. They feed on small mammals, birds and even domestic livestock. Once they grab their prey they move to deep water where they roll over to drown the animal. With their legs by their side, movement through the water is powered by their long, flattened tail moving side to side. Their legs are short with webbed toes…five on the front legs and four on the back legs and it is said they can run very quickly on land by lifting their bodies up off the ground.

The guides were very informative and apart from knowing all the crocs by name, they knew exactly where they would be lurking. One croc had been in so many fights with other crocs over territory rights that he only had one leg; the others had been bitten off and at about 4 metres long no-one was keen to run a tape measure over him to find his exact size… and I could understand why!

It was amazing to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat and although Australia’s oldest living dinosaur has learned there is a feed waiting they have definitely not lost any of their natural instincts… there were certainly quite a number of giant and powerful handbags out there that you definitely wouldn’t want to tangle with!

We not only treated to a feeding display by the crocs but also perched high in the trees we were closely watched by Hawke like birds called ‘Kites’. The croc feeding had attracted their attention and dozens seemed to arrive out of nowhere also expecting a feed. The boat staff obliged and the boat was soon surrounded by swooping birds of prey. It was an incredible sight as these spectacular black and whistling kites put on an amazing aerial display, soaring in close then hovering high above us as we cruised down the river!
Crocs and Creatures of the NT-6

This cruise also provided a good opportunity to take in the wetlands and mangrove swamps of Darwin. Further on up river we stopped at Fogg Dam wetlands for a look at an abundance of bird life; magpie geese, brolgas and spritely dollar birds as well as kingfishers and corellas that gathered in flocks of hundreds on the marshy floodplains beside the river. We were also privileged to see wild pigs and buffalo darting in and out of the tall grasses along the riverbank. 

Safely back on dry land we headed for the ‘Window on the Wetlands’ visitor centre perched on Beatrice Hill overlooking the spectacular Adelaide River flood plain. Only a few kilometres up the road, Beatrice Hill was once an old prison and is one of the highest points on the floodplain. 

Arriving, we were expecting just the normal Tourist Information Centre but this centre had the most wonderful interactive exhibition that explained the ecological processes that occur in the Top End wetlands and gave us an overview on local Aboriginal and European history as well as land management and the variety of wetland animals in the area.  

The Limilngan-Wulna people call Beatrice Hill ‘Ludawei’ and this site is an important part of their culture. The 3 hills represent Turtle Dreaming called LULAK.

This is all part of the Djukbinj (pronounced jook-binj), National Park, which is part of the Marrakai Plains and contains a portion of the catchment area and drainage for Adelaide River, consequently the abundance of water year-round assures the parks importance as a feeding and roosting site for a variety of water birds including magpie geese, egrets and brolgas. Djukbinj National Park is also a traditional hunting ground for Limilngan people, who manage the park in partnership with Parks and Wildlife.

Next up the road was Humpty Doo and apart from the town’s quirky name, you should stop here if you are passing through just to see the ‘Big Boxing Croc’. This icon of Humpty Doo stands at 13-metres high, wears a pair of red boxing gloves, and is strong enough to withstand a tropical cyclone…  and is another of the Aussie obsessions with the biggest icon’s!

The outlying properties surrounding this town are very large and mostly farmed as mango plantations and with the windows down and the breeze in our faces we certainly knew we were in mango land and it was mango season… by the delicious aromas that wafted through our window.

We are still not sure where Humpty Doo got its name. Some say it was named after the station originally called ‘Umpity Doo’. Some say the name came from the Army slang term ‘umpty’ used in 1917 for the ‘dash’ when reading Morse code. Others say it may have come from a colloquialism to describe ‘everything done wrong or upside down’ or the place was known as ‘Umdidu’, an English language corruption of an Aboriginal term that meant a popular resting place. Consequently, the origins of the name are still uncertain but whatever the derivation of the name, Humpty Doo is one of the oldest towns of Darwin.

Unknown-3Unknown-2

From Humpty Doo it was only a few kilometres to the Stuart Highway then only another 34-kilometres into Darwin.

Arriving in Darwin mid afternoon we booked into the ‘Free Spirit Caravan Park’ approximately 18-kilometres out of Darwin and a nice distance to ride our bikes and walk. We had stayed at this park previously and loved it and I particularly liked the name, as that is exactly how I felt at that moment… ‘a free spirit’!

This was our second visit to Darwin and after what seemed like weeks of long and dusty roads and bush camps, it felt like a tropical oasis with its blue waters and frangipani and mango trees and as we anticipated, it was really hot and humid.

The original inhabitants of the Darwin area were the Larrakia people. They had trading routes with Southeast Asia and imported goods from as far afield as the south of the country and Western Australia thus their established song lines penetrated throughout the country allowing stories and histories to be told and retold along these routes.

Darwin’s history has been short and dramatic, which included the Overland Telegraph, gold, a population of hardy pioneers, crocodiles, world war bombings, uranium and Cyclone Tracy!

Its story began with the necessity to establish a support route for the Overland Telegraph to the southern states of Australia and in 1871 an 1100-mile submarine cable between Darwin and Banjoewangie in Java was laid. This in turn was connected through Batavia (now Jakarta), Singapore, Europe and London.

Around this time Darwin also felt the effects of a gold rush at Pine Creek after employees of the Australian Overland Telegraph Line found gold while digging holes for telegraph poles and by 1875 Darwin’s European population had very quickly started to grow.

Having been almost entirely rebuilt twice, once due to Japanese air raids during WWII and again after being devastated by Cyclone Tracy in the seventies it is now quite a modern, multicultural city while still depicting a few old buildings and intriguing fragments of the past.

For the next week, we acquainted ourselves with the city’s history, the World War II years, the colourful gold mining past and the Aboriginal heritage.

Palmerstone was the nearest shopping centre to the caravan park and after stocking up on groceries and having a quick look around we headed to Casuarina, a huge shopping centre in the northern suburbs of Darwin. Casuarina derives the name from the casuarina trees that grow along nearby Casuarina Beach.

We visited Brinkin Beach on the Beagle Gulf between Bathurst Island and Darwin and it was soon clear that an ocean swim at the beaches of Darwin was out of the question because of the hidden nasties, whether they be crocs or the deadly box jellyfish. Warning signs were everywhere so all we could do was dip our toes into the gulf to say we had at least been there. 

We rode along the shores of a harbour 7 times the size of Sydney Harbour, taking in the sites of a heritage shaped by European pioneering settlers, along the esplanade and around Bicentennial Park where the World War II memorial stood, then to the Sky Casino and the Military Museum at Fannie Bay. A 15-minute film of the bombing of Darwin showed the first air raids on 19 February 1942 and gave us an appreciation of how close the Top End of Australia came to being occupied by the enemy.

We wandered through the cool tropical gardens of the Military Museum and checked out the armoured vehicles, military pieces, engines and other machines of war. Scores of photographs lined the walls along with an extensive collection of military firearms. We could only imagine what a horrific time this must have been!

Darwin was at the forefront of combat operations against the Japanese and of the 64 air raids by the Japanese, hundreds of people were killed, many more than was ever reported by the Australian Media as they were under strict censorship by the Australian Government and forbidden to report the true facts. 

Lake Alexander was just down the road and a great spot to cool off. This secure saltwater lake was safe from crocodiles but so shallow that it was hard not to touch the bottom as we swam. Nightcliffe Pier was a popular fishing area and Fannie Bay, a more inner suburb of Darwin and home to the Military Museum and gun emplacements we had just visited was also home to the Fannie Bay Jail Museum revealing nearly a hundred years of solitude. This was Darwin’s main jail from 1883 to 1979 with lepers, refugees and juveniles among the groups of people confined here.

It is also home to the Fannie Bay Race Track and the monument to Ross Smith, captain of the Vickers Vimy, a British heavy bomber aircraft of the WWI and post WWI era. This was the first aircraft to fly from England to Australia in less than thirty days, arriving in December 1919.

The George Brown Botanical Gardens nestled in the Fannie Bay cultural and recreational precinct were established 130 years ago and have also survived many cyclones and World War II. Extending from the sea inland, the gardens are one of a few botanic gardens in the world, which has marine and estuarine plants growing naturally in its grounds.

The Darwin Museum, also part of the precinct was well worth a visit showcasing an amazing video of the capture of ‘Sweetheart’ the croc and a brilliant audio-visual presentation of Cyclone Tracy  and the before and after of Darwin.

With the temperature in the high thirties we rode the breaking waves that simulated ocean swells on water tubes at the Waterfront Precinct, and swam at the a man made beach area.

We dropped in at the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre about 8 kilometres out of Darwin, and exhausted after riding in the heat all day all around the city, it was a welcome relief to top up our water bottles and rest our legs as we watched an aviation film.

The Aviation Heritage Centre is a major aviation museum in Australia. It has a very impressive presentation of aircraft and displays depicting the Territory’s involvement in civil and military aviation from the early pioneers and record breakers through to the jet age. The displays were certainly impressive with old World War II planes and a B-52 bomber that was on permanent loan from the United States Air Force. It took up the entire hanger and the hanger had to be built around this very impressive piece of machinery, as it was massive.

I was particularly interested in the ‘Ansett Australia’, ‘Ansett’, ‘Ansett Airlines of Australia’, or ‘ANSETT-ANA’ (as it was commonly known in earlier years) aircraft. Both my parents had worked for the airlines. My Dad started as a porter working his way up to manager of the airlines on Flinders Island and then manager of freight for Tasmania. I had seen it change its name a number of times and it was good to stand on top of the gangway steps and remember past years.

We bought the biggest water melon and a feed of fish from a van at the side of the road then struggled to carry them the short distance to the park and after a short rest and swim we headed off again (as if we hadn’t had enough exercise for one day)! This time we managed only a 20 kilometre ride detouring around a back road behind the park to the northern suburbs of Darwin… and beer o’clock was a welcome relief on our return.

The World War II Oil Storage Tunnels were definitely worth a visit only this time we took the car. These relics are a network of 5 steel lined concrete tunnels built for storage of the Navy’s oil reserves after the Japanese bombed Darwin’s above ground facilities. Tunnel 5 is the only one open to the public and as we wandered through the muddy tunnels, we were fascinated by the displays of photographs depicting life in wartime Darwin.

Continuing to explore Darwin we stood outside Parliament House and wandered along the fence line of Government House admiring the lovely colonial house and its beautiful gardens. Once known as the Residency it is now the House of Seven Gables.

Berry Springs Nature Park is about a 1.5-hour drive from Darwin on the Cox Peninsular Road.  A refreshing swim in the spring pools of this popular shady picnic area was a welcome relief from the hot sun. Fed by a small waterfall and surrounded by natural bush it was certainly a relaxing and tranquil place and we were so thankful we had brought our goggles as we had the added bonus of sharing the clear pools with the small native fish that nibbled at our fingers.

Just a few hundred metres further along the road was the ‘Territory’s Wildlife Park’. With the gates set to close at six o’clock we only had a couple of hours to see as much as possible of this big park. So in preference to the free shuttle trains that ran continuously picking up and dropping people off around the 4-kilometre loop, we set off on foot to explore the extensive maze of walking tracks.

We saw wildlife up close in their natural habitats, in tree top aviaries and in glass bottom aquariums, which featured the Top Ends amazing aquatic life including more saltwater crocs.

With the build up to the wet and the temperature and the humidity rising on a daily basis, the animals and plants loved the extra moisture. The trees and cycads were fresh with foliage and the bird life was amazing.

We wandered through the nocturnal house, and after a jog through the woodland walk, it was refreshing to wander through the monsoon walk complete with a thunderstorm and a downpour of rain.

Having come across quite a few fires during our travels through the Top End, it was great to read information on the significance of burning off up this way and certainly squashed any thoughts we might have had of how destructive it was. Information booths explained the importance of these fires assuring us that most animals managed to escape being burnt and that the plants regenerate rapidly following fire.

We had also read quite a bit about the fires at the ‘Window to the Wetlands’ and soon realised that for people on the land up this way the question was when and how often fires will occur. Even without the assistance of the people involved in the burning off process the high incidence of lightning strikes during the build up to the wet season always ensured that fires were a regular event.

Fires have been an important part of life in the Top End and have been a vital part of Aboriginal life for thousands of years. Burning off is essential for maintaining biodiversity in the tropical savannah and is carried out for a variety of reasons, mainly for habitat management, land management by Aboriginals and improving cattle pasture for cattle production. The lush plant growth that is produced each wet season quickly dries out over the following dry season providing a large amount of fuel for fires. The burning off happens early during the dry season, from May to June preventing the spreading of more intense fires later towards the end of the dry season in September and October.

Making our way to the Oolloo Sandbar, we stopped at a dingo enclosure where a grumpy old dingo beared his teeth, obviously not in the mood for visitors. At the sandbar we were rewarded with lots of stingrays basking in the sun, big ones and small ones but with time running out it was to rush to the ‘Flight Deck’ to catch the inspirational display of free-flying birds.

Our time visiting Darwin was all but over and during our visit, we had tried in vain to fit in all that we could.

We had our car serviced, found our way to Mindil Market by bus and experienced a very exciting trip back to the caravan park being the only white people on the bus! We were lucky enough to be there on a Thursday, as that is the night they have the market at Mindil Beach.

There were heaps of art and craft stalls, live music and an amazing variety of food stalls representing pretty much every cuisine from around the world. It was a great atmosphere and not surprisingly, most of Darwin turned up as it was packed out… as was the beach for the sunset!

We drove out to East Arm to watch the Ghan train leave on one of Australia’s greatest journeys. In Australian history, it is a living legend and the legend soared to new heights with the extension of the Ghan journey to Darwin.

When the Ghan first departed Adelaide for Alice Springs, it was always intended that it would one day travel through to Darwin and now more than 70 years on, that dream had become reality.

A visit to the Charles Darwin National Park, an area rich in Aboriginal and military history was also on our agenda. This park protects part of the Port Darwin wetland and lies on Francis Bay. Shell middens in the area showed that the Larrakia Aboriginal people claim ownership of the land they have used for thousands of years and a network of military sites from World War II and historic ammunition storage areas could easily be seen tucked away in the bush off the side of the road.

Our week in Darwin was incredible and quite memorable. We managed to see so many sights and met so many lovely people. On a trip into the city we were stopped by a lolly pop man directing traffic at road works. After seeing our Tassie number plates he was happy for a chat and obviously very pleased to see fellow Taswegans. Oblivious to all the cars lining up behind us he told us he was from Bagdad in our home state and was a bit homesick…he admitted he missed Tassie but quickly added he didn’t miss chopping wood in our cold winters.

We enjoyed an AFL Grand Final and on our last night, we freshened up and treated ourselves to a meal at the park bistro, our first meal dining out since leaving Tassie.

The pool at the park became a meeting place each day and we met up with some lovely people. We met people from South Australia and Western Australia and a fisherman and his wife from Victoria who fished the waters off Flinders Island where we once lived. He knew many of the people we knew, which made us realize what a small place Australia really is.

We had the pleasure of hundreds of biting ants invading our tent and it took us ages to get them to go elsewhere for their holidays. These tiny black ants were small enough to climb through our fly wire and certainly had us up jumping around one night. We then had to empty out all our grocery containers, wash them and re pack them again!

The next night we chuckled to ourselves as we lay listening to the grumbling and groaning as the people next door scratched around, sweeping out their tent in an attempt to eradicate the little pests.

We had our groceries stolen after having stored all our perishable in the fridge in the camp kitchen – the lot taken. According to some French backpackers, they and their friends had been losing food continuously over the past week. Our meal was not so appetising that night as we settled for salada biscuits and cheese spread. This was the first time we had come across dishonest people while using the camp kitchens. As it turned out, not long after, a family who were living in the park had been asked to move on taking their monstrous van with them. It was not the first time they had been caught stealing food.

There were also things we didn’t get to see that would have to wait until our next visit.

We tried to book a cruise on the Spirit of Darwin but it was booked out and a planned evening under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema didn’t eventuate. I was quite looking forward to watching a film where the star’s light up the screen. This outdoor deck chair setting is set on the edge of Darwin Harbour and is said to be magic with the stunning backdrop of the lights reflected from anchored and passing ships and the wonderful sunsets over the sea.

Our last night in Darwin was a wash out when the heavens opened up again and although we didn’t have any leaks, the poor backpackers in the tents next door had to spend the night in the camp kitchen. It took us a long time to pack up the next day and we considered ourselves lucky we only had a wet tent to dry out!

We knew we would be back one day to visit this beautiful city perched on the tropical edge of Australia’s north coast!  Darwin is a beautiful city… history around every corner, beautiful sunsets, beautiful gardens, beautiful people and a laid back lifestyle that we loved… but it was time to move on as we had more places to see and more things to do!

Heading back down the Stuart highway our sights were now set on Litchfield National Park just a 140-kilometres from Darwin.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s