Published: July 25th 2009February 28th 2009
Litchfield National Park
It had been a long and eventful day before I even realised I was on my way back to Australia after so long being out of the country. Four years had past in an almost similar fashion to the past few days in transit, a tornado of flighty, transient memories of great sceneries, interesting people and world ever full of mystery. It was only now a few minutes before touchdown in Darwin, memories from a further distant past came flooding back. I was home.
Darwin is not my home city as it is still thousands of kilometres away in this vast continent it nevertheless maintained a familiar feel. As I handed my passport to the customs official rather than a welcoming I was interrogated at length as to my intentions in Darwin, suspicion was aroused as to my next point of destination; Litchfield national park and they believed I was on the pretense to steal wildlife! After much argument they realised I was just a wandering freak and let me go on my way.
Australia has a notorious history of gentrifying its cities and towns by taking the usual shops such as McDonalds, KFC and other typical
Litchfield National Park
American companies and placing them in every little town and city as their local takeout bars and Darwin was no exception. Before leaving the city for the bush we stocked up on a cheap tent and a few days supplies of marshmallows and cookies before heading out in the hire car.
Litchfield is not as well known as its close neighbour of Kakadu National Park yet it still has a wide variety of trails, creeks and waterfalls on offer. The giant Eucalypt trees and gums marked the red rocky terrain where they stand timeless as they would have thousands of years before.
The creek near our campsite was foaming with fast flowing water that had carved interesting shapes into the bed rock beneath. The crystal clear water was tepid and clean, it tasted like it came from the Alps. A natural Jacuzzi waterhole was an idyllic place to sit and enjoy the charming nature.
Kangaroos, Goannas and a treasure trove of birds all call this place home and they were lucky I didn’t come to steal them for selling on the black-market. The real king of these parts however, is the fresh water crocodile which
Litchfield National Park, NT
are extremely common in many of the waterholes and creeks and have been known to enjoy the taste of Backpackers, especially German ones so I have been told. We encountered many creeks and waterholes and luckily did not come across any but it was sad that we had only a few days to spend here, the beauty of the surrounding landscape was truly breathtaking. After the red desert glow of the setting sun left the cooler black darkness of the nighttime sky that was filled with thousands of bright stars. To see the crashing thunder and wet season downpours flood the terrain in an instant with barely a human soul about was definitely an unforgettable experience.
The next stop was a quick flight to Cairns on the northeast coast and the gateway to the world famous Great Barrier Reef. The open expanse of blue sky lead to a feeling of unlimited freedom, a sensation felt when releasing yourself to an unknown and exciting adventure in a new place.
Cairns is the tourist and backpacker capital of the state of Queensland. Its vibrant and open plan gives the city a youthful exuberance that can really swallow your attention
just after a few days.
After a little snorkeling on the reef seeing multitudes of tropical fish, coral and even a gigantic sea turtle, we had to decide how we were going to reach our final destination of Perth on the other side of the Country. After much deliberation we decided the best way would be to buy a car and undertake the mammoth 12000km expedition ourselves.
During the next week dealing with many a dodgy and sly used car salesman we found a suitable small sedan and headed our way on the epic driving marathon.
After a quick jaunt awhile north we encountered the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest and the only one that meets the sea. Camping in the small town of Cape Tribulation we came across many eccentric folk who seemed by there awkward eye contact and strange facial expression to have gone a little troppo as they call it here.
The forest around the town is lush and brilliant green with ancient palm trees dotted throughout. A different reality from the jungle of Peru it was placid and tame and gave an air of friendliness and there weren’t any mosquitoes. Yet
we were attacked by armies of blood sucking leeches that even managed to penetrate thick socks. After our hike we went for a trip along the river and came across many kingfishers, Kookaburras and a few trees snakes and even caught sight of an elusive crocodile waiting for one of us to fall in to chew on. This time we had the last laugh as I returned to dockside restaurant I ordered a "croc burger" so I was the one doing the chewing! Coming back towards Cairns, the weather took a turn for the worst with strong winds and heavy rain which meant absolute chaos. Tropical Cyclone Hamish was heading to town and we were not going to wait around for its arrival.
The hours that ensured were quite hair-raising, literally ploughing south down the main highway as fast as possible was extremely difficult with pelting rain and heavy winds brought visibility to just a few metres ahead. Arriving in Townsville hours later in the early night felt like coming to a different world. The nighttime air was balmy and quite calm extending a much greater sense of peace than we experienced on the road. Yet the forecast
predicted the cyclone had changed direction and was heading this way fast so we decided to continue to drive to escape what we had experienced earlier in the day. We spent the night camped out in the small town of Bowen and it felt very eerie and too calm for comfort so we left early and by the time we arrived in Mackay the heavens had already opened up pouring down buckets of water in minutes that in some streets the water came to knee high and a flood warning was issued. The only real option was to trek further south. Hours and hours, miles and miles of highway, I being the only reliable driver pushed forth maintained by the power of double espresso coffee and red bull we finally made it as far south as Rainbow Beach. Normally a beautiful location with sparkling warm water and excellent swimming, there were no rainbows that met us only the onslaught of cyclonic winds and rains that harassed us down the coast and even forced the close of the nearby famous tourist spot, Fraser Island. So far this sun burnt country was looking more waterlogged and I was getting anything but sunburn.
Ironically the first sunshine we started to see was when we arrived on the Sunshine Coast, a Mecca for surfers and holiday makers alike. It is a very pleasant area with clear white beaches and ideal subtropical climate it appears like an Aussie Las Vegas with tall skyscrapers and plenty of casinos on every corner. Less than an hour drive away the coasts heads to rolling green hills a cooler climate and pristine nature trails and ancient rainforest.
Continuing further south across the Queensland border into New South Wales, we met up with some friends in Uki, a small village town surrounded by an expansive valley. The town folk were so inviting and friendly, it was fantastic to see such hospitality that saw no division between wealth or status and was great to finally have a bed which felt so comfortable after weeks of camping in deluged Queensland. Close by, in the once sleepy village town of Byron Bay, now is one of the most visited and pricey areas of New South Wales boasting unspoilt coastline, endless beaches and dramatic nature walks. We met up with my friend Luka which I met in the Peruvian Jungle, quite a different
environment to Byron. We spent a few days chatting and exploring the expansive tropical landscape and waterfalls that surround this paradise. We moved to a campsite for a few days when we could not stay any longer with Luka and discovered the exotic coastline. At one point walking along the beach, pure white sand squeaking between my toes, an overwhelming sad, yet beautiful feeling pervaded my entire being. How incomprehensible life was! One enjoyed life and journeyed around the great earth through fabulous forest and beautiful beaches and everything could appear so perfect, so ideal and so nostalgic. It seems as though in that moment something so longed for and desired was about to happen. That the almighty veil would be lifted and the great mystery of life would be revealed and rejoiced. But then as quickly as it came, the moment passed and retreated back to the dark abyss of the mind and the riddle would remain unsolved.
There are more photos below