Published: February 7th 2008January 26th 2008
Didn't The Toyota Do Well In The World Rally Championship?
Keen to see some more of Australia rather than the sameyness of the east coast we booked ourselves some flights to Darwin to explore the top end of the Northern Territory. We flew with Jet Star on the way up there and decided there and then that we wouldn't bother with them ever again. They have a rigid policy about not checking in until exactly two hours before the flight which results in everyone hanging around until the exact time then crowding the check-in desk.
After a 3 hour flight sat next to a screaming baby we arrived in Darwin late so we didn't get to see any of it until the following morning. After a very pleasant and cheap night in the YHA we headed out to explore Darwin. At this time of year its wet season so its generally humid and hot and near enough every day it rains at some point. Darwin is technically a city but in reality it feels more like a town. I quite liked the place, it had a really laid back feeling.
To explore the top end we had hoped to hire a 4x4 to do some off-road outback driving however
a lot of the tracks were closed due to flooding and as our budget was also becoming ever smaller we opted for a small Toyota Cronulla auto instead. We stocked the car up with 10 litres of water and a selection of canned food, pasta and rice (we later found 20 resident black weevils in the rice) and sped up state highway 1. Once away from Darwin the drive was very lonely, very few cars went past us in the opposite direction and we only had to over take a road train once.
Our first stop was Window On The Wetlands; an educational centre about the land and wildlife of the Adelaide River. After a long days drive we thought we would find some accommodation at Mary River, the first place we tried was closed for renovation so we headed further down the road and ended up at Bark Hut another well known tourist centre. We opted for a cabin which was $60, we paid and hopped back in the car and followed the directions we were given to the room. While driving around the site we were both hopeful that our cabin was somewhere else as the immediate
area looked very rough. We parked the car and headed towards the room, already No had made up his mind we weren't going to stay there. We walked past a yellow stained vest hanging outside our neighbour’s cabin and went inside. The room was tiny with a bed and an air conditioning unit that was from the 1970's. It really was nasty but then again what do you expect when you ask the lad at reception where to park the car and he says "don't know..". Feeling unsafe we rushed back into the car, it would have been worth the $60 not to stay there but we managed to get our money back nevertheless.
Further up the road and into Kakadu National Park we found a lovely hotel which was nearly double the money but worth every cent, even still we asked to see the room, a habit we adopt every time now. That evening we sat back in our comfortable room and watched the kangaroo's hop by our veranda and pondered just exactly how in the middle of nowhere we felt.
The following day we headed up to the Bowali visitor centre to learn more about Aboriginal
culture, something which was in short supply along the east coast. It was interesting learning about the bush tucker, hunting techniques and the land management through controlled fires. Although it does make you think if this is such a good idea because of the many forest fires we saw on our travels with seemingly no-one around to keep an eye on what was going on.
Later that afternoon we lunched at an ant infested picnic table in Jabiru Park whilst watching the Pelicans float in the nearby water. It was so hot outside we couldn't wait to get back in the air conditioned car, No was concerned the dash board would melt. Even getting petrol was a task, once the engine is off the car warms up so quickly that before the tank was full I was sweating buckets. Not the sort of place I would want to be driving around in a clapped out campervan!
The following day we visited the Nourlangie rock art site, a place where aboriginals for thousands of years have sort shelter and used the rock faces as a canvas for their art. The place was really cool, loved the style of the
Extreme Heat & Relentless Flies But The View Was Worth It
art but didn't like the big spiders hanging from the cave. Again we were moaning about the heat, now we suddenly had to contend with the flies, thousands of them. I used my scarf as a make shift swatter whilst we battled our way up to the lookout to get views out across Kakadu.
Next it was onto Katherine where we decided to pit stop for a few days. Our first cabin was ant infested so we asked to move however we discovered at about 12pm that the second one was full of giant cockroaches. In an effort to try to smoke them out No decided to disconnect the fire alarm which duly went off. Instead we opted for our mozzi nets as roach protection and No vowed to buy the biggest can of Mortein he could lay his hands on in the morning.
We weren't too sure the road to Katherine Gorge was open as there had been a bit of rain but luckily it was. It was the middle of the day so instead of a massive long bush walk we went with the lookout point walk. In a normal climate the walk would take 20
For A Million Pounds Would You Swim To The Falls? (Bearing In Mind There Are Several Crocodiles Lurking In The Water)
minutes, in the steamy outback heat it took us an hour because we had to keep stopping. The views were quite lovely from the top, very Australia.
We found ourselves arriving at the 16 mile caves just in time to make the 11am tour. Our guide was a bit of character cracking jokes every minute although we both got the feeling it was all a bit scripted even so it was fun. At the end when we were chatting to the guide he offered No and I a job saying they were always short of people - must have been desperate!
After another insecty night we left Katherine and headed north stopping enroute at Edith Falls. The usual crocodile warning signs were up so we had to be careful near the waters edge. It was hard to believe that in the winter the crocodiles leave the water and people actually swim there, not sure I would its not exactly clear like a swimming pool.
Before entering Litchfield park we decided to stay the night in a cabin in the Big 4. We were met by a miserable woman who took it as a personal offence when we
A Giant Termite Mound
Little Blighters Started Attacking Me After This Photo Had Been Taken, Drew Blood On My Leg...
asked to see the cabin. Normally we would have left there and then but as they were the only accommodation in the area for miles we had no choice. As it was the cabin was very nice, a little dusty as they were still clearing up after the cyclone but perfectly adequate.
First on the agenda was the Termite mounds. We had seen loads of these as we had been driving around but we couldn't get close enough to them as they were always situated in long grass 20m or so away from the road. The mounds were pretty big but we weren't convinced the ones in the photos were the largest we had seen.
Afterwards we headed to Buley's Waterhole, a collection of small falls and safe swimming holes, to cool down for an hour or so before heading to Florence Falls. These falls were very impressive and again were safe to swim in. We had our lunch further up stream and found a quiet little corner next to a stagnant pond which was home to thousands of hungrey fish. Eventually the remains of our lunch ended up in the fishes bellies, we couldn't let them go
hungrey poor things.
We had nearly used all our free kilometres on the car so we decided it was best to head back to Darwin. Our outback adventure was definately the highlight of Australia, so desolate and poles apart from the populated coastal areas.
There are more photos below