Just like that, 6 months in Melbourne has come to an end! I’m leaving behind some wonderful new friends, and a city that will always keep a special little place in my heart.
But there’s been very little time to give this too much thought, as I now find myself up in the Northern Territory and back to the warm weather to be expected of Australia! I flew direct with Virgin Australia to Darwin, which takes 4 hours despite being a domestic flight (and to be fair, feels a world away from Melbourne!), and after only a short 5 hour hostel stop bundled onto the tour bus to start the first part of my adventure – Kakadu national park.
Life has gone from dressing up neatly for work, greeting everyone with bonjour, and smiling politely while people complain about the colour of curtains; to rolling off a bus with messy hair, no make up and casual holiday clothes to handle the heat cruising down the most crocodile infested river in Australia, in the back end of absolutely nowhere. What can I say – life is good!
The cruise took us closer to crocodiles than I ever expected, and if we’re honest closer than my crocodile comfort zone – but I loved it! The drive out from Darwin isn’t the most picturesque with all of the controlled bush fires in the area, but the Mary river was lined with giant lily pads and bright pink flowers, and so, so peaceful. Aside from the odd crocodile that would happily have you for dinner given the chance.
From here (after a bbq lunch, naturally) we headed further into the national park to see Ubir – a walled gallery of aboriginal art surrounded by an pretty nice landscape..!
The first night was spent at a surprisingly fancy campsite, where our guide cooked us a delicious stir fry – and actually wouldn’t let us lift a finger. This was accompanied by my first cups of goon since the move to Melbourne, but I was assured it was the more prestigious goon, and $3 more a box. Only the best!
Turns out camping in Australia is pretty tough in the heat.. And there’s a risk of standing on cane toads. Which are most unpleasant. But better than deadly snakes! So after little sleep, we were up for breakfast at the crack of dawn (gluten free wheat-bix, what a treat!) and on the road to Jim Jim Falls.
After quite the off road trail to get there, at 8am it was already getting super hot. Jim Jim falls is completely dry outside the wet season, but we would still be hiking to the bottom of the waterfall! Negotiating the rocky pathways took a lot of concentration (particularly with my levels of coordination), so it was quite a moment when I paused and finally looked up and saw the surroundings. At the end of the trail was an isolated sandy beach, and a deep green pool which was absolutely beautiful. Our guide took us over some rocks and through to the pool at the base of where the waterfall would usually fall, with ice cold water – perfect after the hot hike!
The afternoon was spent swimming through more beautiful waterfalls, (it’s a tough life) before heading to Mount Bundy Station, which used to be a one million acre (!) cattle station to spend the night. So much for camping, this was GLAMPING (much more us!) in tents with beds, lights and power sockets. After making friends with Nigel the bull – who no joke, comes when called – and several wallabies, I ended up sharing my shower with 2 frogs.. you can imagine how well received this was!
After a steak dinner and an evening toasting marshmallows around the fire, it was no surprise what a great nights sleep followed. I woke in the morning watching wallabies play through the mesh sides of the tent, followed by a beautiful sunrise.
For our final day of this part of the adventure, we started off in Litchfield National Park swimming in the Buley Rock Pools – pretty cold but certainly wakes you up in the morning! Close by were the Florence Falls – possibly my favourite of the many waterfall stops, where we were able to swim right up behind and look through the falls.
Last but not least, we had a lunch stop at Wangi Falls. Although still beautiful, these were much more touristy, even with concrete steps built to get in and out of the water. Rumour has it one of the group spotted a crocodile here also!
It was a long drive back to Darwin, with a quick pit stop to see the magnetic termite mounds, which looked like a creepy termite graveyard! Didn’t stop us taking one last comedy photo though. But already, tour one was over, and another 6.30 start was looming for the start of tour two. Luckily most of the group was staying together for the journey from Darwin to Alice springs, and even more luckily it was a great group to be stuck with as a very long journey awaited us…
To be continued!
With kindest regards,
Have you ever been touring through kakadu national park? We’d love to hear your favourite spots!
P.S. Just a little extra – the words “only in Australia” could not be more appropriate here!