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Exploring The Top End

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 20 April 2014 | Views [315]

Once again we’re off to explore another one of Australia’s highlights – the Northern Territory.  So we pack our sleeping bags, walking boots, swimmers and we’re good to go.  First up we hit up Darwin for two nights pre tour to check out the town, have a stroll about the wharf, visit the old town hall last destroyed by cyclone Tracy in 1974 and enjoy a few beers to cool down.  It’s a wonder there’s so many Irish there with weather up in the mid-30s in Autumn.  I don’t think we could handle that heat everyday.  I almost forgot, we also took a plunge into the cage of death with Chopper.  Chopper is an 80 year old croc who lost his two front feet in territorial battles down stream of La Belle station, west of Darwin before moving upstream becoming too friendly with locals so he was relocated to Darwin croc farm where he later became resident at Crocasaurus Cove.  At an impressive 5.5 metres and 790 kilos of pure croc how could we say no to hopping in beside him for a swim.  What an experience.  Definitely one off the bucket list.

So out of our comfy hotel for 5 days camping around the top end. 

Day 1 – We headed out of town for a day exploring Litchfield National Park to soak up the tranquillity of the tropics at Florence Falls (double waterfall set amidst monsoon rainforest) and Buley Rockholes.  On the way we made a quick stop to check out the magnetic and cathedral termite mounds seen all across the top end of Australia.  Termites are so prominent up here all of the electricity poles are made of steal.  They won’t chew their way through that!  To end our evening we took the Corroboree billabong cruise in the Mary River Wetlands to get up close and personal with some salties and freshies to bring in sunset.  This area has the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the southern hemisphere.

Day 2 – We drove further south into Kakadu National Park through the wetlands at Mamukala towards Jabiru to have a look around the Bowali Visitor Centre before driving out through flooded roads to Ubirr.  Ubirr boasts several fascinating Aboriginal rock art sites including paintings by the mimi spirits (fairy like beings said to have taught the Aborigines how to hunt, paint and set fires, human like but live in a different dimension).  Ending the day with a nice relaxing dip in the pool at our campsite.

Day 3 – Due to it currently being wet season Jim Jim and Twin Falls were closed so we spent the day in the Nourlangie region exploring Gubara sandstone cliffs and Nourlangie ancient Aboriginal shelter and art sites. 

Day 4 – After two days of trekking with no refreshing swim at the end, today was a glorious day.  We trekked into Motorcar Falls for a well-deserved swim in the creek.  Aptly named after a historic vehicle track where in 1946 the first motor car entered the region.  Quick stop for lunch before another swim at the base of Edith Falls.  It had been closed all season until the day we arrived.  The crocs had been caught and it was declared safe for swimming.  Although slightly nervous to swim after seeing a croc trap with a pigs head in it by the bridge we chanced it and swam across the open waters to the falls.  Granted the girls did let the boys go first and they didn’t get eaten so the girls followed along after. 

Day 5 – An early start to our last day on tour for our 4.2km trek over land to the Southern Rockhole in Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park).  As the wet season was coming to an end the falls had mostly dried up leaving a not too tempting green pond for swimming.  Needless to say we all opted to chill out on the rocks instead of swimming before catching our boat back to the visitor centre.  Nitmiluk gorge is an amazing piece of landscape.  Thoroughly enjoyed the trek in and even more the boat cruise back out.  Back on our air conditioned bus we headed for Darwin with a short stop on the way to say hi to Charlie – the buffalo from Crocodile Dundee now stuffed and on show for all to meet and greet in Adelaide River.  After a hell of a week trekking the top end we arrived back in Darwin to the warmth of our air conditioned hotel room for a much needed shower before a night on the town soaking in all of the backpacker atmosphere Darwin has to offer with the rest of our tour group in Shenanigans Irish pub. 

Tags: crocs, national parks, sunset, swimming, trekking, waterfalls

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