A Travellerspoint blog

Australia - part 12

Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, NT

sunny 36 °C
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After our well earned day off we (Mette, Denisa and I) were up and out early for a 6.40am pick up. We had to check out of our room and put our luggage in the hostel storage – another small bag trip but as this was the third one we’d perfected the packing-ish – think Denisa was traumatised by all the packing and repacking we were having to do. I just opted to hardly unpack and just swap dirty for clean clothes. Most of the time you needed the same stuff so just had to find clean versions... ????
This time a big 4wd bus turned up with a trailer.. Once on we realised that 2 already on the bus were on our previous tour.. They’d booked last minute. Thankfully this time we were only 13 in a 17 seater so we weren’t squished like sardines, and there was more leg room too.
We headed back down the Stuart Highway but this time turned off on to the Arnhem highway and aimed for Kakadu National Park. This tour would see us doing only a mere 960km over the 3 days and based around 3 highways with diverts off to visit the various places. We stopped at Corroboree Park tavern before we got to the national park to say hello to Annaburroo, the albino buffalo (named after the area she was found in). We also got to see first hand the sheer number of wild wallabies in the area. We’d see them constantly over the next few days, as well as the whistling kites overhead.
At the entrance to the park we stopped for the obligatory shot at the big sign to prove we were really there – Mon, our tour guide, maintained no photo, no proof of being there... As we went over South Alligator creek we had our first, but no means last, sighting of a wild crocodile – just floating in the middle of the creek (big wide one that we went over on a bridge). Usually they’re nearer the edge but he (say he coz it was a big’un) was just slap bang in the middle.
We continued on for a while looking at the scenery and wildlife spotting (or just plain sleeping in some people’s case!) and headed for ubirr and some aboriginal rock art, all pretty old and amazing to see, and a breath-taking lookout – the views were incredible and apparently it is the spot that Mick Dundee went to when he ‘made a call’ in Crocodile Dundee 1! On the return back down we had a quick bite to eat (do it yourself sarnies as per the other tours) and then headed to the warradjan cultural centre at cooinda, via the kakadu highway (3rd highway we’d be travelling on) for a look around before driving round the corner to our campsite for the night. This time we were in tents. These ones are permanent ones raised off the ground slightly and with proper beds, mattresses and power (bedside light and fan). This is a permanent campsite within a campsite that the tour company has set up.
We all headed to the pool while Mon sorted tea (felt guilty not helping but she was happy on her own). Some of us managed to find a quiet smaller pool rather than the bigger main one the rest of the group went to. It was also where all the families staying at the resort were going to so our little pool remained child free and not busy. Dinner was a nice and simple chicken and veg stir fry (bbq style). Some went to the pub afterwards but I opted to stay back and catch up on blog writing.... I was getting so far behind.
The following morning we had an early start as we were off on a crocodile cruise on Yellow water. All we had to do was get up and dressed by 6.15 as we would be having breakfast when we got back... Practically a lie-in for us! Normally the tour guide would take us to the boat dock but due to the amount of water on the road the boat company ferried us from the resort to the boats. We settled in our seats and gently moved out onto the water and soon enough we had our next sighting of a crocodile, but before that we saw the iconic Jabiru bird, native to these parts of Australia, in what should have been the car park but was currently under water... The boat driver/guide brought us in close to the croc, which didn’t seem at all phased about us being there and staring at it, and we all took our photos. As we went around looking for more crocs all the birds and plants were being pointed out too. Lotus lilies, snowflake lilies, melaleuca trees, pandanus aquatica, sea eagles, egrets, whistling ducks, honking geese, lily pad waders (inc chicks) as well as the crocodiles. We were also shown a crocodile’s nest with potential mummy croc close by keeping an eye on it. They’re not sure if it’s a real nest or a phantom pregnancy nest due to the unusual weather they had recently. Only time will tell...
After a lovely couple of hours on the water we headed back to the campsite and breakfast. We then put our swimmers on as today was a swimming day at the bottom of gunlom falls; a nice path for about 2/3rds of walk there and then a scramble over the rocks to get up, and then down, to the pool. We went to the Upper pool as it has a nice waterfall coming into the pool and can get a free shoulder massage once you get under the water flow. There was a def knack in getting into place but once there a ledge under water meant you could wedge yourself into place... The water then flowed over the edge of the 2nd pool and managed to get a couple of ‘infinity pool’ shots. Just waiting to get them from Mon, who took them for us on her phone. They have the view of kakadu in the background.
Eventually we had to get out and head back, scrambling back down the rocks to get to the path. If we’d dried ourselves off at the pool we were wet again but the time we got to the bus – the heat and humidity was horrible at times. One late lunch was eaten and then back on the road to head to Mount bundy, our next campsite. On the way we stopped at pine creek (we had also stopped there on the way to darwin for one of their home made ice creams) and sampled another of their ice creams (mango this time, strawberry and white chocolate the previous time)...
Mount bundy campsite also had permanent tents for us but the toilets were a bit more rustic than the last campsite... They had also replaced one of the yellow (anti bug) lights in the kitchen for a normal white one... Cue bugs galore around the light. The bug killer spray was well used that night! The resident toads in the kitchen were most happy at the easy dinner though.... There were loads of free roaming animals too; a Shetland pony, that thought he was a dog, a dog, a couple of peacocks (lacking tail feathers as the new ones were only just starting to grow back out) and loads of peahens. There were also, in paddocks and not roaming free around the campsite, a couple of bulls, horses, donkeys, pig, Guinea fowl to name a few. The buffalo, in the same paddock as the donkeys and pig, were not friendly or tame so kept well away from us, and us them.
Once we decided we’d been bitten enough by the midges while enjoying a drink at the bar we headed back to the kitchen for a lovely steak and salad dinner. Some then headed to bed while others chatted in the kitchen for a while longer. Or last morning of the tour was a proper lie in for us – breakfast from 6.45 and not leaving till 8am! We had to clear out our stuff and sweep our the tents. We then took all our leftover food and fed it to the animals. The donkeys loved the bread and the pig got all the leftover salad. Happy animals. From there we had a quick refuel stop at Adelaide River Station, where the buffalo from Croc Dundee 1 is stuffed and stood on the corner of the bar.. From there we turned off Stuart Highway and passed through Batchelor, a small place but big on ideas. Has the institute for indigenous tertiary education, a replica of Karlstein Castle (guy who built it missed the view when he moved there so built a miniature replica – go figure!) and is the gateway into Litchfield national park – this park is one of the few free parks, and the only one we visited during this tour. From there we had a quick stop at banyan tree, where I got to cuddle another snake, this time a children’s python (name not a python of the children!).. So cute. I can see why people have them as pets.
We then stopped at the termite mounds. Here there are examples of both active and non active magnetic termite mounds, and also cathedral termite mounds. One was protected as it’s believed to still be active and around 70 years old. The 1st 40 years worth is underground and we could only see the 3m of mound visible above ground. The other was most definitely inactive as it had been invaded and overrun by meat ants... You could see where they were exiting and entering the inactive mound.
We then got to our first waterfall of the day – Florence falls. This one had 135 steps down to the plunge pool area, and even had metal steps into the pool. No inelegant getting in and out at this place! We had the guys do some posing on a rock in front of the falls and we also found a big rock for a group photo. This was a nice pool just for swimming around in. Instead of climbing the 135 steps back up we had a pleasant walk (pleasant as it was cloudy so not burning hot but also very beautiful scenery) through the rainforest with a more gentle incline back to the car park. Normally we would have had a quick swim at wangi falls but the pool had been closed due to croc and turbulent water risks.. We just went for a look at the falls while Mon bbq’d our lunch (they have proper gas bbq stations in most parks in Australia – some free, some have to pay to use but always near picnic benches). After our lovely last lunch, in the rain as well (felt like the picnics I had as a child but warmer!), we packed up and headed to our last stop of the tour – Buley Rockhole. This was an easy walk to the pools and, due to the rain, we went down with just our towels and shoes (cameras optional but I had my phone in its waterproof case just in case). Here the pool was deep enough to jump or dive into from a ledge. Then there was a nice sitting ledge to get another natural falls neck /shoulder massage.. Some of us decided to have a bombing competition – I won, purely on surface area hitting the water factor! ☺️ I also had a couple of dives which was fun.
After this it was head back to darwin and the end of our Northern Territory Top End tour....

Posted by Labgirluk 02:04 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls camping kakadu crocodiles litchfield humid rock_art yellow_water crocodile_dundee

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