The Top End – June, 2015

We allowed ourselves a quick winter escape this year, flying to Darwin and spending some days there before heading off in a hired camper to revisit Litchfield, Nitmiluk and Kakadu National Parks – places we had visited with the kids in 1992 (and Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk also in 1994). Darwin has become a very interesting multicultural city, definitely worth a visit (it was rather underwhelming in 1992).

The weather was wonderfully warm and we had a very relaxing time in general. The camper was just right for the two of us (not sure how you’d ever get five people in there!) and the scenery was as beautiful as we remembered it. We were delighted to see a lot of birds and wildlife and loved the fresh green of the trees contrasting with the straw yellow grasses and the red cliffs and rocks. It was warm enough to swim, though that was not permitted in some places for various reasons (crocodiles and cultural). The crystal clear cool waters at Litchfield National Park were a highlight, as were the sunsets, waterfalls, vistas and peaceful evenings sitting outside.

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Sunset from an East Point beach, Darwin. Parap market - durians and coconuts and much more besides! Sunset light on the beautiful rocks at Nightcliff, Darwin. "Indoor plants" flourish up here! Sunset at Mindil Beach. Markets just behind us - very popular! Darwin Botanic Gardens. Another day, another beach, another sunset. We can see an animal shape in the rocks here. What can you see? Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park. Lovely! Beautiful cool stream above Florence Falls. First day putting the roof top tent up. Not as easy as we had been led to believe, but we got the hang of it and got it down to a few minutes after a couple of days. And a cool swim in the Buley Rockholes nearby to refresh us after putting the tent up. Lilies and paperbark trees reflected in Tabletop Swamp, Litchfield National Park. Creek flowing across the escarpment before plunging over the cliff. Litchfield National Park. The lip of Tolmer Falls from above, Litchfield National Park. Tolmer Falls from the viewpoint (you can't get down to the plunge pool.) Litchfield National Park. Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park. Lovely big pool to swim in here. We walked to the Lower Cascades for another refreshing swim. Litchfield National Park. Wangi Falls pool from the side. Litchfield National Park. Katherine Gorge - we did the three gorge boat trip. It was just as beautiful as we remembered it from 1992 and 1994. Katherine Gorge further up. We were able to swim in a plunge pool on a side gorge. They hadn't cleared the Katherine River for swimming and boating yet as they were still checking there were no saltwater crocodiles in there. This is a freshwater crocodile who looks very much at home (they don't try to eat you, unlike the salties who do!) View down to a section of Katherine Gorge from Pat's lookout. Edith Falls, further north, also part of Nitmiluk National Park. Yellow Water, part of the South Alligator River floodplain in Kakadu National Park. We did a sunset cruise and spotted many birds and crocodiles, also some water buffalo and a snake. A cormorant drying its wings, a sea eagle and some ducks. And lurking in the water, a rather large saltwater crocodile. We were urged to keep all our limbs inside the boat! Sunset over Yellow Water. ... and a little later on. Pool downstream from Jim Jim Falls. Early morning reflections. More reflections at Jim Jim. Sunlight hits the beach at Jim Jim Falls. Only a trickle coming over the falls. You can't get there in the wet season, when the falls thunder over the cliff. Cliff above the beach at Jim Jim Falls. And the tranquil pool again as we walked back to the car. There could still be saltwater (or "estuarine") crocodiles in there - they swim up during the wet season. Crossing jim Jim Creek in the Toyota, to get to Twin Falls car park. You take a boat up the creek to get to Twin Falls. The lovely Twin Falls. Walking back to the boat. Only met about ten people on the way there and back - so nice to almost have it to ourselves! View across to Nourlangie from Nawurlandja lookout walk. Nourlangie - so many rock shelters and art sites! Various art styles from different periods, going back many thousands of years. The traditions continue today. Ubirr - more rock shelters and art sites, and a wonderful view in all directions. Looking north acrss the Nadab floodplain, which will dry out by the end of the dry season. Turkey bush (calytrix exstipulata) which was flowering profusely all over the Top End. We almost had this campground to ourselves! Mary River. Sometimes we only put up the roof top part of the tent, where we slept. It was always warm enough to sit outside till bedtime. Lotus flower on the Mary River, where we did a morning cruise and encountered a boatload of nudists having breakfast! :-) Saltwater crocodile lurking on the bank behind the lotus leaves. Jabiru (or black necked stork) beside the Mary River. Cute wallaby at the Territory Wildlife Park. Kingfishers at the Territory Widlife Park. Darwin Waterfront, a new development with apartments and restaurants. Has a wave pool as well. The old Stokes Wharf in the middle distance, also has lots of places to eat and drink and be merry.

Posted on July 23rd, 2015, tagged with events

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