Northern Territory Part II

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We then headed South and West to make our way to Litchfield National Park. Kakadu was nice but it was still early in the season so a lot of the trails and sights were closed or inaccessible due to high water and saltwater crocodiles. We arrived in Litchfield in the afternoon and got a powered campsite (as temperatures are still scorching hot, we needed our fan hooked up!) right outside the park not too far from some pretty falls named Wangi Falls. On the way, we got pulled over by friendly aussie police (much friendlier than our US police I might add) that were doing a random alcohol check and James had to blow in the breathalyzer twice (as we came through that road a couple of times and the cops did not recognize us). Australia and especially the Northern Territory and Western Australia state have a major problem with the aboriginal population and alcohol..and we have seen many examples of it such as locals in the middle of nowhere completely drunk and stumbling on the road under the 100 degrees temperature!

The next day we got up early and toured the beautiful spots of Litchfield: a short hike around Wangi falls, a stop at Tolmer Falls lookout and Buley rockhole (lots of natural pools but too busy for our liking). We hiked a less frequented trail called Greenants trail and dipped in Tjaetaba Falls (our first plunge pool), before ending our day at Florence Falls for a last dip before stopping for photo opportunities at the magnetic and cathedral termite mounds. The next day we had a great swim at Edith Falls on our way to Katherine Gorge. Nobody was there so we had this beautiful huge natural pool to ourselves. We did start to wonder if it was because of crocs but apparently the area is “managed” so we felt a bit better about swimming alone. The water in all the swimming holes and natural pools has been surprisingly very warm and not difficult at all to get in.

imageAbove: Wangi falls, below: golden orb spider known for its extra strong web (even NASA scientists are studying it)imageBelow: Tolmer falls lookoutimageBelow: next 3 pictures, our first swim at Tjaetaba falls, it felt very good after the sweaty hike uphillimageimageimageBelow: next 4 pictures at Florence falls. We even had heaps of fish in the water.imageimageimageimage imageAbove and below: cathedral and magnetic termite mounds. The magnetic mounds aligned North to South.imageBelow: Next 4 pictures: Edith fallsimage imageAbove: crocodile trap, unfortunately once caught the crocodiles are never returned to the wild but instead brought to a “farm”imageAbove and below: just us at Edith fallsimage

At the Katherine tourist information center, we were told about a nice 9 mile round trip hike to a place called Lilly Ponds where we could take a cool dip, but once inside the park we were told by staff that no swimming was allowed due to the possibility of crocs in the area. Undaunted by this news, we set out the next morning with a picnic lunch and started out into the already hot temperatures. We encountered some loud obnoxious chatty birds, but found them quite gorgeous and we couldn’t help ourselves chasing and photographing them.

imageAbove: on the way to Lily ponds, sooooooo hot..imageimageAbove and below: the beautiful rainbow lorikeetimageWith the day slipping away and still a ways to hike, we turned off the camera and made a beeline to Lilly Ponds. The trail seemed never-ending with each rocky crest only to produce another hot and rocky segment as we followed the blue triangles that guided us. We finally reached the main gorge (Katherine) and then followed the sub-gorge back upstream where a skinny waterfall splashed into a round punch bowl. Despite what we were told about the crocodiles, we were so hot and sweaty that we decided to take a dip. We stripped off our clothes and got into the shallow end of the pool (where we could clearly see the bottom) and completely enjoyed the refreshing water by ourselves.

imageAbove: small pools on the way. Below: finally reaching Lily pondsimageBelow: view of the gorge from Lily pondsimage

We ate a relaxed lunch, but shortly packed up to start our way back before it got too late. Halfway back, we had drank all our water in the searing heat, but fortunately the Aussies know tourists do these kind of things and have put a couple water tanks along the route, so we filled up. It wasn’t cool spring mountain water, but very much welcomed nonetheless. Once we arrived back at the parking lot, we headed straight for the visitor center and got a very cold drink. We felt so dehydrated! It was a great hike and we didn’t see a single hiker all day (may be because we were crazy to hike in this heat?) …

The campground we stayed at (and the only one) in Nimitluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) was a tranquil haven with a beautiful swimming pool, some nice trees providing shade , and even some wildlife to entertain us. We had wallabies hanging around for handouts, tons of birds (including an owl), bats, and lots of frogs and toads.imageAbove: mom and baby wallabies. Below: kingfisher with green tree frog caught for its dinner. imageBelow: cute flying foxes getting some rest on a tree at our campgroundimageAfter a bit of indecision, we decided to join the morning boat cruise that traverses up two sections of the gorge. The cruise was very scenic, although we missed much of the narrative of history and Aboriginal stories given by a quick-speaking young woman with a thick Aussie accent.imageAbove and below: we saw lots of flying foxes at the beginning of our cruise in the gorgeimage image image imageAbove: non venomous golden tree snake. Its body is golden while its head silver.imageAfter the cruise, we went back to our campervan, repacked and ate lunch before setting out on another hike that would take us to Butterfly Gorge (this time, we brought more water). The route covered much of the same route of the previous day’s hike, but was shorter. Strangely, nary a single bird. A portion of the trail paralleled an escarpment wall where we spooked hundreds of butterflies from their hiding places. So we had definitely arrived in Butterfly gorge.

image imageAbove: cane toad on the way to our hike. They are poisonous and an invasive species.image

 

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6 Responses to Northern Territory Part II

  1. Ilse Kamin says:

    Hi you 2,
    I thoroughly enjoy traveling with you on my computer, your travel descriptions and stories of your adventures. You take the best photos. I especially love the flying rainbow lorikeet. Are you going to the Hamersly? That was our favorite.
    Lots of love,
    Ilse

    • speters14 says:

      Hi Ilse, good to hear from you. We are loving Australia and its beautiful and rugged West Coast. We just came out of Karajini NP and we didn’t go to Hamersley…it was too far and we already took our poor campervan where we shouldn’t have. Oh well, gives us another excuse to come back:) . Bisous to both you and David.

  2. Heather says:

    Woooooowwwww. Just wow. So jealous of you guys right now. The scenery is stunning, and I want to stay at a campground surrounded by wallabies, cute little flying foxes (love those guys!), kingfishers and owls! I have to admit to being a little worried that you guys were going to be some croc’s lunch in those gorgeous pools, btw! : )

    • speters14 says:

      Australia really is gorgeous but so vast and…expensive. We would like to come back with more time and money and do the area more justice. We feel we are only scratching the surface. No crocs chasing us out of the water yet!

  3. Terrea says:

    Lovely and intriguing although you both DO look overheated. :o) I got your postcard from Cambodia. Thank you! Such a wealth of beauty and ingenuity every where you go. Manmade stuff looks good too!

    • speters14 says:

      The temps are getting better as we keep making our way further South. Just hoping they don’t get too much cooler. As we’ve said before, Cambodia was absolutely wonderful.

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