The following morning we drove the 35km into Gunlom Falls and our nice clean(ish) car and trailer saw its first taste of the red dirt of the N.T
. Gunlom Falls walk took us up to the top of the falls were swimming is a must and we relaxed in the pools for a while then onto Jim Jim Billabong where we made camp for the next two nights. After long discussions about whether or not to put the boat into the billabong, we decided to just take it off anyway and decide later. Within 10 minutes of our arrival Belinda and Brad, some friends from Melbourne who have been travelling for 6 months, had found us and with some male support Darren decided he would in fact put the boat in the river and try for a fish. They both caught a Saratoga and only saw 1 croc from a distance, so they were pretty chuffed with themselves. We all huddled in the camper tent for dinner to escape the mosquitoes that threaten to carry you away they were so big, and we discussed our travels so far.
The boys went for another fish that morning and again caught some Saratoga, sadly no good for eating, and saw another croc, this time the croc also saw them and stalked them in the boat for a while before setting up camp just on the other side of the boat ramp. Needless to say, this fishing adventure ended there. We farewelled Brad and Belinda and headed into Yellow Water which is a wetlands/billabong area where we were saw water lilies, egrots, and even saw some Barramundi splashing about in the water. A massive croc lounging on the bank gave us a fairly easy answer to our question of whether or not we would put the boat in here as well! The afternoon was spent relaxing and trying to stay out of the heat.
We stopped in at the Nourlangie Rock to admire the rock art and to wander around Anbangbang Wetlands for some birdwatching and as it turned out pig watching as we saw a cheeky piece of pork ripping his way through the wetlands
. Quite depressing really seeing the damage that they cause. We then headed up to Merl Campground to set up for the night and wandered down to Cahills Crossing were you can cross the East Alligator River. This is the border of the National Park and you can only cross it if you have permits to enter into Arnhem Land. This river is tidal and when we arrived (Darren with fishing rod in hand) the tide was right in lying across the crossing were 4 estuarine crocs. A couple of crazy people were fishing down there but when one of the crocs headed straight towards a man standing on the bank slowly submerging his head then body till you could see nothing, this was enough to deter Darren from having a fish! They were very cool to see so close up though – from the safety of the viewing platform!
That night we walked up to Ubirr Rock to watch the sunset over the plains and when we were walking back down to the car we were attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes. Back at camp and the situation was no better, in fact it was worse as a nest of ants had decided that our trailer was to be there new home and they were bringing the kids too. Every ant was carrying an egg!! So whilst I battled mosquitoes to cook up the quickest pasta dish ever, Darren took to eradicating the trails of hundreds of ants. Fun times. And to top it all off, when we packed up in the morning we found the mothership of ants nests they had obviously been working hard on overnight, whilst we were sleeping, right next to our mattress!!
Next stop… Darwin
We were fairly happy to see the back of Katherine to be totally honest, we stopped in for some fuel and food and with the (apparently) unseasonably hot weather, it was far better to be somewhere on the water. So we headed out to Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park) to camp for the night and explore the gorge. But after nearly passing out on the $34 per night to camp there we opted to just do a few walks and then move on to a cheaper option. We walked up to the lookout only about 2.5km return but at 2.30 in the afternoon made the ascent all that more challenging! But the view was well worth it, looking up and down the gorge escarpment. We pulled up for the night about 50km west of Kakadu National Park on a spot off the road on Harrietts Creek (dry).