The Darwin cup, Litchfield and Kakadu

Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
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Trip End Dec 10, 2010


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Monday, August 6, 2007

San picked us up from the airport at 12:15am in her new ute (that's short for utility vehicle over here, everything's abbreviated!) and brought us back to her great apartment where we met up with her brother and sister, Declan and Eleanor, who were over from Ireland visiting and her house mate Phill from New Zealand. Up early the next day to get dressed up for the Darwin cup and mix a few cocktails to keep us going for the day! Well, as we've never worn more than jeans and a t-shirt to the races before, it was a little different putting on the glad rags for a day in a field!

Met up with more of Sandra's friends for lunch in a place called Fannie Bay Cool Spot (Yes it's named after a little area called Fannie Bay believe it or not!) After that continued on to the races and settled down with a few beers and a few bets. We only won about 50 dollars over the course of the day which was a great achievement for us and a good excuse to celebrate! Left the races a little worse for wear and headed to a late bar in town. Everyone kinda got split up after that with people going home early, leaving just the 2 of us and Sandra. When we left the pub my new sandals were killing my feet so I took them off and prepared to hobble home. However Sandra had a better idea spotting a shopping trolley and demanded I get in so her and Steve could wheel me home. Well I didn't need telling twice, jumped in and had a very bumpy ride, nearly capsizing twice because of the stormwater fall on the footpaths, back to the apartment leaving me with sore feet and a sore ass! Seemed like a good idea at the time...

The next morning we were all up early to collect our rental car and drive it and Sandra's ute to Litchfield. The rental companies were all out of cars so we ended up with a 1992 Toyota Camry estate which later became affectionately known a "blue steel" by Sandra's housemate Phill from New Zealand who also came with us. Two other girls Nicky and Angie also came along for the day and headed back later that evening. We arrived in Litchfield and went to see the infamous termite mounds before going to Buley Rockhole for a quick dip and then setting up camp near Florence Falls. After setting up the campsite we went to the stunning Florence Falls for a swim. Returning back to the campsite, we lit a fire and Steve cooked up a fine bbq for everyone, he's come a long way from chicken rolls, 5 minute pasta and Budweiser!!

The next day we packed up early and made our way to Kakadu National Park. This drive was more enjoyable because everyone wasn't nursing hangovers from the races. We went to the Adelaide River for a "jumping croc cruise" which was a bit touristy but excellent all the same and our first sighting of these impressive reptiles in the wild. The River was full of crocodiles and everyone was told to keep away from the edge of the boat when it was stopped for fear that someone could be dragged into the river. After seeing how high they can jump out of the water, nobody disobeyed this rule!! After the cruise we headed for the remote town of Jabiru to set up camp for the night. We pitched our tents and promptly drove to the sacred aboriginal site at Ubirr near the border of Arnhem land for a hike to see a spectacular sunset and spectacular it was...

The following day we set off for Darwin, doing a Yellow Water Cruise along the way. This was definitely one of the highlights of Kakadu as the surrounding scenery and wildlife was just breathtaking. We saw crocodiles (they're everywhere), eagles, wild horses, jabirus, pelicans and whistling ducks to name but a few.

After the Yellow River cruise we decided to take a dirt road some of the way back to Darwin. It was about 100 kilometers long and joined up again with the Stuart Highway just before Darwin. As we weren't driving a 4x4, Steve and I were a bit concerned about driving the Toyota on it but the road seemed ok so we went ahead and thought if it gets too bad we'll just turn back. After driving (slowly and bumpily) for about 45 mins the road descended into the South Alligator River. We looked at each other and decided straight away that we were going to turn back. Whatever chance "blue steel" had of getting through the river, if it stalled at all, we didn't exactly want to be getting out of the car halfway across a river in crocodile country and having to push!! Sandra and the guys drove the ute across to the other side and back again to us to see how deep it was and check for crocodiles, so as not to injure the animals or ourselves, and they all agreed that it would be fine but we weren't convinced. In the meantime a group of tourists in a 4x4 pulled up beside us. The girl driving told us that she had driven a 2 wheel drive on this road before and everything was fine. She then took off like a rocket across the river like a complete muppet with the jeep flailing from side to side and obviously with no comprehension or understanding of what would happen if her engine took in water. Aside from giving us a great laugh we decided we wouldn't be taking her advice. However after a lot of convincing from Sandra, Phil, Declan and Eleanor (a helluva LOT of convincing) we decided to put the car in neutral and tow it across with the ute using a sling. Steve hopped in the back of the 4x4 and directed while Phil steered. We got the car across with no incident and breathed a unanimous sigh of relief!!! We drove back to Darwin and went to the beach just in time for sunset, what a perfect end to a perfect day.....

The following day we visited Crocodylus Park and got to hold a baby salt water croc, really cute when they're small, not so much when you can fit between their jaws. Apparently a full sized male has the crushing power of approx 3.5 tons between his jaws, scaryyy. We were sad to leave Darwin the next day, saying our goodbyes to everyone but also glad to be going to Alice Springs for the start of our next adventure..............
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