Ka kaa doo doo doo! Push pineapples shake a tree!

Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
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Trip End Jul 26, 2004


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Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Tuesday 2nd March.
We headed back to the library first thing to check emails. We had to take Vernon back today so we spent a couple of hours unpacking then repacking and cleaning him out. We picked Tamlyn up at 3pm and headed towards the airport and dropped off Vernon and caught a cab to the airport. We killed a couple of hours and then boarded our flight to Darwin. It's a 4 hour flight which again highlights how big this country is! We got off the plane and collected our bags and caught the airport shuttle to a YHA hostel in town where we arrived shortly after midnight. It wasn't the nicest hostel but it had a pool and at this time of night we just wanted to sleep.

Wednesday 3rd March
We woke up and headed out to inspect Darwin which held no expectations for me. The reason we are here is to see the Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. We were looking to book a tour while we were here. We had some breakfast while looking through the various tour leaflets and found a good one with Kakadu Dreams. They had a 3 day tour within Kakadu and if booked with them they threw in the Litchfield Day Trip for just $20 instead of $80. We decided to book the three days leaving tomorrow, coming back on Saturday night and then do Litchfield on Sunday and leaving us Monday morning in Darwin before our flight to Perth Monday afternoon.

We booked it and then had a look around Darwin. I was pleased to see that here is a different story than Alice with regards to the Aboriginal integration in that there seems to be more harmony here. The Aboriginal people are working and shopping alongside white Australians. It was a refreshing sight after Alice Springs and maybe Alice could learn something from Darwin.

We headed to Smith Street Mall and I dropped off seven films for developing to pick up on Monday. Its a fairly nice town, a regular high street and close to some nice parks and the beach. We had a good wander round, it is quite hot and humid here but not as bad as I imagined. We stopped at an Internet cafe and Tamlyn booked his onward flight to Alice Springs also for Monday and then we all went to the cinema. We watched Lost in Translation which was a good film.

We headed back to the hostel and had a beer and some dinner before getting an early night as we leave for Kakadu at 7am.

Thursday 4th March
Very early start as we had to check out of the hostel and take our main luggage to another hostel called Chilies where we were going to stay when we got back. We got to our pick up and met Ben and Louise our tour guides for the next three days and our five other traveling companions. There was Bill from Sunderland, Greg from Switzerland, Attila from Hungary and Lars and Anna from Sweden. We all piled into our Toyota Landcruiser and headed off towards Kakadu. Now Kakadu has 4 seasons but 2 main ones. The dry, when no rain falls for 5 - 6 months from May and the monsoon season when it rains everyday. This is January to March. The Monsoon is the best time to go as the wildlife is the best time to go as the wildlife comes back to life and the rivers and waterfalls are in full force. The down side is that it rains everyday but normally in the evening about 4pm.

The other thing Kakadu is famous for is its crocodiles. This is where they filmed Crocodile Dundee and the occasional tourist gets eaten. It has been 12 months since the last backpacker was killed and a few months since the last local was taken by a crocodile whilst cleaning his quad bike in a quiet billabong. This said you have 21 times more chance of being killed by a horse than a crocodile in Australia as 21 people were killed by horses in Australia last year alone. Australians have lots of facts like this to prove how exaggerated their deadly animal stories are. Another example is the most lethal venomous animal in Australia is not the brown snake or the funnel web spider but the introduced European honey bee, responsible for more deaths in Australia that all of their spiders and snakes put together. So having been persuaded to jump into a croc infested billabong should I see a horse coming we made our first stop at the Jumping Croc Cruise, a short trip down the Adelaide River looking for crocodiles in their natural habitat.

Well, considering we are not in a zoo or sanctuary I was expecting to maybe see one or two on our 15 minute trip but no! Also this time of year isn't prime eating season so many crocs aren't looking for food as they can go without food for many months. Saying that we saw 5 rather hungry looking crocs. A couple of freshwater and 3 salties. One was nearly 6 metres long. Now saltwater crocodile don't live in saltwater they can actually live in either but prefer the freshwater as the sea is a harder place to survive. They tend to live in estuaries and occasionally travel for miles out to see. It is very easy to tell a freshwater crocodile from an estuarine not just a size perspective but also their heads are very different looking. We also saw some sea eagles and one swooped down and swiped a rump steak from the boat. We fed some of the crocs and then made our way back to the 4WD for our trip into Kakadu.

Our first stop was Nawurlandja where we hiked up a cliff to amazing views of Kakadu and the Arnhemland escarpment. It was stunning and worth the hike up in the heat - just! Ben, our guide, then took us to show us some rock art which was over 20,000 years old at a place called Nourlangie. It was amazing and so clear still today after 20,000 years. Some pictures depicted hunting scenes and some were images of mythology and Aborigine "dreamtime" stories. Others were examples of teaching with pictures of fish and highlighted were the bits that were safe to eat. It was phenomenal. We had a massive picnic lunch next to a swimming hole which was so well recieved by our now bedraggled group. After lunch we went on a full afternoon hike taking in some stunning rainforest and waterfalls. We got back to the 4WD in time for the start of the days rain and made our way to Mary River which has a petrol station, bar and camp. We all got showered which was a waste of time as it rained relentlessly for 5 hours so walking from the shower block to the camp only got us soaked again. We arrived at the main camp (which is undercover with net walls - fortunately!) to a massive BBQ of kangaroo, buffalo sausages, and stirfry. It was delicious.

I headed back to our cabin alone to get my torch before meeting the others in the bar when I felt something on my neck, I did a mad dance type thing swiping whatever it may be and couldn't see anything. I then changed my top for a dry t-shirt as the rain had now stopped and I felt something roll down my back and land on my leg. It was a massive thick legged yellowy spider. I did another mad swiping dance thing to get it off my leg, I know you are supposed to be calm in these situations but that is easy to say when you haven't got one of these creatures on your person! It eventually fell to the floor and I spent the next 2 hours feeling itchy and my skin crawling. Trying to get to sleep was a nightmare when you feel the need to chack your sleeping bag every 5 mins!!

Friday 5th March - Happy Birthday Simon DS!
We got up and had breakfast early before making tracks to our first stop at Yukimik where we were going for a full day hike. We first had to cross Kurrundie Creek which according to the depth indicators at the side of the road was running at 0.5 metres straight across the road and pretty quickly I may add. The 4WD handled it fairly well but you can't help but wonder if we were swept away whether to to choose to stay in the car or take your chances with the crocs and the current. Ben informed us (after we had crossed safely) that that was the deepest he had done it and he would never cross at anything over 0.5 metres With that (and the journey back) in mind we decided to head back at the first sign of rain and be back by 4.00 as that is the usual time for the rain to start.

We made our way to Motorcar Creek falls. Now one thing the Australians do is name things with the most obvious name! They use a "say what you see" mentallity. Green coloured ants are called the green ant! A toad that lives in a tree and is coloured green is called the Green Tree Toad and so it goes. Motorcar Creek was named because when it was first found a car got stuck in the creek and stayed there for years hence Motorcar Creek!

We hiked through the rainforest and up the river until we got to the Falls which were raging because of the extended rains last night. We had lunch here on the rock in front of the waterfall and then hiked back down the valley. We took a different route back through Boulder Creek which was another stunning gorge in the rainforest surrounded by huge trees and with a sequence of 4 waterfalls with a swimming pool at the top of each one. We had a an easy walk back from here after a couple of hours swimming. We walked along the Escarpent edge. We got back to camp after crossing the greatly reduced Kurrandie Creek had showers and headed to the main camp for our BBQ. There was only half an hour of rain so we all managed to get there relatively dry.

Now, believe this or not but I swear it is true. I was standing talking to Tamlyn and Ben when Tamlyn kind of freaked and pointed at me and Ben lunged towards me (in a mad dance type of way by the way and he is a professional!!) The same god damn spider (well, the same type I am not sure if it was the exact same one as we never had time for formal introductions!) It was crawling up my back and appeared on my shoulder. I couldn't believe it. Why me? By the way Ben identified it as a "Bird Eating Spider" and "potentially dangerous" I grabbed myself a drink.

We had a lovely dinner of T-bone steak, sausages and stirfry and then we all headed to the pub to play ridiculous drinking games - I was advised that only copious amounts of VB would cure my current bout or arachnophobia! Slept like a log after many many VBs!

Saturday 6th March
Today was a great end to our three days. We made our way to Gubara and headed out to sandstone country. We arrived at a little waterfall called Wallaby Falls where we had a snack and a swim to cool off. We then started our hike up the sandstone rockface known locally as the castle. It was pretty hard going but the views got better and better the higher we went. There was a massive crack running horizontally through the rock face about a foot high and twenty feet across and ran a half mile right the way through the rock. Now we had two options to get to the other side. We could ckeep climbing up the overhang or shimmy on our backsides through the cliff. We took the coolest and filthiest option and climbed into the rock. It was a little daunting at first as it was dark and claustrophobic but once our eyes had adjusted and the bats had fled we made our way through.

I was pretty relieved to see the light at the other end. As much as we were all glad we did it we optioned for the rock climb back. We made our way back down the cliff to Wallaby Falls again where we all went swimming fully clothed to clean the dust off our clothes. We had lunch here before making our way to the best place of all, The Garden of Eden. This was just the most beautiful place. It had a series of little waterfalls and pools with saratoga and catfish that came to swim with you. We climbed up the waterfalls to the top pool called the amphitheatre which was stunning. We spent a few hours here before climbing back down to the bottom pool for our last dip before making the 6km walk back to the 4WD. We were all shattered for the drive back to Darwin. We got back and were given free meal vouchers for a pub called the Vic which was cool so we all arranged to meet up there in an hour. We got back to the hostel and put everything we had taken to Kakadu on a hot wash while we headed to the Vic for our free meal and a few beers. Not for too long though as we have an early start tomorrow to go to Litchfield National Park.

Sunday 7th March
Today was a chilled version of the last 3 days where we basically did little walking and no hiking but lots of swimming and relaxing. Litchfield is only a short drive from Darwin and took just over an hour from our 7am pick up place. We first headed Wangi falls and took a walk along Shady Creek till we reached the massive waterfalls. We met a couple of Canadian girls who were on our trip and just arrived from Thailand and Vietnam so we were getting hints from them.

We all had lunch before moving onto Tolmer Falls for another swim and then to Buley Rock Hole for a play in the rapids and natural waterslides. We then headed to see some massive termite mounds. They were huge but I will leave ther photo (not develpoed yet!!) to demonstrate their size. We got back to Darwin and had a quick shower and change and then headed to meet the Canadian girls for dinner at a nearby pub for dinner. They had a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin that they had bought for ten dollars in Thailand and didn't want to have to carry it around with them so Simon, Tamlyn and I headed to get some nibbles and mixers and headed back to their hostel where we also met up with Anna and Lars from Sweden and we all polished off the litre bottle of gin and 4 huge packets of Doritos a little before 2am where we then headed to bed and our first lie-in in five days - Bliss!

Monday 8th March
We got up a little bleary eyed at 9am and packed our bags. We had some coffee and toast and then checked out. We walked to Darwins main street to collect our photos from the developers. We then got a cab to the airport with Tamlyn. His flight left at 2pm for Alice Springs so we waved him off and caught our flight at 2.30..................

......Perth to follow soon
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