After our trip to the red centre we went up to the Top End of the Northern Territory. Darwin was our start off point and we had a warm welcome of 33 degrees! We went from 18/4 degrees maximum / minimum in Victoria to 23/12 in Alice Springs to 34/22 in Darwin. The dry season has just started here so basically clear skies everyday. Some clouds but most of them were caused by the backfiring of land they do here in the early dry season. So what did we do here?
Well first we visited the wetlands in Mary River and the Northern part of Kakadu National Park. This means no red soil but green monsoon forests and rivers and lakes( billabongs) with lots of birds, like spoonbills, egrets in all sizes, sea eagles, kingfishers, ducks, cormorants and herons and our favorite the Jacana ( Jesusbird)
with its elongated feet. Some of the walks were actually still closed as you would have to go close to the waters edge which is quite dangerous because of the "Salties" the estuarine crocodiles that inhabit the rivers and the billabongs. We did get to see quite a few of them on the river trips that we did here.
The "freshies" fresh water crocodiles are a lot cuter and not so dangerous. The hikes we did were just short walks compared to the ones we did in Victoria as with these temperatures hiking, even in the morning, is killing. Our water intake quadrupled on these walks. We also visited the most important rockpainting sites of the aboriginals in Kakadu being Ubirr and Nourlangie. The rockpaintings here are up to 20.000 years old. Especially the X-ray paintings are quite impressive. They are still very colorful even after so many years as they are being painted over to keep the stories and legends alive for future generations.
In Kakadu also the relax mode really started to kick in. The afternoons were spent having a swim in the pool at the camp sites. Also the flynet we bought is not necessary anymore instead the DEET was more useful here as the flies were replaced by mozzies. For an even more relaxing time we went to Nitmiluk National park a.k.a Katherine Gorge. Here the chlorine pools of the campgrounds were exchanged for the natural rock pools of Edith Falls, some easygoing canoeing in the impressive Katherine Gorges
and some small hikes to the gorge where we saw a pignose turtle in the gorge. In Litchfield National park the remarkable magnetic termite mounds were quite impressive. It really looks like a graveyard. We enjoyed some more swimming in the natural rock pools under small or bigger waterfalls. Unfortunately this park is so close to Darwin that some of these pools get quite crowded with day visitors.
But if you camp here then at 7 am the tranquility is back and you have the pools to yourself. On the way to the pool cute little Rock Wallybis with a distinct black and white stripe on their shoulder were hopping away. In Darwin we are getting ready for our next adventure. Buy some more books to read, send some stuff home and do some laundry. All in all our campervan trips here were great and every leg has had its charm. We're definitely going to miss the pensioners or grey nomads as they call them here who are roaming around their country with their 4WD and caravans as they are the friendliest and helpful people we've met on this trip. Allright we're off to Papua New Guinea for some diving and more birding.
You all keep working and making money and we'll keep on relaxing, enjoying and spending money in order to keep the global ecomomy going.
Till our next blog!