Edith Falls, and possible work

We’re currently staying in Katherine again after spending two lovely nights at Edith Falls in Nitmiluk National Park. Edith Falls is a place worth visiting. It’s beautiful, and we would have liked to stay much longer.

After we arrived and set up camp we did the 2.6 km circular walk up to the water hole and falls in the top pool. The walk was a lot harder than we were prepared for. One half of the walk was relatively easy in our sandals, but the other half would have been easier in our hiking boots, and Paul’s ankle reminded him of that the next day. Once at the top though, and after much grumbling on my part in getting up there, the difficulty of the walk was soon forgotten. The pool and falls were glorious.

We spent about an hour up there swimming and playing under the falls. The water was a perfect temperature, cool enough to be refreshing but not too cold to get into. Then we came down to the bottom swimming hole and falls, and again went for a lovely refreshing swim to cool off after having walked down in the heat of the day.

Swimming hole at Edith Falls.
Swimming hole at Edith Falls.

The camp ground there is better than a lot of caravan parks. Grassed areas, lots of room, solar heated showers, flush toilets, and drinking water. There’s no power of course, and we can’t connect our caravan to the water by hose. None of that mattered to us though, as our water tanks were full, and we have sufficient power in the van to meet our needs providing the sun’s shining. In the dry season in the Northern Territory it never rains, so the sun is always shining at this time of year.

We didn’t have internet or phone coverage there though, which meant we needed to go into Katherine for a short trip to get our phone messages. Normally it’s not a problem being out of range, but as I’d applied for a position as a station cook at a place in South Australia, I thought we’d better check to see if anything was happening.

It turned out I was in with a small chance, so we moved camp back to Katherine so as to be easy to contact. Three days have now gone by and we’ve heard nothing, so that ones looking slim. Not all is lost though, as I’ve since put in another application at a station that’s wanting to employ a partnership, a cook and a bore runner. I’ve contacted them by phone and followed up with our resumes.

Either is really a slim chance as whilst I’ve had loads of experience that more than qualifies me for cooking for 20+ hungry station hands, none of it is recent, so current references are’t in abundance. We’re arranged to meet the managers of the NT/Qld station at the end of the month, so fingers crossed.

Kakadu/Kakadon’t

Territorians don’t seem to think much of their tourist icon, Kakadu and have given it the nick name of Kakadon’t. We thought perhaps they were exaggerating, so we spent five nights there so as to give it a fair go. However, after the five nights we tended to share their sentiments.

I’m not saying we didn’t find a couple of things there interesting, because we did. We stayed at the caravan park attached to Kakadu Lodge. It was just on the outskirts of the township of Jabiru, and was an above average sort of caravan park with a lovely lagoon pool, and pleasant enough facilities. From reading reviews of all the caravan parks in the area, I think they all have a reasonable standard, and are all reasonably priced (less than $50 a night for a powered site). The pool was too cold for me to get into, but we’ve found that with all the swimming pools in the Territory. They’re all concrete and covered with shades, and absolutely freezing!

The township of Jabiru was a surprise. We’d expected mainly just a general store, but it is a proper, tidy little township with quite a few streets, a Foodlands, a news agency, and several other small shops. It has a population of around 1700. Beware though of the bakery, it sells some dangerously, delicious goodies!!!!

There’s a lot of tourist sites to see in the park, and each of them is approximately an 80 km round trip from Jabiru to visit. The first day we went to Uburr. Uburr is a sacred site with a lots of rock art and a relatively easy climb to the top where you see 360 degree views of the escarpment. It was a place used for a scene of breathtaking beauty in the movie Crocodile Dundee. It is stunning, and was worth the 80 km round trip from Jabiru.

We did several other trips to various spots of around the same distance though, and to us, none of them were particularly memorable. We chose to do the cultural boat trip on the East Alligator River in preference to the yellow water cruise on a billabong. If we’d not seen Crocs before it may have been an interesting cruise. But we have seen lots of crocs before, and that seemed to be the main focus of the boat trip. We had clarified that this wouldn’t be the case before booking it, so were quite disappointed. We were taken across to disembark in Arnemland, and while there our guide showed us how to throw a spear. It was one of those ‘whipdee do’, type of trips, that’s easily forgotten. Perhaps the yellow water trip may have been better.

We also visited a bird hide, and a billabong that’s supposedly the most picturesque in the park. They were both ok but nothing memorable, and nothing that justified the car mileage to visit them. So, Kakadu, or Kakadon’t whatever you want to call it. I’m pleased we’ve seen it, but I wouldn’t go there again.

Northern Territory in Detail

LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK (about 2 weeks ago)
Another wonder around 130 kms from Darwin is Litchfield National Park. Firstly we went to Florence Falls, and had a swim.

Beautiful Florence Falls, powerful enough to knock sunglasses off your head.
Beautiful Florence Falls, powerful enough to knock sunglasses off your head.
Kelv and me overlooking Florence Falls in Litchfield.
Kelv and me overlooking Florence Falls in Litchfield.

Here Kelv went under the water fall on the right with his sunglasses on. The power of the water knocked them clean off his head. We seconded the assistance of a couple who had water goggles on, and once located it was simply a matter of finding someone else with enough strength to dive down far enough to retrieve them. It was a joint effort by several strangers, but I get the feeling they all felt as elated as we did when the sun glasses were successfully retrieved.

Next we went onto Buley Rockhole, a series of small waterfalls that provide the perfect swimming spot, or as we found out the perfect place for the best water spa massage ever.

Perusing a possible spa.
Perusing a possible spa.
Decision made, Paul decides it's worth trying out.
Decision made, Paul decides it’s worth trying out.
Yep, pretty damned good.
Yep, pretty damned good.
Paul getting pounded, but not for long. I edged my way over and pushed him and out.
Paul getting pounded, but not for long. I edged my way over and pushed him and out.

On our exit from the park we called into the area full of magnetic termite mounds. Apparently, the termites detect the magnetic pull of the earth and build their mounds in a north south direction, with the slimmest sections catching the hot north sun. It’s an eerie looking place, resembling a graveyard full of head stones. Nature provides so many more fascinating spectacles than man ever could. This is just one more of them.

Not a graveyard - magnetic termite mounds.
Not a graveyard – magnetic termite mounds.

Northern Territory in Detail

BERRY SPRINGS

Berry Springs - lovely place to swim
Berry Springs – lovely place to swim

I feel like I’ve skimmed over so much that deserves more detail in this amazing Northern Territory. So, I’m going to try and recap some of the places we’ve visited and give each place the justifiable rap it deserves.

Darwin, I think I’ve covered. Apologies for not get the promised photo of the masses on Mindil Beach at sunset on market night. We forgot to take our camera the second time we went.

Now I’ll try and re-cap our visits to Berry Springs. What a place. It’s around 50 kms south of Darwin. It’s not a place to venture into during the wet season, in fact none of the natural swimming holes are, but more on that later. During the dry season Berry Springs is one of the more trusted of the water holes that even the locals use. Apparently, there are fresh water crocs there, but as freshies are rather timid creatures and not man eaters, they generally make themselves scarce.

We visited this place twice, and enjoyed a marvellous swim there. It’s a place you could easily spend a day at, either taking your own picnic lunch or there are food vans and a kiosk there. The water is pleasantly warm at around 30 degrees and crystal clear, and there are steps and hand rails for entering the water. The banks are surrounded by monsoonal forest palms and trees, so rather a stunning ambience . Floating around the different pools there was very relaxing. A must see and do place for anyone visiting the NT, and preferably plan on spending the better part of a day there. It’s not hard to do.

In the wet season though, most swimming holes are a ‘no go’ as the waters rise. Crocodiles are increasing in numbers now. They nearly became extinct in the 1960s and so became protected. Add to that the fact that the Cane Toad has severely diminished one of the crocodiles only predators – the goanna. Yes, you read that correctly, the little goanna. It loves crocodile eggs. So now crocodile numbers are well and truly on the rise. As they’re territorial, increasing numbers means they need to move further and further upstream to establish their own territory. So they’re now being found in places seldom seen before.

In the wet season as smaller pools get joined up with each other to form larger pools, the crocodiles move into swimming holes, and the swimming holes get closed to the public until the dry season returns. At the beginning of the dry, salties in swimming holes are trapped and transported to other places, before once again the swimming hole is declared reasonably safe for humans to venture into. There’s never any guarantees though, and some locals won’t chance swimming anywhere except a back yard pool even in the dry.

Leaving Darwin for Kakadu

We’ve had a quick look at the job opportunities in Darwin and nothing has tweaked our interest. There’s a few jobs similar to those we left behind, but we’d both rather be doing something new, and preferably only of a seasonal length.

We’ve been in Darwin for long enough now to have had a good look around, and we’ve enjoyed what we’ve seen. It’s an expensive place though, and even though it’s a small city, it’s still a city, and cities aren’t really where we want to be. So, tomorrow we’re moving on to have a look at Kadadu, then on to Mataranka. From there, who knows where the wind or whims will take us. Probably on to Northern Qld, if nothing else takes our fancy. What a good feeling that is – nothing written in concrete, just where ever we choose on the day…..

We’ve had such a good time catching up with Kelv. He’s been showing us around, and in turn, we’ve also been dragging him off to places he hadn’t seen. He’s been patiently (but I suspect reluctantly sometimes) tolerating our tourism choices, but at the same time he’s also enjoying seeing some things he wouldn’t normally be choosing to look at.

On our way back from Litchfield National Park one day we called at the Mango Farm where he’d been working for a bit of photo shoot for his resume. He looks very much at home driving a tractor. Suspect he’s found his niche in life in farm work. It was interesting while there to look around the farm too, and get an idea of how seasonal pickers live and work on a Mango farm.

Vistiting Kelv's mango farm
Vistiting Kelv’s mango farm

On one of days in Darwin we visited Burnett House, an old Queenslander type, national trust house on the water front at Myilly Point. It’s an amazing piece of architectural design so suited to the tropics, and it survived both the bombing in world war two, and Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Both didn’t leave it completely unscathed, but nothing that couldn’t be repaired whilst keeping it’s original design in tact. It’s one of those houses that makes you realise how far removed we’re now living from sensible and sustainable environmental living. If ever you come to Darwin, please put this house on your list of ‘must do things’. It’s inspiring.

Northern Territory wonders

We’ve been having a wonderful time since we arrived in Darwin last week, and with the help of our tour guide, Kelvin, are now finding our way around quite easily.

Darwin is small city with a population of around 130,000, but that’s without the tourists. At this time of year that number must rise dramatically.

We’ve been to, and swam in some wonderful swimming holes, some in Litchfield National park, and at Berry Springs. They’re pleasantly warm and so beautiful. One of the swimming holes in Litchfield had several water falls, and we managed to find a spot under one of them with a good seat and foothold. The pounding water from the water fall gave us the best massage ever.

Darwin has lots of local markets, and we’ve been to the Mindil markets twice, and Parap markets. They’re both really good markets, but the Thursday night Mindil markets are particularly special. They have an amazing array of food stalls featuring food from all over the world, and it’s good food too. We bought our dinner and wandered down to the beach with it to watch the sunset – along with about half the population of Darwin. I’m not kidding. We’re going to take a photo of all the people next Thursday and will post it. I’ve never seen so many people on a beach at one time. Apparently sunsets are a rare sight for the Eastern state visitors….

We’ve been to two museums, which gave us a good insight into this small cities tragic past. Firstly it was bombed to bits by the Japanese in 1942, and we hadn’t known to what extent until going to the museum. Then, less than 35 years later it was almost annialated by cyclone Tracy. Now it’s a lovely, new and small cosmopolitan city that’s so easy to find your way around. The locals hate peak hour. To us peak hour in Darwin city centre on a week night is like any suburb in Perth in the middle of a week day. We could even do a U-turn at 5.30pm on a week night on a main centre city street. Amazing..

So, we’re loving the top end. The weather is amazing, around 14 over night, and around 30 in the day. Low humidity and soft breezes, and consistent day after day. Also, of course we’re loving having Kelvin with us to show us around. He loves this place and his pride in it shows. Must say, so far I can understand his love.

It’s not all good though, it’s super, super expensive. Caravan parks are around $350 a week, which is very pricey for Grey Nomads. National parks and museums though are free.

We’re starting to peruse both the job market here now, and the house sitting opportunities. We’ve noticed the house sitting opportunities in North Queensland are abundant, but here they’re a bit scarce. In another week we should have an idea if we’ll be staying here for a while, or travelling on. For now though we still have a lot to see here, so we anticipate a minimum two weeks more if job or house sitting doesn’t turn up anything appealing.

Now in Darwin

Stunning Katherine Gorge
Stunning Katherine Gorge

We stopped at Katherine for three nights. Katherine is virtually a junction town that, wherever you’re coming from in Australia to the NT, you have to come through Katherine. With Katherine Gorge being one of the counties most famous and beautiful gorges, it’s a place that justifies a stopover of a few days.

We stayed three days for a look around, and to see the gorge. Breathtaking!!! We can’t wait to see it at the end of the wet. Katherine itself has a pleasant enough feel to it, but I believe in the wet it’s harder going than Darwin. At this time of year it’s a busy, busy little place with hundreds of tourists (or terrorists as the locals call us) either arriving or passing through each day. At least a dozen cars with caravans are parked at the tourist information centre at any time of day.

We’re in Darwin now and are staying at Lee point caravan park. Kelv is between jobs so is no longer on the farm in Humpty Doo. He has a friend that stays in this park, so here he is and here we came, despite some of the worst WIKI camp reviews. We’re finding the park okay though, but at more than $300 a week, it’s expensive, but no more so than other parks around Darwin. We have our own ensuite and laundry here which will be great if we end up here long term, and we suspect we will.

We’ve been here three nights so far. Kelv is showing the place off to us and doing a wonderful job. He should get a job as a tour guide! His enthusiasm for the territory is catching and so far we’re loving it. Time to get today started though at the moment, but when I get time I’ll write about what we’ve seen so far in this small, new and very clean city.