Friday, October 20, 2006

- Darwin -

We arrived in Darwin on the 15th and ventured out to Mindil beach markets in the evening. It’s a buzzing atmosphere with the sun setting and then local bands busking… the endless array of multicultural food stands and the quirky stalls filled with local arts and craft etc.

Days have been spent chilling out in Darwin, exploring the city. I celebrated my birthday on the 18th, beginning with a “fry up” of bacon, eggs and fried tomato on toast for breaky thanks to Tim! Then with the day filled with a trip to the Botanical Gardens, the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT and then a wonderful dinner at a Greek restaurant called Yots on the marina at Cullen Bay!

(Photo's coming soon!)

- Waterfalls -

(This is Florence Falls! It was just a 5 min walk from our camp.... )

(Mighty Termite mounds are dotted around the landscape... they can get bigger that this one!)

I think Litchfield NP has been a highlight of the trip to Darwin. We spent 3 wonderful days exploring water falls, cascading over tall rock ledges lined with ferns, palms and ancient trees falling into deep plunge pools filled with inquisitive little fish! We also ventured through an old homestead. We ate like kings but most of our time was spent amongst the waterfalls, the water was like velvet to swim through. It was amazing. In the evening we entertained ourselves with tasty food and scaring off wild pigs and trying to squash a cane toad or 5!

(Dale enjoying a free massage from Mother nature!)

(Ah... this is the life... swimming in this water was like velvet... until a little fish nibbles at your toes!)

(In honour of our Canadian friend Jamus, we spoiled ourselves with pancakes on the last morning! Thanx Jamus for the maple syrup!)

- Rock Art & Cane Toads -

(Compared to my travels here last year, i've never seen so many cane toads!Tthe buggers are invading!!)

(The "Blokes" celebrate swimming in the waterfalls at Edith Falls... 'Ah the serenity')

Driving on into the Northern Territory we saw the landscape change and the weather getting warmer. Our first stop was just out of Katherine at a place called Edith Falls. It’s a huge plunge pool 150m across to a small waterfall. It was a beautiful place to stay and in the morning we walked a 2.6km loop to visit the upper falls.

From Edith falls we ventured north to Kakadu NP beginning with a swim in yet another waterfall! We checkout Cahill’s Crossing, which crosses the East Alligator River into Arnhem Land, to try and spot the saltwater crocs and try fishing for barramundi (loads of bites). We camped nearby and tried again in the morning with me landing one on the first cast!! Much to guy’s disgust! Although too small to keep, they need to be 55cm in length and over. We pulled ourselves away to soak up some local culture exploring the local rock art site Ubirr. Some of Australia’s oldest Aboriginal rock art is found here. It was amazing.

We drove out off Kakadu towards Litchfield National Park, being sure to stop into the Bark Hut (a popular NT Bar) once the cheeks were red rosy again we drove off to a new adventure at Litchfield NP.

(My Barra, caught first cast of the morning... sheila's luck the guys say!)

(Over looking the wetlands at Ubirr in Kakadu... this area is in a scene from "Crocodile Dundee")

(Viewing some of the Aboriginal rock Art...)

- The Grotto & Kununurra -

On the drive towards Kununurra we stopped the night at a place called The Grotto. I know what you’re thinking “why on earth would we stay at a place called that” We arrived late so we set up camp in the dark leaving the mystery of the place til the morning.. Up at sunrise, with our swimming gear on, we rushed down the deep beautiful swimming hole that we had all to ourselves.. a rope strung from a tall tree provided a challenge and entertainment. What a relaxing way to begin the day and with a short drive into Kununurra.

(Graeme jumping out to the rope at The Grotto.)

Kununurra was a welcomed break from the road and chance to clean ourselves up and check out the sites. Tim met up with friends in town who invited us all out onto their boat to have sunset drinks on the mighty Ord River! We spent mornings trying to catch Barramundi just off the dam. Dale managed to catch 3 although all too small to keep! On our final day we drove out to the local Rum distillery called the Hoochery. It was an interesting place and we all indulged in the $1 a shot taste testing! They also produce liquores, cane spirit and ouzo. By the time we left the guys had a rosy glow on and were great entertainment as we crossed the border into the Northern Territory!

(A big thankyou to Tim's friends Peter and Anne invited us out in their boat to explore the Ord River! The bats here are amazing taking off at sunset.)

(Dale caught this Barra one morning off the Kununurra Dam! Too small to keep though.)

(This is us outside the Hoochery... I think this experience will be remebered by all!)

(Yes well..... What can i say, the peanut factory strikes again!)

- Onto The Bungle Bungles -

(A beautiful photo halfway through the cave in Tunnel creek.)

(L-R:Graeme, Me and Tim. Wading through water in tunnel Creek.)

Leaving Windjana Gorge saw us exploring nearby Tunnel Creek which runs 1km through a sandstone cave system... You have to wade through water in some parts which was quite refreshing in the increasing heat of the day.

Bats were plentiful and the formations in the cave were beautiful. Traveling on we passed through Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek to eventually begun the rugged 53km drive into the Bungle Bungles.

The Bungle Bungles are truly unique. Giant beehive domes layered in colour surrounded us as we walked in to check out the mighty Cathedral Gorge. Its like nature’s amphitheatre with towering domes and vibrant colours. We camped over night and explored Echidna Chasm and the Mini Palms walk. The play of light on the rock was different at every turn it was truly amazing!

(The "beehive" formations of the Bungle Bungles...Truly awesome!)

(Dale passing time while i was driving round to our next walk...)

(Tim, Dale and Graeme relaxing midway through a walk...I've dubbed them the "peanut factory")

- Broome to Windjana -

(Windjana Gorge... )

Well ,we’ve finally moved on from Broome, with my car being fully loaded with gear for 4 ppl and the swags had to be tied to the roof! Tim, Graeme, Dale and I headed off in pursuit of a 2 week adventure to Darwin.

Our first night was spent out at Windjana Gorge which is just off the notorious Gibb River Road in the Kimberley. A beautiful spot, with high sandstone walls and rich colours of reds, yellows and greys, which look amazing in the light of the setting sun. Dinner was coral trout, saved from a recent fishing adventure! What a way to begin!

(L-R: Graeme, Me and Tim. Exploring the banks along the gorge.)

(One of over 70! resident Freshwater Crocodiles)

(The colours on the sandstone were amazing in the sunset light.)

(Preparing our Coral Trout Dinner! Yummo... this is the life!)