Thursday, 26 January 2012

Alice Springs to Darwin

After the night out not many of us felt up to doing much on our day in Alice Springs, and the overwhelming heat didn't give much encouragement either! I was staying at Haven's resort along with those who were continuing up to Darwin; we spent most of the day by the pool to cope with the heat. A few of us walked up Anzac Hill to watch the sunset before going for a few drinks at Annie's again.

The next morning was an early start on a 3 day trip to Darwin. We sat outside the hostel waiting to be picked up, everyone quite tired and lacking in enthusiasm. A while later Heff turned up – we all assumed he was there to pick up his group to take to the rock but he said he was taking us to Darwin. No one believed him at first and thought it was some kind of joke but he started reading our names off the list and everyone was in shock! Everyone became a lot more lively as we got on the bus – the 6 new people mustn't have known what was going on! That day was mostly driving, we passed over the Tropic of Capricorn and entered the tropics as we headed up to Tennent Creek where we spent the evening. We travelled about 600km through the day and stopped at a few random pubs in the outback along the way as well as taking a look at the Devil's Marbles.

Katherine Gorge
It was another long drive the following day where again we stopped at a few unusual pubs along the way. Before we reached Katherine for the night, we went for a swim in the thermal springs in Mataranka. The next morning we went to Katherine Gorge. We walked to Southern Rockhole which has to be one of the coolest places I've been so far. It felt like a bit of a wild goose chase at first as the path just seemed to keep going and turning at random intervals. Eventually we found the rockpool at the bottom of a waterfall, completely secluded from other places – it was incredible! The water was so fresh and clean and there were several places to jump in (similar to Black Moss Pot). Safe to say that place was one of my main highlights form the trip. From there we finished the trip up to Darwin. As we approached the clouds set in and it looked like the predicted monsoon was about to hit!

Although we passed through patches of heavy rain and thunder and lightening, it wasn't too bad when we reached Darwin itself. That evening we went out for tea at the appropriately named bar: Monsoon. Despite the fact we had an early start the next day a few of us stayed out till the early hours. At midnight, very randomly, a few drag queens took to the stage – very fitting after the day at King's Canyon, but very unexpected!

The next morning, we jumped into a new 4WD vehicle with a slightly new group, and a new guide. We spent the day in Lichfield National park. First we swam at Florence Falls followed by Buely Rockhole. Similarly to the previous day we found places to jump in from but unfortunately it rained for quite a bit of the day. By the time we reached camp the monsoon had well and truly set in! I'd never actually seen rain like it before, within minutes there was a river outside the kitchen area and a sheer wall of water seemed to be falling. Thunder and lightening continued through the night.

Garden of Eden
By the morning it had dried considerably. From there we entered Kakadu National Park. We walked to a second place called the Garden of Eden – far more impressive than that at King's Canyon! It was well and truly hidden, reached only by swimming across one of the rivers, and the more you climbed up, the more impressive it got. It wasn't that long before the rain set in again and by this time we were on our way back to the truck. When we reached the camp at around 4pm we had half an hour before a boat cruise along Yellow Waters. This area was very similar to Daintree in Northern Queensland and following the lack of any sightings whilst up there, I was sceptical that we may actually see a crocodile. Shortly after we started down the river in our aluminium boat, the thunder and lightening kicked off! It was far too close to us for it to be safe to continue so reluctantly, the guy turned the boat around. Just before we reached the jetty we actually spotted a croc in the water! It was about 2 and a half metres longs swimming close to the surface not far from the boat! I was amazed...

Due to the cruise being cut short, we did the same thing again first thing in the morning – this time we saw very little aside from a few different species of bird along the waters edge. From there, we went to Nawurlandja lookout but the view was obstructed by cloud and rain. Our last scheduled stop was at Anbangbang where we saw ancient Aboriginal art work. There were some really impressive drawings here, and the stories behind them were really interesting. After this, it was back to Darwin for the last time. We stopped off and saw a fresh water and salt water croc in captivity and seeing the salt water crocodile up close was pretty freaky – they're huge and scary looking!

When we arrived in Darwin the rain was relentless. Vanessa let me stay in her hotel that night as I had to leave early for my flight. We each got a double bed and it was amazing! We all went out to Monsoon for a second time, but had a much earlier night than the last time. Everyone was pretty exhausted; 21 days on the go for a few of us and it had taken it out of us. We got the dance the Nutbush one last time in Monsoon before we all went our separate ways. It was pretty weird to say bye to everyone, we'd become a bit of a family over the past few weeks!  

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