01 August 2010
After going to Melbourne & Bendigo for work, then Darwin & Litchfield & Kakadu for school holidays, I felt like there was a lot I could blog about, but so much that I spent way too much time thinking about what to write. At the same time, I spent several weeks fighting off the whooping cough and the horrible effects of megadosing myself with antibiotics (my first antibiotics since 1991), so I also wasn't in much shape to compose anything readable. Now I feel like it's probably too late to go back in time and describe everything we did, but suffice to say, we loved Litchfield & Kakadu and definitely want to see more of the Top End.
The top of Gunlom Falls was probably the most picturesque of all the gorgeous swimming holes and waterfalls that we visited – I would include it on anybody's "must-do" list for the Top End. There were a whole series of approximately rectangular basins cascading down to the lip of the waterfall, all quite generous in size. Above them were a series of rounded pools, fed by a carved miniature gorge. The water was clear green over a sandy bed; I felt like I was swimming in glass. The top is reached by a 2km ascent from the campsite. We also swam in the plunge pool, which was the only time we went past a "swim at your own risk" crocodile warning sign. (Everyone was swimming, so it seemed pretty safe.) Someone camping near us offered us the use of their pool noodles, which helped us to swim all the way across the pool to the base of the waterfall with Anya and Callum in tow.
Our cruise of Yellow Water ("Ngurrungurrudja") at sunset was also a great experience. It was the only time we actually saw any live crocodiles, despite a myriad of "swim at your own risk" signs throughout the parks. I read that the estuarine crocodiles ("ginga") have largely displaced the freshwater crocodiles ("madjarrki") in Kakadu, which is why there are so many warnings now. The estuarine crocodiles (also known colloquially as "salties") are larger and more aggressive, whereas the freshwater crocodiles are shy and tend to leave people alone.
I wish we'd had time to see Butterfly Gorge, whose walls are apparently home to countless butterflies; The Lost City, a spot which our rented 4WDs were not allowed to go; Jim Jim Falls, which we missed in favour of Nourlangie Rock; and all the other waterfalls and rock pools we missed. We did go to Florence Falls, Tjaynera Falls, Buley Rockhole and Howard Springs, which is a pretty long list considering our limited time. I am glad we went to Nourlangie Rock, where we got to see an ancient rock shelter (possibly 40,000 years old), lots of rock art, and a beautiful view of an escarpment.
We came home already thinking about our next camping holiday. Anya and Callum adjusted to the camping and 4 wheel driving life quite readily, so that's one obstacle cleared. Anya did ask me mid-week, "Can we go home now?" but it turned out the reason was, "I want to use a computer." Now we just have to pick a time and place, and go.