First stop was Darwin in the Northern Territory. Brad and I spent two days on the esplanade before meeting our tour company. Darwin has it's own character, it's not an easy climate to live in so it's not for anyone who isn't tough as nails. They talk about people being affected by Tropo, a condition that is very real and very aggressive during 'build up' right before the 'big wet'. I'm referring to two of six seasons in Darwin. The ratio of women to men is about 1:20.
The views were just a glimpse of what we were about to see later in the week.
Just your average lunch choices in Darwin.
All set and ready for our pick up to head out on our adventure. We traveled on a 4WD bus with about 15 other people from all over the world. The first three days were spent in the 'Top End' of the Northern Territory, while the last three were spent enroute to Alice Springs.
Who can resist the classic tourist opportunity?!
The first day required a lot of road to be covered, as did most of this whirl wind trip. Our tour guide ensured we were fed and watered every few hours to make sure we were comfortable. These were very typical stops on our journey whenever we needed fuel.
Another road house station.
Next stop, our first watering hole at Wangi Falls. Brad and I swam over to the falls, you can only imagine how the water felt pelting down on our shoulders.
There was a easy trek up and around the falls and we had just enough time to do that too.
Wangi Falls from one of the lookout spots. It is the dry season so the waterfalls aren't rushing as much as they do when it starts to rain. This spot, as with most of our spots on this trip, get completed flooded out. Crocodiles fill the waterhole, but conservation officers control the crocs as water levels drop to allow tourists and locals a safe spot to swim.
We took in a Pudakul Aboriginal cultural tour. Graham & his daughter Deanne shared knowledge and stories of their people.
It was a big first night, and we were pretty excited to see our beds for the night. We call this 'glamping' and we even had a double bed!
We were up early the next day to do a boat cruise on the Mary River. This is a good time of year to visit the river, I was amazed that the water levels rise another ten metres!
No swimming in this river, its full of dangerous Saltwater Crocodiles and Freshwater Crocodiles that are about 4-5 metres long. 'Keep your hands in the boat' is a very real message on this cruise.
Kakadu National Park was our next stop. The road into the next few places required very sturdy and aggressive 4WD vehicles, but even they got stuck and we helped push them out. We hopped on a boat to travel up river and then hiked in to see Twin Falls. Above is the boat launch, below is another breath-taking view of our journey to get to the Falls.
In order to see water flow from the falls, you need a helicopter as this place is only accessible during the dry season. To help appreciate the size of these falls look to the bottom and slightly to the left. There is a camera crew doing a photo shoot for a travel magazine.
The water was cool and safe to swim in. It was so peaceful. It is here that aborigines women take their daughters to teach them about tribal customs and law.
On a side note, our trusty vehicle broke down in the middle of no where on the way back to camp. Thank goodness for satellite phones. It was a memorable night because the sky was clear and the milky way shone bright. It allowed for photography lessons while we waited for our rescue.
The next morning we made our way to Nawurlandja Lookout. We climbed to the top under instructions 'don't turn around until you reach the top.' And this is the view we saw. Anyone else think it looks like McIntyre Bluff?
At Ubirr we learned about aborigines customs and way of life as it once was. There are several stunning paintings all over these rocks.
This one is painted on an overhang way up near the top. To take this picture Brad had to zoom all the way in. He thought the artist was exceptionally talented to have figured out how to get this painting where it was.
There are lessons to be taught in each of these paintings.
At the top of Ubirr we posed for a very silly pic which includes the rock to the right where Crocodile Dundee 'made his telephone call.' That ended our Top End tour, next we headed south.
At Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk National Park we took in a very ambitious kayak adventure.
The picture above and the two below are pictures of Edith Falls. We scrambled to get to the top, having limited time to stay and swim. In the picture below we captured a woman jumping to allow for perspective. This place is one I would hope to get to again...it was magical and had three levels of waterfalls to explore and swim in.
Pictured above are swags. This photo and the first one of Darwin are the only two pics that weren't taken by Brad or myself but it had to be added to give a real appreciation for what we were sleeping in. But we were sleeping under the stars, with four freshies (fresh water crocodiles) and a eight foot salty (nasty salt water croc) in the billabong just a few meters away, a huge lizard walking through camp, and a mob of wallabies complete with babies in pouches even closer. Spider on my pillow just as I'm about to crawl in for a much needed sleep. Best day ever, and nope I didn't sleep a wink.
Bitter Springs at Mataranka Thermal Pools was exquisite. The water was warm and there was a gentle current that carried you downstream while you floated on your back. Once you reached the end, you walked back to the top to do it again.
A true Aussie adventure isn't complete without a stop at the Daly Waters Historic Pub. This place is a landmark on the way to Alice Springs from Darwin, and truly is, "A Fairdinkum Outback Experience."
Banka Banka Cattle Station was our last night's accommodation.
The last leg of our journey took us through The Devil's Marbles, or Karlu Karlu. This place has significance for the traditional owners (aborigines) as a dreaming place. Most of these legends are not shared with outsiders.
Can you see Brad in the picture above?
A quick pit stop as we crossed the Tropic of Cancer.
Typical view out the front of the bus for the 1500km trek from Darwin. Alice Springs was our final destination on our 6 day outback adventure.