Quite early into the drive from Batchelor to Katherine, we found ourselves in the middle of a huge flock of Red-Tailed Cockatoos. As we were on a highway, we had to pull over and put the car in the dirt right next to the road. From here, we had excellent views of this flock of birds, which was about 200 birds large as they were moving along and crossing the road.
About 40 Km’s from Katherine is a site called Edith Falls, and we were by several people informed about it. It supposedly is very nice, and there would also be a small café where nourisments could be bought. They were all true. The site is home to Edith Falls, where you can swim in both the top pool and the plunge pool, as these are patrolled for Salties (Estuarine or Salt Water Crocodiles). There only are some Fresh Water Crocodiles in the pools though, but they generally don’t attack swimmers. We have had a really refreshing dip there, and dried up in the sun. As temperatures have risen to a very comfy 34 degrees, that was a welcome swim! The food at the café is really good, and everything is home cooked by the patrons of the campsite. Great!
Nearing Katherine Gorge, we found a Black-Necked Stork or Jabiru, the largest stork over here. It grows to about 1.4 metres tall, which is pretty large. The one we found was decently sized, and it dwarfed the other storks around it. Despite its size, the stork was quite unsure what to make of us though, as it nervously walked around trying to keep the distance between it and us the largest. It still looked awesome though!
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on a boat tour of the gorges which make up Katherine Gorge. Right now, it is not one but 13 connected pools, of which the first three can be visited by boat. We toured the first two (the best ones of course) and even had dinner on a boat. How lovely. The other gorges by the way can only be visited on foot (numbers 4 through 11) while the last two can only be viewed from the air.
Tomorrow, we’ll drive to Kakadu National Park, the biggest and best known NP in Australia.
Today is the day that we will get another car, this would be pickup number 3. After a Toyota Camry, and a (couple of ) Toyota FJ Cruiser, what will it be this time? Oh yes, another Toyota. This time a white Toyota Land Cruiser Prado D-4D. It is big. One could even say it is massive. And it is brand new! With 11km on the clock, it is ours to explore the city of Darwin and the National Parks surrounding it.
Today, we will travel to Litchfield National Park which is a mere 90 minutes drive from the city. We will spend the night in a town just outside of the NP called Batchelor. The day will be spent exploring the park itself. And it is nice! With temperatures rising to about 33 degrees and the sun blazing, it is great weather to be outside. The park has quite a few highlights, all handily reachable alongside the main road in the park. A lot of Falls, and a site where a specific type of termite builds giant mounds, all perfectly aligned with the magnetic poles of the earth. These are called Magnetic Termites, and their mounds are really cool.
Other notable places to visit in the park are: Florence Falls, Wangi Falls and Tabletop Swamp. We have spotted a lot of birds along the way, and even a small Kangaroo. As the National Park was being under maintenance with controlled burns, the air was thick with smoke in some places. This is really weird to us, these people are deliberately setting fire to their forest!
The upside is, that the Black Kite know that burning grass means insects trying to escape, and they are lining up for the bugs to come out so they can eat them. At one point, we saw at least 50 birds attacking the insects who were trying to flee from the fire across the road! The birds were constantly swooping down through thick smoke to the road, what a majestic view. Those were not the only birds we’ve seen today, as the Galahs and Rainbow Lorikeets have also made their presence clear to us by being really vocal in the trees near to the hotel room. We were even lucky enough to see some black Cockatoo flying! Finally, a pair of Blue Faced Honey Eaters sat down in our eyesight, and posed beautifully for our cameras. Great day!