Day 24: Bye bye Kakadu!

All good things must come to an end, and our visit to Australia’s most famous National Park is not different. We actually have nothing planned for today, and decided to totally wing it. We’ll make up stuff along the way, we know we need to be at the airport at a certain time to hand in the car and catch a flight to Cairns, but that is all.

We received a good tip from another couple to visit Berry Springs, and that was an awesome tip! The springs actually have warm water, which makes the three pools nicely warm as well. The upper pool has its own (miniature) waterfall, the main pool is of course the largest, and the lower pool is nice and quiet. We have had a luscious swim in the pools, and enjoyed watching the fish. They were Archer Fish, and just ignored the swimmers as they went on to do the things fish generally do. There are not Estuarine Cricodiles here, just some Freshwater ones, but they generally do not attack humans. 🙂

The Arnhem Highway crosses the Adelaide River, and on this river, there are multiple companies offering “Jumping Crocodile Tours”. They are also quite cheap! But as these crocodiles have learned to just feed on the stuff the boats hang out for them, all natural behaviours on them have vanished. And this is in a country where nearly all animals have their own sign saying not to feed the wildlife! The cruises hang a large piece of meat over the water, and entice the croc to ‘catch’ is by yanking it higher the moment the croc wants to take a bite. Even though it is their natural capability to jump out of the water like that, it feels odd. And so, we moved on.

The last stop for today was a place called Howard Springs, which is really close to Darwin. Due to the saltwater crocodiles there was no swimming allowed, so we just relaxed a bit and learned something about the history of the place and its role in WWII. (Recreational, as it was being used as a retreat for the soldiers on duty in the Darwin Area)

Handing in the car was a sad moment for us, as it is really new still. We drove around 1350kms in it, and it even smells new! The flight to Cairns was about 2 and a half hours, and was very quiet. The transfer to the hotel was swift, and the weather over here is nice as well. Tomorrow, we have no plans, but we heard there’s a place where you can lie on a beach!

Day 20: To Litchfield National Park

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!

Day 19: Off to the Top End

After a weird morning, we started the day at the local Botanical Gardens in Alice Springs. We heard that the café over there served a really decent breakfast, and that their prices also were just right. And we can now fully corroborate both statements! The food was great, and prices ditto. The only downside to this all was that all seating is outside, and at 09:00 still in the shade. Normally, this would be a nice and welcome change from the blistering heat in the middle of the country, but today it is cold. Really cold. At slightly under 10 degrees Celsius it is chilly, even for us Dutch people.

As the café is in the botanical gardens, it attracts a lot of wildlife, especially birds. We sat there for quite some time enjoying the tranquil sounds of the birds still waking up and getting to grips with the present cold temperature. A few visited us very regularly to see whether we had spilled any of our bread, as they probably were hungry as well. Our stay at the gardens was over as we had to be back at the airport in time to return our Toyota FJ Cruiser, and catch the flight to Darwin.

We flew out of Alice Springs right on time, and landed in Darwin a mere two hours later after a truly uneventful flight. The only thing noting was that right before we took off at ASP, a humongous Hercules plane from the USAF landed. That thing is enormous! It easily dwarfs our puny Boeing 717. We couldn’t fathom why it visited Alice Springs, but apparently they had a delivery to make as that seemed to be what they were doing, unloading something on a semi trailer.

The weather in Darwin couldn’t be more different than in Alice Springs, it was around 10 degrees with lots of wind over there, and here it is 32 degrees with a gentle sea breeze. That is great news! We can finally wear our shorts again! After riding an airport shuttle service to our hotel we did some quick grocery shopping at a nearby IGA and went out for dinner at the Cullen Bay Marina. We found an upscale Greek Taverna, and dined there. Best Souvlaki in town!

Tomorrow, we’ll pick up our car and head out to the Litchfield NP. Let’s see what this part of the country has in store for us!