Ok now heading up towards Darwin, the troopy was booked in for a service. Actually, I’m sitting here now in Darwin typing this while it’s being serviced. What a strange feeling to be in an unusual town without my car. Two days ago when I arrived I booked into a hotel, caravan parks up here are not cheap, the cheapest was $45 a night for an unpowered site right on the side of the highway out of town. So I booked into a hotel room for 3 nights, damn it I was going to get some decent nights sleep.
Hey a hotel was $95 a night right in the heart of Darwin, and lately I hadn’t been sleeping well, I just haven’t acclimatized to the weather yet. The last few nights from Katherine up to Darwin, I’d woken many times during the night hot and sweaty. It was still 30 degrees at 1 in the morning and often humid as well, and usually around 25 or 26 degrees at 6 in the morning.
This looks like a cold misty morning doesn’t it? I was at a caravan park just out of Litchfield National Park, a lovely quite little park where I camped under some shady mango trees during the day. Stinking hot night and so foggy in the morning, it looks cold but it was about 25 degrees and once I opened the doors up the mist made everything in the car wet, not just damp but wet, condensation was beading and running on many items.
Still I’m jumping the gun, I left the fossicking area and was now in for three days of driving to get up to Darwin. I called into Daly Waters and camped for the night. This is a bit of a must stop place, an iconic pub.
Every bit of wall within the pub is covered with “stuff”. Foreign currency, hats, peoples licenses and ID cards, bra’s, thongs, you name it, it’s pinned to the walls and hung from the ceilings everywhere. All the signs are silly, like “resepshun” at the front counter, and “Dave asked me to put a sign here so this is it”, a really quirky and fun place to get a drink. Great pub, but the caravan park attached wasn’t anything fantastic.
Onto Mataranka and a visit to Elsey national park for the hot spings. There are two different springs here, one at the Mataranka homestead tourist resort, then another called bitter springs back closer to town. The springs at the resort are more commercialized, all concrete paving and concrete steps and basically just a big pond, flowing in one end then out the other.
Bitter Springs is more of a natural place within the national park, there is still great access for people including steps down into the water but it’s far more natural and the idea is to get in at one point and let the current slowly take you down about 40m to the steps out. The water in these springs is about 35 degrees and feels like a nice luke warm bath. While I was i Mataranka I watched the movie “We of the never never”, an iconic film and book about early station life in the area.
And this is just a reminder for Joel to watch where he’s walking, I almost trod on this snake that’s disappearing into the bushes, you should have seen the funny dance I performed when I nearly stepped on it.
Next stop Katherine. Another little reminder for Joel, bottleshops are not open on Sundays and they only open from 2.00 on wards which makes it hard if your planning on doing things out of town during the day, oh well, out to Katherine gorge for the night and a bit of luxury, spending the heat of the day sitting in the cafe with a drink and piece of cake while sorting through photos. Ahh the luxury of air conditioning. Then a couple of beers and steak by the pool for dinner after watching the bats down by the river.
Bats hanging everywhere during the day.
Then as the sun sets they begin taking off.
An early morning walk next day led me up to the top of the gorge where the views were nice but didn’t make for ideal photos at that time of day. Most things around here seem to centre around boat trips up the gorge, but I wasn’t going to pay $95 to sit in a boat with 2 dozen other people while being motored up the gorge for a couple of hours.
There were also a lot of long walks, most places that I visit, I’m disappointed because there are no medium length walks of perhaps 4-5 hours. Usually there will be lots of short ones but here the walks were mainly multi-day walks way up the gorge.
Into Litchfield national park on the way to Darwin, I’d heard good reports about the place and it was nice, with most of the tourist attractions being water falls and creeks to swim in. The misty morning made for some interesting sights with some areas also recently burnt, these cycads stood out with their bright green new growth against the black ash and mist.
Lots of beautiful spots to have a swim which is really needed in this weather. And also lots of people with no thought for others of for what they are meant to be doing or rather not doing. Big warning signs asking people not to climb the rocks or jump from them but there was a constant stream of idiots doing it.
But hey, with a beard like that and tats to go with it, you don’t need to pay attention to signs.
While we’re on the subject of people who are legends in their own minds, I really don’t get this.
A windy little road in the national park that was only perhaps a kilometre or two long, yet every corner had been cut by people. Now I understand a “desire path” where people want to naturally walk and they cut corners off, we’ve all seen this along foot paths. But to cut these corners in a vehicle meant you needed to slow right down because the shortcut in the dirt was bumpy.
Although it was nice and shady down near the water the humidity levels were right up and it was a bit of a relief to get away from the water for a while with some of the other walks in the park.
Leaving the park it was only about an hour to Darwin with a couple of quick tops along the way to look at termite mounds.
This was a spooky large area of burnt out termite mounds I found on the side of the road. A strange landscape with blackened ground and large grey termite mounds, magnetic termites, all the mounds built as thin fans facing north south.
Which brings me right up to date, sitting in Darwin typing this blog in a cafe while waiting for my car to be serviced. I’ve been here for 4 or 5 days now and done a fair bit of sight seeing. I visited the National park.
The only national park I’ve ever been to that celebrates all of the ammunition bunkers rather than any natural aspects of the park. Strange, but interesting non the less.
Darwin has a lovely botanic gardens right near the CBD well worth a visit if you’re in town and like this sort of thing.
I visit most botanic gardens when in a new town, they are great places to chill out for a while and offer some familiarity when you’re in a strange city as there are often many similarities between the gardens.
Hmm, a tree that smells like sewerage, cut down. I wonder, died of natural causes or removed by someone with a sensitive nose?
The Mindil sunset markets are a bit of an icon up here and worth a visit, I spent 2 or 3 hours wandering around. My tip would be to get there early. I walked from the CBD arriving not long after opening time of 4 o’clock and left just as the sun was setting, just as it was really starting to get packed. And if you’re in town for a while visit the market more than once, the stalls vary between Sunday and Thursday.
So now I sit waiting for the call to say my car is ready. Only one more night of air conditioned luxury before I’m back in the car, I’ll be heading into Kakadu before going south and then into W.A.