On the 10/6/2014 we set off for nearly 4 weeks on a 10,000 km trip that would take us to the top of Australia, stopping at Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Nitmiluk, Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. Although most of our trip would be on bitumen, we would be doing some remote 4WDing including river crossings so a little extra preparation would be needed.
Being the beginning of winter we were keen to get to the warm weather up north, but Uluru was not very warm when we were there, even in the day with temperatures in the mid teens and overnight temperatures around 0 degrees. Uluru was beautiful though and worth the stop. I was keen to visit Kings Canyon nearby, but we decided to leave it for another trip and head north to the warmer weather.
A couple of nights later we were at Katherine and we stayed at Nitmiluk National Park where we had a great time visiting the Katherine Gorge. The weather was now warm and it was a relief to be sitting outside in shorts, T-shirt and thongs after dinner. It kind of felt like the holiday had really begun.
After 3 nights at Nitmiluk we drove north to Gunlom Falls in Kakadu via Bitter Springs at Mataranka. The springs are about 30 degrees and there is no heart stopping moment to catch your breath as you step into the crystal clear water. We drifted down stream under the masses of Golden-Orb Spider webs which kind of added to the experience in a weird sort of way.
Gunlom Falls in Kakadu was a magic place and the weather got even warmer. It was still 27 degrees at 11pm but I wasn’t complaining! The ranger at Gunlom Falls was very informative and we attended his outdoor slide show and a guided walk to the top of the falls where there are some spectacular pools that are popular for swiming, and overlook the woodlands below. Michael the ranger told us that part of our our next destination, Twin Falls would not be open until a few days time, so we stayed at Jabaru until then. While at Jabaru we visited the rock art sites near Ubirr where we met some lovely Aboriginal rangers, Marcus and James who showed us the art and told the associated stories. The following day we went on a cruise at Yellow Water and saw lots of wildlife. The day after we drove to the Garnamarr campsite, dropped off the Kamper and negotiated our first river crossing to Twin Falls. The trip to Twin Falls also involves a boat ride up a gorge, and a special pontoon bridge is lifted in early in the dry season by helicopter so the falls can be accessed. After all the trouble that goes into making this site reachable, it was well worth it! The day after we visited Jim Jim Falls, which is probably a bit harder to get to because of the huge boulders that have to be traversed to get there. Jim Jim Falls were absoulutely enormous, and we lay on the rocks and looked up at the awesome rockface with a narrow ribbon of water cascading to the huge plunge pool below.
After packing up at Garnamarr we drove north along a 4WD track, passing places like Bucket Billabong, Red Lily Bilabong and a crossing of the West Alligator River. The track got us closer to the wildness of Kakadu than anywhere else and we only saw one other vehicle on the road near the northern end of the track which had been graded. This was the first real 4WDing the Kamper had done and it did it easily, and keeping the muddy water of West Alligator River out of our bed and kitchen. Our destination was the impressively named Aroura Kakadu Resort. In reality it was a caravan park in the middle of nowhere. Our reason for traveling there was to get to Darwin to get the car serviced, and we were in Darwin the next afternoon.
Darwin was an interesting place, and while walking through the Mall we were approached by a woman from The Holiday Club, a timeshare company that tries to scam you into spending some big bucks for God knows what. After that experience we bought some Aboriginal art to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, picked up the car and headed to Litchfield National Park.
Our intention was to try to avoid the plagues of people there by camping at the end of a 4WD track. We arrived at the campsite at sundown to find it full, so headed to the next campsite which was also full. Third time lucky we got a site at the Litchfield Safari Camp. The waterfalls at Litchfield are much smaller than those at Kakadu, but have a lot more water flowing and are very beautiful. Our timning at Litchfield was unfortunate though as we arived on a Friday night at the beginning of the school holidays. This place is always popular but we must have visited at the worst time possible!
After Litchfield we were keen to get home, so some long hours in the car and we were home 4 days later.