I will forever equate the top end of Australia with the massive crocs that inhabit the area. "For every one that you see, there are about 4 to 5 that you don't. Don't get in the water if it's not safe." Our entire time in the top end had a theme of either Salties or Freshies throughout and where you could and couldn't swim.
We spent the first two nights in the city of Darwin where we spent most of our time planning out the coming week. We booked our car rental, got our food supplies, and mapped out our stops. Very exciting stuff! Oh, and we walked around the city; it felt good to be back in civilization where we could get a good meal, a nice pint to cool down with and coffee.
On our last night, we hit up the Mindil Markets for some street food and to catch a sunset...because that's what you do when you're in Darwin on a Sunday.
- Northern Territory salt water crocodiles (salties) are the largest reptiles on earth
- Can grow up to 7 metres
- The Mary River in the Northern Territory can average as many as 20 crocs per kilometer
As soon as we got on the pontoon boat and without leaving the dock, a croc just over 5 metres popped up and started swimming towards us. Nothing like seeing your first real life dinosaur in the wild.
After being scared and amazed with the Jumping Crocs Tour, we sped off towards Kakadu National Park. I don't know where to start but this national park blew us away. It has one of the best swimming holes in the world, locations from Crocodile Dundee, and heaps of wildlife. I'm talking dingos, black cockatoos, salties, freshies, and water monitors. Loved it!
Gunlom Falls is a short 1k trek up a steep hill. Usually we would kill a short trek like that but the temps were near 36C with somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% humidity. We had to make a few stops along the way and drank ice cold water but the four pools at the top and view were more than worth it.
Because of the possibility of salties in the bottom pool, it is advised that you DO NOT swim in it....we did not! We made the trek up to the safe pools where we could enjoy the view.
After a couple of nights in Kakadu, we made our way to Katherine to check out the Katherine Gorge in Nitlmiluk National Park. It was a bit of a long drive but we were happy to check into one of the best caravan parks yet. We hit the grocery store in Katherine, set up the tent, hit the pool, had a hardy dinner and got ready for an early morning.
We returned to our tent exhausted and with sore hands. It didn't matter though because we were so happy with everything that we did. The next morning we had a big brekkie and said goodbye to the great caravan park in Katherine. We had one last stop in Nitmiluk; Edith Falls.
By the time we got to Edith Falls, it was F*&^*&^ HOT! It was only 11am but I was sweating with the aircon on full blast. Luckily it was a short trek to the fall but man it was tough. When we turned a corner and saw it, we stood in awe and rubbed our eyes like it was a mirage. We couldn't believe it.
Our next and final stop was Litchfield National Park where we would spend 3 days jumping in heaps of swimming holes. But before we could get into all that, we spent a night at a sketchy caravan park where we were the only guests. It was the type of stuff that scary movies are written about.
The spot was pretty nice but unfortunately, the locals that were there made it a bit uncomfortable and for the first time we felt a bit unwelcome. It was filled with heaps of bogans and drunks so we did not stick around for very long. After cleaning up, I called the aussie family that we met at the campsite the night before. They welcomed us into their house, made dinner for us, and gave us a room to crash in for the night. They were legends! During dinner we found out that they have traveled all over the globe and were simply looking out for another couple doing the same thing. We exchanged contact information and maybe one day, we will see them again when they bring their two daughters to Disneyland.
That pretty much wraps up our time in the Top End. The next morning we caught a flight to Perth in Western Australia. It really is hard to pick a favorite spot and if I were to be asked which places to visit I would be hard pressed to leave any of them out. If you have the time, all of these falls are must-see. Each one captured our heart in a different way and had something about it that made it different and amazing. Gunlom has the view, Edith has the depth and falls, Buley has the numbers and fun, Wangi had a freshie and on and on. Looking back, I can confidently say that the Top End of Norther Territory is my favorite area of Australia that we have visited. It's an adventurers playground.