Sunday, July 31, 2016

NT Part 2: Things to do in the Territory

There's surprisingly a lot to do in the Aussie outback. Inititally I thought there was only Uluru (which I couldn't fit into this trip), but there are numerous National Parks which feature some pretty amazing landscapes you wouldn't normally think Aus would have.

They do a lot of back burning in the dry season, April-October, since it's the best weather, and no lightning to cause fire. Pretyt much no rain during this time, and blue skies most days in these months. They light fires in patches, and they burn out themselves once they reach any water left over from the wet season, or just not more vegetation to burn. Things can regrow within 2 wks of back burning, so they constantly light fires everywhere. You can see plumes of smoke when you fly into the Territory.

The highways speeds are the best! I love going fast, but didn't have an opportunity to drive. Still feels good going at 150km/h sometimes when you're overtaking those massive road trains.

road train

Took a photo of this one, since it's a rare old-style road train with the tarp coverings. A road train is basically 3 big sized truck loads combined, so you really need to speed up when overtaking, before you see any oncoming cars when you overtake on the other side of the road.

Katherine Gorge

We ended an afternoon early, and were lucky enough to visit Katherine Gorge. It's roughly a 30min drive from Katherine. We did the Nitmiluk 2 gorges. Everything in Aus is expensive, and of course, so are touristy things. $87 for roughly under an huor boat ride, plus getting on/off, walking between gorges, photo taking took about another hour. For me, when I go somewhere, I still spend regardless, since you'll never know when you might have another opportunity to visit these places. The tour guide was super funny, and I love how you learn a bit of Aboriginal culture in between.
main street in Katherine

Litchfield National Park

We also joined a day tour departing from Darwin to go Litchfield National park which I highly recommend if you're short on time. Apparently it's similar to Kakadu National Park, just smaller (needed at least 2 days in Kakadu, since part of the experience is sleeping there overnight). The tour was $149 which took us to a few places. All the parks/natural swimming pools are free. I guess petrol is expensive, but I think the tour was still worthwhile. The tour guide was also hilarious, and loved learning more random fact along the way. The mini bus was relatively comfy as well

Jumping Crocs
Another cruise to see jumping crocodiles! Whilst we were waiting to board, they also had a small python which we could touch and take pics with. It was a bit colder that morning and low tide, so there weren't many crocodiles around, I was expecting more... We did see 4 of them, and the people were considerate in that they turned the boat around each time, so both sides of the boat could see the crocodile eating the meat twice. Sat on the lower deck, so were surprised how close and up front the crocs were. They're actually pretty cool jumping out and chomping on the meat. Learnt extra crocodile facts as well (not that I remembered). 

a rare male croc

one of my fav pics

bird show

skinny croc


massive termite mound

There are heaps of termite mounds when you're driving along the highway. Termites are essential for continued growth and renewal(?) of the land because they transport grass or something (rather than eat wood). There are about 70 species, and the ones in Litchfield have termite mounds around 5-7 high.

Wangi Falls
When we first arrived, my initial reaction was just 'Wow! Looks like those pools in movies!' All the freshwater is from underground, and it was super fresh. Loved swimming under waterfalls, jumping off cliffs and going into rockpools. So beautiful, just like how people swim in natural places in movies.

Buley Rock Pool

This place had more rockpools, connected by a stream of water. The rocks here were super slippery, but ther clidds were around 6, high, so pretty fun to jump off or dive. there were places with water bubbling, kind of like a spa. Tried drinking some of this water, but it doesn't compare to the freshness of New Zealand natural freshwater. Heaps of people come here for picnics then go for a swim after.

Florence Falls

The tour didn't have time to take use to swim here, so we just went to the lookout. Still really lovely to look at (but obviously not as majestic as Niagra Falls in Canada).

About a further hour drive from katherine. A pretty rural town, but there are quite a few caravan parks filled with 'grey nomads' and some families. A lot of people drive around from West Coast Perth to here, or from central Aus or south Aus eg Adelaide. They make a pit stop in Mataranka for this pretty special swimming place. It's pretty tiny town mainly for people passing through, so stuff is pretty pricey at the little supermarket eg avocados for $4 instead of $1.50 in Darwin (come back to Syd and they;re $2 here. Groceries are super expensive in NT, but I guess not avos).

main street in Mataranka

Bitter Springs Pool
So lucky to have a supervisor who also loves to swim, so we had afternoon swims after clinic. The waster is really clear here, with wild turtles and fhises swimming with you. Too bad I didn't bring my goggles, so couldn't see any turtles swimming with me. I did saw a baby turtle when I got out though, and there was a lady once who lent me her goggles for a few secs to see a school of fish.

The water here is super warm, natural thermal pools heated by some underground/under earth thing (not actually sure). It's a bit more sulphorous, and I guess without goggles, my eyes became red more easily (I'm actually pretty bad at swimming without goggles). There are heaps of fallen tree logs, so just have to make sure you don't swim or kick into them, or scratch yourself on a rock. Logs are helpful to stand and 'rest' since the bottom is generally not touchable. When there are no kids here, water is super clear, since they don't kick up the dirt/sand. Just doesn't look as clear since the bottom is brown, but when you're in there, you can see all the way down to your feet! There's a bit of algae/moss around, and some bugs, but I guess that's why it's so natural. They only built some steps/rails to help you get in/out of the bank.

I think I prefer Litchfield with the waterfalls though.

There you have it, some things to do in the Aussie outback if you're short on time but still want to get an experience of the Territory!

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