Darwin, Litchfield and Kakadu National Park

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Feb 18, 2007

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Sunday, December 4, 2005

G'day Australia!!!

We both imagined, like most people, that if we ever visited Australia, we would be pulling our rucksack off the carousal at Sydney airport, after a gruesome 20 hour flight and feeling completely jet-lagged. So to arrive into the tiny city of Darwin, after just a short 3 hour flight and straight into Australia's tropical north end, with no jet-lag whatsoever, made for an unusual entrance.

After South East Asia, our first impression of Australia in Darwin's city centre was that it was familiar. Not just the language but the culture. People drive on the left-hand side of the road. There are familiar foods in the supermarkets and cafes. Fish and Chip shops by the sea. English style pubs serving pints to the hoards of binge drinkers.
The people looked British and we could speak to them without having to slow down and could use any kind of U.K. slang and still be understood. Wish we could say the same about visiting the USA:-).

It's the start of the wet season here but we're told that we've been lucky as the big rains haven't arrived yet. Still, there has been enough precipitation to green over the countryside and to start the waterfalls flowing. So, after a couple of days relaxing in Darwin, we headed over to the scenic Litchfield Park. Here we took a look at both the gigantic Cathedral Termite Mounds and the strangely pointed Magnetic Termite Mounds. They are both made out of a mix of saliva and excrement, but the magnetic ones have been constructed so that they have two points which perfectly face north and south. These little things are pretty clever!

After swimming in waterfalls and diving into the Burley Rock holes, we headed over to the famous Kakadu National Park where a lot of the movie Crocodile Dundee was filmed.
We joined a really cool group of people and sped off in an essential 4x4 vehicle.
The start of our tour here was the Jumping Crocodile Cruise where you take a boat out on to a river, to see the crocs in their natural habitat. We were a bit nervous at first, but when we saw how big the boat was and the fact we'd be about 2 metres above the water, we stopped worrying. That was until the driver said:"Good news guys. You're a small group today so we'll be taking out the small boat"
So there we are, too close in my opinion to the water, with our legs and arms well tucked in. We sit in silence and wait for the crocs to jump out of the water at anytime, to get the chunks of raw meat that are being dangled from the boat on the end of rods.
What an amazing site, to see these huge creatures jumping up right by the side of you and snapping their powerful jaws shut over these huge chunks of meat.

We survived the crocs and went on to bathe in some lovely rock pools with stunning backdrops and swam under some more waterfalls. Luckily, we only saw the crocodile warning signs on the way out of the waterfall, otherwise we probably wouldn't have gone in at all:-)

At night, we stayed at a camp and cooked under candle light. After dinner was done, out came the boxes of wine and the drinking games started. This is when we met Todd, one of the locals, whose prized asset is an animal branding mark on his top right arm. He said that him and his brother did it for a laugh and it took 3 months to stop bleeding... There are some lunatics around this part of OZ!

The next day, we did some wonderful walks which helped us take in the vastness and emptiness of this area. After viewing some aboriginal rock paintings, we headed back to Darwin.

When we arrived back in Darwin, the Kakadu group decided to head out to one of the backpacker bars. There, they try and entice the hordes of poor budget travelers, to take part in crazy competitions up on stage, by offering them the chance to win free drinks. What basically happens is that you end up making a fool of yourself, whilst providing free entertainment to the laughing masses in the bar.
One such game led to Marc having to take off his boxer shorts. So funny for everybody else but not for Marc:-)

Bye to Darwin for now. Time to start our long trip through Australia's great and vast red centre.
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