My last full day in Darwin, and finally going to visit one of the famous national parks. This time of year the tours only run on certain days, but there’s still a few around. I chose to go with Litchfield Escapes since they started a little earlier to give you more time at each place.
After being picked up, our guide Damo headed out of town, gleefully honking his horn whenever he saw backpacker tents or campervans citing ‘Don’t be lazy! We’re up, you’re up!’ and point out places of interest. About an hour later, we arrived at the Adelaide River which hosted the famous Crocodile Jumping Tours.
The guy who runs them has lived around the river his whole life, and is one of only a handful of people who have a permit to boat on this river. He also knows most of the crocodiles and is more than aware of how dangerous they can be. However, he also knew this was breeding season, so chances of us seeing many crocs was low – the larger males are looking for females and the females are protecting their nests so won’t come near.
However, after 10 minutes, we hit jackpot with a juvenile male coming over to have a snack. A hung of chicken or meat is hung on the hook, which is splashed in the water a few times before being risen several feet in the air. It’s important not to tease the crocodile, and not to make sudden movements, because unless you do, the crocodile is barely aware that you’re there.
For the rest of the cruise, we managed to catch 2 more females and another male, all of them juvenile and too young to be taking on the older adults for territory or breeding rights, so we at least had some success.
Its about another hour to Litchfield, where the road gets bumpy but the views get better. We first stop at the giant termite mounds Litchfield has littered around – the Cathedral termites can build structures as tall as houses, and we were lucky enough to see them building an extension at eye level so got a more in depth view of how they worked.
The first watering hole was the Wangi Falls, a beautiful freshwater lake with an equally awesome waterfall (and mini waterfall to the side). There was an hour to swim here, and everyone pretty much grabbed a pool log (for flotation since the lake was so big), some goggles and started swimming over to the waterfall.
The floats were very handy, cause by the time you got there you needed the support to catch your breath. The water was so deep around here that everyone just clambered onto the rocks and started jumping into the water. I even had a chance to dive for the first time in about 10 years – that was refreshing.
The mini waterfall is a bit harder to climb, but it has a rock pool several feet up which goes down several metres, and is pretty awesome to check out – just have to be careful on your way down.
We had an hour in the water before Damo wanted us up for lunch, and after an hour of swimming (the last 30 minutes float free so I could swim a little bit faster), I was ready to eat. It was make your own wraps – a popular choice for tours so managed to make a couple of really good ham salad wraps…although probably should have only had one, felt pretty bad after the second.
Unfortunately, when it came to clean up there was a bit of an incident. Damo had asked that we help clean up so we could get going to the next watering hole faster. Reasonable enough request – however several people just stood around and watched, and we ended up going much slower than necessary. Damo did urge us along, and at one point took over several jobs, accidentally dropping some plates along the way, but we ended up leaving 10 minutes later than planned, which cut into the time we had at our final stop. This really rubbed one of the other tourists badly, because she was angry at Damo for the rest of the trip (even calling the company about it at the end of the day, which had every other tourist on the trip calling up to insist she was making a much bigger deal out of it than it was).
A less impressive looking, but much more refreshing waterfall was our next stop, heading to Florence Falls. Due to the shadows it casts, the water is a lot cooler and great for escaping the heat. Due to rains in the mountains though, the waterfall had sent tons of leaves and dirt into the water, making it a lot less clear than it was, and rising the water level (very rare for this area where you normally expect the opposite).
Finally, we stopped at Buley Rock Hole, which is a river flowing through collection of pools heading down a hill. Some are only a few metres deep, while one, affectionately known as ‘the plunge pool’ is at least 6 metres. Due to our earlier delay, we only got 45 minutes here, but also got some fresh fruit to snack on while we relaxed under the mini waterfalls cascading into each pool. I really liked Wangi Falls, but this one was probably the most entertaining.
(Also, ran into someone who’d been at Wangi and seen me swimming across the water earlier – apparently I’d looked rather ethereal with my blue hair glinting in the sun while swimming – everyone loves this new look).
Headed back after this, and made it to Darwin in good time. Litchfield Escapes was a great day out, and my only real issue was losing my leather necklace at some point along the way. Great way to say goodbye to Darwin.