Darwin to Airlie Beach
We landed in Darwin in Australias Northern Territory roughly three weeks ago . Using Darwin as our base we were able to explore the national parks.
First we went on a group safari tour of the mighty Kakadu! This mainly included bush walking, swimming in waterholes and eating barbecued food.... Kangaroo tastes amazing! Our guide on the bush walks was an aborigine called Johnny who took us around the various rock art sites in the park. It's so hot at this time of year due to the humidity. It usually rains once a day for a short while after which the heat intensifies and it's possible to feel the steam around your feet as you walk!
The "Incredible Jumping Croc Show"!
We were fortunate to have a great group of people on the tour - all Europeans! The nights were spent playing didgeredoo, sitting round the bonfire or "hunting for snakes" which turned into walking in fear after we saw some fresh wild buffalo tracks meaning the local brute was close by in the darkness, apparently they charge towards light so the torch was no comfort at all!
The landscape is vast with Eucalyptus forests and termite mounds reaching all the way to the horizon. Plunge pools are formed underneath the waterfalls that can be found around the park where the rock has been forced up along fault lines. We found a new passtime while there - river snorkelling! The waters so clear that you can see loads of fish plus Han could keep an eye out for crocodiles!
Again starting from Darwin we hired a car for three day's to journey down the Stuart Highway to Katherine Gorge spending the day at Litchfield National Park on the way there and going for a dip at Edith Falls on the way back.
Han next to a "cathedral' termite mound
Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen seperate gorges that run for 18km through a massive faultline in the middle of the bush. We had originally intended to hire a kayak however the fact that it is wet season means that the current is too strong, instead we were able to take a boat trip into the first two gorges.
Inside the gorge
We stayed a slightly longer in Darwin than intended as it's a welcoming town, plus there is a pub that serves free food and cheap beer to backpackers! It was also good to spend some time with the people we had met.
The wet season makes many of the routes through the Northern Territory impossible to drive without a very sturdy 4WD, so we decided to fly from Darwin to Cairns which we did on Easter Sunday.
We spent five nights in Cairns, while there we hired another car to make a day trip to Cape Tribulation on the North East Coast. The road passes through Daintree National Park which encompasses the most ancient areas of rainforest in Australlia. The weather wasn't great for the beach but it was great for wandering through the forest where we came face to face with a very rare Cassowary bird, which is basically a jungle emu. They are potentially aggressive so Hannah ran off while I cautiously took pictures of the beast. It did have a menacing stare (see pic)!
On the way back we stopped at Mossman Gorge - another one of many astounding areas out that the ozzies have on their doorstep! More river snorkelling and wandering wide eyed through the forest here.
Our first Greyhound bus trip took us down the coast to Airlie beach where we are currently staying having just returned from our three day cruise through the Whitsunday islands and the Great Barrier Reef!
We had a superb time snorkelling, sunbathing, visiting Whitehaven Beach and finally getting to grips with scuba diving. The catamaran we were on was able to get a long way out into the reef. On the second day we were diving out of sight of the main land with only a few of the islands on the horizon. It was surreal as the journey to get out there was pretty rough but once there, there are no big waves as the reef provides shelter. Relief for Han who was feeling grim the whole way!
Us on Whitehaven
The crew were very professional so the scuba diving was a good introduction for us novices. We did two dives down to around 12m. The only slight hitch on the second being that Hannah had a problem with actually being able to sink! I acted as balast and held on to her for the rest of the dive. The coral out in this part is beautiful as it's completely undamaged with so many different species cluttered together. We saw loads of fish and a small shark too!
Tonight we leave on a night bus for Hervey Bay to camp on Fraser Island.
The Bones xx