Letho's Blog

Katherine and Litchfield NP

by on Jun.08, 2011, under Traveling Australia

June 02, 2011

After packing up our camp we did the missing 57 kilometers to Timber Creek.

Campsite near Timber Creek

Campsite near Timber Creek

When we arrived we discovered great shower and bathroom facilities – all for free! Traveller’s heaven! 🙂 Among our discoveries was this as well:

Green tree frogs in Timber Creek sewers

Green tree frogs in Timber Creek sewers

A green tree frog, harmless and quite beautiful. They are attracted by open water, so an open toilet pit counts as well. The only problem is that they in turn attract snakes, and you definitely wouldn’t want to find those when opening the toilet lid. 😉

We made our way almost up to Katherine, passing Victoria River as well.  Mostly a driving day for us, only interrupted by amusing signs along the way. Here are some examples:

Reaching the Limestone Creek Rest Area 60 kilometers before Katherine we stopped and set up camp again.

June 03-04, 2011

Only a few kilometers to Katherine .. the only interesting thing on the way was another controlled burning on the side of the road:

On the way to Katherine

On the way to Katherine

We still find it really scary when we see fire and smoke in the bush (even when intentionally set), especially in Australia where devastating bushfires occur from time to time.

Did we mention that we had finally arrived in the so-called „Top End“, the northernmost area of Australia?

In Katherine we stopped at all the local wreckyards again. For roughly 10,000 kilometers we had constantly been driving with a broken intermediate exhaust. It started in Western Australia above Perth as a result from corrugations and vibrations. Although the LandCruiser sounds really muscular it consumes more gas and petrol than usual and reduces engine power. We have been looking for parts literally everywhere since Broome now, but a few weeks and thousands of kilometers later we still couldn’t find anything that fits. We even asked locals when we saw LandCruiser wrecks on the side of the roads or houses. That’s what you have to take into account when travelling through such a remote area. 🙁

Altogether we stayed two nights in Springvale Homestead, built in 1879 and the oldest original homestead in the Northern Territory. In the mornings and evenings a lot of wallabies are roaming around the area:

A day trip to the Nitmiluk National Park, where Katherine Gorge is located, was filled with the Barnwei Walk and a walk to Pat’s Lookout and the Southern Rockhole. Katherine Gorge consists of more than ten sections, but only the first three can be reached with a boat cruise or canoe trip. The former was too expensive for our taste, the latter not yet available, again due to the late wet season and saltwater crocodiles still lurking in the lower sections of the gorge.

Here’s a panorama of Katherine Gorge from Pat’s Lookout:

Katherine Gorge from Pat's Lookout

Katherine Gorge from Pat's Lookout

A few impressions from the Southern Rockhole:

On our way back we passed trees with thousands of flying foxes, making an incredible noise:

June 05, 2011

After a last visit to the Hot Springs we left Katherine. The water has a temperature of more than 60°C when it comes to the surface, and you can clearly see the water swirling and bubbling. It is a famous bathing spot, but watch out for one of the lower pools or you might get boiled up yourself. 🙂

On the way further up to Darwin we stopped at Edith Falls, 40 kilometers north of Katherine, and had a really nice walk and a refreshing, cool bath in the pools of the Upper Falls. Some crazy folks did some crazy cliff jumping there – this time we rather dropped out. 😉

Reaching Umbrawarra Gorge as last thing for that day we quickly walked into there:

We set up our tent on the gorge’s campground  and left in the dark for the nearby Pine Creek in order to watch a MotoGP race when we encountered a 4 ton motorhome bogged down in one of the floodways along the dirt road. A mother and her four year old daughter, a fire already set up and both prepared to spend the night here! A few tries with our snatch strap and shackles later we successfully pulled her out and she continued to the safer campground at Umbrawarra Gorge. Aren’t we good boyscouts and really lucky to have a 4WD? 🙂

June 06, 2011

The next day we took some photos of the spot where we had recovered the motor home the night before. Not too bad, but not very viable for 2WD either.

Passing Pine Creek in daylight we took a quick look at the Enterprise Pit, once an open cut gold mine and now an artificial lake with a depth of 120 meters:

Enterprise Pit, Pine Creek

Enterprise Pit, Pine Creek

The Historic Railway Museum was worth a few quick looks as well:

We hit the road again, reached Adelaide River south of Darwin and stopped for the night.

June 07, 2011

From Adelaide River we took the Coach Road to get into the Litchfield National Park.

Somehow we got lost, instead of taking a shortcut on dirt roads we ended up somewhere totally different, but managed to get to Batchelor east of Litchfield NP, and from there straight into the park:

Our first stop was at the Magnetic Termite Mounds. Quoting the website it says: „Built by termites, they are amazing architectural feats complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers. The mounds are aligned north to south to minimize the exposure to the sun.“ A fairly accurate description, there are hundreds, if not thousands of them and all aligned! 🙂

There’s an impressive mound called Cathedral Mound due to its size. Attention, tourist photo location alert! 🙂

Only a few kilometers down the road we stopped at the Buley Rockhole. It was Tuesday, and the place was massively crowded with people bathing everywhere. It took quite some patience to get these shots:

Another few kilometers later we walked to the Florence Falls. It was really hot again and we couldn’t help ourselves but jump in the water as well to cool down.

No worries – we didn’t jump from where the shot was taken. 😉 Next stop: Tolmer Falls.

On the way to Wangi Falls we encountered more controlled burnings:

Controlled burnings in Litchfield NP

Controlled burnings in Litchfield NP

Scary, eh? At Wangi Falls we did the really nice Rainforest Walk around the falls and creek which leads through some dense and tight typical rainforest vegetation. In the wet season it must be unbearable around here ..

The last thing for today was a quick walk along Walkers Creek.

Walkers Creek, Litchfield NP

Walkers Creek, Litchfield NP

Somehow we missed the pool or whatever more or less interesting thing was supposed to be at the end of the walk. Nevermind, on our way back to the campground near Wangi Falls we not only collected firewood for a day-concluding campfire, but enjoyed the sunset as well.

Sunset over Litchfield NP

Sunset over Litchfield NP

Litchfield NP done in a day – almost, as the sites Surprise Creek and Lost City were still closed. Late wet season, of course. 😉

June 08, 2011

On our way out of the Litchfield NP we stopped lastly at The Cascades and walked to the Lower Falls ..

.. and from there onwards through the rainforest ..

.. to the Upper Falls:

Less than 100 kilometers later we arrived in Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, situated on the Timor Sea and much closer to East Timor in Asia than to Perth, Sydney or Adelaide! 🙂

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