April 27, 2011

the territory in the north

The top end has intrigued me ever since moving to Australia. It's true outback, full of terrifying nature and gigantic scenery. I had to have a go at it before I scared myself out of it.

We went for five days to Kakadu and Nitmiluk National Parks. We hiked. We swam. We cruised around wetlands and rivers. We saw animals both big and small. We admired plants. We didn't die.

Kakadu is a listed World Heritate site for both cultural and natural values. Culturally, it is home to the Bininj; they've lived in the area for about 50,000 years! Nature-wise, Kakadu is a kaleidoscope of habitats including wetlands, mangrove swamps, and lowland and sandstone rain forests.

My favourite here was the wetlands; we took two boat cruises and got to see all sorts of interesting things. Highlights include three estuarine crocodiles and jabirus! And I mean, look at that view--nothing can be more serene.

Nitmiluk is where Vincent and I got down to business, with our 'major' hike of the trip*. We woke up super early (mostly due to our still traumatized memories of the Royal National Park incident) and headed out. Our goal was a 12km hike to Butterfly Gorge where we could swim and enjoy the company of butterflies. For reasons I will not recount here though, we ended up not being as early as we had originally planned. Looking back, this was the most fortunate of events. Because we were already late--we decided to make a quick stop to the park's info centre to check on our route. You see, we had been planning to hike there, go swimming, and come back. But the ranger promptly informed us that although the trail was open there was to be absolutely no swimming...or going near any water. They had some hikers a few days before spot a saltie around the area. That was enough for me. I get chills just thinking about it--we were totally going to go swimming.
If we had, we most probably would have been eaten by a 6 metre long crocodile.
So, instead--we did the hike stopping about 500 metres before the waterfront. Then we headed back. But because Vincent loves swimming, and because it was 37 degrees without a cloud in the sky--we decided to add to our trip an extra four kilometres...leading us to this!

This pool + waterfall was high up the cliffs of the gorge so it was crocodile free! Whipeeeeee! So beautiful. The water was fresh and the rocks around were shaded. A perfect way to refresh for our hike back.

Luckily for us, this wasn't our only chance to hike to a waterfall and go for a swim. But, I'll save those adventures for another day. You can see a picture summary of our trip here!

* We did do a total of about 11kms around Kakadu but it was all split up in little bits and we got to ride in an air-conditioned 4WD in between.

April 20, 2011

the natural order of things.

::michael jackson music on tv::
Vincent ::dancing::
Lindsay: Stop that. It's not natural.
Vincent ::mimes::
Lindsay: That's better.