Trip to the Top End (Northern Territory)

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Our most recent trip took us to the "Top End", the Northern Territory to explore the area around Darwin. This was pretty much a four part trip, with time spent in Darwin, Kakadu NP, Nitmiluk NP (Katherine Gorge) and Litchfield NP. We flew to Darwin and from there hired a 4WD campervan. Many people claim that you don't necessarily need a 4WD to explore this area, but we found that there are a lot of spots we wanted to get to which were only accessible by 4WD. Looking back we've got to say that we were very happy with our decision, since we visited a lot of beautiful spots which we would otherwise have missed out on.

Before we headed out to the bush we decided to spend a few days in Darwin. Not an awful lot to do and see here. You can tell that Darwin is very much a tourist hub for the surrounding sights.

Darwin Pictures

After Darwin we jumped in our campervan and headed off to Kakadu NP, which would obviously form a big part of this trip. And probably the best part as well! Very different to what we had seen of Australia so far. Billabongs, creeks, waterfalls everywhere. This year saw a rather late wet season, which unfortunately resulted in a few roads and areas still being closed (Twin falls, for example, which would have involved a 1m deep crossing. The fact  that the rangers recently pulled a few big salties out of that river didn't help. You don't want to be bogged in with your car and can't even get out because the crocs are circling you...). On the other hand it meant that a lot of waterfalls were still flowing. Anyway, below is where we stayed and what we did. The map on the right shows where we stayed and when. 

1. Day: Drove in via Old Jim Jim Road, stayed at Muirella Park. We actually had planned to stay at Sandy Billabong, but access was still prohibited

2. Day: Barrk bushwalk (great, but the start was a bit hard to find) around Nawurlandja (Nourlangie) rock. Then a quick break at Anbanbang Billabong, followed by the rather disappointing Mirrai lookout walk. Drove on to Jim Jim Billabong to stay for the night

3. Day: Yellow water cruise in the morning (great, plenty of birds), then via Old Jim Jim Road to Alligator Billabong (our first proper 4WD track in Kakadu). Again, we had planned to stay at Red lily or Bucket Billabong, but access was closed. Met Anke and David and spend the rest of the day with them fishing (which resulted in a nice Barramundi barbie) and talking. Mozzies had nightmare proportions that night, so no quiet evening at the campfire. Saw our first salties in the wild.

4. Day: Drove to Ubirr/Merl campsite, visited the Ubirr artsites. Caught up with Anke and David. Stayed at Merl campsite for the night.

5. Day: Bardedjilidji and Sandstone and River bushwalk with Anke and David. No salties unfortunately, despite the river being home to the second biggest crocodile population in the world (only the Nile has more). Drove to Jabiru to stock up on food, then on to Jim Jim Falls, where we quickly walked to foot of the falls. Stayed at Jim Jim Falls campsite.

6. Day: Walk to the plateau above Jim Jim falls. Beautiful walk, great scenery at the plateau, but once on the plateau it was bloody hard to find the track. Markers were pretty far apart and often worn out and hard to see. Met this group of people that spent 2 weeks walking around on the plateau. Not bad ! Drove on to Maguk, walked to the base of the falls. Stayed at Maguk for the night.

7. Day: Walk to the top of the falls, waited for the sun to be fully out. Had a very nice swim. Drove on to Gunlom. Walked to the top of the falls and had an even nicer swim up there. Stayed at Gunlom campsite.

8. Drove on to Katherine and Nitmiluk NP.

Kakadu NP Pictures

The next "stop" was Nitmiluk NP (Katherine Gorge) where we did a nice walk into the gorge and a canoe trip.

Nitmiluk Pictures

The next and last "stop" then was Litchfield NP, which seemed a bit like "Kakadu light". All the sights are far more accessible, which results in more tour busses with the typical "arrive, get off, take a few pictures, on to the next sight" schedule. Still, a great NP, especially along the southern 4WD access road (Reynolds River road).

Litchfield NP Pictures