Now for PART THREE of my super quick blog posts bringing you up to date! Here, we will trek through Kakadu, and across to Queensland. In case you missed them, you can find PART ONE here (Lake Argyle & Mataranka), and PART TWO here (Exploring Darwin) 🙂
After getting back on the road, a whole 20 days after first arriving in Darwin, we made our way through Kakadu National Park. For the first time on the trip, we had a timeframe to keep to – you’ll discover why shortly! So, we zipped through a little quicker than we would have liked. We ended up spending three nights in total. The first was at the entrance to the National Park at Aurora Roadhouse, the second at Ubirr, and lastly, Garnamarr.
Located at the far north of Kakadu, Ubirr is home to some of the oldest and best preserved Aboriginal Rock Art that you will find. It is thought that some of the art sites actually date back tens of thousands of years. You will also find evidence of Aboriginal shelters, the places that were home to the traditional land owners thousands of years ago.
The East Alligator River runs close by, and is the border to Arnhemland (which you are not allowed to visit, without special permission form the traditional land owners). There is only one way in to Arnhemland (by road), and that is via the Cahill Crossing. This is a great spot to visit, take a couple of pics and do some croc spotting.
We chose to do an Aboriginal Cultural Cruise down the East Alligator River, and it was really something! We saw a massive number of crocs, and learnt a heap from the Aboriginal Tour Guide. We also had the opportunity to stop and disembark the boat on the Arnhemland side of the river, and explore for 15min or so….. Probably the only opportunity we’ll ever get to set foot in Arnhemland!
Jim Jim Falls
Our next stop was Jim Jim Falls. This is accessed by a 4WD only track, approx. 50km off the Kakadu Highway. The campground (Garnammar) is very well maintained, with friendly camp managers. A further 15kms on from the campground, down a very rough track is the Jim Jim Falls Carpark. Make sure you plan your day though – it took us about 45mins to drive the 15km! The walk into Jim Jim is also a little deceiving! Its only 900m, but it was far and away the toughest gorge walk we’ve done! It started out nice enough, but the last 750m involved rock jumping and climbing to the max! Chrissy was a trooper and carried Madi on his shoulders the whole way (goodness knows how, because I struggled just getting myself up and down those massive boulders!).
Once we made it through though, the Falls themselves were pretty spectacular. Whilst it isn’t definitively croc free, it is one area that is regarded as ‘reasonably’ safe to swim. So, when we saw that there were a heap of others swimming, we took a calculated risk, and jumped in too!! Believe me, you don’t walk that far and for that long, just to look at the water!!! You do have to be cautious though, as we did actually pass a croc trap on our way in! A stark reminder that they are in and around! You definitely shouldn’t swim downstream of the plunge pool!
So, as it turned out, Jim Jim Falls marked the end of our stay in Kakadu. We had hoped to stay one more night, and visit Gunlom, which from all reports, is one of the highlights of Kakadu, however on our way out of Jim Jim, on the gravel road, this happened…..
Yes, that’s right – we fell victim to the dreaded flying stone, kicked up by the camper trailer! We taped it up roadside as best we could, but decided it was best to stick to the bitumen until we could properly tape it/fix it. Given that Gunlom was going to be a long drive on more rough gravel, we decided we’d leave it, and just have to see it next time!
The next part of our journey was to see us head south back down the Stuart Highway, as far as Mataranka, then eastwards. We dropped back in to say g’day to our friends in Mataranka, caught up on some laundry, stocked up in Katherine, and stopped in to see the Edith Falls (just outside of Katherine). We then started on the Savannah Way.
The Savannah Way is one of the lesser known iconic roads – traversing the country from Broome to Cairns. We jumped in at roughly the halfway point, and it was on this drive that we saw the landscape really change! The road travels through a number of very small communities, all very remote, and a long way from everywhere! Limmen National Park was an interesting drive, however, definitely one of the rougher roads we’ve been on! We camped overnight on the banks of the Towns River, but again couldn’t swim, or really go near the water (salties everywhere!).
After a couple of very long, dusty days, we were all VERY ready for a shower, or running water at least. Everything, including us, was caked in dust, so we put in a big driving day to reach the Hells Gate Roadhouse. We ended up crossing the border into Queensland at around 6pm, unfortunately just missing the sunset, but we stopped for a celebratory beer anyway!
Continue reading PART FOUR of our journey here!
– KR 🙂