A Travellerspoint blog

Northern Territory to Southern Australia:Darwin to Adelaide

Through the Red Centre: Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

sunny 30 °C
View My Trip so far! on Sophfidoe's travel map.

About a stone lighter from the humidity and keen to be able to swim in areas where Crocs weren't I left Darwin in search of my next adventure. Visiting the outback was a last minute decision but it's something I had always been keen to experience.
I joined a British Guy, Ryan for the overland trek. He was in a bit of a rush to get to Sydney in time for Christmas so we were on a bit of a tight time frame. So together with a German girl Karin, we hit the road.

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Ryan, Karin, myself and Tweety!

The outback was an amazing experience and I am so glad that I went overland. It gives you a real sense of liberation when you're driving for hours on end, seeing only a few cars, stopping in the middle of nowhere to set up camp and watch the sunset.

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Sunset in the outback

Then all of a sudden, having driven 1600km you see the McDonnell ranges in the distance and arrive at the self contained town that is Alice Springs.

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There isn't much between Darwin and Alice Springs, it has to be said, apart from the odd town which claims to be the centre for UFO's?!

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I have discovered that Australia has a number of very 'frank' signs!

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We did stop off at the famous Devils marbles which are a collection of granite boulders, a perfect stop for a pic!

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Devils marbles

However, other than these there isn't much apart from the odd roadhouse selling sweets that are 6months out of date and petrol that's nearly double the price than elsewhere.
For the majority we camped at 24hr rest stops which had only a 'drop' toilet and we had the odd night spent camped on the side of the road - literally. However I think there was only a maximum of 4 days that passed where I was unable to shower, so not too bad really!! The only other issue was Ryan being a typical bloke and not getting any antibiotics for the cuts he endured from the shells whilst working on the pearl farm in Broome. It's quite a common injury but without antibiotics the swellings and infection got pretty nasty, he managed to survive the trip though - just!

It's a shame that I didn't get to spend longer in Alice Springs as the walks in amongst the ranges are meant to be fantastic! It is the central hub for people going off to see the wonders of the Red Centre; Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

We joined forces with 2 German guys, friends of Karin and set off in convoy to explore the red centre.

Kings Canyon

You have to drive about 500km before you reach the real attractions, starting at Kings Canyon. It's a 300km detour from the road to Uluru but I'd have been sad to have missed it. We decided to opt for the 6km walk which takes you along the rim of the Canyon, dropping brielfly down into the 'Garden of Eden' for a well earnt and much needed swim.

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Swimming in the Garden of Eden

The initial climb (all wearing flip flops might I add!) was pretty steep with flies chasing you all the way, it's a shame I didn't have a bee keepers mask with me and I'd forgotten to save the corks from the wine bottles to attach to my hat.
The scenery was spectacular and it was a great feeling to be the only ones up there and not surrounded by hoards of tourists!
The Canyon isn't as big as the Grand Canyon for sure but it does offer different landscapes and fascinating rock formations around.

Kata Tjuta

Also known as 'The Olgas', Kata Tjuta is magical. This collection of dome rock formations really stand out on the horizon. Up close they are even better, as they light up in the sunlight. For me these sacred rocks were much more intriging than Uluru, which was itself pretty special.

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We did the 6km walk through the collection of rocks, this time bumping into quiet a few buses of tourists!

Uluru

It was surreal to actually be there at sunset and sunrise to watch Uluru changing colour. We had to get up at 4am to make sure that we would catch the sunrise and half asleep still we managed to see the sun rising behind this giant piece of sandstone.

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Getting into the Christmas spirit

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Look where the Americans parked themselves, behind the fence!

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Sunrise at Uluru, the colours were magical

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Uluru up close. Exploring its waterhole

From Alice Springs to Adelaide we passed through Coober Pedy, an opal mining town where 1/3rd of the population live underground due to the intense heat that they have to endure. We went to the underground hostel but didn't have time to explore the churchs there. The place is in the middle of nowhere, with miles of nothingness all around it but the miners get paid quite well in return. Just before Adelaide there are a number of salt lakes which are easily accessible from the roadside and fun to draw in!

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Hart Lake

[b]Adelaide [/b]

Said to be the city of churches, it has a warm, clean and friendly feel to it. Adelaide does have a reputation for being a slightly boring city but I was pleasantly suprised from what I could see. The city is surrounded by hills and has the Flinders Ranges, a hikers dream, a few hours north. I didn't get chance to sample the local wines but a large proportion of Australia's wines come from this region, how can it be boring!!
Although it may have been the fact that everyone was doing their last minute christmas shopping that made Adelaide seem pretty busy!
The local markets were a great place to get our Christmas Eve meal. Traveling with Germans I joined in with their main celebration on Christmas Eve. This involved a lovely cooked meal on a nearby beach, elf hats, copious amounts of goon (Cheap wine!), attempts at volleyball, swimming in the chilly sea and then a tipsy tram ride home again.

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Glenelg beach

I was very lucky to be invited to a friends family for Christmas day. I had met Linley at the Elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand and her Brother, Colin, was hosting christmas this year. It was lovely to spend the day with an Australian family and I felt so welcome. In addition to gorgeous food and wine I actually made it into the sea for a quick dip (the sea is colder on the south coast than you might think!). Many thanks to the whole family for having me!

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Posted by Sophfidoe 16:02 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Northern Territory: Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks

Crocs, waterfalls and off-roading!

sunny 40 °C
View My Trip so far! on Sophfidoe's travel map.

Darwin

Soon after you cross the border from the Western state of Australia you experience much greener landscape that is the Northern Territory. Cyclones can be common in the North and the wet season was just about to commence with heavy rainfall for a few hours on a daily basis.

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Monsoon Weather was just about to commence!

Australians are not only proud of their country, they are proud of the state or Territory that they live in, with the rivalry between them not being to dissimilar to that of the English and the Welsh.
Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, once again is a fairly small city which only takes a day or two to get a feel for. Backpackers make up the vast majority inhabitants in the centre and every evening the streets are alive with travelers who are taking a break from the fruit picking or exchanging stories about their trips to the local National Parks.

The Northern Territory has fabulous National Parks; Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine. I met up with Olly, a great guy from Germany who was as keen as me to hike and swim in the parks for a few days and once again get away from Civilisation!

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Olly and I

Kakadu National Park

So off we went into the wilderness for four days of 4X4 fun! The main aim of the trip was to spot a croc in the wild, however, with the hot temperatures, they were remaining on the riverbeds and as tempting as it was (given we were sweating from 8am!) we weren't quite ready to sacrifice ourselves for a glimpse of the elusive creatures.

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Warning signs everywhere!

We did find some fabulous waterfalls to cool down in though, just some of the beauty which Kakadu had in store for us.

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Gunlom Falls

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Water Monitor that we swam with.

The National Park is huge and consists of so many different landscapes; wetlands, monsoon rainforest with flying foxes carpeting the canopy, grasslands with boxing Roos and huge rock escarpments covered with Aboriginal artwork. The sunsets here were as expected, with the addition of black rock wallabies hopping around.

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Aboriginal Artwork can be found all over the park. Kakadu is next to Aboriginal land which you need a permit to cross.

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Sunset at Gunlom Falls

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Sunset at Ubirr Rock. We ran up the hill and just caught the stunning vista.

We saw some amazing wildlife in the park; Dingo's being just one example. There is a dog fence which goes straight through the centre of Australia to prevent Dingo's from reaching the East coast.
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Flying Foxes in the monsoon rainforest created an ear piecing sound

We also ate gourmet food throughout the trip! The secret is to just add copious amounts of mixed herbs!
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There were surprises on a daily basis in the National park; I really wasn't expecting all this to be hidden in the Northern Territory. The best moment had to be whilst we were waiting for the sunset in the Nourlangie area, sat upon a huge escarpment, looking out over miles of grassland, suddenly we heard noises and looking down we saw two kangaroos having a full blown boxing match! I think it was only playful as I can imagine they are capable of severe damage but it went on for a full twenty minutes and was the funniest thing I had seen for a while.

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Olly a likened it to girls fighting!

Due to our inability to spot crocs in the wild we signed up for a tour which gave us the opportunity to see these deadly creatures up close.
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Some get quite obsessed with the creatures!

The very strange component of the park is the Uranium mine which is situated right in the centre and not surprisingly is rather controversial! We weren't able to get a tour due to it being off season but we were able to get an idea of the shear size of it.

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Kakadu was an amazing place and it was great to be living in the wilderness for a few days and leaping into a waterfall at every opportunity, however I would recommend going in the dry season when all the roads are open as we weren't able to access all of the sights there unfortunately.

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield is full of more wonders and the 4X4 road on the way was a thrill in itself. The first time I've driven through a river! I've wanted to go off roading for a while now and I was lucky that Olly had faith in my 4X4 abilities.! Luckily I only had one skid to control, thanks Dad for teaching me to lower the gears and drive into it!

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Crossing the Adelaide River

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Clearing the road for other vehicles

It's not just waterfalls that Litchfield is renowned for; there are also Giant Termite mounds here which can reach a height of up to 5metres! There are also ones know as magnetic mounds where the termites build them in relation to the earths magnetic field which effects the amount of sunlight and wind they are exposed to.
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The waterfalls are amazing though and there are numerous! It's wonderful to be able to swim in them without fearing for your life!

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The only negative side of camping by the waterfalls is the hundreds of Mozzies buzzing about and after having seen this poster I wasn't surprised that I had so many bites!

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Look at the number of different species, I have no chance!

These National parks are a must for travelers. I've definitely been shocked by the landscapes in this country and hopefully there is more to come!

Posted by Sophfidoe 02:23 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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