Doing the Wildthing

Day 1

There are two main national parks close, in Aussie terms, to Darwin -Litchfield and Kakadu. I was only intending to go to Kakdu, but I saw a company called Wildthing Adventure Tours doing a $99 special, so I booked up. I was going to go to Kakadu first, but that would have clashed with the England/Argentina game, so Rob and I had to rearrange. I'd met Rob a couple of days ago in Cairns (have I mentioned that before?), and decided to go on a trip together in Darwin. I had to meet up with him as well as I'd left by glasses in Cairns and he had them with him!

Had another early start - up at 6am, on the bus by half-past. Turned to be a great bunch on people on the nbus, epecially Alan, the owner/operator of the company. He broke out the donuts and coffee when we got on - always a good sign. As soon as we got into Litchfield, which was a couple of hours away, he spotted a frill-necked lizard running across the road. He screeched the bus to a halt and leapt out with a cry of "I'll see if I can catch the little bugger!". Which he did, as it was climbing up a tree. We were quite lucky to see one as they mostly stay up in the trees for the duration of the dry season.

A frill-necked lizard

The first scheduled stop was Tolmer Falls, a beautiful waterfall. We hiked up around the back of it as Al has a special permit to do so, and came to a smaller part of the falls, with a waterhole for swimmin'! We all jumped in as it was really hot. It was about 50ft to the bottom of the pool, and Al said he could dive down to the bottom, and get some gravel to prove it. Knowing that you'd really need scuba gear to do this, I watched him dive down. And there he stayed, it seemed, for at least a couple of minutes. Some people started to get a bit worried, until Al came up, stones in hand. Amazing! Actaully, though, he'd been hiding behind the waterfall, as there was a cavern located through an opening underneath the falls. Al then took a few of us - 2 at a time - through the tunnel, which opened out into a 3ft wide, 40ft high cavern, which was incredible. It was potholing with a difference, and absolutely superb. The cavern sparkled with iron pyrities (Fool's gold) - it was only accessible in the dry season, as the water rises by about 18ft, almost to the top of the cavern, during the wet (roughly November to April, I think).

Following this we drove off to have lunch, very nice as Al used to be a chef. Then we trooped off to another waterfall/swimmin' hole called Tjatara, and spotted a water goanna. On the way we all licked green ant's green bums, which tasted of lime. Also, we went to another waterfall (Wangi) with a hot tub. Great.

Dinner was served atop a hillpeak, close to our campsite, watching sunset across the park and the bush fires burning in the distance (though they looked close enough!). Back at the camp, Al played a mean guitar, and I fiddled about with it for a bit too, having not played in a while. But then Pete, a computer programmer from Norwich, took the reins and bashed out some sublime obscure delta blues. Wicked. I 've got to learn to play like that one day. He mangled the Dylan vocaks, though. Most people also went for a dip in the nearby swimming hole, complete with VBs in hand. Al had a rubber croc to put the wind up everyone, but couldn't find it :( We all slept out on groundsheets in sleeping bags, covered by mosquito nets. I still got bitten.

Day 2

Today we hiked up to the Cascades, a 1km long multi-levelled waterfall, and as usual, had a swim (in Curtain Falls). We saw the raims of a WW2 Spitfire that had crashed on the hill. Later on we saw some magnetic termire mounds, so called as they arew aligned on a north-south axis to keep their tempertaure controlled. There are only a few others like them in the world. Then we drove off to yet another waterfall - Florence Falls - where I did a bit of cliff-jumping, and saw an amazing rainbow in the falls.

Went out in the evening, ending up at a club called the Rattle and Hum, where of the guys on the tour, Mal (a pro golfer) had a $100 bar tab for us all. Nice. I intended to stay up and watch the football, but had my mind changed ny Louise, who lives in Ballarat (nr. Melbourne). Soccer's great but you can't beat a bit a original ball-play.

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