Not Today, not Tomorrow, not Tuesday, not Thursday. That's a joke from the locals, the NT is a pretty laid back place. It's pretty warm here in the dry - 32 degrees the day after the winter solstice. We have really enjoyed exploring the top end of the top end the last few days.
We departed Katherine for Litchfield National Park, but after a couple of bad nights sleep only made it as far as Batchelor before stopping for the day.
Here it was noticeably more humid and tropical. The dry hasn't quite dried everything out yet.
We set about spending a day exploring Litchfield. What a fantastic slice of nature! After getting his compass out to do a cool photo with it swirling about, Adam was quite disappointed that the magnetic termite mounds are not actually magnetic. Their tombstone-esque north-south orientation is a function of solar exposure, not the magnetic field of the earth. In fact, the name is a misnomer, with the termite-bladed aligned to polar north/south, not magnetic north/south. I guess 'Longitudinal Termites' doesn't sound as sexy.
Their cousins, the Cathedral Termites also build some very impressive structures. We watched an army of ants invading a large Cathedral mound for a while before driving on to the next stop - Florence falls. A nice little waterfall with a swimming spot at the bottom. Very pretty. It was to be a waterfall-some day.
A short drive and then we bushwalked a short loop around to the vantage point over Tolmer Falls - wow! A steep drop into a cavernous pool and gorge below. A special place, the jungle-ey watercourse winding through the narrow valley below. Alive and abundant. We ate some lunch there before travelling a little further out to Wangi Falls.
Next time we are camping here!
There is a pair of waterfalls descending the cliff face into a large swimming hole. The loop hike to the top of the falls was closed due to fire, but Adam got in for a swim in the certified crocodile free waterhole. The torrent of water coming down is powerful. On the north side there is a cool little pool you can climb up into that people were calling 'the spa.' There is a slower filling cascade that warms on the rock face and makes the spa about 5 degrees warmer. Laying and staring at the greenery and water raining down from above was magic. We watched little rainbow birds flitting across the water surface catching bugs for a while until eventually it was time to head for Darwin.
A short stretch of unsealed corrugations and then we hit the brand spanking new section of Litchfield Park Road heading north towards Darwin. We drove around the down-town high-rise bits for a while to orient ourselves. Darwin is a really cool city! We found a place to stay then returned to the beachfront for the Thursday version of the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.
Time to check off another wedding gift - dinner at the markets (Thanks Sara!). We parked Gary up then wandered in. The smells and colours and sounds of all sorts of street food assailed us as we wandered through. Mindil is a big deal! We eventually found a stall called The Happy Cow that has mostly vegan and some vegetarian food. We got a wrap with four fillings each and ate them on the beach, watching the sun set over the mudflats and a band start up on the sand.
A little more wandering bought us to Petras Cakes. Petra is the local queen of raw vegan dessert. Mango cream pie and Bounty chocolate-coconut slices were delicious. Adam scored some fresh mango and we hung around to check out very rad didgeridoo and drums duo emdee. With the sun down and the sky darkening we returned to camp - what a day!
The next day (Friday), we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast out for the first time since Mullumbimby (the day after Bluesfest, way back when). We found a spot called Alley Cats and enjoyed some tasty coffee and food we didn't have to cook. Then we got down to big city errands. Tights for Ruth, sunscreen, haircut for Adam, Gary got washed, Oil and helicoil for Gary, Rechargeable batteries for head torches, gas bottle refill, food & bookshop hopped for a few books (but alas not in stock)...
In the afternoon we went to see the Aviation History Museum. Home of a really really (really!) big decommissioned B-52 bomber, a bunch of retired military aircraft and artefacts from the air war over Darwin during World War II. Super interesting to wander around and bought back a lot of memories of Adams childhood pilot aspirations and model plane collecting.