Blog 28: Northern Territory - Katherine to Jabiru
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.
Back to camp and we had a swim in the pool before an early bed time - Saturday we were going to participate in the Darwin event for World Yoga Day.
We found ourselves down on the Darwin Waterfront at 8 am with about a hundred and fifty others to do a couple of hours of yoga practice. The event started off great - a little discussion on the practice of yoga, some guided pranayama (breath control) and then some decent guided asana (poses). Everyone relaxed into savasana at the end of the poses.... then it got a bit weird.
Lets step out of blog space and into Adam-has-a-mini-rant space. Here are some opinions.
Hi guys, Adam here. I have practised yoga for about six or seven years. It is reasonable to say I know quite a bit about it. Here are some things about yoga as I understand it.
A system of philosophy, ethics and values that can guide a person towards the inner peace that comes from a still mind in union (yoga literally translates as 'union') with the universal consciousness that pervades all of existence. If you want to know more The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a good place to start.
Yoga is not:
Dancing around and chanting along with pop music.
Quieting of the mind through withdrawal of the senses and focused concentration on the breath.
Yoga is not:
Loud multi-instrumental music blaring from speakers while chanting vaguely sanskrit sounding phrases over and over.
Meditation, in the system of yoga is a poor english language translation of a mishmash of Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (contemplation). The word 'meditation' gets thrown around a lot, and means many different things to many different people. If the mind is not quiet and approaching stillness, if the mind is engaged in activity, such as motion, singing, smiling, wandering eyes, foot tapping or other neuron-firing process, it is not meditation as I understand it.
Only a little bit about asana (postures). There are only two mentions of asana (postures) in the 196 aphorisms that make up the sutras. Basically they should be comfortable and motionless, and that they are perfected when there is a cessation of effort - the mind is quiet and the focus is on the infinite.
Yoga is not:
Just about doing stretching to become more flexible.
I want to be calm and accepting of the fact that others find meaning and peace in other forms of practice - if you enjoy dancing around to repetitive music, then great for you. But the closing of the Darwin yoga day event bought me close to tears. An outsider looking at the signs strung up would thing this loud and disturbing thing blaring over the park, with repetitive singing of 'Hare Krisna' was yoga. We had to leave before the end.
Perfect analogy: It was like watching a bad cover band butcher your favourite song.
Yoga offers many benefits to those who are willing to explore the system, I encourage you to do some research.
After the world yoga day event we made our way over to a vegan cafe we had heard about at Charles Darwin University called Kings Wholefood. Man oh man is that place GREAT! We had our first ever beyond meat pattie experience. It was disturbingly delicious. Also, vegan vanilla slice and jam donut. And stocked up on the vegan supplies (Nutritional Yeast and VEGO).
From Kings wholefood we went over to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. They have a really great exhibition of indigenous art, some Cyclone Tracy artefacts / exhibits and were exhibiting a whole bunch of work by Darwin artist Franck Gohier. An awesome way to spend an afternoon.
We lazed in the shade on a blanket by the beach for a while before heading off to the Malak Market for some fresh produce and dinner. We came away with some super delicious fermented garlic, kombucha, and some more of Petras Cakes. So good.
Sunday we bid farewell to Darwin. What a great city. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
Stocked up on groceries (Including vegan mince you can now get in the meat section at Woolies!) and fuel we headed east towards the iconic Kakadu National Park. A brief stop at the educational lookout Window on the Wetlands (great place for kids if you are travelling with them) and it was on towards Jabiru.
Yesterday was a rest day by the pool in Jabiru. Now we are off to explore Kakadu properly, before returning to Katherine and aiming for Queensland.
All our love,
Adam and Ruth,
Days on the Road = 194
Distance Driven = 26 685 km
Mean Distance per Day = 135 km
Mean Fuel Economy = 13.75 L / 100 km
Best Fuel Economy = 12.17 L / 100 km (Port Lincoln to Port Augusta)
Nights Free Camping = 36
Nights in Roof Tent = 171/193
Coffees Purchased = 62
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Geocaches Logged = 32
Gary Breakdowns = 0.35
Drone Flights = 2
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French Land Rover Drivers Scared = 1
State or Territory Borders Crossed = 15