Come explore the Northern Territory

Northern Territory Outback

Northern Territory Outback

When I returned from my ultimate bucket list trip (to Scandinavia), I made a promise to myself to make an effort to explore more of my own backyard. We have so many spectacular places to see, here in Australia, yet us Aussies are always so eager to escape to ANY country other than our own. So, to scope out a new found appreciation for this vast landscape – we made a spur of the moment decision to pack our bags, escape the Brisbane Winter, and head to the Northern Territory to explore some of this magnificent country.

The decision was actually wrapped up as a birthday present from Mitch. Being a gal that prefers “experiences” over “things”, I guess the idea to take me away was a no-brainer!

So we took a red-eye flight from Brisbane to Darwin to steal my cousins ’76 Series Land Cruiser and camp gear, switch off the phone for a week, and set off to explore the Top End.

OUR TRIP BEGINS.

DAY 1: Airport > Djukbinj > Point Stuart > Jim Jim Falls (via Jabiru)
DAY 2: Jim Jim Falls > Maguk > Gunlom Falls (Waterfall Creek Falls)
DAY 3: Gunlom > Katherine > Edith Falls
DAY 4: Edith Falls > Douglas Daly Hot Springs > Butterfly Gorge > Litchfield
DAY 5: Buley Rockhole > Florence Falls (Litchfield National Park)
DAY 6: Darwin

Map: Northern Territory 5 Day Road Trip

Map: Northern Territory 5 Day Road Trip

DAY 1: Darwin > Djukbinj > Point Stuart > Jim Jim Falls (via Jabiru)

We set off first thing in the morning! Our destination was to head to Jim Jim Falls and set up camp to spend the day exploring the area – but we got a bit side tracked on the way.

I could see the sun rising over the horizon and desperately wanted to find a nice billabong to get some sunrise shots, so we took a detour through Djukbinj National Park (we only went maybe 10kms from the turnoff, the heart of the National Park is much further) and pulled in to “Little Sister Billabong”. Being the dry season, of course, the billabong was completely dried up (not what I was after) but the sun was rising fast, so I made do with the scenery that I had. I truly love the colours of the world at this time of day. The muted greens in the trees. The blue hues of forest edge. The pastel orange and pinks that dart across the sky. Such a shame that the world can only be painted in these colours for as little as a few minutes each day.

Sunrise over Djukbinj

Sunrise over Djukbinj

Sunrise over Djukbinj

Sunrise over Djukbinj

Beautiful pastel skies in Djukbinj

Beautiful pastel skies in Djukbinj

Beautiful pastel skies in Djukbinj

Beautiful pastel skies in Djukbinj

I took my shots, and sat on the back of the ute to enjoy the rest of the sunrise without my camera. There was more light now, and I thought I could notice a buffalo off in the distance. It was low on the ground, by itself, in dry season; so I assumed that it was the remains of a buffalo. Wanting to catch a closer glance, I grabbed my camera to zoom in as far as I could (the first time in my life I have wanted to kick myself for not having a strong tele lens!) I took the picture, and had to zoom in further to see. Yes, it was the lone carcass of a buffalo long gone. I looked a bit harder and couldn’t believe my eyes! There was a mama dingo and 6 of her pups feeding on the buffalo – magnificent!

Watching the Sunrise in Djukbinj

Watching the Sunrise in Djukbinj

Driving tracks around the Little Sister Billabong in Djukbinj

Driving tracks around the Little Sister Billabong in Djukbinj

If you squint, you can see the mama dingo and her pups feasting on the buffalo

If you squint, you can see the mama dingo and her pups feasting on the buffalo

We continued our drive, noticing how alive the wildlife is at this time of morning – we saw dingos, buffalo, kookaburras, wallabies and kangaroos galore! We even saw crocs! We made our way up to Shady Camp past Point Stuart to use the BBQ facilities to make some breakfast burgers, and took a gulp as we saw the locals casting a line in the croc infested waters!

Sunrise in the rear view mirror

Sunrise in the rear view mirror

Camouflaged Wallaby

Camouflaged Wallaby

Crocs sunbaking on the bank at Shady Camp

Crocs sunbaking on the bank at Shady Camp

Fishing in croc infested waters

Fishing in croc infested waters

Next up, we made our way to Jim Jim Falls. Unfortunately we missed the turnoff to Old Jim Jim Road (which would have had us cut right through the middle of Kakadu and spit us out at the falls), so we had to go the long way via Jabiru. The corrugated dirt road that leads to Jim Jim Falls is around 70kms long and is suitable for 4WDs only – however we did notice plenty of tiny small 4 cylinder cars attempting the trek and moving at a snails pace.

Road trip through Kakadu National Park, NT, Australia

Road trip through Kakadu National Park, NT, Australia

smashed car on Jim Jim Road

smashed car on Jim Jim Road

We set up camp at the Jim Jim Falls camp site (BBQ Fires, Hot shower facilities, drinking water) and then took the track the rest of the way to the falls. This road is DEFINITELY only suitable to 4WDs, and is another 20-30minute drive through the bush to the carpark.

The hike to the falls is pretty rocky terrain, so make sure to wear some grippy shoes! It would definitely require you to be moderately fit in order to hike there comfortably – although it is only 2km(ish) round trip.

When you finally get to the water, you will notice croc signs, and a big croc trap in the water – do not swim here (obviously) and continue on to the “sandy beach”.

Croc waters at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

Croc waters at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

Croc waters at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

Croc waters at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

This place is beautiful, but being the dry season the water was a little bit stagnant, so we kept going to get to the wonderful Jim Jim Falls. The fall wasn’t running (dry season), and the water hole was completely covered by shade. Apparently it gets no sun in the dry season, making the water FREEZING cold. Out of the 20 or so tourists at this spot, I was the only one to get in the water. Which I can confirm was, in fact, freezing cold. But after swimming around for a bit, your body adjusts to the temperature and it becomes quite comfortable.

Sandy Beach at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

Sandy Beach at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

Sandy Beach at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

Sandy Beach at Jim Jim Falls, Northern Territory

Reflections at Jim Jim Falls

Reflections at Jim Jim Falls

a dry Jim Jim Falls

a dry Jim Jim Falls

a dry Jim Jim Falls

a dry Jim Jim Falls

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0149.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0213.

When we got back to camp, we threw our Campurritos (Camp Burritos – thanks Buzzfeed) on the fire, had a hot shower, and an early night (apart from waking up to take a snap of the milky way)! All ready for an early start in the morning!

Campurritos

Campurritos

Campurritos

Campurritos

Campurritos

Campurritos

NikitaPere_NT-1544

Milky Way in the Australian Outback

Milky Way in the Australian Outback

 

Milky Way in the Northern Territory

Milky Way in the Northern Territory

DAY 2: Jim Jim Falls > Maguk > Gunlom Falls (Waterfall Creek Falls)

We woke up early, to pack the tent and head to the next destination: Maguk (Barramundi Gorge). A short 10km dirt track from the main road, this one is definitely accessible by car. The bush on either side of the road had been victim to bushfire (most likely controlled burning), which made for a stunning, barren scene. The huge termite mounds appear to have held up quite well in these fires. It still completely blows my mind that these tiny termites can create these massive mounds, which are as hard as any cement, and they can withstand the crazy weather of the NT – so fascinating!

Giant Termite Mound

Giant Termite Mound

Baron landscape for outback driving.

Baron landscape for outback driving.

more termite mounds - these things appear to withstand any bushfire!

more termite mounds – these things appear to withstand any bushfire!

We finally get to the carpark of Maguk, and have a quick look at the sign on how to get to the gorge. It’s listed as an easy 1km hike – but you have to scramble over rocks and cross a creek for at least a third of that! The beginning of the hike takes you through lush tropical forest, and over a running creek – it can make you feel a little uneasy about how close the track is to the water, considering its croc territory! I imagine that this location would be quite difficult or impossible to get to in the wet season.

trekking through the lush bushland to Maguk

trekking through the lush bushland to Maguk

the spectacular Barramundi Gorge

the spectacular Barramundi Gorge

the spectacular Barramundi Gorge

the spectacular Barramundi Gorge

Whilst sitting down at the gorge and enjoying the scenery, I was about to jump in to this crystal clear water – until I noticed that there were people on top of the fall! These are (as I later found out) known as the Crystal Pools. Not sure on how to get up there, we retraced our steps back to the creek crossing to position ourselves on the opposite side of the gorge. We looked for a track leading up the mountain, which was made easier as a bus full of tourists had just made their way down! We followed the path which was a pretty steep climb in some places, and 90% rock scrambling to the top of the rock face – but it only took around 15 minutes for us to get to the top. And my! What a sight! We got there just as another group of tourists were leaving, so there was a couple that hung around for a few minutes, and after that we had the whole place to ourselves! I remember turning to Mitch and saying “How incredible! Out of the billions of people on this planet, we are the only two here to witness this spectacular part of the world”. Sitting on the rocks and listening to the water gush from each pool. Coo-ing out to hear our voices echo through the gorge. Having our own private swimming hole/sun baking lounge. Without want of sounding like a BCF ad “THIS IS LIVING!”.

 

 

Mitch jumping in to the Crystal Falls pools, Maguk

Mitch jumping in to the Crystal Falls pools, Maguk

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Chilling out at Crystal Pools, Maguk

Chilling out at Crystal Pools, Maguk

 

Overlooking the Barramundi Gorge from the top of Crystal Pools

Overlooking the Barramundi Gorge from the top of Crystal Pools

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

Swimming in the Crystal Pools, Maguk, NT.

NikitaPere_NT-1642

After an hours worth of swimming and baking, we decided to leave this magical place and make our way back down to the car. Which is just as well, as one of the hikers we passed along the way advised us that we’d left our headlights on! eep!!

Overlooking Barramundi Gorge

Overlooking Barramundi Gorge

Fire starting on the hill above the gorge

Fire starting on the hill above the gorge

With a quick stop off at the Mary River Roadhouse for lunch (Mitch recommends to try the Buffalo burger), we continued to Gunlom Falls where we set up camp for the night, ready to explore the area the next day.

Our camp at the base of Gunlom

Our camp at the base of Gunlom

The Milky Way over Kakadu National Park

The Milky Way over Kakadu National Park

DAY 3: Gunlom > Edith Falls

There’s not much that can beat waking up to a beautiful sunrise from the inside of your hammock swag, that kept you up watching the stars all night!

The sunrise view from inside my hammock/swag

The sunrise view from inside my hammock/swag

After breakfast we made our way up to the Gunlom falls – which is not a long hike, but it is very steep! Basically climbing vertically up a rock face for around 300metres, but the view is well worth the effort!

The view from Gunlom Falls, Northern Territory

The view from Gunlom Falls, Northern Territory

Swimming in the creeks up at Gunlom

Swimming in the creeks up at Gunlom

Swimming in the creeks up at Gunlom

Swimming in the creeks up at Gunlom

Swimming to the edge of the world at Gunlom Falls in Kakadu National Park, NT

Swimming to the edge of the world at Gunlom Falls in Kakadu National Park, NT

Swimming to the edge of the world at Gunlom Falls in Kakadu National Park, NT

Swimming to the edge of the world at Gunlom Falls in Kakadu National Park, NT

The view over Gunlom in Kakadu National Park, NT

The view over Gunlom in Kakadu National Park, NT

Campers leave Gunlom in Kakadu National Park, NT

Campers leave Gunlom in Kakadu National Park, NT

Campers leave Gunlom in Kakadu National Park, NT

Campers leave Gunlom in Kakadu National Park, NT

Today we left the beautiful Kakadu region, which we were sad to do. I’m glad we got to spend a few days exploring this beautiful region of our homeland, but you could certainly spend plenty more time exploring all the ins-and-outs that this place has to offer!!

saying goodbye to Kakadu National Park, and jumping back in the truck to explore more

saying goodbye to Kakadu National Park, and jumping back in the truck to explore more

a bearded selfie in Kakadu

a bearded selfie in Kakadu

Saying Goodbye to Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia.

Saying Goodbye to Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia.

DAY 4: Edith Falls > Douglas Daly Hot Springs > Litchfield

Last night we spent the evening cooking snags and burgers, and drinking beers with the lovely English senior who had bought his two teenage grandsons to explore top end of Australia, at our campsite in Edith Falls. This place is accessible via a sealed road, so it was one of the most popular campsites that we stayed in – and for good reason. The camp itself backed on to a massive water hole (Edith Falls), and it had landscaped camp areas, laundry and shower facilities as well as a kiosk/cafe. It’s no wonder this place was popular with the travelling families! Having forgotten to take fire wood to any of our previous campsites, we made sure we stocked up on firewood (which you just gather on the side of the road) before we got to the camp. We had a good haul, too!! That was until the kind lady at the kiosk advised that there were no campfires at this particular site. Just our luck!

our collecting firewood efforts were fruitless

our collecting firewood efforts were fruitless

our collecting firewood efforts were fruitless

our collecting firewood efforts were fruitless

Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Just behind the kiosk and the Day carpark, you will notice a bunch of hiking tracks. One goes up to the Sweetwater pools, which I have been told by several people that it is well worth the 8.6km round trip. Unfortunately my back problems wouldn’t have been up to that hike, but if you ever decide to do it, I would recommend you set off first thing in the morning to save yourself the heat stroke. We decided to proceed to the 2km round trip hike to the Upper Pools. A steady, reasonably easy hike, that is definitely worth the effort! All walking tracks in the National Parks, we noticed, are clearly marked (the yellow triangle below) which should help you from getting lost!

hikes through the National Parks are clearly marked with a yellow triangle

hikes through the National Parks are clearly marked with a yellow triangle

hikes through the National Parks are clearly marked with a yellow triangle

hikes through the National Parks are clearly marked with a yellow triangle

The view down to the Edith Falls main swimming area

The view down to the Edith Falls main swimming area

 

Spectacular Upper Pools in Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park

Spectacular Upper Pools in Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park

A couple share a moment at this magical waterfall

A couple share a moment at this magical waterfall

Spectacular Upper Pools in Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park

Spectacular Upper Pools in Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park

NikitaPere_NT-1963

 

NikitaPere_NT-1922

Upper Pools hiking track

Upper Pools hiking track

Back in the car and on our way to the Douglas Daly hot springs, which I had heard all about the lovely hot springs of the Northern Territory. It was a bit of a drive, so we made sure to stop in at the Pine River “Lazy Lizard” pub to wet the whistle and enjoy a delicious outback pizza!! Up we continued to the Douglas Daly Tourist area. We arrived at the hot springs, where there is a campsite – a fairly barren campsite, which was sweltering hot. We made our way down to the accessible springs (note that part of this area is blocked off as a sacred Aboriginal site, which is strictly prohibited from venturing through). I took off my gear and began to wade in the hot springs. Thinking that the water would just be warm, like a spa, I screamed as my feet felt the third degree burns (may or may not be exaggerating). Determined to stick it out, and wade in these pools because we had travelled so far, I sucked it up and sat in the water waist deep. Realising that I actually wasn’t enjoying this experience, I lasted about 3 minutes before we packed up and were on our way. But the views were pretty!!! We later found out that if we had have walked down the creek further, the water actually cools. So basically I was sitting in a volcano.

while the water was bloody hot! the scenery sure was nice!

while the water was bloody hot! the scenery sure was nice!

NikitaPere_NT-1835

On we go, to Litchfield National Park to set up camp for the night. We sure pushed daylight on this day, and finished setting up right on sunset!

Camp Fire in Litchfield

Camp Fire in Litchfield

Camp Fire in Litchfield

Camp Fire in Litchfield

Camp Fire in Litchfield

Camp Fire in Litchfield

The Milky Way in Litchfield

The Milky Way in Litchfield

The Milky Way in Litchfield

The Milky Way in Litchfield

watching the stars from my hammock - a wonderful experience

watching the stars from my hammock – a wonderful experience

DAY 5: Buley Rockhole > Florence Falls (Litchfield National Park)

Our last night camping, much to Mitchs’ relief, as we heard something quite large scratching around the campsite last night. Luckily I was sleeping in a hammock off the ground and Mitch was sleeping on the back of the ute! I got up early to go take some pictures of the Buley Rockholes before they get crowded with people. I made my way down to the water, and just sat for a bit. Having these sacred falls all to myself was a wonderful feeling and definitely puts you in a meditative state!

campsite - sleeping on the back of the truck

campsite – sleeping on the back of the truck

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

After wandering around the area for an hour or so, there was no sign of tourists in the area, so I took the liberty (good choice of words!) to have a cheeky bath in one of the pools. The tourists were probably still rugged up in their sleeping bags (it was about 630am).

taking a cheeky bath in the Buley Rockholes at Sunrise

taking a cheeky bath in the Buley Rockholes at Sunrise

On the road again!! Just down the road from Buley Rockholes, still in the Litchfield National Park, is the Florence Falls. This is one of my favourite places that we visited!!! and it was already busy at early hours of the morning

Tourist taking pictures of Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Tourist taking pictures of Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

More images of Buley Rockholes with my cousin Jeremy

NikitaPere_NT-1020925

Buley Rockholes, Litchfield National Park

NikitaPere_NT-1311

Buley Rockholes, Litchfield National Park

NikitaPere_NT-1020935

Buley Rockholes, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockholes, Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockholes, Litchfield National Park

For our FINAL adventure in the top end, we took a detour back through Adelaide River region, and took one of those jumping croc tours. Which is a must-do if you visit Darwin. They have been feeding the crocs in this area for over 25 years, and if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the terrifying 90yr old terror called “Aggro”, you will go home a happy camper. He is a massive 4 metres long and as fat as a cow – actually, probably fatter than a cow. He is known for lurking in one particular creek as it flows past a cattle station, and every now and then he will score himself a beef dinner. We did our tour with the original croc jumping company Adelaide River Queen who were fabulous. Knew all the crocs in the river, their history, and where they hang out. Which packs a lot in to the 1 hour cruise!

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

Jumping Crocs tour with the Adelaide River Queen

We had a wonderful time exploring this part of the world, and hope to come back to do a run down to the Red Centre! Have you been to these parts before? What was your favourite place?

niki
4 Comments
  • OMG! Absolutely stunning pics love! Just Brilliant! Adz and the girls and I have done most of what you covered on your sweet little journey and although it now feels like a distant memory, I do remember the splendour and the way these magical places made me feel. Australia is truly a remarkable country to tour. I have heard some visitors remarking “Oh not ANOTHER rock” but I think those are the people that are only looking with their eyes. You will see so much more of this great land if you look with your whole self, but I’m sure that’s something you already know.

    As for which places to go/do/see next…

    Uluru – That place is magical. I felt so connected (despite the abundance of flies) and I couldn’t even explain it, but I could feel it. The stories, the history, I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

    Cathedral gorge at the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park – Take a guitar or something and spend some time in the gorge singing! It’s not something I did, but I did hear others doing it, I heard a man playing his ‘didg’ and it was awesome! If I ever go back, and I do hope to one day, I’ll be taking my uke and my lungs! 🙂

    The Gibb River Road – This entire road is an adventure in itself. And there’s MUCH to see and do along the way. Kununurra to Broome (I LOVED Kununurra and all the gorgeous boab trees) and the stark contrast between the red dirt and crystal blue oceans on the West Coast is ah-mazing! We also enjoyed El Questro along the Gibb too.

    Mitchell Plateau (Off the Gibb) is also really stunning. The walk from the campsite to Mitchell Falls is soooo worth the effort. Again, there is much to see (including some really beautiful Aboriginal Rock Art) and I loved how the surroundings along that walk seemed to change so dramatically. One minute you felt like you were walking through the rainforest and then the next minute you felt like you were walking through dry woodlands! The falls themselves are spectacular (and have an awesome dreaming story too!) but make room in the budget for a helicopter flight over the top, because that’s a worthwhile view too!

    The Old Telegraph Track (Cape York) if you’re into hectic 4X4ing! I HATED driving (well, Adam drove) the track because it was scary as hell! But the scenery was GORGEOUS!

    Mate, this list could seriously go on for ever! There is much to do and see in this great land!

    Enjoy your travels! So looking forward to the next entry! 🙂

    Love you! Mwah! xx

    August 18, 2015 at 8:48 pm
  • Beautiful pictures! I just came back from a tourist-tour 😉 in Kakadu and Litchfield myself, was absolutely in love with the Jim Jim Falls and the Buley waters hole(s), but sadly my pictures weren’t nearly that beautiful…

    October 3, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Post a Comment