Living in the Top End of Australia has been a huge part of our Unknown Journey! Chels and I decided we would stay in Darwin with her family for a while and we saw it as the perfect opportunity to see as much of the NT as possible, and boy we’ve done just that!
We’ve been in Darwin for 21 months now, and we’ve had so many amazing experiences and seen incredible places, that it has felt like we’ve still been on the road living the Unknown Journey.
We’ve experienced the Top End from the road, air, ocean and the never-ending river systems and wetlands. But there are just too many things to list in one post, so here’s an attempt to summarise some highlights:
- Flying over Kakadu in a small mustering helicopter with the doors off, on two separate occasions [see our ‘Incredible Kakadu’ photo album and ‘Jim Jim Falls Helicopter Flight’ photo album]. While circling the remote and impressive Jim Jim and Twin Falls, flying low through stone country with its river systems, and over huge wetlands full of bird life, it was obvious that the landscape here is like no other part of Australia.
- Road tripping to Kununarra with Chels’s Mum and sister and spending a few days driving a house boat along the scenic Ord River. Waking up to red cliffs reflecting in dead still early morning water and fishing off the back of the boat. It’s where we also celebrated New Years Eve, on a sandy bank with a campfire and our first roast in a campfire oven that Chels’s mum bought us. The country around Kununarra is truly spectacular, the deep red escarpments and gorges are a must see.
- We’ve had the chance to explore Kakadu, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks on numerous hiking and camping expeditions. Seeing aboriginal rock art, waterfalls, gorges and hidden swimming holes became a ‘normal’ weekend of exploring for us.
- Many amazing trips down the wild rivers of the Top End. And by wild I mean crocs – big crocs, a huge amount of bird life and untouched surrounds. We’ve also discovered just how much we love rivers. A few of the waterways we experienced on foot and via boat are:
- East Alligator River
- Mary River
- Adelaide River
- Daly River
- Finiss River
- Yellow Waters wetlands
- Katherine River
- Corroborie Billabong
- Victoria River
- Ord River (WA)
- We’ve shared many great weekends with our good friends Keith and Terina. We will never forget the enjoyment of fishing, mud crabbing, exploring the rivers via their boat and staying on their bush block right on the ocean at Dundee Beach. A spectacularly peaceful place with long deserted beaches. Keith and Terina have a great camp fire where we test our camp fire oven skills (so far we’ve done a lamb roast, pork roast and pork belly – and all have been a success!). I’m actually writing this at Dundee, chilling out next to Chels and Dusty…couldn’t be happier.
- We’ve done a Turtle Tracks tour, with a boat ride over to Bare Sand Island to watch huge mumma sea turtles make their way up on the sand dunes, dig a hole and lay their eggs. An experience we’ve both always wanted and I know it was a huge tick off Chels’s list of things she wants to see in her lifetime.
- Then there was our Jatbula trail hike! We had good friends join us to go along the 5 day hike through Nitmiluk NP, from the Katherine River Gorge to Edith Falls. Each night our camp site was next to incredible swimming spots with clear waterholes and waterfalls. We could write all day about this – but to say the least it’s one of our favourite hikes and we would highly recommend it. The lookout vantage points and scenery along the trail is spectacular. The environment is always changing; from stone country, to open woodlands, to the lush greenery surrounding the creeks. There’s also ancient aboriginal rock art to check out along the way. If you haven’t already, check out our Jatbula trail photo album.
- Our Wedding and Honeymoon road trip – just a quick loop through 5 states and about 8000kms in total! Darwin to Sydney passing through QLD for our wedding and then for our honeymoon down the NSW south coast, through VIC, SA and up the center back to Darwin. We covered more ground in those few weeks than we did in the 6 months traveling up the east coast, and did it in a 1/3 of the time! It was EPIC and a huge part of our Unknown Journey trip around Oz. The Great Ocean Road and Uluru really do deserve their own write-ups, but we were blown away to say the least and we can’t wait to get back to all the areas we passed through. Check out our Wedding photo album if you like.
- I’ve survived two ‘build up’ seasons without going “troppo”. I’ve got the lingo down-pat, like “Hey you mob!” and I wear thongs everywhere. I’ve learnt a few new skills while living up here (which are very important if you want to consider yourself a Territorian) – how to reverse boat trailers properly, and how to catch and cook the famous NT barramundi and mud crabs.
- I also immersed myself in amongst locals by joining the NT Emergency Services (SES equivalent) and did volunteer projects like cleaning up an indigenous community on Elcho Island after a cyclone and going on many fun training and real exercises all over the NT which have all equaled an amazing experience.
So I think in the short time we’ve been here we’ve managed to fully immerse ourselves in the Territorian life style! We’ve also got a ‘Living at the top’ photo album to showcase other highlights of our time in the Top End.
And for those of you who might be visiting the Top End and looking for some great camp grounds, here are some of the places we’ve camped at and please feel free to ask us for details:
- Kakadu NP
- Litchfield NP
- Umbarwarra Gorge
- Mary River Wilderness Park
- Tumbling Waters, Berry Springs
- Pussy Cat flats, Pine Creek
- Hayes Creek
- Dundee Beach
- Robin Falls
- Daly River
- Stuart Point Campground
- Victoria River Downs
- Katherine River
- Lake Argyle, WA
- Edith Falls