Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Darwin - December 2006

This is going to be a fairly quick post, I haven't got a lot of photo's or memories from this trip up north in the wet season, at the time we were visiting central or northern Australia most years so this trip has now blended in with the others in my ageing mind. So why am I bothering to post, well I witnessed something pretty amazing on one of the short walks that we did and I really want to put the photo's on line. On this visit we stayed in Darwin for a few days before starting the long drive south, Darwin in the 'wet' is a pretty relaxed and casual kind of place, a perfect spot for me to recharge after a year of work, at that stage of my life I was working shifts and sometimes close to 100 hours a week so I definitely looked forward to some mental health time.
Sunset from our accommodation on The Esplanade in Darwin
Leaving Darwin we headed down the Dorat Road to a waterfall that we had never visited before on all our previous visits, Robin Falls. The walk to Robin Falls was only a short 10 minutes from the car park alongside a beautiful freshwater stream, the falls themselves are not huge or grandly spectacular like some of the falls in Kakadu or Litchfield, but being well off the usual tourist haunts they are generally free of people and in the 'wet' they have a good flow of water coming down. Robin Falls have a two tiered drop with the plunge pool between the two drops offering a great place to cool down and enjoy nature own infinity pool in the forest.
Robin Falls
Our very own infinity pool.
Leaving Robin Falls we continued down to Katherine and spent a couple of days at one of my favourite parks in Australia, Nitmiluk National Park. Nitmiluk is owned by the local Jawoyn people and they lease it back to Parks & Wildlife, the national park provides a lot of employment opportunities for the local people who work as rangers, guides, and in the great visitor centre and cafe. On this visit we headed out to Southern Rockhole, it is the closest waterfall to the visitor centre but somewhat ironically I'd never been there as I was always heading out to attractions further out. We were lucky once again to have this great spot to ourselves, there is definitely some payback for putting up with the stifling humidity of the wet season in that it keeps a lot of people away, or locked up next to an air conditioner.
The Southern Rockhole, Nitmiluk National Park.
The Katherine River in flood.
After our swim we headed back towards the visitor centre via Pat's Lookout and Barrawei Lookout which both proved great views of the turgid flooded Katherine River flowing through the gorge. It was on the descent to the visitor centre that we had an experience that I still vividly remember today, a large Olive Python crossed our path, so we stopped for awhile to watch it and see what it was up to. After crossing the path it headed into some grass near a rocky bluff where there was a small wallaby that was already dead, now my understanding of snakes is that they only like freshly killed food so I'm assuming that this little rock wallaby had only recently 'gone to god', whatever the case the Olive Python started to eat the wallaby.  Now the wallaby was a fairly small one but it was still many times larger than the snakes mouth, as we stood and watched we could hear the wallaby's bones being crushed as the python constricted itself around it, with its mouth opened 180 degrees it slowly started to swallow the wallaby. What an amazing thing to witness, as the snake constricted more we could now also hear the gases being expelled from its crushed internal organs, it all sounds pretty gross but we felt privileged to witness it.
The Olive Python crossing over the track down from Barrawei Lookout.

Its wrapping itself around a small rock wallaby.
Check out the articulation of its jaw.
Its now constricting and crushing the wallaby's bones.
Eventually the rain, mozzie's, and humidity got too much and we headed off leaving the snake in peace to finish his meal and I would imagine have a bit of a nap afterwards. We then had a fairly uneventful trip home across the continent, arriving back at work at the start of January mentally refreshed for another year.

The Dirt.
Nitmiluk National Park is just out of Katherine in the Northern Territory, the park is one of the best in Australia in my opinion and provides for many walking, swimming and canoeing adventures. The park also has accommodation, a cafe and shop, and boat tours up Katherine Gorge that last from a couple of hours to all day. The Northern Territory in summer involves a series of compromises, some of the attractions are flooded and roads closed and the heat and humidity require a bit of getting used to. The pay off is that the country is at its best, with all the creeks and rivers flowing a banka and the vegetation almost growing before your eyes. Its also cheap compared to the 'dry' season and only the hardiest tourists venture up there so you generally have a lot of the attractions to yourself, especially if they involve any kind of a walk to get to them. I have also previously written up a three day walk I did here to Eighth Gorge a few years before this visit if anyone's interested.

They still run some of the boat tours in the 'wet' season.

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