Having left Kakadu we headed west in the direction of Litchfield National Park. To break up the journey we had a stop at the didgeridoo hut in the unusually named town of Humpty Doo. I got the opportunity to try and play a few, and it was certainly a lot harder than it looked. You have to ripple your lips and blow at the same time, and I only really mustered one note in numerous attempts. The Aboroginies play different notes using their throats, which really is remarkable given that half the time I didn't even make a noise.
Litchfield National Park was similarly green like Kakadu, and similarly there were stormy showers floating around, which luckily we avoided. Our lunch stop was at spectacular Wangi Falls, which had plenty of water coming over it. Only 3 weeks ago our tour guide had visited the same spot and seen a trickle coming over, which shows how much rain the wet season brings here. We couldn't swim at the base of these falls due to the crocodile threat, but after lunch we were taken to a waterfall where you could swim. There was a nice large pool at the base of 50ft Florence Falls which was ideal, and we spent a good hour swimming around whilst thunder rumbled in the background. I defied the strong current pushing me backwards and managed to swim right up to and underneath the falls themselves.
Our last stop in our afternoon tour of Litchfield was at the picture postcard spot that defines the park - the magnetic termite mounds. Built facing north to south so as to allow the least possible sun exposure, these termite constructed mounds stretched for acres across the fields in a sight which resembled looking across a graveyard. We had seen termite mounds right across the Red Centre but never any like these. Most of the mounds tend to be what are defined as cathedral mounds (as they apparently look like church spires). There were a couple of cathedral mounds by the car park, which gave me the long awaited opportunitity to have a photo with one. The cathedral mounds are huge, and can be up to 20ft high. The largest ones can take up to 50 years for the termintes to construct, which they do using their excrement and saliva. To see them makes you realise what a remarkable little creature the humble termite is!
From the termite mounds it was just a 2 hour drive back into civilisation and the Northern Territory's largest city, Darwin - population 120,000. The sight of traffic and retail parks in the city's outskirts was somewhat alien to me after 11 days on the empty and open roads of Australia's outback. Darwin is a Australia's most modern city. It had to be completely rebuilt having been totally devastated by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day in 1974. This was the second reconstruction in the city's history after it was also wiped out by Japanese bombing in the Second World War. There remains a possibility that another cyclone will damage it in the future. This time of year is cyclone season and only last week Cyclone Laurence, which is now causing devastation in some parts of Western Australia, passed close to Darwin.
The evening was a celebration to mark the end of our 25 days touring together. The tour guides took us first to an Irish pub for dinner, but once we were thrown out of there due to one person's misbehaviour, we went on to visit's Darwin's main club - Discovery. When we walked in the scene was pretty much what I was expecting. Darwin is very quiet at this time of the year as many people go elsewhere for the wet season, or go elsewhere for Christmas. It had seemed a bit of a ghost town. Discovery appeared just to be a relatively small bar - bustling but not overly busy. The sort of place you'd expect to find in a small town in England. We spent half an hour in this part of the bar listening to the live folk band, before someone drew our attention to a small door at the back of the bar. We had a wander through it, and to everyone's absolute amazement there was some kind of superclub through there! Three levels, all absolutely rammed with people, and music booming out. It was one of the most surreal things I've seen on my whole trip and totally unexpected. We hadn't even noticed anyone walking through that door! It turned out Discovery was hosting a Christmas Party night ran by lads mag Penthouse, which meant there was plenty of shocking performances on stage. I really couldn't believe what passed as legal in Australia, but I won't go into details!
This morning there were plenty of sore heads for our final foray with the tour group. We visited the dull Darwin museum for one hour, before being taken to a view point on East Point, where you could see across the city's skyline. The tour bus dropped us in town and it was here we said goodbye to the tour guides and a few of the people who won't be having dinner with us tonight. Tomorrow morning I fly off on a Jetstar flight bound for Melbourne, where I'll be spending Christmas. It's a 4 hour flight and annoyingly I have an airport shuttle coming to pick me up from my hostel at 5.25am, so I'll probably be quite tired tomorrow night. I have no plans for Christmas Day. I'm not meeting up with anyone and I just hope the hostel lays on some kind of dinner. I really can't believe Christmas is in 2 days. I've had very little exposure to the build up - barely heard a Christmas song, barely seen a Christmas TV show, and the hot weather is not putting me in the mood at all! Anyway, next I'll update from Melbourne. Merry Christmas everyone at home! Trust it to be a rare white one when I'm out here in sweltering summer heat!