Good morning everyone!
Well, it is still morning although I have to admit I have enjoyed my lay in this morning after 5 days of very early starts. I arrived in Darwin on Friday night after my 26 hour train journey on the Ghan train. It sounds horrific but actually it was ok. You sort of tend to meet people and get chatting, so time passed by quite quickly. Lights were turned off at 10pm so we all went to sleep, well tried to, as best as you can sleep when you only have a seat and no bed. Managed to get more sleep than I thought I would so I was quite happy.
We arrived in Katherine at 9am and I had decided to go kayaking as the train wouldn't leave until after lunch time and it gave me something to do. I shared a kayak with a girl called Yvonne, funnily enough, and the kayaking was quite funny. We kept zigzagging across the river as the water was quite low and the current strong. Obviously, it had nothing to do with our ability to kayak properly!!! At some point we headed into the bush and a big spider fell out of a tree into the kayak. Yvonne just screamed and totally froze so that I had to get out of the kayak into the water in order to be able to kill the spider. What I forgot totally was that there crocodiles around, a lot of them actually, and a spider might be the smaller risk! But I am still alive, with all limps attached so no crocs there. After getting back to the train I had to have a snooze, all this exhaustion, you know. And when I woke up we were still standing at Katherine Station! Apparently, we had to wait for a freight train to leave the section. And then we had to wait for another freight train to pass us in the opposite direction. I just kept thinking my God, they have 4 trains a day and they struggle to manage their line? Well, let's not employ them for the London railways; otherwise everything will come to a complete hold!!!!!
Anyway, I finally made it to Darwin, 1 hour delayed and to the hostel. For whatever reason, train stations in Australia are built outside the towns and you have to catch a transit bus into town. Another $12 please! I checked in at the hostel, at least they didn't loose my reservation, but you should have seen the hostel, The Wilderness Lodge, it was unbelievably rough. Hardly any of the toilets or showers had lights working and the kitchen must have had about half an inch of grease everywhere, even the pots and pants!!!! And there where fish in the swimming pool, to keep you company I suppose! But I was only to stay there for one night so I figured that at that time of the night I wouldn't have many more options so I stayed. But needless to say that I wasn't going to cook my dinner that night!!!
Early start the next morning as I had a scheduled 6:30am pick up to going into the wilderness for the next 5 days. My pick up eventually arrived at 7:10am and I was told that my rucksack was too big, could I please take a smaller one. Ha!!! What a joke, so I had to repack a food back with things I needed for the next 5 days within 2 minutes and leave the big rucksack behind at the hostel.
We were heading for our 3 days in Kakadu National Park and started off with a croc spotting cruise at Corroberie Billabong. And we managed to see 3 crocodiles and a hell of a lot bird life. Afterwards we went bird watching at Mumakala but didn't actually see any, followed by some rock art at Ubirr before heading for camp. And that's when I got eaten alive by the mosquitoes. Again. Ah well, nothing I could do about. And yes, I used mossie repellent, 50% deet, but that doesn't seem to have an effect on the bloody mosquitoes, they still bite me!
The second day started off by having a go at throwing a spear and playing the didgeridoo before heading to Gubera for a swim. We stopped off at some cathedral termite mounts before watching the sunset at Gunlom and setting up camp at Kambolgie campground. Less mosquitoes but I still didn't dare to sleep under the stars without tent as I could still here the random buzzzzzzzz....
Day 3 was the waterfall day. We went to see three beautiful waterfalls, Kurrundie, Motorcar and Moline waterfall, before heading towards Edith Falls, our campground for 2 nights.
Kayaking at Katherine Gorge on day 4. We must have had the same malfunctioning kayak as before as Liz and I were zigzagging across the water like it was our intention! It was so funny. Saw a freshwater crocodile and some rock art before going for a quick swim in our life jackets. On the way back to camp we stopped at the cycad gardens. Once back we went for a little walk to Edith Falls and went for a swim. Edith Falls are in stunning scenery and I enjoyed the swim there (as you will be able to see from the photos, once uploaded).
On the last day we headed to Litchfield National Park. Lots of swimming today, Buley rock hole, a natural spa, Florence Falls and Tolmer Falls. We also saw some Magnetic Termite Mounts which was quite cool. And then we all headed back to Darwin. We arrived in good time and decided to all meet up for dinner (free with voucher from trip!) at the Vic, a backpacker pub in town. I picked up my rucksack from the Wilderness Lodge and discovered that mice had eaten their way into my backpack! So now I have a rucksack and 5 giant holes for free!!!!! What a nuisance! And they didn't even go for the food, my drybag where I keep my undies has now got a hole and for whatever reason, they weren't interested in my weetabix at all! I can't understand why....
We thought we'd just stay for the meal and a couple of beers but it ended up as a really good night with lots of dancing and lots of beer (very cheep here too). And it was rather late by the time I made it back to the hostel, hence the necessary lay in this morning.
And that's you up to date again with my travels. Off tomorrow night to Adelaide at some very unkind hour. My plane leaves at 3:35am, i.e. Saturday morning but John has kindly organised a pick up for me from the airport, what a star he is.
So what's new with you guys? Let me hear from you! But in the meantime, keep smiling!