A view of Wineglass Bay from the lookout on Tasman Peninsula
After finished up my teaching contract in Darwin I headed to Tasmania for a 17 day road trip. It was an absolutely stunning state and I met the kindest people, ate the most delicious local food (oysters, cheese, beer and wine, chocolate, salmon, beef…), and saw an abundance of animals. There are dozens of short hiking trails which I used as the foundation to plan my trip. I flew into Hobart and essentially made a big counter-clockwise circle, making my first major stop the Tasman Peninsula.
Most famous for Port Arthur (which I didn’t have time to see), the peninsula is also home to amazing cliffscapes and the postcard-worthy Wineglass Bay.
The view from above of Florence Falls – complete with rainbow – in Litchfield National Park
The final stop on my 10-day tour of the Top End a few weeks ago was Litchfield National Park, a popular weekend getaway for Darwin residents and home to loads of glorious waterfalls and swimming holes. Of course I took advantage of as many walking tracks as I could, one of which winds for about 5km along Florence Creek in relative peace and quiet.
Another highlight of Litchfield is seeing the incredible magnetic terminte mounds. These termites use the magnetic forces of the earth to orient their cathedrals to optimize exposure to the sun. And, of course, the above ground portions of the nests are a gigantic 2+ meters high.
At the end of this tour I settled in Darwin to begin a job for five months – I need to recoup a lot of the money I’ve spent in Australia! It certainly isn’t as cheap here as it was in Asia and South America, and I don’t even want to share how much I’ve been spending. So my blog may be quiet for the coming months, but I’ve got a big trip to WA planned in December and I’ll be sure get my camera ready.
The natural infinity pool of Gunlom Falls in Kakadu Natioanl Park
After our Mary River cruise we finally made it to Kakadu National Park, a sprawling 20,000 square km area (that’s half the size of Switzerland!) whose geological history extends millions of years and human history of over 40,000 years. Of course you can spend months exploring the park and not see everything, but the tour I was on just hit two highlights: the rock art of Ubirr and the swimming holes at Gunlom Falls. Both were extraordinary and I hope to make it back to Kakadu during my months working in Darwin. During the wet season the waterfalls are even more stunning and the wildlife is even more abundant.
The view from Baruwei Lookout, part of a 5k bushwalking trail at Katherine Gorge
Driving up from Alice Springs, the red rocks and sand suddenly turn into more familiar greenery and the air stops feeling so terribly dry. It’s just past this point where you will find the bustling town of Katherine (pop. 10,000) and the beautiful Katherine Gorge – known to aboriginals as Nitmiluk. Our group was able to do the 5k Baruwei loop walk which passes through a magnificent lookout over the gorge. As usual there is loads of interesting plant and wildlife, including wild cockatoos and tons of flying foxes.
Making a new friend at a roadhouse off the Stuart Highway in the middle of nowhere!
The drive from Alice Springs to Darwin is long – about 20 hours – and there’s not too much to see in between except for Devils Marbles and Katherine Gorge. So the guide on our trip had to be a bit creative in stops to make the 3 day tour more exciting, and she did a good job of it. A friend of hers at a roadhouse south of Daly Waters has a few pet pythons which she lets visitors hold and take a picture with. Considering most zoos will charge $20 for this, I took the opportunity to do it for free.
There is also the famous Daly Waters pub – a place which claims to have the oldest liquor license in Australia. Like lots of other outback roadhouses they have collected postcards, photos, letters, and other memorabilia from all over the world.
Finally there’s the Mataranka thermal pools and Waterhouse River – a nice swimming spot just south of Katherine that’s not worth going out of your way for but a pleasant spot if you’re passing through anyway.