I drove with L up to Litchfield National Park after an EKO (early knock off) on Thursday and despite the heavy rain our spirits were not dampened. Neither of us had been to Litchfield before and we were looking forward to a bit of communion with nature on the goodest of the Fridays.
I had to come to terms with the lack of phone and internet reception where we stayed, which had several implications…mainly revolving around the footy, and specifically Dream Team. Surprisingly, L did not seem to share my concerns. We had brought the laptop, an ample supply of Community and a couple of flicks so we weren’t altogether short of technology.
So we watched The Beach, which seemed almost fitting due to the theme of finding somewhere naturally perfect, perhaps off the beaten track. I had read Alex Garland’s novel several months earlier and I have learned that I enjoy movies more if I haven’t just finished reading the book and L enjoys movies more when I’m not constantly saying how it compares (usually unfavourably) to the book. Fortunately for us, the main villains in the movie were sharks – and the human condition – rather than crocodiles, or we may not have been able to enjoy Litchfield to the full extent the next day. The morning started with a tiny frog jumping in to the car and got better from there…when we saw this adorable critter.
One thing I liked about Litchfield is that everything is close together, which is rare for the Northern Territory. Being the Wet Season, several parts of the Park are off-limits, which means you can quite easily enjoy it in one day, as we planned to. We set off and were left a bit unimpressed by the Magnetic Termite Mounds. They are all aligned North-South which is cool, but they just weren’t as large in size or number as we were hoping for. We quickly moved on, and fortunately the next sight is only a few minutes away. Florence Falls were surging quite beautifully and we had just a brief dip in the plunge pool as it was quite early and cool. We hadn’t worked up any kind of sweat yet.
We undertook some pretty solid hiking, got freaked out by tiny thin leeches, failed to spot any mammalian wildlife, and reached the highlight of the Park, namely Wangi Falls, round lunchtime. I enjoyed saying ‘Wangi’ a lot more than I should have as a 22 year old. The falls, aesthetically, did not disappoint. We knew the swimming pool was closed in Wet Season for the possibility of crocodiles, and as we finished the day with a swim at Buley Rockhole we resolved to return to Litchfield in the Dry, for further exploration, and probably camping.
First thing Saturday, we headed to Darwin to get our shopping on at Casuarina. It was busy, and I resented all the people who could go to Casuarina any weekend but chose this particular Saturday just to get in our way. Actually it was pretty fun, being amongst civilisation again.
Later, we caught up with friends old and new, and got a small taste of Darwin’s nightlife. It tasted, more or less, of sweat, alcohol, and not wanting to spend the night alone, so like most places I guess, but in all seriousness there are a decent number of bars for a town that’s smaller than you probably realise. Unless you realised it ranks 16th in the country behind such metropolises as Geelong, Cairns and Gosford, in which case good for you. To be fair though, Darwin has a fairly youthful population, with an average age of 33 (thanks ABS!) A high/low light of the night was L getting hit on by a k.d. lang-lookalike (“do you like to party?”). L did not like to party.
We walked around the rapidly-(by Territory standards)-developing waterfront area on Sunday, visiting the WWII oil tunnels in the process, and just generally got the lay of the land, with many future trips to Darwin a certainty, given our home location. If you’re ever in Darwin and like Indian or Thai food we recommend Hanuman. Also, let us know if you’re in Darwin because we will visit you if we can. Or you can visit us; we have a spare bedroom (2 actually but only 1 with a bed).
L spent Sunday indulging in her favourite pastime1: stressing about weather. We’d been told that the road home was sporadically closed due to flooding on Saturday night, and L seemed to think staring at the BOM radar would make it stop raining. I tried to distract her with my wit and charm, but I was a tad concerned about being AWOL on Tuesday. Fortunately, the rain did subside in the Katherine region early enough for us to have minimal issues driving back on Monday morning. But we certainly learned there is a risk of being cut off, given that K-town has only 1 approach by road from the North. This has interesting implications for the fresh food people at Katherine’s one major supermarket.
In summary, we did not spend Easter being religious (by choice), nor eating chocolate (by accidentally leaving ours at home), nor watching footy (well, until Monday afternoon but that doesn’t really count as Easter, does it?). This would have to be first time that either of us can say that!
1. http://grammarpartyblog.com/2012/01/20/pass-time-versus-pastime/. If you wanted a reference for weather-stressing being L’s favourite pastime, sadly this has not yet been peer reviewed. Watch this space.