Darwin - Litchfield National Park
I was quite excited to be finally visiting Darwin after hearing about it for so long. Australia's most Northern City - the City of The Top End. It really is quite remote and so far away from any other Capital City in Australia and it has that feeling about it too. We treated ourselves to a fairly swanky campground and within hours of arriving in Darwin, we were sitting at a poolside bar enjoying happy hour, while the girls swam the afternoon away. I have to keep reminding myself it is still winter. Our first full day in Darwin (after getting a small crack in our windscreen fixed) was spent by the Waterfront Precinct enjoying a bit of luxury - a dine-in lunch followed by an afternoon in the Wave Pool (well, for me it wad reading by a wave pool). You can't really swim in the sea up here due to the danger of Crocodiles and Box Jellyfish so Darwin has a few great man-made swimming options as well as the Waterfront having a stone wall around it, creating a safe swimming beach.
While in Darwin, we were also lucky enough to be able to visit Julie and Russell - relatives of mine who live in Wagait Beach. We were able to hop on a ferry and join them for lunch. It was fantastic seeing these two again as they were the ones who inspired me to travel when they visited my family when I was only 10. Since then, I've visited them in Scotland as well. One day I hope our girls will visit either them or their daughter when they are doing their own travels. Russell is a huge fisherman and we had THE most delicious Spanish Mackerel for lunch. The girls exclaim it is the best fish they have ever tasted (and I agree!!). After catching the ferry back, we then enjoyed the rest of the evening at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. What a sunset and what marvellous markets! The food options were amazing.
On our third day in Darwin we used it as a organising/sorting/washing/shopping day, however we also did manage to fit in MAGNT - The Museum and Art Gallery of The Northern Territory. I was really impressed with both the Art and The Museum. The Museum included amazing displays of animals from the region (past and present) and a fascinating Exhibition on Cyclone Tracey. There was even a display that contained actual boats - yes, real boats - it was HUGE. The Art Gallery had a fabulous exhibition called Between The Moon and The Stars.
Usually when we enter cities when on our road trips we almost can't wait to get back out into the wilderness but Darwin was a lovely break and we really enjoyed our time there.
Litchfield National Park was our next destination. It's a very popular place due to it's close proximity to Darwin and it's idyllic swimming holes and stunning scenery. Despite the popularity, we were able to get one of the much sought after campsites at Florence Falls. This is a stunning waterfall with a lovely little pool at the bottom. You get to the falls via some pretty steep steps. Unfortunately, during our first night in Litchfield we were woken to Sarah vomiting in the tent. Now, I'm really not great with vomit, so this really was my worst nightmare. I just couldn't get her out of that tent quick enough. Poor Sarah, I was trying so hard not to gag while comforting her! Thank goodness this didn't happen at a campsite with no shower as off to the shower it was for her, while Mark washed the bedding and wiped out the tent. Crisis everted, back to sleep.
The next morning we managed to do a little hike around Wangi Falls despite Sarah leaving her breakfast in the carpark. What a trooper - it was a hot hike as well. We thought it was appropriate to rehydrate her with an icy pole at the end. Myah was stoked she could benefit from this as well. By the time we got back to our campsite in the afternoon, Sarah was feeling better and we decided to go back down to Florence Falls. For once I didn't have my heavy camera bag on me and I was all ready in my togs. But then, we're near the end of the steps and I twist my ankle with an audible crunching sound. Oh, the pain! I just couldn't
seem to sit up without wanting to faint. Luckily, Sarah was by my side to keep me company as Mark and Myah had carried on not know what had happened. Eventually when I was confident that I wasn't going to pass out, Sarah fetched Mark and with help I was able to make it to the Falls. I was in so much pain, I was starting to wonder if I had done something serious. Luckily, after resting it for a while, I was actually able to walk back out. Phew!! I was envisioning the worst but it just swelled up and turned purple, and the next day I
was able to knock out a few hikes. Wow, was I lucky!! We started the day with a vomiting child and ended the day with me having a sprained ankle.
After a couple of nights in Litchfield, we started to head out via a 4x4 track, intending on getting back to Katherine. However, after a wonderful day of stopping and doing the various things along this track and taking in all the amazing scenery, we didn't even end up leaving the Park! We found a fabulous little camping spot near these amazing rock pools which we had all to ourselves. It's funny how these things work out, as I had been hunting down these particular pools (I'd seen a photo in a feature for Litchfield). Even the lady at the information center couldn't tell me where they were located - and here they were at Surprise Creek Falls. It was also a surprise for the girls when we said, while lying out in the sun after having a swim "How about we stay here tonight girls - what do ya reckon?" Met with a resounding "YES"! It was the quietest campground we have stayed in so far and it was free!
It was a great way to end our stay in Litchfield after a few mishaps in the beginning.