A Decade of Reflection 11

We bid farewell to Alice Springs and set off on the road again.
We planned to take a few days getting up to Darwin and to try and avoid some of the more disastrous elements of the previous trip. We used the same company and got the same style van and off we went again.
We stopped off at the Tropic of Capricorn for a couple of photos that the Geography geek in me truly enjoyed before a solid 12 hour or so driving through nothingness.
We stopped the night and spent some time in some natural hot springs which was nice and relaxing, even if people were a bit put of by the masses of cobwebs around!

Next stop was the Katherine Gorge, another Swimming stop. We got out of the van and went to the river hoping for a relaxing dip, to see a huge Crocodile Trap being put into the water. We spoke to the rangers who told us it was probably safe to swim and the trap was a precaution. We did have a nice swim but it wasn’t quite relaxing, I was convinced I was about to get dragged under by a salty at any point.
Like Kings Canyon we went for a great climb to the top of the gorge and did the obligatory silly and naked poses with a beautiful view behind us.

We spent that night in a campsite having a few beers before going to the pool. When we got there we saw a 3M python around the pool, I spoke to one of the staff and mentioned that it was quite a cool pet to have, to be informed it wasn’t a pet!!!
We had decided to head to Litchfield national park rather than Kakadu, mainly because Litchfield was Croc free so we were able to swim.
Litchfield is beautiful, most tourists head over to Kakadu and totally miss Litchfield, but its stunning, beautiful watering holes, waterfalls and even some rapids.
We attempted to go down the rapids ourselves, but ended up not going anywhere fast and with lots of bruises from the rocks!

We spent a few days exploring the area and again messing around, taking fun photos, swimming, cliff jumping and trying to swim to the bottom of deep pools.
I think everyone was getting a bit impatient to be back in civilisation in the end, we had taken a 6th person who we had met in Alice along with us and he caused a bit of a split in the group, with half liking him and the other half thinking he was a total dick. This lead to a bit of animosity at times on the trip, however we still managed to have a good time.
We got to Darwin and got rid of the Van and settled in to our hostel. From the outside it looked amazing, however once inside you saw it was a bit of a hole. We had arrived in Darwin in time for my 25th Birthday and we went out and had a great night, we even met a Girl called Lizzie who lived in Newbury who became part of our little group.
We were able to meet up with Gemma from Adelaide also and had some good fun for a little bit, however we were all in a similar boat, the 2 road trips had massively depleted all of our funds.
We all needed work, as May and I were together now it was a bit harder for us as we needed somewhere for both of us.
1 by 1 our group went off, Lizzy and Denise to the outback, Tony back to Adelaide and Alex got a job doing construction in Darwin. May and I were really unsure of what to do, we were applying for everything we could.
I got a phone call randomly one day when we were at the lagoon offering us a chance to go and work in the outback for a bit. My experience in Airlie Beach in the Hogs Breath Kitchen apparently qualified me to run an outback kitchen and they needed May to help with the Shop.
We met them at a restaurant one evening in Darwin and went on a 4 hour drive to our new home The Goymar Tourist Park on the outside of Kakadu. Now don’t let the name fool you, it was a petrol station with some space for caravans miles from other civilisation. No internet, no mobile signal.
However I really liked it, May and I were given our own Chalet, a step up from both Hostels and from other peoples outback accommodation experiences. The other people who we were working with were older Australians who had obviously spent a lot of time in the outback, they were good people but quite rough around the edges.
The following day we got down to the hard work, I was alone in the Kitchen and loved it. It would go from desperately quiet to crazy busy, but it was amazing to know people were paying for and complimenting my food! I mean it was all fairly basic, Homemade Burgers, Steak Sarnies, Chicken Parmys etc but it gave me a great feeling.
It was great living and working with May and we became incredibly close in a very short space of time. Backpacker romances and friendships are like nothing else I have ever experienced, you know these people for quite a short space of time but you form lasting friendships and relationships.
Being so far from anything got a bit confining at times, May and I wouldn’t have days off together, but even if we did we didn’t have any transport so it was a struggle going out and doing anything, we couldn’t really go walking anywhere either as Kakadu is rife with Snakes, Crocodiles and Buffalo. In the river 200 M from out house was where a 4M salty apparently made his home, fortunately we never saw him!!!
1 evening I was out having a cigarette outside out chalet when I heard a Hiss from under the stairs, it was pitch black and in my head it was either a snake or a croc, I was terrified as I called may to open the door and I dashed in.

The highlight of the outback was Territory day, the only day in the Northern Territory’s where you are aloud to set off and sell fireworks. Being a bit of a Del Boy our boss had bought loads of fireworks, however he didn’t sell many so we were given the fireworks to have 1 hell of a party that night. We set off over $1000 of fireworks and had lots of drinks. It was amazing!
After a couple of months in the outback we were told that it was time to move on, the owner had hired 2 new staff behind his wifes back. Having been hired by the wife she was furious. She gave us an extra weeks wage and told us we could stay for free for that week, we could even use the car! Perfect, we spent that week driving into Kakadu and exploring it.

Kakadu is beautiful and huge, there’s some amazing spots where although you cant swim in are still fantastic. However I would still recommend Litchfield.
On our drive back to Darwin we stopped off to do a Jumping Crocs Tour. We went out on a boat where they baited fishing rods and caused these giant saltys to jump out of the water. The get almost their entire bodies out of the water and will do it right next to the boat, at one stage a Croc was close enough for me to touch! It was very exciting but I found that the croc set of a totally instinctive primal fear within me. I mean, they are living dinosaurs!

We got back to Darwin and wondered what to do next! We had saved a lot of money in the outback so we did the logical thing, we booked a holiday!
Indonesia here we come!

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