Darwin and the Top End

Edith Falls and Upper Pool

We started the 320kms trip to Darwin from Katherine but got only 40 kms up the road before taking a right turn off the highway towards Edith Falls. People in the campground had talked about this scenic part of the Nitmiluk National Park so we made a last minute decision to spend a day there. It was worth it. Edith Falls is on the Edith River and is part of a series of four pools and waterfalls. We hiked the trails up and around the top pools and swam in crystal clear water which is crocodile free. The rangers constantly monitor the area and set crocodile traps to ensure safe swimming. The national park campground is very well looked after with large grassy spots under shady gum trees and there is even a cafe and small store for campers and the good number of daytrippers who visit.

Adelaide River Inn – Gateway to Litchfield National Park

On to Adelaide River and the home of the Adelaide River Roadhouse which is just off the Stuart Highway. This is Croc Dundee territory and the roadhouse boasts the water buffalo from the first movie and a preserved crocodile of rather a large size. It is a scary reminder of what may have been lurking around the Edith Falls swimming holes.

Adelaide River Roadhouse campground is a small camp of about 25 sites with lovely gum trees shading each site. It had a very pleasant pool kept at a temperature that was a mix between refreshing and just right given the sun was blazing and the temperature nudging the early thirties. We had a great meal in the tavern accompanied by a long conversation with a real life Crocodile Dundee. Ryan, a pretty rough diamond it must be said, had taken a photo for Scout and then proceeded to give us his story. He had come up from NSW in his early twenties and had nagged the local buffalo hunters to give him a job. He now had a contract to provide meat for the local crocodile farms which involved eight months each year out in the wilderness hunting wild water buffalo, camels and horses. This red meat is very lean he told us and was sold to the croc farms. This diet means the crocodiles grow quickly and produce good leather. “I really work for Louis Vuitton” he said “ As they own all the farms.” He was happy to talk and told us stories which won’t be repeated in this piece but were very interesting to say the least. He called himself a petmeater and I’m willing to bet no reader here has met one before. As is always the case these unlikely people are never as basic as first glance and he was also running a small trucking company with his wife. I think we caught him after returning from a long stint outdoors and several beers in. It made for an interesting night though.

Darwin – Bicentenniel Park

We decided to give Lichfield NP a miss having been there before and drove the short distance to Darwin. It was good to be back in the city for a while and the opportunity to get hold of a few things that only the larger centres can provide – certainly at an affordable price. Living in more remote country towns and rural areas is great for peace of mind and a restful existence but there is certainly a financial cost. Petrol as one small example is often up to fifty cents a litre dearer and even staple food items add up on the bill. Nevertheless Darwin it was and a thoroughly lovely city. I guess Darwin is what would be called a small city and at 150,000 people it is not the largest in Australia. But it has a terrific atmosphere, lovely winter weather and a very attractive town centre and restaurants with waterside dining and swimming. The town planners have produced in Bicentenniel Park an attractive and sizeable open ocean pool, wave pool and parklands all surrounded by nice apartments restaurants, cafes and dining area. We enjoyed swims and lunches and a walk through the shopping district. Scout decided, as she was now an expert on pearls after her Willie Creek excursion, to spend way too much time in the Paspaley Pearls shop. She hummed and hawed over a quite spectacular necklace until deciding no. Quite rightly so I thought when a glance at the price tag showed $169,000. She was a little taken aback though when the well dressed lady in the shop answered her question of “Who pays these prices for these items” with “Oh all sorts. Even people dressed like you.”

Paspaley Pearls – could have been Scouts

Darwin is on the Timor Sea and has an interesting history being the ancestral home of the Larrakia people who are self named as “the Saltwater People”. They thrived on the riches provided by proximity to the sea and trade with southern tribes. The apple cart was upset in 1839 when the HMS Beagle arrived and the city named after the former shipmate Charles Darwin although he was not on board on this trip. The town developed as an outback town and even now has a bit of the wild west about it. The close proximity to Indonesia and Asia also gives the city a distincly Asian flavour and in recent times had the most expensive average housing in Australia due to the mining boom. Its most recent famous event of course is Cyclone Tracey in 1974 which flattened the city. Lesser known is that the city has in fact had to be rebuilt four times following cyclones in 1897 and 1937 and Japanese bombing in WWII. Obviously the city is far more cyclone proof but who isn’t betting on a fifth?

The campground was filling up quickly as Queenslanders and South Australians arrived. Many would have crossed into Western Australia but with W.A.’s border closed were congregating in the north. An interesting thing that we found out in the campground is that there are a number of travellers who carry stills with them and make their own alcohol. We tried the homemade gin, scotch, cafe liqueurs and butterscotch schnapps and needless to say had an enjoyable and social time. Darwin is also the gateway to the Kakadu National Park and that is where we were headed next.

4 thoughts on “Darwin and the Top End

  1. Never judge a book by its cover! Tell this to the woman in the pearl shop.

    Cheers Judy

    On Fri, 7 Aug 2020 at 3:49 PM, Travels With Mr Gato Downunder wrote:

    > Mike Brooke posted: ” Edith Falls and Upper Pool We started the 320kms > trip to Darwin from Katherine but got only 40 kms up the road before taking > a right turn off the highway towards Edith Falls. People in th” >


  2. We are so enjoying reading about your adventures around Western and Northern Australia. brings back the wonderful memories we had exploring these special areas. Hopefully when you are back East we can meet up!
    Diane and Bernard


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