Thursday, October 13, 2011

Topping 'Top End' Times - Northern Territory Travels

Sad to relate on current progress I might be recording a Swell-tober on the weight front in October rather than the desired Drop-tober – but the good news is that this is the result of a fabulous two week holiday up in the Northern Territory, the famed ‘Top End’ of Australia where in true Paul Hogan, Crocodile Dundee tradition, men are men and crocodiles come in a more lethal form than the more common urban handbag and belt varieties. We were completely spoilt by the fact that we were holidaying with another family and Ross, the husband, had previously worked in Darwin and spent weeks putting together what felt like the ultimate, personalised itinerary for us all.

Starting off with a night in Darwin we then drove to Katherine, stopping at Litchfield National Park for a swim in rock pools and waterfalls – having carefully checked the crocodile warning signs. Fortunately the most frightening incident of the whole trip was passing a road train – one of the triple length trucks that hurtle at speed down the Northern Territory highways loaded up with freight. As we passed each other at speed it flicked a stone into our windscreen – creating a cricket ball sized dent in the screen though fortunately the glass held. I amazed myself by remaining calm and holding the wheel although mentally I was having an OMG type moment and flinging both hands above my head.

Following Katherine, we drove on to Kakadu after a swim stop at Edith Falls and spent five amazing days at Gagudju Lodge at Cooinda in Kakadu National Park. October is the end of the dry season, so temperatures were in the mid to high 30’s (100 oF +) most days, with the Kakadu landscape an astonishing mix of seemingly arid escarpments and plains crisscrossed by rivers, waterfalls and billabongs that give lushness a whole new meaning.

Around the waterways the birdlife positively teems, and wild horses and buffalo wander through verdant swathes of grass. Pink and white lilies carpet the water edges, providing a picturesque setting for the “snappy handbags” lying deceptively still on the muddy banks or floating goggle eyed just below the surface.

You know it’s been a successful holiday when you ask for highlights and even the teenagers are stumped to single out one event or activity because they’ve had such a good time. Honourable mentions for standout ‘Wow” moments would have to include Drama Queen No 2. catching (and releasing) a 73cm barramundi and the 65cm barramundi caught by 9 year old boy that the chef kindly cooked up for us the following night; the majestic filmset glamour of Jim Jim Falls as we all swam in the massive rock ampitheatre, and the Aboriginal rock art in both Kakadu and Arnhem Land, the Aboriginal owned region adjacent to Kakadu, the images both stunning and humbling in their antiquity. Spending a day in Arnhem Land, with Sab Lord of Lord’s Safaris, a man who puts the ‘real’ into the phrase ‘real character’ gave all of us an unforgettable flicker of insight into life at the 'Top End'.

We ended the trip at Wildman Wilderness Lodge just outside Kakadu, where we stayed for three days of what could only be classified as 'Glamping' in luxury tents. Imagine ‘Out of Africa’ crossed with a Ralph Lauren home living catalogue and you’ve got the general level of comfort. Unfortunately now we’ve given the Drama Queens a taste of high end camping I think our chances of persuading them back into the confines of the family tent are limited, and to be honest I’ll take a double bed and wooden floors over sleeping bag on the ground any time.


  1. Love the last picture!!! What gorgeous memories you are giving them :)

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  3. Thanks Mimi, definitely one of our most memorable family holidays. We are now desperate to go back and see it all at the end of the wet season. Cx