The Top End

 

What an amazing few weeks it has been already! Being treated to home comforts in Canterbury before we left by Tim’s parents made arriving in Bangkok a bit of a shock to the system, after having detoxed from the chaos of London we almost didn’t know what to do with ourselves.  A sweaty walk to the hotel enforced the need for a little snooze to rejuvenate ourselves before exploring. We grabbed a snack from a street food market, that is, to date, the best Thai green curry I have had! We then braved the tuk tuk’s to see the sites, Tim instantly fell in love with this method of travel, probably something to do with the speed they go at!
We returned to the hotel for some dinner. We were staying at The Atlanta hotel, I stayed here last time I visited Bangkok and love its Art Deco reception and no fuss rooms. We booked an air con taxi for the ride to the airport the next day and arrived refreshed for the start of our journey to Darwin.

We had a stop over in Singapore airport for 6 hours before our connecting flight, this airport does transfers well! There were chill out beds, charging stations for phones and tablets, tv’s, amazing food and free water everywhere…for someone who always needs water on her, this was a winner for me!

We arrived in Darwin at 5am on Saturday 12th December, it was already warm and so quiet everywhere, this didn’t change much over the next few hours. We sat in the local park looking out over the mangroves flooded by the water and witnessed Parkrun in Darwin! We managed to check into our hotel early, as it’s the wet season out here it’s not as busy as it normally is, apparently the population drops by half to 60,000 during this time. We rested up again due to all the night time flying and prepared ourselves for our 3 day tour of Kakadu National Park starting the next day.

Jet lag was taking its toll, I woke at 0230 and couldn’t get back to sleep so started researching the rest of our tour, I was also very excited for the next few days. We were picked up at 0620 by Wayoutback Australian Safari tours in a 4WD that held 17 people including the driver and boy this woman could drive! Most people fell asleep in the van inbetween stops but I was hypnotised by the landscape and the sneak peeks of wallabies, kites, termite mounds and a plethora of other native species.
We visited rock art sites, climbed for incredible views over the tree tops, swam in plunge pools that were fringed by water falls, this place was ideallic.

I had two favourite parts to this tour, the first was the two hour boat trip along Yellow Water. There were salt water crocodiles galore (these are the dangerous ones, freshwater ones aren’t as big and generally don’t attack unless threatened.. Apparently)! The wildlife was sensational, you couldn’t help but point out every crocodile you saw to the nearest person and there were so many varieties of birds, displaying so many colours. This area is being kept as natural as it can be and has a tranquil feeling to it, despite being filled with predators. Your sight is filled with a quantity and quality of life that shook my perception of importance on a greater scale. Having never ventured away from London for more than a few weeks, this trip is already highlighting the measures some people are taking to preserve the systems that keep our planet going.

The next favourite part was our stay at Mt. Bundy on the second night. This was an active cattle farm, (meet Nigel who likes to be fed bread :-))

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This farm had an incredible Banyan tree, during the day I spent ages just staring at all the different nooks and crannies and attempting to swing off the twine extended from its branches. The evenings however saw it take on a more haunted look which I practically sprinted past to get to the toilets. We fell asleep that night to a deafening chorus of frogs calling out to each other trying to find a mate and other noises as the trees round us came alive.

The following morning through the meshed tent walls I could see the sun rising from my own bed, I felt honoured and humbled to be existing in such beautiful and natural settings.

That morning we visited termite mounds based in Litchfield National Park that were over 50 years old, still active and easily three times higher than a human. We also saw magnetic termite mounds that are shaped more like tombstones all in a bid to not get too hot in the scorching sun. The rest of the day we spent visiting various cooling plunge pools among humid rainforests. Bacts littered the tree tops and the air with their high pitched chatter. Our last stop was at a set of 6 pools set over different levels and were of varying depth, we jumped in to cool off after our short walk to the pool, slowly moving on to see what the next pool had to offer.

We then headed back to Darwin, as we drove back the scenery suddenly changed from forest to buildings and I felt a little sad that our trip exploring two of the Top Ends glorious national parks were over and we were back to city living.

Our last two days in Darwin we managed to find a well priced hotel that offered suites with a kitchen and a washing machine!! The joy! We sweated A LOT on our tour of Kakadu. We’ve realised this could be the way to go whilst touring Australia as it is very expensive to eat out, we have already visited the local fish market in the harbour and cooked ourselves (ahem..Tim cooked) a yummy stir fry with fish caught that day!

We’ve also ran the Parkrun route, the sweat generated is incredible but your body gets so warm that weirdly the exercise doesn’t hurt as much as it normally does, maybe I warm up quicker out here!

Friday we move onto Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef…

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