Our first couple of days in Darwin we spent relaxing, shopping and getting familar with the city center. Sorted out our Working Visas and MediCare cards (Australia's version of the NHS). Took a walk down to the coast, just really getting a feel for laid-back Darwin!
Yesterday we got back into culture... NOT! Well sort of it, we got to see some of the delights of Australia's Northern Territory (NT to the locals). We took a 1-day tour to the Jumping Crocodiles at Adelaide River, then onto Litchfield Park to got for a swim in the many waterfalls they have to offer.
The 12-seater mini-bus left the hostel at 7am, so a 6 o'clock start for us, (sorry Dan we weren't really chillin' - Lee).
On the way to see the crocs we stopped off at a fish-lake where we first watched Branden (the driver/guide) have his fingers almost bitten off by a Barramundi (one huge beast of a fish) as he fed it a little fish. He then offered the fish around and first to accept was a japanese girl, who fed it to the barramundi, which leaped out of the water, it scared the life out of the girl, who shrieked and ran a mile! However brave Lee had a go, whilst I leant over the side to take a photograph. Fingers shaking I missed the actual moment the fish had a nibble at Lee's fingers (it scared the bejesus outta me - Lee).
Back on the mini-bus, five minutes down the road Branden (Steve Irwin wannabe) jumped out of the bus and ran into the bush... Lee thought he was answering a call of nature, but we found out that he'd seen a lizzard run across the road, and was up for catching it to show it to us.
We arrived at Adelaide River around 9am, got some breakfast, Calm-Lee handled a python, I was a bit of cowardly-custard, but I did something even more daring (and disgusting or discusting) later. Then we got onto the river-boat to see some Crocs (crickey).
For the first 10 minutes we didn't see any crocs, the guide told us that because its was hot, the crocs (being cold-blooded animals) hide away in the shade, covered in mud to stay cool. So we got some entertainment from the Sea-Eagles, the feeder bated them with a big chunk of meat, threw it into the air, then swoosh the sea-eagle came down really fast, grabbed the meat and flew off! (all this happened over 5 secs or less).
Further down the river the guide noticed a hungry croc, the feeder got the bate ready, then we moved in closer to the croc. The length of these crocodiles range between 2 meters to 6/7 meters (depending on their age). Everyone got really close to the edge of the boat, the croc slowed down to do some window-shopping (we were told that this meant that the croc was checking out if he could eat a tourist). The feeder bated the croc by splashing the meat into the river, then holding about a meter above the water. The croc jumped out of the water to get the meat, which the feeder took out of reach. The crocs have to jump about 4 times before they can get the meat, giving plenty of photo-opportunities (a real set-up for tourists).
We've got loads of photos for the jumping crocodiles, we'll put them on the site in the next few days.
We saw several more crocs along the river, each of them varied in size and weight. We saw a baby crocodile who jumped his entire body length (2 meters) out of the water.
On the way back, we had a swam of juvenile sea-eagles following the boat. The feeder was bating them with small chunks of meat, throwing them into the air and onto the water, those fellas are quick.
After the river-boat tour, we jumped back into the mini-bus and headed for Litchfield Park. The first stop was at the Termite Moulds, considering the size of termites (1mm), the moulds were huge (some of them over 15ft tall). Branden gave us facts, figures and the history of Litchfield Park, which surprise surprise was exploited by Europeans, causing the loss of Aboriginal history.
The rest of the day was very hard and strenuous swimming in cool pools by waterfalls. The hardest part was first, with a walk down to Florence Falls with the lunch, it was about 1km in the hot mid-day sun (muggins here had to help carry the cooler box - Lee).
Swimming at the waterfall was lush, except for when we sat on some rocks and little fishes came to nibble our toes. Whilst we were enjoying the cool waters and great views of the waterfall, Branden was busy preparing our lunch... mountains of meat & salad to build ourselves a sarny or two, (it was nice except for all the flies buzzing around my head - Lee). Lee wasn't the only one to get upset about the flies, a french guy got so wound up that he started ranting in french, then threw his sandwich in the pool, which gave the fish something better than Lee's toes to chew.
Once we finished there, we had to get back in the mini-bus and off to have yet another swim, but believe me it was needed due to the heat! Our next stop was at Wangi Falls, which was just like a swimming pool, with its shallow and deep ends. The power of the waterfall was incredible and really did take some effort to swim underneath it.
We weren't allowed to swim at Tolmer Falls, as there are two caves which house to types of bat, the Orange Horseshoe Bat and the Ghost Bat. These bats react very sensitively to human disturbance, so it was a no-go area for us. Except we took some great photos of the view, from above.
Back to the bus where Branden and ice-cold oranges awaited. Next we were heading to Buley Rockhole for, surprise surprise, another swim! This is where cowardly-custard got her comeback. When I asked if the ants with the green bottoms (Green Tree Ant) were going to bite, Branden plucked one from the tree and said "No, you can lick the green end" and offered it to me. No thank you! So he put it in his own month and swallowed it. After a couple of others had a go, I though okay I'll have a go. The taste was disgusting, really sharp.
Then we headed back to Darwin City Centre... now about 7pm we were able to stop and watch the sunset, and of course I was able to get my photograph fix.
All in all it was a great day out, well worth the money! If your ever in Darwin with a day to spare, then Litchfield Dreams tour is a must!