The road that leads north to Darwin is one highway called the 1. This road wraps around the country so you can take it from Perth to Broome to Darwin to Cairns and all the way down to the southern more populous cities. It makes for easy driving and the speed limit is 130km per hour. Cruising from my secret camping spot I made great time to Leliyn (Edith) Falls my first stop of the day.
This is one of the places it pays to go earlier to. I rolled up at 9am to see people eating breakfast and starting their mornings. I parked my mammoth vehicle and headed to the path. A scenic 20 minute hike through the bush lead me to some beautiful overlooks of the Nitmiluk National Park. I explore around the rocks and listen to the water surge over the cliff into a serene pool. I am completely alone here. These moments are few and far between when exploring a country where its citizens literally are not allowed to leave. Australians love to explore their country and they do it with gusto. I sat in the calm waters edge meditating how beautiful this solo adventure has been so far. Tomorrow I had to return the car and enter back into the chaos of Darwin. I watched the rippling water and felt a large sense of peace and pride that I had made it this far physically and mentally. With the pandemic I never knew when I may have to pack my bags and run home. I felt such a sense of accomplishment and luck that the universe had helped me get to where I was.
I returned to the benz and ate my breakfast drying in the sunshine. I hopped in the car and headed up to today’s really destination Litchfield National Park. This park has infinite options to explore but when you are on a deadline like I am I could only squeeze in 3.
Since I was driving up from the south I think I experienced the park in a unique time than normal when people do day trips from Darwin. My first stop was the Zebra Stone mine, another WikiCamps suggestion. It was 11am, I enjoyed a coffee from their shop, filled up my water bottle, and explored around this incredibly old stone. This is apparently the only working mine in the world for this type of stone. Zebra stone is billions of years old and can be found in Australia because of all the vertically traveling plates. I normally can pass through every gift shop without purchasing and just taking in the experience but I left with three unique bracelets for me, my mom, and my sister.
The next stop was Florence Falls, this stunning waterfall sits deep in a valley accessible by some epic stairs. I squeezed this insane camper van into a spot and shimmed my way out of the door. With my car keys in a water sealed case and my go pro in hand I was ready to swim without worrying I was going to be abandoned at a national park with no service and no car. Everyone always laughs at me saying “omg Australia is so safe! No one is stealing your keys.” You can take that risk, not me man.
I was not alone anymore. On this warm day in the dry season I was among many people bobbing and swimming in the pools with their noodles and floaties. I found a rock to perch on and enjoy the fresh clear water surrounding me. A women and I chatted as she told me about her solo travels after her divorce. So far on this trip I had mostly connected with single women traveling. Let’s go girls.
With so much accomplished today I happily made myself a sandwich and enjoyed the sunshine. My last stop of the day was at the Cascades, meaning waterfalls in Spanish. By 3pm the sun was starting to set and people were returning to their campsite for the evening. Not me, I had this stop and then an hour and a half drive to Tumbling Waters to stay at a campsite for the night. I made my way through the quiet forest feeling like I was in the rainforest not the outback. It is incredible what nature tucks away. I hiked along watching for the crocodile signs and looking for where I could safely swim.
I’d climb, find a little rock pool and swim, then climb, find another rock pool and swim, this went on for longer than I expected. Little groups swam around and the more friendly ones chatted with me. When I finally got to a large rock pool there was a family swimming. The mom kindly invited me in to join them. The children immediately swam up to me asking to watch them do their tricks. I spent the next hour reviewing handstands and chatting with the parents. The sun started to hide behind the trees and the family started to pack up. I said I’ll walk back with you guys. She responded, good that is better than walking alone. We spent the trek back to the car park with them guessing all the countries I had visited. With 32 under my belt it was not only a good test of my memory but a good test of their knowledge. We parted ways with golden hour upon us. My hour drive immediately made better by our gorgeous afternoon.
The drive out of the national park is long and boring. After a long incredible day I was exhausted and just desperate to get to this campsite. I called when I had some service and asked if they had space for one. He said actually they had a cancelation at a powered spot today, otherwise they were sold out, I could have that. Spontaneous travel man, it is a gamble.
I drove into my campsite amongst the palm trees. This massive campsite had a cafe, outdoor theatre, swimming pool, and basically a million spots all full with Aussies. I parked in my spot and plugged in my vehicle, opened all my doors and windows, and met my neighbor. She noticed I was traveling alone and invited me to eat thai food cooked by one of the women who was Thai. Yes, that sounded better than my lentils. We sat under the moon drinking wine and chatting while eating incredibly delicious thai noodles with rice followed by cantaloupe for dessert.
The pair were brother and sister traveling with their partners. Both second marriages. I learned about their lives and how she lived on an emu farm. She launches into the story that one of the male emu’s believed she was her mate and was very aggressive towards her husband. Occasionally because of his aggression she would have to jerk him off. Yes. You read that correctly. The night ended with my mind full of wild thoughts of what different lives people lead around the world. One of the most important parts about traveling is not just experiencing the nature but meeting the people of the world and learning that there is just not one way to live.