August 15, 2012…Gunlom Falls, Kakadu

It is very, very toasty today!  My camelback is loaded with ice water and I am ready for the challenge!  Entering Kakadu National Park was hot!  Not WOW hot, but, Phew hot!…the temperature was in the high 30's and knowing that we were traveling towards water was a huge relief.  Kakadu covers 20,000 square kilometers ranging from coastal sand dunes and tidal flats to elevated rocky creeks and plunging waterfalls.  This is the only park in the world which completely encompasses a major and untamed river system, The South Alligator. The bitumen swept back and fourth through the eucalyptus studded bushland.  Tropical flora began to present that reminded me of the Cape.  Rounding one corner the road ahead was filled with Kites…of the feathered kind.  There must have been 100 or more!  As I road closer I wondered if there was a lot of road kill to cause this and slowed down…the Kites took their time in scattering and I realized they were seeking refuge on the road as the bush around me and them was a blaze.  The flames reaching the tree branches they had nowhere to rest, it was quite an eerie sight one that I will never forget!  Riding threw the smoke the road curved again and the bushland was fire free…why didn't the Kites fly around the corner?

The turn off to Gunlom Falls and billabong came quick…Ahh dirt, sand and corrugations, we have missed you…slowing down fully loaded we vibrated across the red dry burnt patched bushland for the next 40 k's.  The river crossings were dry….really there is a waterfall out here?  We pulled into the very dry, dusty, horse fly infested camp site area.  Kev and I looked at each other…Really we just vibrated our way to see this…there has gotta be more!  It was stinking hot, and we were a little stinky ourselves!  I felt very claustrophobic and restricted.  I was very likely dehydrated and had to get this heavy, hot and sweaty bike gear off before I could do anything.  I changed into my jandles and skirt…ahh, much better now I can function!  I pitched the tent and set up the camp site while Kev hunted and collected wood.  We were pretty hot and bothered after all of this so we left everything at camp and decide to head down to the waterfall and plunge pool!  Wowzer…this is what I am talking about!  There was a guy in the water already…promising, although he was fairly close to shore and did look somewhat awkward?  I spied a rock close to the shore and I felt comfortable enough entering the water and hanging there for a bit.  Slowly, my body finally began cooling down, I felt rejuvenated and refreshed.  I ventured from the rock a bit, but not far as I was nervous about rogue crocs!  A group of local kids entered the area, and it was not long before that plunge pool was filled with laughter, splashing and excitement!  A fantastic and comforting sight!  Kev and I climbed up to the top of the waterfall, a hot and jagged climb.  Jandles were probably not the greatest things to be climbing in but we eventually made it.  The climb was worth every step.  The view was of Kakadu was breathtaking, the upper rock pools were clear, refreshing and amazing.  We hung out for an hour or so then started down.  Even though we were dripping wet, we were dry once we had reached the bottom.  Once again we had entered a National Parks camping area on a Ranger talk night which is always a bonus… so I made dinner and then we headed over to the presentation.  That night we learnt that the plunge pool is occupied by a "freshie", a fresh water croc, and has been for three years!  Freshies are not usually aggressive…but "What the?" I would not have risked swimming there if I had known!  We learnt a little about the Jawoyn people, the owners of the land.  Their customs, beliefs and relationship with the land and Australian Government.

Gunlom Falls, Kakadu

The view from the top of Gunlom Falls, Kakadu.