Welcome to Australia!
After four months (I guess it was four… I kind of lost track of time) in Asia, we headed even further south and further away from Europe: to Australia. Australia is different in many ways – landscape, geology, wildlife – from all the places we’ve visited so far.
Arriving late in Darwin, the first (and not very pleasant) difference for us was that there’s not a 24/7 store on every corner and that after a certain time of the day there’s nowhere to buy food and water. We tried but had no luck and had to settle for boiled tap water and a tiny bag of prawn crackers from the flight.
Darwin, the Northern Territory’s biggest city, was steaming hot. The rainy season was about to begin and already the humidity was almost unbearable. We were happy to get our campervan to get out of town and after extensive grocery shopping (we’re heading south! To the desert! There’ll be no shops, nothing!), we were ready to hit the road.
First stop: Litchfield National Park
About 100 km from Darwin – a short drive by Australian standards – is Litchfield National Park. It’s a beautiful park with huge termite mounds, several waterfalls, and fantastic (croc-free) pools which are just the right temperature to cool you off on a hot day (read: every day – we’re in the north). Despite it being a Sunday, the park wasn’t crowded and most people stayed at the pools so we had the walking trails almost to ourselves.
Parts of the park are only accessible by 4WD and with our campervan we had to stick to the main route. Unless you hire a 4WD, which are quite expensive, you’re absolutely not allowed to drive on unsealed roads. The main sights are all accessible by 2WD but there are many fantastic places that can only be reached by unsealed road and are therefore off limits if you hire a 2WD, which is quite annoying.
Wildlife spotting at the campsite
We spent the night at Cooinda RV Park next to the Stuart Highway. The friendly owner showed us pictures of the many birds that live in the area and told us about the not very well known history and role of Darwin and surroundings in WWII (Darwin was heavily bombed in the war). After sunset, he took us on a night drive to spot animals. We didn’t see any crocs (I’m never sure if I really want to see one of the infamous saltwater crocodiles – the salties – or better not) but we saw a water snake, the beautifully decorated nest of a bower bird and – yes!! – kangaroos.