From Douglas Hot Springs we headed off to have a look at yet another gorge called Umbrawarra. We didn’t know if we would stay there or not, so we checked out the campground. We pulled up next to a couple setting up their tent, and the woman was a bit snakey as she thought we were going to set up camp right next to them.
We put on our bathers and walked along the path to the gorge. There was a muddy patch and people had made an alternative path past it. “Logic says we go this way” says Randall, and starts walking up the path, only to very suddenly turn around and jump towards me – he had just seen a black snake and wanted to make a quick getaway. He was a bit shaken after that I can tell you!!! The gorge was quite pretty, but no guarantees there weren’t crocodiles, so we didn’t swim there.
When we got back to the car, the grumpy lady came and apologized, and we got into conversation about where to stay and what to do in Kakadu. She gave us some good ideas about the park, so we decided to head in there straight away, as we had limited time as Katie was arriving on Thursday 22nd July in Darwin.
We had to go on gravel road to our first campsite – Kambolgie. Well, we have never experienced such bad corrugations on a road – the car and caravan were shaken to pieces so it seemed. When we opened the caravan we were faced, yet again, with the contents of the fridge all over the floor! I was getting a bit sick of that I can tell you!!
We set up camp and had a yack to an older couple who were also camping there. They had just got their buckets of water from the river – we didn’t need to worry at this stage and didn’t want to risk being close to the water’s edge as there were crocodile warning signs there.
The next morning we headed 24k’s further along the rough road, leaving van behind, to see a place called Gunlom, where there is a waterfall and swimming holes. We had to walk up a steep track to the top, but were greeted with what I call the nearest thing to paradise.
It was beautiful!! The water was crystal clear and warm – it was just magic. Randall and I really enjoyed our time here. The climb back down was steep, and I am very glad I had my new sandals on – they have wonderful grip which you need on a lot of these tracks.
When we got to the bottom, we had a welcome icecream at the kiosk, then went and filled up our 20l water containers from the tap in the campground – no risk of crocodiles there!! We arrived back at our campsite, packed up and headed for a place called Cooinda. The campground was fairly expensive, but we needed service to do a bit of banking and get in contact with people. It had a nice pool too, so we really enjoyed a nice evening swim before tea.
In the morning when we were packing up Randall made the disastrous discovery that the corrugations had loosened the roof racks and there was nothing holding them on!!! It could have been a real disaster as the rooftop tent could have damaged the canopy or the caravan if it fell off. The tent had to come off so that Randall could reattach the roof racks properly, so he called on three other men around the campsite to help him. We were both relieved that we were in civilization and had help nearby. It would have been impossible for just Randall and I to have lifted the tent off – way too heavy.
Once fixed we went to look at a place called JimJim falls. We left the van at the start of the road and gritted our teeth for another rough ride.
I was checking out the rooftop tent through my side mirror all the time, worried that things might come loose again, but all was ok. The last 10k’s of the trip was true 4WD, just a narrow track through lots of sandy patches and a bit of water. When we got to the carpark there were lots of cars and 4WD buses. There was a 1k walk into the falls, and it was very rocky, and the track was sometimes hard to work out.
We really enjoyed our time at JimJim falls - it was warm and beautiful but we had to get back and get a campsite for the night before it was dark.
We set up near a billabong, which was were, we heard from some workers cleaning the loos and emptying rubbish, a fellow just a week before had got drunk and drowned. The crocodiles would have got him if he didn't drown. His beer botttles were still there when we were looking!
Next day we went to look at some aboriginal art, then headed back to Darwin for some shopping and cleaning and tidying the van in preparation for Katie's arrival.