Creepy crocodiles, gorgeous waterfalls, a rich indigenous culture, and beautiful swimming holes. That’s Australia’s Top End. Together with Wayoutback, who you might remember from my trip in The Red Centre, I traveled in the Top End for three days. And oh my, top it was!
After a 4h30m flight from Sydney I arrived in Darwin. As soon as I walked out of the airport I could feel the change. They might tell you otherwise in Game of Thrones, but here in Australia the north is hot. Extremely hot. But also extremely beautiful.
An early start
The tour started with an early pick up at my hostel, YHA Melaleuca on Mitchell. I got introduced to our awesome guide, Mon, and met the rest of the group who I’d be traveling with in our 4X4 truck for the next few days.
Our busy agenda got me all excited: admiring indigenous art at Kakadu National Park, enjoying stunning views at the Nawurlandja Lookout, spotting crocs at the Yellow River Cruise, chasing several waterfalls, hiking to swimming holes, exploring Litchfield National Park, camping with wallabies and visiting giant termite mounds. Safe to say this trip consisted of mainly highlights. But a few of these really stood out…
Motor Car Falls
It’ll forever be a mystery to me why this gorgeous waterfall has such an un-sexy name, but please don’t let it mislead you: Wayoutback always knows where to find the best spots. After a fairly easy hike and a bit of rock climbing- and jumping, we reached the Motor Car Falls. Because the NT’s humidity will make sure you’re covered in sweat from top to bottom, you’ll soon find yourself jumping into the refreshing water. The pool itself is fairly deep so the hardest decision you’ll have to make is whether to jump or to dive in. There are many big rocks in the pool that serve as perfect little resting areas if you get tired of swimming but aren’t ready to leave the refreshing water yet.
Yellow Waters Cruise
An absolute must do when you’re in the Top End is the Yellow Waters Cruise. Our boat departed early in the morning when the sun was rising, making this cruise even more magical than it already is. Together with a guide who knows all about the surroundings you’ll take off on a two hour water journey to spot beautiful wildlife and, of course, crocs! Because it is wet season we had plenty of water to sail on, despite this wet season being one of the driest in 25 years. Not long after departure we spotted our first crocodile. It is so surreal to see these animals in their natural habitat!
When we continued up the river our guide told us more about growing up in Kakadu. His family has been living in this area for hundreds of years, so they know the area like the back of their hand. He told us about the different bird species that live in the area, and it was beautiful to see how excited he got when he spotted a bird he hadn’t seen for a couple of weeks. He also told us more about the different flower species and even let us taste the seeds of a waterlily! Never knew these are actually quite delicious and taste like nuts. I’ll have a beer and some waterlily nuts, please! 😉
After about an hour on the river we spotted our first big croc. I was excited, scared and so impressed at the same time! Unfortunately I was a little too late with taking a good shot, but man, this was so cool to see! Our guide told us there are over 10.000 crocodiles in Kakadu, and over 100.000 in the Northern Territory. Isn’t that crazy?!
My second favorite waterfalls are the Florence Falls. For those who are not such a big fan of hiking but do like to swim, these falls are everything you’ve ever wanted and more. You’ll reach these falls by descending just a 130 easy steps down. The water/pool is easily accessible through stairs, and the fanatic swimmers amongst us can even swim under the waterfall. Instaworthy shots guaranteed! 😉
I love camping
One of the other reasons I also highly enjoyed this trip was because I got to go camping again! Wayoutback makes sure get your much needed beauty sleep as their tents are fairly luxurious, including power, a bed and a fan. And what puts an even bigger smile on my face is sharing a meal in the camp kitchen with the other tour members while going over the activities of the day 🙂
I can’t recommend going to the Top End enough – even during the humid wet season. There’s so much to see, so much to discover and so much to do. What I especially liked here is how white Australians and indigenous Australians beautifully live together, and how it is acknowledged that the land the new Australians live on is owned by the native Australians. A great example for many other parts of the country, if you ask me.
You can find more info about Wayoutback and the tours they offer here. The tour I went on is the 3Day 4WD Kakadu and Litchfield Tour (Dragonfly dreaming).
For more info about the Northern Territory, please click here.
Disclaimer: this tour was sponsored by Wayoutback and NT Tourism Australia. However, all opinions are 100% mine and I would highly recommend this tour and/or visiting the Northern Territory. I was not paid to write this.