Located on the border of Northern Territory and Western Australia, Zebra Rock Mine is the only one of its kind in the world. The striking zebra rock fascinates researchers and tourists alike. While there, we went on wetland safaris to Lake Argyle, sought out the local Gouldian Finches, spent time fossicking in the nearby creekbed and ate locally caught silver cobbler.
Lake Argyle sunset tour of wetlands
Gouldian and other finches
Our final leg of the Northern Territory took us south from Darwin to Berry Springs, Litchfield National Park and Leliyn, Nitmiluk. In this land the horizons were dotted with columns of smoke from Wurrgeng (cold weather) burning, the haunting screams of curlew pierced the nights, and we found relief from the heat in specially designated waterholes. At Katherine we headed west and passed the beautiful Gregory National Park and Victoria River.
Darwin from East Point
The Lake, Berry Springs
Litchfield National Park: Magnetic, north-south pointing termite mounds (with cathedral mounds in background); Wangi Falls, View from top of Tolmer Falls, Savanna woodland, Florence Falls.
Leliyn (Edith Falls)
Victoria River and Gregory National Park (Judbarra)
Crossing the East Alligator River from Kakadu to Arnhem Land took us over Cahill’s Crossing and into an ancient rocky landscape with its floodplains and billabongs. We visited the town of Oenpelli before making our way to the surrounding sandstone outcrops, aboriginal wall art and Inkiyu Billabong. The tidal river was up on our return journey where dozens of crocodiles were lining up to catch fish going over the crossing. As we headed out of Kakadu, we stopped at the Mamukala Billabong.
Near Oenpelli, Arnhem Land
Rock art sites
Inkiyu Billabong, Arnhem Land
Cahill’s Crossing, East Alligator River
Mamukala Billabong, Kakadu
You don’t have to spend much time in Kakadu before understanding why it deserves world heritage listing. It’s home to hundreds of different types of birds, thousands of plants, and lots of crocodiles and other animals. Over half of the park is managed by its traditional owners, the Bininj, or Mungguy peoples. We observed much wildlife on a sunrise cruise across the river and flood plains of Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba).
Plumed Whistling Ducks
Black-necked Stork (Jabiru)
Salt water crocodile
Comb crested Jacana with chicks
Crocodile eating fish
A drive east of Katherine took us to the magnificent Nitmiluk National Park and gorge. A dinner cruise along the gorge and hike to Butterfly Gorge showcased some of the area’s beautiful landscape. The national park was returned to the traditional owners, the Jawoyn people in 1989.
Located by the Esley National Park, Mataranka is famous for its natural thermal pools and as the setting for Jeanie Gunn’s We of the Never Never. We enjoyed the tropical bush, walking the river trails and taking a dip in the Bitter Springs thermal pool.
Little Roper River
Elsey National Park
Recommended to us by fellow travellers, Longreach Waterhole was not on our maps or signposted from the main road. Just outside of Elliott, it’s free style campsites provided a tranquil setting with many species of birds.
South of Tennant Creek we stopped to look at the Devil’s Marbles, or Karlu Karlu. A significant meeting and dreaming site for Kaytetye, Warumungu, Anmatyerr and Alyawarr people, these huge, rounded granite rocks have been shaped by rainwater over millions of years. Further to the north the smaller, granite Pebbles, or Kunjarra remain a special place for Warumungu.
Devil’s Marbles (Karlu, Karlu)
The Pebbles (Kunjarra)
The West MacDonnell Ranges National Park features many gorges, waterholes and chasms. While staying at Alice Springs, we spent most of our time exploring these, including the ochre pits still used by the traditional owners, the Arrente. As we moved around we came by a couple of hikers walking the 223km Larapinta Trail. Our bike ride from the John Flynn grave site to Simpsons Gap was a real highlight, taking us past rocky landscapes, native birds and a roving dingo.
John Flynn grave
Ellery Creek Big Hole
Kings Canyon is a spiritual site of the Luritja people. It’s sandstone dunes protect tropical pools and provide great views for visitors. Our rim walk took us up and across the dune tops, over crevices and through a lush ‘Garden of Eden’. The Kings Creek walk at the base of the canyon meandered along a dry, stony creek bed lined with coolibah trees and river red gums. The nearby Kathleen Springs still has remnants of cattle trapping yards.
Kings Creek walk