One of the perks about moving to a part of the country that many of your friends had never visited is that quite a few of my most favourite friends from Adelaide were all too keen to come up and visit me in the Top End – which just helped to give me even more reasons to go exploring!
I met the stunning blonde bombshell that is Emily when I started university. We studied together and became friends pretty much instantly. Before we get on with the post itself, I would like to mention that just two days ago she got to wear her graduation cap and gown – congratulations gorgeous Em!
Now back to the adventures! It would have been financially wise of her to have stayed back in Adelaide so that she could save her money for her own overseas adventures to the USA, but being the beautiful human that she is, she still came up to visit me despite not really have the extra moolah to shell out for flights.
So, with minimal cashola but a few days spare to go exploring – what were we to do?
We ended up deciding to borrow my housemates car and drive down to Katherine for the night as a sort of weekend road trip. The drive is a solid 3.5 hours if you were to drive straight there without stopping – but what fun is a road trip without a few stops?!
We set off really early in the morning and decided to head to Katherine via Florence Falls at Litchfield National Park – which is my absolute favourite place at Litchfield.
Amazingly, by getting there at around 8am – we ended up having the place completely to ourselves! I have been to Florence Falls a bunch of times but I have never been so lucky to see it empty – so it was a pretty special experience.
Florence Falls is one of few places up here in the Top End that I feel safe swimming in all year round. But as always – pay attention to any warning signs.
One thing that you do have to pay attention to though – the leeches!
If you only hang out on the rocky area at the main entry point this will not be an issue, but if you scramble over to the foresty side in an attempt to get some pretty pictures (which of course I did), be warned that leeches are kinda everywhere. They aren’t dangerous, and their bites don’t hurt, but it still is kinda gross.
Em and I both got bitten during our visit, Emily by a big juicy leech and me by a little baby one. It is a strange sensation when you pull them off – you would expect it to be painful but it isn’t at all – just a very strange sensation that I cannot for the life of me describe.
There is a lot of temptation to wanna climb up all the rocks and jump in from anywhere possible – but this is not advisable. The depth of Florence Falls lower pool varies massively and there are heaps of jagged rocks not too far from the surface of the water. There is one spot (as demonstrated by Emily in the next picture) that is generally considered safe for jumping, but be warned, tree branches fall into the water all the time – no jumping is completely risk free.
We stayed at Florence for around an hour – only deciding to leave when our solitude was broken and a few other people showed up! It was time to dry off, brave the leeches again and get back on the road.
Before we could go too far though I made us stop at the lookout point to get some pictures. While I was busy adjusting my settings and exposure times, cheeky miss Emily was getting up to other mischief…
Y’know, only like a hundred or so metres up, no big deal or anything!
After safely getting herself back onto solid ground and after I took one more picture of the beautiful valley below us, it was onwards!
Due to a couple of unfortunate choices regarding when to fill up fuel (we decided to skip it and thought we would be fine – we were wrong) we had to initially bypass the road to Edith Falls and blast our way through to Katherine on nothing but fumes. We rolled into the first petrol station just in time! After filling up and chucking all our junk at a little motel we were back in the car and heading back towards Edith Falls which is about a 25 kilometre detour.
That may sound like a rather big detour – but I can tell you right now – it is so definitely worth it!
The stunning Edith Falls is a part of Nitmiluk National Park which is most famous for the Katherine gorge and the three day Jatbula Trail that leads hikers around this incredible gorge.
As we visited in the fringe season (still super humid but not raining anymore) doing such a trek would be totally unpleasant no matter how scenic, and the kayaking season hadn’t started yet – so visiting the beautiful Edith Falls was a way we could get a little bit of a taste of what Nitmiluk had to offer, even in the off season.
There are several different pools to the falls (this picture below shows one of the lower pools) and not all of them are always open for swimming. When entering – check the signs and see what areas have been cleared as safe to swim on that day. When we visited the lower pool was closed, so after looking at it from above, we went to cool off and splash around in one of the upper pools.
I love how rich the redness of the rocks is! When I think of Australia – red dirt and red rocks are always what first spring to my mind. I do not think of the Sydney Harbour or Bondi Beach or the street art littering alleys in Melbourne. I think of stunning landscapes such as this one which perfectly showcase the heart of Australia.
When the sun starts to set all the colours become even more incredible – check out this amazing shot I got of Emily! She is always a mega babe but in this lighting she looks out of this world.
As the sun started to recede the crowds dissipated and I got to soak in this incredible pool all by myself. I love the reflections!
Eventually we got back on the road as driving at night is always scary in these parts (fears of crashing into kangaroos are not at all unfounded) and we wanted to get back into Katherine before the sun completely set. As we were driving we watched the most spectacular outback sunset – one that I will never forget.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Darwin: International flights arrive from Bali, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur
Getting to Katherine: From Darwin, drive south for about 3.5 hours – follow the signs
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with M.Zuiko 12-40mm pro lens
Seasons: The best time of year to visit Nitmiluk is May-September, but a visit outside of this time can still be amazing
Remember: You won’t feel a leech if it bites you – keep an eye on your legs for new friends!
Don’t forget to add me on Snapchat and Instagram – @wwellend – for more foolishness and travel adventures!