Wednesday was a 4:30am wakeup call for our 4 hour flight to Darwin in the north of the country and our time for camping in Kakadu National Park. I was lucky enough to grab a window seat and saw some breathtaking views of the expanse of the empty Outback as we flew above. Upon arrival in Darwin, we went to a wildlife refuge to see some kangaroos and wallabies among other native wildlife. I got a kangaroo selfie so obviously I was content. Afterwards, we went to a spring nearby for a refreshing dip in a croc- infested billabong. Just like every body of water in New Zealand has eels, every body of water in Australia has crocodiles… but supposedly the freshwater crocs aren’t as violent so go ahead and swim kids? After drying off, we travelled to our campsite for the night where we had hamburgers under the stars and celebrated one of the campsite resident’s 80th birthday with karaoke. Happy birthday Morene!
Thursday was one of my favorite days because we spent it hiking and swimming in natural pools- quintessential Australia! We did a very steep climb up a mountain which brought us to one of the most stunning views I have seen this summer (and that’s saying something!). We were at the top of the mountain with 3 crystal clear blue pools and breathtaking views overlooking the Outback. It was like a natural infinity pool except you would die if you jumped off the cliff woohoo! After hiking back down for lunch, we headed to a park where we watched the sun set and saw a huge crocodile sunbathing a few feet from the trail.
Friday was full of more hiking and cultural immersion as we saw ancient aboriginal artwork among the rocks of Kakadu Nation Park. We even got a tour of the park from a traditional aboriginal owner famous worldwide for denying the opportunity to sell the land that is currently a large portion of the national park to a mining company for millions of dollars a few years ago. It was absolutely life altering to hear his story and the process of how he went about denying being one of the richest men alive because he valued its conservation and cultural significance more.
We’ve been sleeping in tents the past few days, which I’m totally happy about, except when I’m in the middle of absolutely nowhere and there are wild dingos howling and circling my tent. Imagine peacefully sleeping in your cozy sleeping bag and waking up to a howl in the distance and then leaves shuffling closer and closer. And then something walking around your tent repeatedly, sniffing right next to your face, and then deciding to plop down with its back against the tent and therefore your back. I was practically snuggling with a dingo. Like I could hear its stomach gurgling… So yeah, that happened. Of course I was terrified at first but then I realized how cold I was and really just wanted to open up my tent and let it snuggle with me, however I sadly decided against it.
The weekend started off right with a trip to another two natural pools with beautiful waterfalls. Both were absolutely gorgeous despite the fact we knew they were filled with crocodiles. I even swam under a waterfall to the other side and climbed up the rocks for a whole new vantage point of the billabong. After drying off, we drove to Darwin and went to an outdoor patio chair cinema for dinner and a movie… how cool is that? It was definitely a day for the books!