The Top End: the Real Australia

The Top End: the Real Australia

If you want to see #Australia for what it once was, long before the migration of European convicts, and where the Aboriginals may have first arrived themselves, there’s only one place left to find it. Kakadu and Litchfield national parks were the perfect place to explore #nature. We went #swimming more times than we ever expected (in fact, we were in the water at least once every day) staying #active and keeping away the heat. #tourismaustralia


Australia’s Top End is a wealth of protected wildlife and natural forests and each is known for something different. Coming from my prior experiences at Uluru and Kata Tjuta, I assumed it was more of the same planetary landscapes. But what I found was nearly the opposite: lush, green and wet.

Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park
Mary River Wetlands
Mary River Wetlands

Sammi and I flew into Darwin at the tail end of the wet season, but you wouldn’t know it from the unrelenting heat that greeted us as soon as we left the air conditioned halls of the airport. We joined a three day tour of Kakadu and Litchfield national parks with Wayoutback Safaris. 

from  $326

3 Day Buffalo Dreaming Top End Tour

Active
 Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
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Visiting during “The Wet” can be unpredictable, as storms and flash floods come out of nowhere, leaving roads impassable for days and even weeks. It throws a wrench in the best of plans, especially when it comes to visiting places like Jim Jim and Twin Falls. Both journeys are treacherous during the dry, let alone the wet.

Florence Falls Selfie
Florence Falls Selfie

But for every missed opportunity, there are dozens of benefits to visiting the national parks during this time. The rock pools and waterfalls that make Kakadu so famous aren’t running in the dry and you won’t see nearly as much of the wildlife. Not to mention your fellow tourists, which come in droves to sites like Nourlangie Rock in the dry, are hard to come by. But be prepared to change plans at a moment’s notice.

Termite Mounds
Termite Mounds

Our journey through the national parks started at Litchfield, located an hour and a half from Darwin. It’s the smaller of the parks, but is known for its massive termite mounds that randomly dot the landscape as you drive through. Buley Rockhole was a great place to cool off after a walk in the woods and is one of the few croc-free zones around. There are few other places you can swim with such peace of mind.

Aboriginal Paintings
Aboriginal Paintings

Kakadu, on the other hand, requires more time, so you shouldn’t attempt it in a day. It is here where the Aboriginal history runs deep through the rock paintings and the animals, who play important roles in the Dreamtime stories. I recommend taking a cruise of one of the billabongs where the crocodiles and birds hang out, but avoid the “jumping croc” cruises. It’s better to let the animals be rather than to tempt them with boats of tourists and slabs of meat on sticks.

Burrunggui (formerly Nourlangie Rock)
Burrunggui (formerly Nourlangie Rock)

The park has more waterfalls and swimming holes than we knew what to do with so much of the three days were spent in various forms of swimming attire. While we were unable to visit some of the more popular falls, we got to visit places the bigger tour buses were unable to reach by 4WD. So while Australia’s Red Centre may have the most iconic of landscapes, I fell in love with those of Kakadu and Litchfield national parks.

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