Darwin 2004!

Hey everyone,
It’s now the 10/9/04 and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write about my amazing trip! I’m having the time of my life!!!
On the 2nd September our flight arrived in Darwin, the flight was only 4½ hours long from Singapore and my ears weren’t playing up, so genuinely it was a good flight, other than the food. I had a veggie lasagne made up of peas and carrots; it just had a really dodgy taste to it. I ate the whole thing as I was so hungry, this I later regretted.
I got off the plane and walked down to get my bags, I then had to join a cue to put all my luggage through scanners at customers, it got to my bag and I felt my stomach start to change, there was no way I could run to the toilet so I just had to wait and feel worse and then the officer stopped my bag and said ‘there is something in your bag that you haven’t cleared’. I was thinking oh my god what the hell have I got in there- so for about 15mins I was in severe pain while they searched all my bags. It only ended up being my bloody eczema cream- it has something in it. By that time I was so ill I couldn’t leave the airport till about 11:30.
An old skinny aussi guy picked us up in his small shuttle bus to take us to the city centre, driving from the airport it just looked liked we were in some run down area of America with one huge highway going on for miles with huge lorry wains, it was not quite what we were expecting. Also, it only started to get light at around 8- 8:30am, it didn’t sink in that we are in the winter over here (doesn’t fell like it!).
When we got to the hostel it was like being in a small town, not a city. There aren’t many people about and the shopping areas were tiny- it was great! We had to wait a couple of hours before check in at chilli’s backpackers so I just had to sit in the mall so I could run to the toilet every 5mins.
We got up to our dorm which sleeps 4 and we met a girl who was just leaving because she couldn’t stand the place, we thought- ‘great’! This is a good start!! The hostel was really clean and had a gorgeous patio area by the kitchen where everyone socialised and 2 roof spas. All the staff were a laugh too. However, I couldn’t get out of bed to experience any of that because I was so poorly.
On the 3rd I stared to get a bit better so we went down to the reception and had a look at what to do in the area. We were looking into Katherine gorge when the receptionist goes ‘hey girls need a hand’, so we got talking to her and she mentioned that she worked for wilderness lours and they do some great 4 and 5 day tours to Litchfield, Katherine gorge and kakadu. She went I’ll just give them a ring for you and try to get you a good deal, we hardly knew anything about what we were getting ourselves into, but we thought hey, let’s go for it. She got us $100 off the 5 day trip and said, ‘it’s the best one to do and it’s leaving tomorrow, up for it?’ so we went for it. We had to cram everything in into our little rucksacks including sleeping bag and mosquito net, so I was wearing 1 pair of shorts, I had 1 pair of trousers and a couple of tops, oh and of course 2 pairs of walking socks, underwear and toothbrush, don’t forget the BABY WIPES- (life saver!!)
Next morning, up at 5:30 to have breakfast and sign out of the hostel. Nick, the tour guide met us outside and goes ‘hey, you must be Morgan and Emma’ and I was thinking hey, you must be the fittest guy in the world!’- Yummy!! He was a gorgeous tanned, slightly scruffy aussi (with stubble!) with streaky blonde and brown long curly hair- to die for- honestly Ellie, Tavie and Naomi, oh and mum- you would think he was FINE!! Actually even Jodie would have thought he was cute. I just thought- this is gonna be one great holiday!
We got in his 4WD and met Naomi and Kim (Kiriping), brother and sister from Melbourne, originally from hongkong- round the ask the others up- Emma from Newcastle, she’d been un the outback fir a while, working- not a very strong accent, Manuela from Germany- laid back and cool then mark from Holland, the very loud centre of attention kind of guy.
As we were travelling to Litchfield we were all getting to know each other and hours went by of driving on same highway through endless bush- there was the odd town which we wouldn’t even call a village.
Nick had permits so that we could go to areas where very few others could go to, like tolmer falls. This was because this particular group was very environmentally friendly- you can go to these places and take what you need but you can only leave your footsteps behind. Everyone else smoked, apart from me and em, so they used film containers as ash trays- good idea.
We were the only people at tolmer falls which was fantastic- we had done a beautiful walk, following each others footsteps to cause as little disruption to the landscape as possible, you can see em’s pictures of when we actually got there but I took some pictures of the walk there as well. You have to climb down rocks to get into the water, which are very slippery. It was so pure and clean, like all the waterfalls we were later going to see. Nick showed us how to swim behind the waterfall to get in a small cave, me and em did it but when we were behind it your breathing gets really restricted so we had to come out again!
The whole place was so secluded that it felt as if we were not in this world- sandy creek was the next waterfall which looked like paradise- it was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen- I’m sure a few film scenes would have been done here- like the beach. This was not a permit area and there were a couple of guys jumping off huge rocks.
On the walk to sandy creek we tried a wild fruit is was lovely- it had a really sweet taste. When it is red you can eat it, but you can only eat the inside top bit- kind of scrape bits off with your teeth.

When the fruit ages it goes so hard that it breaks into sections and the aboriginals use it as a paint brush.
We had lunch at sandy creek, and then we went and set up our tents after another long drive by a billabong which I’m sure had had crocodiles in it. ½ way through our journey we stopped to watch the sunset from the roof of the car with a nice cold beer- you will see Emma’s fantastic picture, watching the sunset just totally calms you and makes every worry or thought just disappear.
That night emma was very ill and our toilets were holes that we dug so that she had a very horrible night- the freezing temps didn’t help either. I felt really bad because I slept so well in my sleeping bag and swag- I think it was the fresh air. I didn’t wake up once, though I did wake up blue in the morning! I couldn’t believe how cold it was, like sleeping outside in December back at home! That day (2nd day) we went to Katherine gorge- the place I was dying to see, even when I was back at home- we saw loads of wallabies jumping around, we saw a dingo too but I’m not quite sure what day that was on- I think it was the 3rd! Katherine gorge kinda looks similar to the Grand Canyon with huge dips and the most amazing river running through it. Apparently you can canoe there in the wet season- I imagine it might be too dangerous.
Me and kim decided to be partners in the canoe and we got to know each other really well- he is such a lovely guy and I really hope that I can meet up with him again. I think us 2 had the best day- he had me laughing non-stop. There were many rapids that we had to get through ad I got many bruises trying to do it, slipping down the rocks and falling from one onto another. I taught kim how to canoe and he got really good at it. One of the times we had to get out of the canoe to pull it over some rocks, kim was behind me so I rowed off without him! He was left trying to swim back to me. I had no idea he was scared of the water! I felt terrible afterwards, but he defiantly got me back a few days later.
We only canoed 2 out of the 12 gorges- I reckon that would take nearly a week to do. We stopped for lunch and had a swim and we also stopped to have a look at some rock art. I find it amazing that there is so mush history and so many stories to be told everywhere we go, nick new so much about the aborigines and stories that were taught to their children, like girls about mother hood and how you should look after your baby and how people should not steel. It’s fascinating.
On the way back I had quite a hard fall coming down the rapids and I did my back in, it still hurts a bit now. I couldn’t count the number of times I slipped over just in that one trip.
We had water fights with the ores- mainly me and kim against emma and nick because the others were lagging behind a bit- poor Naomi and emma north(that’s what we call emma from Newcastle) they found it quite hard to do, but saying that they got pretty good towards the end. Mark and manu were starting t build their special friendship!
When we got back to the car park, me and em sneaked in the shower. It made us feel so much better we then travelled towards kakady national park and found a small hill looking over the bush land watching the sun go down (that is the pic with me in my black top) [oh I forgot to say, as we were canoeing I couldn’t take any pics of Katherine gorge, sorry] it was beautiful again and gave the guys another chance to have a fag!
For the next 2 nights we stayed near barramundi gorge which was really nice- we didn’t get there till dark so was hadn’t really seen what was about on the first night something ran past us- it was really big and it scared the crap out of us! It sounded like a wild horse, which was pretty cool. For the rest of the night people kept looking out for wild animals. There were lots of marsupial mice bouncing around the place and termite mounds. Even though there were loads of animal noises I still slept really well and you had a bit of light creeping through from the fire.
That was quite a warm night and I knew the 3rd day was gonna b a hot one. This just happened to be the day we were going to graveside gorge which was a long trip by car and a huge walk with loads f rock hopping and hilly bits. The drive there was bad enough- I get quite car sick and everyone else went flying when nick accidentally went a bit to fast over one of the largest bumps- they were nearly knocked out- for some reason I was the only one who stayed sitting down- don’t know how that worked!
We did the walk with another wilderness group who stayed at the same camp ground as us. Their group was so different to ours- we were so lucky to all get on so well, they were hardly chatting to each other. Me and em were still having a great time with kim- I feel he was the one I got closest too.
Just over half way through the walk we got to a beautiful pool and I thought great we are finally here, sweating to death and slightly dehydrated. Then I got told that this was just a drink stop, got a long way to go yet- I was knackered. But somehow when you really want to do something you find the extra strength to do it with. I’m not used to doing this kind of walking in the scorching temps but it felt so good once I had got to the end and swan in the beautiful water. This place was even more beautiful than the others and it looked like it was a scene out of Indiana Jones with the way of the roots of the really tall tree coming down rocks weaving in every crack by the wild waterfall. There was a rock in the middle of the pool that we sat on, you had to get up there fast though and it was extremely slippery with a slopping flat edge. Once you were on it you could dive into the water. Well I did, I didn’t see anyone else doing it!
We had lunch and then we had to walk all the way back, which was ok, well easier than the way there. We saw so many poisonous spiders between the rock and trees. I walked straight towards one and only at the last min did I see it. I felt so sorry for em as she has a severe phobia of them, like me with snakes.
The next morning we got up early to swim at barramundi gorge- it was only a short walk, though we had to get through some spooky marsh land areas where there were salt water crocodiles. As we got to higher ground up where the smaller waterfalls were we had to climb round a few scary corners which would have caused a few broken bones if fallen down! Nearly falling asleep to the sound of the waterfall. Now this place was paradise (other than the crocs!)
We then went to Jim Jim falls which is an even larger waterfall that you can feel the spray of the water nearly a mile away. Due to the time of year though it wasn’t flowing which meant we could swim in the plunge pool- this was so cold! I layabout on the rocks chatting to Emma, Naomi and Emma north who were all of diff rocks. Biting flies kept on attacking me so I kept on hitting them off, then I felt one crawling down my left arm from my shoulder. I was getting ready to slap it when I realised it was a snake! A long thin greeny yellow one. It made me petrified that I slipped off the rock and fell into the water. I was shaking all over and climbed up onto another rock shaking out of the water like a tiny island- I couldn’t move. The others couldn’t believe what happened. Nick came running down to see what all the fuss was about and then looked at me and kinda laughed. I was so pissed off because I was so upset. He just said ‘your lucky mate, it doesn’t happen to hardly anyone’. I was thinking you arsehole, I was in tears- it was bloody funny.
All the way back to the car I was shaking, I felt so sick. I was looking at every step I made to make sure there wasn’t one near me. I did bring myself to go into a cave though. It did take some time- I couldn’t wait to get out of the whole area. Kim found it highly amusing too.
That evening we stayed on the bank of a billabong with other tour groups. It was strange having other people around. This billabong was where a German tourist got eaten by a salty a few years back. Manu had to watch out! Me and em made sure our tent was as far back as possible. When I say tent I mean mosquito net with a lining which are so much more fun than tents, though a bit horrible when you have got one extreme pervert in the group and you are trying to get changed.
There were waterless durries at this campsite but it was a 5 min walk down a really dark scary track so us girls went together. There were some deadly spiders in both men and women’s, poor em was scared stupid and literally froze. When we were walking back, I was in front carrying he torch. I was still a bit shaken up from the snake incident earlier so I had the occasional look around just when I thought oh I’m being stupid, an even bigger browny/black snake goes past my foot! I screamed and jumped and cried then ran. It had to be my bloody luck! The only one in the group with a phobia of snakes is the only one who comes into contact with 1, well?! Everyone was so shocked but all so lovely. Em checked the whole of our tent to see if there were any that had got into, while the others were all trying to calm me down. I didn’t sleep to good that night. I think nick just found it even funnier, though Kim (kiriping) felt so bad about laughing the 1st time. I couldn’t stop crying and laughing at the same time.
Em stayed up with me and we were chatting for hours all about the past and I just thought how lucky I am to be going with someone like her and to have such a good friend. I just couldn’t imagine being here with out her.
The next morning was our last day so it was going to be much more laid back and we could just relax in the morning. As we had arrived at the campsite at night I had no idea of the size of the billabong. Apparently the guys next to us saw loads of crocs that night- but we didn’t get eaten so that’s alright.
I heard a story about the girl who did get eaten there and she was with one of the tour groups. They all went swimming there; even the tour guide who was really experienced because apparently they saw loads of clam shells so they assumed that the aboriginals felt it was safe to wash them there. Quite worrying really. I only went swimming with freshies though which are a lot safer, however they cannot always stop the salties getting in ah!
We packed everything up and then went to a tourist information centre just to find out more about the aboriginals and their work, we then went to bill’s place which is where the last guy of an aboriginal tribe tried to keep his tribe alive by preserving all the amazing art work on the cliff faces and rocks of kakadu. We were told the stories behind the drawings and shown where the aboriginal children got taught about life and the rules.
Did you know that the aboriginals drew things like the barramundis fish- if it wasn’t a good season and there was a lack of food they would draw their fish really big. I assume that is why they made the willies on the man look so out of proportion- a better reproductive year!

As we walked higher up rocks we saw more types of drawings like ‘contact’- when the aboriginals met a white man- they drew clothes oh the white men and x-ray art- they drew all the bones and muscles of the creatures.
When we got to the highest rock we saw the most amazing panoramic view of kakadu- from the wetlands to the bush to the huge cliff faces- you could also see the smoke from the bush fires- we travelled through a few, but they burn very slowly. It was beautiful when we got up there, lots of diff pools surrounded by high rock and cut off from each other; you could get to each of them by diving about 2 metres down through a hole. I was going to try it but the idea of being stuck under water in a hole of rock that I can’t even see made me a little worried. Nick the crazy aussi did it, but he was crazy and a very good swimmer- oh and he’s a diver!
We only stayed there for an hour- I wore my shorts in the water to try and give them a bit of a clean. They were getting filthy by this stage (my socks were even worse!). I think that my hiking boots saved my life a few times- I didn’t get one sprained ankle and I fell over more times than I could count when rock hopping. We then went back to the campsite and headed towards twin falls. We took a boat ride there as you can’t swim from all the saltwater crocs living there. At this time it is the nesting season so you don’t see as many in the water. We only saw on fresh water croc which are so much smaller and only eat little things like fish. After getting off the boat we did a short 20min rock hop to the waterfall which was out of this world. It had a pure white sand beach going around the edge, huge cliff faces, a humongous waterfall and beautiful clear water. It was starting to get hot again so we sat in the shade.
Our very last trip of the day and the tour was to Ted’s crocodile cruise at corroboree billabong, we met up with a few other tour groups and all sat on this quite small boat where a croc could easily get us from . We saw loads of crocs- there are apparently over a thousand crocs, about ½ are salties (the ones that get us). We saw the worlds biggest croc and there being me sat right at the front next to the water and regretted it when I realised how close we got to some of them. They tried to warn us a few times by giving hints that if we didn’t move they were going to eat us. The eyes were scary; they just stared straight at you.
One croc we saw had just had his dinner, most likely a wallaby or something quite large looking at his stomach. We got very close to that one as it didn’t have any energy left to attack us!
After that we travelled back to Darwin. We all decided to go out that night to a bar/club and even nick the tour guide came and we danced for hours- it was great fun and they only served doubles so got a little drunk.
Anyway as you can tell I’m having a brilliant time and sorry it’s so long- you can pretend you’ve read it.
Love and miss you all loads
Morgan xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

(photos to accompany letter are at http://www.morgansalmon.co.uk/P1.htm)

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