To get this view down onto the upper Edith Falls we had to climb a high ridge, then climb down to have a swim in the top pool you can see. The swim was worth it.
Day One – Edith Falls
Neither Julie or I are regular bushwalkers, it’s the sort of thing that we do on holidays. It seems to us that it is not just a matter of fitness, although it helps a lot. In a lot of the places we are visiting the only way you get to really appreciate is by driving down a rough 4 wheel drive track a long way, or climbing/walking over a track that an agile wallaby would appreciate. Our last day in Katherine we had an early lunch then drove the 70 km to Edith Falls up the Darwin, in a northerly direction along the Stuart Highway. The temperature at 2pm was probably about 38 degrees and the path to the upper falls said “2.6 km moderate difficulty, extremely steep first 500 m”. It was, but we got there. Gary enjoyed the swim. It wasn’t any easier coming done because the entire track was very stony as well as steep and going down is hard on the knees and ankles. Then we both enjoyed cooling off in the lower, extremely large pool. These pools are a sanctuary for the “freshies” – the smaller freshwater crocodiles, not dangerous to humans, rather the other way around. Swimming is forbidden from dusk to dawn to allow these creatures to feed and, about this time of year, to look for a quiet undisturbed bank of sand above water level to lay their eggs.
This was my swimming pool just before I did a few “laps”. Air temperature about 36 degrees, water temperature a refreshing 25 or there about
Day Two – Victoria River Crossing -climb to the Escarpment
The next day, an early pack up and departure got us 200 km further west and a real change in geography. Here the Victoria River winds between high rugged escarpments, painted in garish colours of rich red iron oxide. Victoria River escarpment is really just a Road House, and a very basic one at that – a concrete slab, hardiplank walls and iron roof accompanying fuel pumps somewhere for truckies to eat (I feel so sorry for long distance truckies!) and a very large paddock out the back for campers and caravaners. It is 2 star accomodation in a 5 star environment. We made the climb to the top of the escarpment ( 2.6 km up and back – moderate difficulty) in the heat of the afternoon again, without the incentive of a swim, but the vista was magnificent. The sense of accomplishment was there as well – two hard walks in two days.
The Escarpment is incredibly rugged and amazingly colourful
Day Three – Victoria River – Joe Creek Circuit
The next day at dawn I photographed, very carefully along the banks of the river – fishing or photographing are occupational hazards due to crocodiles. The locals think visitors who swim while “keeping a good lookout” are crazy because they have no idea of the speed or the camouflage of these monster reptiles.
Amazing plants that fringe the upper level of the escarpment
This time in the relative cool we decided to do the 1.7 km walk at Joe Creek about km west of the crossing, which was rated difficult because of the amount of “rock hopping” required as you walked along the edge of the escarpment cliffs. Under these ledges the must be permanent water seepage because of the grand lines of Livingstonia Palms standing sentinel like with their uniform kilts of fronds, high up rustling in the strong breeze. The landscape was eerie; we found some very ancient rock paintings from a time when this was a great place to shelter during the hot, steamy, wet times during the summer monsoons.
We met some more experienced bushwalkers, who would manage 2 two or three such walks in a day, plus move their caravan on another couple of hundred kilometers. That’s not for us – we have the time to pass in a quieter, more relaxed appreciation of such beautiful places.