Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 16 - Leaving the Outback

By now it's probably pretty clear that I love water. One of my principle pleasures of life in the hot outback is the freedom it affords this water-loving traveller to enjoy getting wet, repeatedly, without the threat of ending up shivering and having to don layers of clothes. Moving between wet and dry is effortless and a supreme pleasure.

Such was our last day in the wilderness. After packing up camp at Wongi Falls we drove back up the Litchfield Highway and stopped at Florence Falls. A one-kilometre track took us up and through a savannah (dry) forest and then down into a tropical rainforest along the river that fed the falls. Water flowed, gurgled and shimmied through curvaceous rock pools and meanderings through the dense dripping natural gardens. At the falls, yet another deep pool provided an excellent swimming spot for hot tourists -- of which there were a few too many for our liking.

We moved from there to the Buley Rockhole, a spot a bit further up the river. The span of rockpools spread wider here and so did the tourists, each finding their own little nook or cranny to take a delightful plunge in. We found one as close to perfection as you can get in the wild: spanning eight or ten metres across and lined with smooth orange flat rocks, perfect for lounging, the pool quickly dropped into an abyss maybe ten or twelve feet deep. Clear, cool, continuously fed by a soft-falling water source that kept it clean and pure. I turned into a water seal and swam deep and long in this watery bliss.

And that was the pinnacle and end of our outback journey. Though curious about Darwin, my enthusiasm for spending time in a 'cosmopolitan city' (which it advertises itself as, despite it's relatively puny size: 125,000 occupants) isn't high. Checking into the Hidden Valley Caravan Park just outside of town felt a bit like taking a child who's had a free reign in the glorious outdoors, back into the confinement of her home, with all its rules, regulations and orderliness. The grouchy lady who checked us in could have been someone's mother, tired of her relentless captivity in work and chores, silently resenting the child who has the freedom to play and be wild.

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