you’ve started now, best crack on…

Good to lose my 4WD virginity at last. Driving the narrow dirt tracks was unexpected fun, albeit environmentally unfriendly I know, sorry. Even traversed a croc infested passage of water, not that there appeared to be any crocs of course!

Driving today and wandering around Litchfield National Park was a vivid reminder of that vast empty black of Sunday night. The bush just goes on and on and on, essentially unchanging as far as the eye can see for as long as you care to drive.

Not that there aren’t plenty of tourists! Only twice I escaped them. At Rum Jungle Lake* I saw a turtle briefly, so far inland, who would have thought. I stood by this small body of water, the breeze passed through us all, carrying the weight of all that living, passing along its expectant message. Vast but not empty. Existing, and that’s all.

By the water’s edge some creature and its friends had churned up the mud a little. Crocs? Some small hopping thing? Other than the occasional bird the rest weren’t giving up their hiding places.

Having almost turned back at the water crossing challenge, I held high hopes for solitude at Tjaynera Falls. The car park dashed those hopes, as if there wouldn’t be others, silly me. With a 1.7km walk to the falls and the day drawing on, the promise of a croc-less pool to wash away 39°C worth of sweat made up for it. Passed some people but miraculously I arrived at this little patch of watery paradise to find myself alone. So I fulfilled my wish to swim as nature made me in a place just as nature made it, not a soul there but the fish.

As well I dressed when I did, for teenagers awaited on the return journey.

Keen to be back by dark I took the circuit route back to Darwin via Berri, unpaved for 30km. Well underway, ahead appeared a large smoke plume – perhaps the fire I saw from the plane? The road veered away but soon what looked like smoke hazed its way ahead through the trees. Maybe making the most of the 4WD might come back to bite me! Soon I realised it was probably just dust from a vehicle up ahead. Twit 🙂

Something I’ve really appreciated driving out here is the lack of signage. Essentially it’s you, the land, the road and the occasional turn off sign. None of country Victoria’s aggravating Drowsy Drivers Die signs every five minutes, endless billboards, continual reminders of the speed limit, other myriad signs just in case you had nothing else to think about.

Here, they assume you know how to drive and if you stuff up you’re screwed, and let you get on with communing with the environment as best you can, considering you’re in a car. Thank you NT government, keep up the good work.

  * Found more than I bargained for when searching for a link about Rum Jungle Lake. Fingers crossed the one I went to was named in honour of the mine and isn’t the lake that’s supposed to be closed to the public. Someone should tell the tourism board!

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