With the festive season done and dusted and work revving up again, there was nothing for it but to… go on a holiday. Paul and I spent a week in mid-January travelling around the Northern Territory, in a loop from Darwin to Kakadu National Park, south to Nitmiluk National Park, then back north to Darwin. Being smack-bang in the middle of the wet tropical summer season, we were fully prepared for rain, clouds, and loads of closed roads, but got incredibly lucky with blue skies and only one day of rain. Sure, it was mind-bendingly hot, but I can say without any hesitation that the wet season is a primo time of year to go. Travel costs plummet, and while some sites are closed due to epic flooding and/or crocodile-related peril, you can still visit wetlands, waterfalls, swimming holes, billabongs, gorges, and rainforests, all of which are practically deserted, with barely any other tourists around to spoil your Instagram photos.
Driving into Kakadu from the outskirts of Darwin, we were struck by, firstly, the 130km/hour speed limit (hectic!), and secondly, how green everything is. We knew that weeks of rain make everything spring to life at this time of year, but couldn’t get over how astonishingly bright and neon the landscape was, with grass, native flowers, and trees all aggressively in boom.
Our destination on day one was Jabiru on the eastern edge of Kakadu, with a few stops along the way to pick up supplies, belt out the 4km Gungarre walk through billabong-adjacent bushland, and visit the Monet-esque Mamukala wetlands. In Jabiru we stayed at Anbinik, a fantastic Indigenous-owned accommodation site with campsites, bungalows, and eco-friendly cabins with super luxe private outdoor showers, all in lush gardens jam-packed with native plants and wildlife. The plan was to visit Ubirr to watch the sunset over Arnhem Land, but with the road partially underwater, we instead opted to chill out in our architecturally-designed (and pleasingly air-conditioned) cabin, and have a dip in the pool before walking to the local pub for a beer and some dinner.
Next stop, south to Burrunggui and Yellow Water Billabong.