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Let me tell you folks, those wild stories of the great fishing up north are spot on The boys and I headed out on a charter offshore from Darwin and before long we were wrassling slivery, silvery monsters; jewfish, salmon, grunter just to name a few.
I think for every fish we wrestled onboard we lost another one to the sharks. I had one solid Spanish mackerel on but couldn’t quite get it to the boat before it was chomped in half.
Getting a real feel for the northern waterways, we toured out to Sweets Lagoon by float plane amid all the teeming birdlife. Taking a spin on the hovercraft was insane but the undoubted highlight was the float plane landing in the croc-infested lagoon.
Sweetwater Fishing Show
From Darwin, our first stop was the national parks close by.
Litchfield and Kakadu were pretty high on our agenda and let’s just say that camping out at Wangi Falls in Litchfield was one of those total life-affirming experiences.
Being only a short walk to the swimming hole and in early October meant it was a welcome early-summer relief to dunk yourself. And that was before we’d even had breakfast and planned out the rest of each day, which meant more of the same, wearing ourselves out exploring all the walks and the endless labyrinth of swimming holes.
We somehow pulled ourselves away from Litchfield and headed to Kakadu National Park via the Mary River. Feeling happily delirious from what we’d seen so far in NT, at the last minute we decided to jump on a houseboat for the night to cruise the Corroboree Billabong.
Sweetwater Fishing Florida
I had heard this was one of the most croc infested rivers in Australia and we thought it would probably save us money to spend a night on the river and guide ourselves as opposed to going on one of the croc tours.
And the action started right away. We saw five crocs and they even came right up to our houseboat. The best part was listening to the kids talk about how they could see a big croc swim right up to their window as they safely pretended to sleep in the cabin.
Kakadu was all we thought it would be, and we scored it with some out-of-season storms. The whole sky lit up with a tropical lightshow that stormed through right at sunset.
I have always heard how incredible the Top End was in the wet season and we got to get a taste for that in the end of the dry. The wet season waterfalls were running and the place was blindingly green.
Sweetwater Fishing Guide
However, after over a week spent burning all over the Top End, the humidity was starting to take it’s toll and I was itching to head south and we started our journey to the Red Centre.
Our first port of call was Katherine where we explored the famous Katherine Gorge, Bitter Springs at Mataranka, and Edith Falls. Once again, the out-of-season rainfall had deluged the area and the waterholes were flush with energy.
The hot springs at Mataranka were like nothing I’ve seen – we all loved sitting in the crystal-clear pools among the palm trees. The walks to the top pools at Edith Falls were also stunning and the swims we all had there were as good as they get.
Sweetwater Fishing Expeditions
From Katherine we trekked further south to the Devils Marbles, with Karlu Karlu being a prime spot for a ‘wild west gulch’ photography intermission. We wandered endlessly among the rocks and drowned in light as the sunset bounced around the teetering granite boulders.
Out of all the places I’ve seen in Oz, this is one of the finest locales to get involved with the night sky, due to the lack of light pollution out here. The other big-ticket item being that you camp right against the rocks, and all you have to do is look up.
Alice Springs was our next destination and Anally making it to the red centre was a real milestone. Here, we restocked our supplies and spent a few nights at the famous West MacDonnell Big 4 caravan park were the kids could run amok on the waterslides.
Alice Springs itself was a suprisingly satisfying stopover with no shortage of decent cafes and restaurants to take our tastebuds away from camp chow for a bit. Basing ourselves here allowed us to take trips out to explore the East and West Mac-Donnell ranges, Simpsons Gap, Emily Gap and Ormiston Gorge,
It was at about this stage of the journey that I realised just how much there was to see out here and how much I had under estimated the location.
Time constraints were finally closing in on us, we were pressed to move on and we took the permit road from Glen Helen to Uluru on an easy dirt road hit-out.
Passing through endemic wild-flowers and wild horses, the drive from the West MacDonnell ranges was spectacular. But from here on, all eyes were on the horizon for the first glimpse of Uluru. Luckily, we had already heard about Mount Connor so after we passed this landmark we were ready.
It was such a striking drive and, due to all the winter rain, the place was nothing like I thought it would be. There were felds upon felds of pink, yellow and purple flowers with bright green spinifex. Stopping every 20 seconds for photos was gettng a bit ridiculous.
Uluru was now in sight so we were all pretty pumped to set up camp and take a look around. The temp was now a top of 26°C and we had left the humidity well and truly behind us.
My first real look at Uluru had me hooked straight away. Just to be so close to it was jaw-dropping. Although it’s the cliche that everyone who comes to Uluru always trots out, photos seriously don’t do the place justice and you have to see it with your own naked eyeballs.
We spent the next days busily exploring all the walking tracks around Uluru and Kata Tjuta and every day we were left spellbound.
On our last night, we got to set up at the sunset viewing platform looking out to Uluru. There were hundreds of others but the view was uninterrupted. With our chairs set up and a glass of vino in hand it was the fitting way to put an exclamation mark on our incredible NT road trip.
Over the following pages, immerse yourself in the the photo diary of Sean and his family’s trip.