Knowing that we had to sort out camping spaces for two, and with no real idea what would greet us at Gunlom Falls, we made haste from Edith Falls. We needn’t have bothered though, it was spacious and had plenty of campsite options. After the boys did the usual rounds and visited the falls on their bikes, Kris’s cousin Ros and her husband Sajeel and their three lovely kids arrived from Darwin a few hours later. That night, being July 10th and day 182 we celebrated being half-way through our trip with some delicious french bubbles around the campfire, the kids making do with toasted marshmallows.
The next morning we all managed the relatively steep climb up to the famed Gunlom Falls infinity pool. This was pretty, but very crowded, so we walked a few hundred metres up-stream to an empty river side spot so we could eat our picnic lunch and catch up in peace.
Sam spent time swimming through the shallow crystal clear pools with his goggles on, marvelling at the delicate green mosses adorning the bottom of the pools. As with all these watercourse areas from Karijini onwards, I would love to see these in the wet, when they turn from pretty clear trickling streams to relentless raging boulder-smashing torrents.
The next day, we drove to Maguk falls. These are cited as the ‘hidden gem’ of Kakadu. Although having that statement plastered across most of the tourist brochures, and judging from the crowds, perhaps they were no longer so hidden.
Despite the constant traffic, these were indeed a gem. A 30m high waterfall cascades into a huge deep pool rimmed by steep cliffs. This place really was magnificent. The clear water was 27 degrees, meaning tons of swimming, exploring, and some rock jumping (yes, yes, despite the warnings).
I also grabbed the camera and walked to the tops of the falls to explore the interesting rock pools above the waterfall. These are formed when rocks and boulders are washed into a depression in the wet season and the resulting swirling action grinds a deep and sometimes perfectly circular pool in the water course. Some are many times deeper than they are wide, quite amazing.
We finished off our three night stay with another campfire BBQ and Kris’s signature campfire desert, choc-waffle cones filled with ‘rocky road’ melted chocolate and marshmallows – messy but quite delicious.
Yes, it is touristy, but despite the harsh misnomer of ‘Kakadon’t’ and ‘Cashadu’, there really is an incredible amount to see in this area, both in terms of indigenous culture, flora, fauna, geology and general visual splendour. It really is quite different from any other gorge country we’ve recently visited, and the few days we have had here are nowhere near enough to do the area justice. Still, we have Ros and Sajeel to meet in Darwin, and a booked event in two weeks near Katherine, so we are trying to squeeze in as much as we can without going bonkers!