Another short hop – this time just over the WA border and finally into the Northern Territory. The NT is the only state that none of us had ever been to before. The first sign that greets you over the border is a large 130 kph speed limit sign, fat lot of good that is for us! (K – for those non-caravaners amongst you – we generally sit on about 85-95km/hr towing our almost 2 tonne white box – Alice).
After about half an hour up the road, we turned off to Keep River National Park, just ahead of our traveling ‘lappa’ friends, the Lonerghans, who joined us at Gurrandalng campsite for two of our three nights there. Keep River is advertised as the ‘mini Bungles’, with banded sandstone beehives similar to their WA cousins. And whilst less impressive, the walks here were excellent, with interesting rock art at pretty much every overhang we visited. A big change from NP’s in the other states are signs that actually encourage you to collect firewood (which we did), and also to avoid swimming in rivers because of the crocs (which we also did). The price too is much cheaper than National Parks in WA, and we were to discover later, not consistent with other Parks in the NT.
After gobbling up a delicious campfire BBQ on the first night, we endured a slide night presented by the resident ranger – an Irishman named Kim. Unfortunately the delivery and content was not quite enough to stop Kris and I inspecting the inside of our eyelids from time to time. The next morning we celebrated our friends daughter Sarah’s actual birthday with everyone enjoying a pancake breakfast. We then headed off to do the fairly easy Jinmum walk along Keep River Gorge.
This walk skirted along the side of the gorge well clear of any possibly croc infested waterholes that now made up the river, passing lots of majestic boabs and rock walls. The walk finished at an aboriginal campsite, with lots of simple rock art and what could have been a long rainbow serpent. The kids all enjoyed exploring and imagining life living in a rock shelter.
About twenty kilometres drive from our camp, we did the longer 8.5 km Jarnum walk around the mini bungles. Like most days, this was another 31C cloudless day, and we were treated to constant pretty birdsong along the parts of the walk shaded by livistona palms and varieties of eucalyptus. The boys were a tad grumpy during the first part of the walk but perked up a bit once we made it down to the cooler shadier section.
The 2 km Gurrandalng walk adjacent to our campsite was spectacular at dawn and at sunset, both of which we can now enjoy at their ‘proper’ times with the 1.5hr time shift from WA. After just three nights, it was time to pack up and head further east towards Katherine.