“You’ll never never know, if you never never go”

G’day!
It’s getting colder down south here in Land Oz which brings to mind the warmer climate of the northern regions. So if you’re in a place that’s just a bit too chilly/freezing/sub-zero/glacial for your liking and want ideas to escape to or just daydream of being somewhere warm today in nature’s paradise, I introduce you to Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Known as the “Adventure Territory”, you can spoil your sense of fun in the tropical capital city of Darwin and its surrounds. If you can’t handle humidity, the ideal time to go is during the ‘dry’ season from May to October when the weather is warm (temperature in the mid-30’s), dry and sunny during the day and cool at night. The rest of the year is high humidity, storms and monsoonal rains.

Having travelled to Darwin on the cusp of ‘wet’ season to ‘dry’, I did get to experience my first Aussie tropical storm and I remember thinking during a downpour one evening “When it rains cats and dogs, it sure does rain cats and dogs here!” The rain drops were the biggest I’d ever seen and the without doubt, the heaviest. I also cannot forget Mother Nature’s spectacular lightning ‘show’ of the storm that lit up the night sky ever so brilliantly! I only wish I had taken photos!

Originally a pioneer outpost, Darwin is the smallest and most northerly of the Australian capital cities with a population of just over 136,000. Its location on the Timor Sea makes it a significant gateway to South East Asian countries such as Indonesia and East Timor. Explore beyond Darwin and your adventure truly begins with the ecological beauty of national parks such as Kakadu (World Heritage listed), Nitmiluk and Litchfield..

So let’s head to Litchfield National Park and revel in its natural beauty. It’s an awesome destination for walks, pockets of rainforest, historic sites, pandanus-lined rock pools and fascinating termite mounds. My favourite though would have to be the waterfalls! BUT what’s better than a waterfall? A waterfall you can swim up to! Litchfield National Park is south of Darwin and takes under two hours drive.

Cathedral Termite Mound

Termite mounds are scattered throughout the landscape at Litchfield National Park

Termite Mounds
These mounds feature prominently in the landscape at Litchfield and there are thousands of them! You’ll see two types, Magnetic (thin in appearance and stands up to 2m high) termite mounds and Cathedral (rounded and stands up to 4m high) termite mounds. They are very cleverly built north to south to only allow the least possible surface area to be exposed to the sun and therefore provide just the right amount of warmth and humidity for the termites, who are major contributors to the environment in this region. By searching for grass underground, the termites create channels that allow the soil to preserve dampness for longer as well as allow moisture into the ground with the first rains of wet season.

 

Florence Falls at Litchfield National Park

This magnificent double waterfall is one of numerous within Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls – A spiritual place
To reach this gorgeous double waterfall, there’s a 160 step staircase to walk down to the swimming hole for a refreshing swim. The viewing platform at the top of the falls provides a panoramic view of the open valley and waterhole below. The location is stunning amidst monsoon forest which contrasts with the dry sandstone plateau. The water is crystal clear and is available for swimming all year round.

 

Wangi Falls at Litchfield Nationaal Park

One of the most popular waterfalls to swim

Wangi Falls
This is one of Litchfield’s most easily accessible waterfalls and also one of the most popular. This place is most spectacular during wet season when the water levels increase making the falls much heavier. It’s open all year round but swimming isn’t always possible due to the water level. Similar to Florence Falls, Wangi Falls is surrounded by lush monsoon rainforest. There is a kiosk and picnic facilities which is very handy.

 

Buley Rockhole at Litchfield National Park

Relax in the cascading waterfalls

 

Buley Rockhole
This one would have to be one of my favourites though it can get very busy. There are numerous rock pools to try out and I just love the low lying cascade of waterfalls where you can find your own spot to soak in and enjoy the cool water roll over your shoulders with a massaging effect. Just take a look at this guy relaxing in the foreground of the picture! It’s such a fun place to explore and the bush surrounds adds to the visual splendour.
Next time though, I’d like to go during wet season when there is a proliferation in animal and plant life. And I won’t forget to take photos of the lightning storms!

The Northern Territory has a fabulous old slogan and pardon my use of the antiquated saying but it’s one that many people remember and is perfectly fitting for this awesome industry we’re in … “You’ll never never know, if you never never go”.

Part I: A Weekend on Australia’s Island State … Tasmania

On the summit of Mt Wellington in Hobart, Tasmania

Mt Wellington, Hobart

Overnight bag. Check!

Boarding pass. Check!

Five senses. Check, check, check, check, check!

We’ve set off to explore the country’s smallest (island) state … Just how much did we pack in on a weekend mini-break? Read on my friends!

It’s VERY early Saturday morning in Hobart town and there’s no contemplating our whereabouts but to be at Salamanca Market. Only open on Saturdays, this is an absolute MUST-DO! Originally a warehouse and storage area in the 1830s, you can easily spend half the day wandering through the 300 stalls, galleries, boutique shops, cafes/restaurants and being entertained by talented buskers.

But first, to fuel our bodies and our unique breakfast venue of choice at Salamanca Square certainly ticked our sense of taste. Don’t be put off by their unusual name but Machine Laundry Café is a hidden gem highly rated on Tripadvisor and was well worth the wait for a table to enjoy their extensive menu, generous servings and friendly service. Oh, and great coffee to boot (you might even come across some feedback that says “A bowl of coffee? Yes please!”)!

Tummy rumbles gone, we explored what the markets had to offer. Local produce is always a drawcard for me so I couldn’t resist buying a few small bottles of jam and honey to take home.

Next destination … Mt Wellington and what a vista from the summit! A pleasant half hour journey from Salamanca Place, Wellington Park connects the city to the bush and the mountains to the waterways. We were lucky enough to be there on a clear day with panoramic views of Hobart, surrounding suburbs and brilliant harbour! Weather conditions change quickly on the summit with temperatures often below zero so be well prepared for your visit. Sense of sight … tick!

There was no stopping for lunch only because we were still full from breakfast!

The remainder of our Saturday afternoon was spent leisurely at Australia’s largest privately owned museum, the Museum of Old and New Art (a.k.a. MONA). Officially opened in January 2011, MONA alone would satisfy all your senses in one visit. You’re in for a gallery experience unlike any other as you take in MONA’s unique architecture and frequently updated collection. My favourite part? Enjoying a glass of wine and listening to live ‘MoFolk’ music on the lawns in the sunshine (on not so nice days, the music sessions get brought indoors to the museum). Sense of sound … tick!

After a BIG day of walking and exploring, we still didn’t mind taking a stroll from our comfy accommodation to Battery Point, one of Hobart’s exclusive and historic little pocket. Step back in time as you admire a bygone era of stunning sandstone buildings. At Kathmandu Cuisine we appreciated a candlelit, relaxing and flavoursome meal where the friendly and attentive staff made sure we enjoyed our dinner. After our three course dinner (good to indulge every now and then), we were more than ready to hit the sack in our newly refurbished Executive Room at Travelodge.

Well folks, that was day one of our ‘Tassie’ weekend adventure.

Like to know what we got up to on our second day? Here’s a snippet … roadtrip, beaches, midlands, bushwalk, more beautiful, historic towns and plenty of photo stops!

Keep an eye out for Part II!