Top End and Central Australia Trip

7 November 2016 | General Interest

Central


The depth and breadth of Australia is difficult to fathom until you venture off on a 3000+km journey from Warragul to Darwin over the course of 11 days. The journey to the Centre was long, but the view was worth it as we travelled through our vast country for 30 hours to reach the Uluru National Park in Northern Territory. The company on the coach also made the journey enjoyable as games were played, DVDs viewed, and conversations had as the scenery rolled by.


We learned much about our First People in our time at the Rock and Kata Juta and witnessing the magnificent landforms arising from the vast desert was an amazing experience. Distances travelled are extensive and our next stopping point was Watarrka National Park, a short 400km journey to the north of Uluru. This was a much anticipated adventure as the beauty of the canyon was a highlight for our students. The steepness of the first climb up to the rim of the canyon deterred no one this year and all 27 students delighted in the 3 hour walk, some claiming this was the best part of their trip.
The sights of Alice Springs were offered to us for our two day stop with the Old Telegraph Station providing us with much information on the early settlers to the area and the life of the indigenous community while they lived at the telegraph station. We visited the Flying Doctors and the School of the Air which were educational and interesting. Our fundraising efforts for the Flying Doctors was also significant but it needs to be noted that not all of it was raised through fines for swearing.
We visited Rex the Snake Man in Alice with his variety of snakes, lizards and a crocodile. His information on how to survive in the bush when encountering a snake was greatly informative, and something we hope we never have to use. The chance to hold a Thorny Devil and a huge Python was an opportunity most people did not pass up.

We travelled for 12 hours on our next leg of the journey, to reach Daly Waters, 10 of which we sat in the coach, but the pub at Daly Waters was an interesting place. A gathering place for all, many of whom leave their mark on the pub in the form of piece of clothing, an identification card, a pair of thongs, a hat or whatever takes someone’s fancy. Katherine awaited us after a short journey and several stops along the way. Devils Marbles, Mataranka Thermal Pool and Cutta Cutta caves were enjoyed by all and broke the journey for us, even though it was minimal miles compared to the day prior. The colours of Mataranka waters and the lush foliage surrounding it, were welcome after the red sand and small dusty shrubs of the Centre. We had reached the start of the Top End and it was noticeable.

The ant hills were gradually growing and people had dressed these numerous mounds in assorted clothing and we were tempted to wave at these ‘people’ as they stood sentinel on the side of the road. We ventured into the town of Katherine, a true-blue outback town of significance, before heading out the Nitmaluk Gorge to spend the night. A two hour boat cruise up to the Katherine Gorge was in store the following morning; the river’s levels were quite high this year due to the floods, but not as high as one year when the banks had broken and water covered the town allowing crocodiles to go shopping in the local Coles store. We experienced a leisurely day, leaving after the cruise and making our way to Kakadu-the township of Jabiru to be precise. We set up the tents, swam in the pool, had tea cooked for us and went to bed. What a life. Minimal supervision needed that night because we were all so exhausted. We visited the world heritage rock art sites in the morning, finishing the day with a 4.30pm sunset cruise on the Yellow Waters river system, we encountered an incredible number of crocodiles, again due to the floods. The knowledge of how high a crocodile can jump was at odds with the fact that our boat had low handrails, but 27 students and 4 staff came back to camp, despite being chased by a couple of big crocs.

A late start in the morning, 6am rise, 7am breakfast and 8am departure for our journey back to civilization in the city of Darwin. The last set up of tents and the last night under the stars for some. The blackness of the Northern Territory night sky is breathtaking and the nocturnal visits to the bathroom by nearly every member of the camp, due the excessive amounts of fluids that were being poured down our throats, allowed the spectacular sight to be seen. The jumping croc tour on this second last day was recorded as a highlight for some, and seeing a croc jumping out of the water to grab the dangling meat was pretty amazing. Who would have thought that they could jump that high. It is fortunate that the lower deck of the boat was encased in glass. Darwin was ordinary after the time in the Centre and Kakadu and the difference between the capital city of Melbourne and the Northern Territory’s capital is extreme. There is a more casual, laid back atmosphere in the street and the brilliant sunlight and shimmering, blue ocean surrounding the mostly low level buildings (remember Cyclone Tracey), invite one to consider staying just a little bit longer. Our time was up however, and we packed our bags and boarded our plane for the 3000 plus kilometres home.

The 2017 Trip is currently in the planning stages. Please keep an eye out for information which will be sent out to current Year 10 students soon. Or contact Mrs Gardiner sgardiner@mscw.vic.edu.au for further information.