Friday, August 14

Spending up big

Today we made our way back through Litchfeild National Park and on to Darwin. We started our day with a short stop at Wangi Falls, one of the park's most popular locations. Here the falls plunge into a large, deep pool that's popular with swimmers. We also discovered its a favourite roosting spot for native Flying Foxes. We could see hundreds of them hanging from trees along the water's edge.

Our next stop was Tolmer Falls. The falls can only be viewed from a distant lookout as the gully floor and its many caverns are home to a couple of rare bat species; including the Ghost Bat, Australia's only truly carvivorous bat. While the view of the falls was spectacular, I was almost more taken by the opposing view across the edge of the plateau. There's something magical about Australia's varst blue skies and ever distant horizon.

We made Buley Rockhole our final stop before heading to Darwin. This is a series of small waterfalls and rockholes upstream from Florence Falls. They make ideal swimming holes - and as the heat of the day was rising - were the ideal place to end our Top End tour. Garry and I spent a leisurely hour soaking up the fresh river water in our own private plunge pool before reluctantly packing up to make our camper van return deadline.

As we drove north we were surprised to discover the side of the road was also home to numerous abandoned World War II airstrips. I counted at least four on the way north. We arrived in Darwin with 20 minutes to spare - or at least - we thought we had 20 minutes. Garry soon discovered we were actually a day late returning our vehicle. He'd miscounted the number of hire days.

One hefty penalty and an extra day's hire later and we were A$320 poorer. The error also meant that our Darwin hotel charged us a cancellation penalty and we had to rebook our room at a less favourable rate. That extra day has proven rather pricey. However, this evening's ocean-view sunset has more than made up for the extra expense. Moments after taking this photo the sun transformed itself into the largest glowing red ball I've ever seen. The ultimate way to farewell another Summer vacation.

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