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On Walkabout At: Edith Falls (Nitmiluk National Park) – Part 11

The last section of Nitmiluk National Park the wife and I wanted to explore was Edith Falls:

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The falls are located about a one hour drive from Katherine and should definitely be included in any trip to visit the Katherine region. Edith Falls is a series of falls that crash down the surrounding cliff sides and into the one large pool.

The wife and I originally only planned to spend the morning at Edith Falls, but we had so much fun at the falls that we ended up spending the entire day there.We arrived at Edith Falls around nine o’clock in the morning and parked our campervan in the large parking lot located near the lower pool. Near the lower pool there is a little snack stand that also serves as the ranger station for this section of the national park. The water looked really clean and inviting to go swim in, but there was one problem, crocodiles:

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Swimming in the Northern Territory is definitely a swim at your own risk activity. So I went and asked the park ranger at the snack stand if she had seen any crocodiles in the water. She said that she had seen plenty of freshwater crocodiles, but only one saltwater crocodile in the pool before. Freshwater crocodiles I’m not scared of because they are not known to attack people and even if it did I feel confident I could fight it off because I would have a size advantage on it. The salt water crocodiles though I don’t mess with because they will make a meal out of me in no time. So I started walking around the pool to scout for crocs.

None over here:

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And none over there either:

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So I decided to jump in and was that water ever cold. I stayed in the shallow area where I could still see the bottom so I could keep my eyes open for crocodiles. My wife stayed on the shore and kept a look out for crocs as well. I swam around for about 5 minutes without being torn to pieces and this gave other people visiting the pool enough confidence to jump in as well. That was great for me because that decreased my odds of being eaten by a croc since there was more people to eat now than just me. I was swimming now with only about a one in ten chance of being eaten, that made me feel much better. I actually think I had a greater chance of dying from hypothermia than getting eaten by a croc because I was freezing by now.  So I got out, dried off, and then my wife and I decided to hike the perimeter Edith Falls hiking course to check out the water falls higher up the escarpment.  The trail is only about 3 kilometers long so it is a pretty easy walk, but it is definitely worth checking out because of the beautiful views and scenery like this colorful flower that is quite common in the area:

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Here is the view looking out from the top of the escarpment:

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At the top of the hills there is a great view of the water falls higher up on the escarpment:

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Here is a close up of these beautiful falls:

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The upper pool is where we decided to hike towards and take a swim in. Those crocodiles surely couldn’t climb up there, could they?  We hiked up to the pool and found only a handful of people up there, warm water, and the best thing, no crocs!

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However, there was one thing we didn’t count on, a nude weirdo! Yes that’s right, there we were minding our own business when this old guy sits down on the beach where we were swimming and takes off his clothes right in front of us! He then takes out a beer and just sits there and stares right at us:

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I got out of the water grabbed our stuff gave the guy a dirty look and then walked over to another area of the swimming hole where my wife swam over too. I didn’t want to make a big issue of this with the guy because I figured maybe it was an Aussie thing to strip naked at a swimming hole. Even if it was I think it is bad taste to do it right in front of people without asking, but maybe I’m just a prude American. Anyway I later asked some of my Aussie co-workers about this and they assured me that this was not typical Aussie behavior and the guy was probably a loon.

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Anyway we still had a great time at the swimming hole. Something I found interesting was that there was a smaller waterfall to the right of the large fall that I swam over to, to check out. The waterfall emptied into a large hole in the cliff rock. I climbed up on the cliff and looked down into the hole. The hole had been carved into the rock by the falling water over the centuries and the water was the most brilliant blue color you could imagine. The hole was also very deep because I could not see the bottom. I was very curious how deep the hole went down, but I was not about jump in there and find out though because the hole was filled with these small, green frogs. Having read to much about poisonous Australian animals I just consider all frogs poisonous and got away from the hole. It would be one thing to get killed by a croc, but to get killed by a frog would be a really stupid way to go.

After I swam back from the hole we decided to continue on with our hike. Here is a look of the upper fall from the opposite side of the cliff face:

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Here is a view looking back towards the lower pool near the parking lot where I took my first swim:

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A closer look at the pool shows that many more people are now swimming in its cool waters unafraid of any potential crocodiles:

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We continued to hike around the cliff side and worked our way back towards the parking lot. However, before we headed off the cliff I made sure to get one last picture of the surrounding countryside:

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This area of the Top End looks flat, but it really is not. The terrain is really quite hilly though none of the hills are very large. Also the land is heavily forested and has plenty of rivers providing water to the local area. This large well watered land has made the Katherine area one of the main cattle grazing areas in the country. A park ranger told me that some of the larger cattle ranches in the area could lose a hundred head of cattle a year to crocodiles, but their herds are so large and so well fed from the thick grass that the ranches still turn huge profits.

Anyway, we hiked off the cliff side and back to the parking lot. We spent a full day at Edith Falls and now needed to find a RV park for the night so we could take a shower and make dinner. We drove up the Stuart Highway for about an hour and a half and stopped at a RV Park in the city of Adelaide River. This was the same river that further up we had taken our Jumping Crocodile tour on. We pulled into the RV park and were greeted by the overly friendly and extremely drunk RV park owner. We payed 15 bucks for a spot and spent the next hour talking to the owner. He was quite happy to have some Americans stay at his park and talk to. RV parks are something I really like about Australia because the people staying there and the owners are usually very happy to meet and talk to Americans. They love to hear what my impressions of Australia are. After a few beers, dinner, and a shower we called it a night to get some rest and prepare for our last day with the campervan at Litchfield National Park.

Click to go to Northern Territory Holiday Journal Archive

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