Monday, July 22, 2013

Monoliths - Kakadu National Park

You may know my mother Mara which coincidentally is how I ended up on this walk. See my mother loves the monoliths and is determined to have her ashes spread there (not sure how that will go down with parks but hopefully that’s not something I have to deal with any time soon ) so I figure if my mother wants her ashes spread in this spot then there must be something amazing about it and my complete inexperience in bushwalking put aside I was determined to see this natural wonder.

We left Darwin about 4:30pm there was six of us in total. Mike, Sue, Marj, Sophia, Erik & Me! Erik and I being the newbies to the circle sitting in the back of Mikes troopy we were enthralled by past tales of bushwalking adventures from the veterans which made the four hour journey seem to fly by in no time. Arriving at Jim Jim around 8/830 (I didn’t realise I was doing a write up till this morning so my times may be a little out)  we talked for a short while before the crowd dispersed to get a good night’s rest. This was to be thwarted however by an incredibly loud drunk female who couldn’t seem to find Simon.

The next morning was difficult, we were up at first light and packed up quickly to make our way down to jim Jim. Grumbling about our noisy neighbours I sipped my coffee with pursed lips and slitted eyelids. The journey was bumpy courtesy of the road or the driver Mike I’m not entirely convinced one way or the other and one of our crew was quite ill with motion sickness. No names will be mentioned.

The climb up was hard I was perhaps first to stop my body not conditioned to such a steep climb with a large pack but everyone was understanding and the pace was slow. I blinked through sweat stained eyes focused on reaching the end, one foot in front of the other eager to surmount the mountain. When we reached the top we dumped our packs and walked over to the summit of Jim Jim for spectacular views of the gorge. We ran into the offending female and Marj asked her how her head was commenting on her behaviour the night before. It resulted in an apology a small but triumphant result.

top of jim jim falls

 After breathing in the spectacular beauty of the gorge we began to make our way to the campsite. There were a few detours. We came across some hidden gems of art sites perhaps 20,000+ years old. Marj decided to look for Ludwig’s emblazoned tree which resulted in a two km sidetrack through brush and creeks. Sadly it was a fruitless mission and the tree remained hidden.


We reached the campsite around 3:30pm. The five others elected to set up on a rock looking at the water whilst I chose to put my tent about 20 metres away on the sandy beach. It was nice and secluded and I was not kept up by a certain bushwalkers snoring later in the night like the others. Once again no names will be mentioned. We relaxed into the evening with everyone but me climbing one of the monoliths to watch the sunset. The conversation went till about 9pm a variety of subjects from scuba diving to politics was discussed. 


On Saturday Mike, Sue, Erik & Sophia climbed the monolith early to watch the sunrise. I was in heaven in my little sandy cove and elected to remain in bed hoping to get a sleep in till 7am, at least. This was supposed to be a relaxing weekend right???? But I was soon up and awake brewing my instant coffee and discussing the day ahead.

Mike was to lead us on a walk that day. Erik had injured his knee and almost stayed behind but last minute decided to join us. The walk was long 10-12km in total spread over some very rough terrain. We left at 8:30am and returned at 4:30pm. We saw an incredible high point with glorious view over the back country the monoliths poking out between the trees and we were also able to see the gorge of Jim Jim realising just how far we were from civilisation. It really felt like being on top of the world. We found a cave which had housed indigenous people many years ago signs of their habitation evident in the rocks. We also discovered a very dead Kookaburra which had quite a few people enthralled collecting the coloured feathers to adorn hats and hair with pride.. Heading back we took a dip in a billabong on the jim jim creek the water was clear and fresh a perfect way to cool down before hiking the final few KM back to camp. In the last two hours my legs burning I wished I had never gone on the walk but now sitting behind my computer desk at work I can only think fondly about the day.

we found a cool cave!!

That night I made the climb for sunset with Erik and was treated to a plethora of colours thanks to a few bushfires and cloud cover. After dinner we once again we lay on the rocks chatting into the night. As I made my way to the water to refill my water bottle I noticed a red eye in my torch. Getting closer I was shocked to see a tiny freshwater crocodile maybe only a few months old lying on the bank less than two metres from our position. It jumped at my approach and fled into the water where I frantically tried to call everyone over to watch it swim. Nobody believed me thinking it was merely a lizard but a quick scout and the crocodile was located floating in the water scarily close to my tent. I guess I wasn’t sleeping alone this night!

watching the sunset from the top of the monolith

In the morning Mike woke me up to watch the sunrise from the top of the monolith Sue & Marj joining us. Again we were treated to a vibrant colourful event before climbing back down to get ready to make the trip home. It was a fairly quick hike back with a short swim stop and lunch at the bottom before we left the falls about 2:30pm. Mike made great progress and we were back home by about 7pm.

Things I learnt

Hiking shoes & long pants are a requirement especially when Mike leads!

If an old-timer bushwalker says there won’t be any serious climbing on an unmapped day walk they are lying

A guidance technique uses a compass to monitor which direction the creek is flowing which can help by telling you if you are following the right waterway as long as you know the original direction.

And last but not least?

The monoliths is worth every second & every ounce of pain it took to get there.

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