The Savannah Way – NT National Parks

Butterfly SpringsHidden in the Limmen National Park in the eastern corner of the NT is a wonderful and rare oasis, a permanent natural water pool where you can swim in complete safely. There is nothing like a quiet dip in cool fresh water after long distances travelled across the dusty territory roads. This is Butterfly Springs and we took time to enjoy the peace, the quiet and the early solitude before others arrived during our overnight camp.

It is the edge of the Dry, the spring pool was low for the season but it will get lower still until the Wet arrives. Many would look at this wonder and see only still slightly green water, the water fern and not much more but they would negate the wonder of a permanent dip pool, one that in the dry season does not run to a creek. They forget the cool touch of water, the life this plunge pool would bring. They forget to pause, watch the wildlife make its way to the pool, they miss the movement of shadow and light. It is a beauty to me.

The beautifully majestic and colourful paper bark trees line the banks of the spring pool where it sits quietly under towering rocks tucked up into the corner of the valley which peels off from along the rough Roper Road. It seems the more we approach the Top End, around Darwin and Katherine, the more we enter a landscape carved by water and wind.

Here the shifting wind rustles the acacia’s and great gum’s everywhere across the tropic savannah where you venture and listening to the valley talk, while I sat there under the shade of a great paper bark tree, was idyllic. There are birds about… the ‘happy jacks’ were squabbling and dancing around us as the cockatoos argued in the trees, feasting on the sweet acacia blooms and flowering gums. It is a valley of birds and they sing their welcome in the hope of a careless scrap as we settled into camp.

Fav dinnerWe will feast on the last of the fresh meat before we reach Katherine. We will enjoyed potatoes roasted in coals and dripping with golden butter… eaten with a fork as we scrape the soft depths within a roasted skin, peeled back with the foil wrap which has protected them in the coals of a camp fire. It is my favourite meal. My mouth is watering even at the delicious thought and I am happy to scour the other BBQ’s about which the National Parks provide for the traveller in this camp, I am looking for wood and logs having exhausted our own supply, after all we need more than anything the hot coals and embers for the best potatoes.

Lost city NTJust up the road there is the Southern Lost City and this too is a beautiful spot. Once more the light plays a major factor in its beauty coaxing it to the fore in a dance of nature. It is a stage setting that the winds, rains and rocks have built and it is beautiful in any light. The campsite is good, with toilets and clearly marked campsites each with its own picnic platform that provides many uses. But for the photographer it is a true wonder to catch the changes of light at dawn and dusk.

Lost cityLimmen National Park offers many wonders, and further north so does Elsey National Park. Most famed for Mataranka hot springs and the pioneering days of the immortalized novel and movie “We of the Never Never”. Elsey National Park also harbours a secret, a local knowledge thsy surpasses the wonderful heated springs of Mataranka. Bitter Springs, just barely up the road north was a secret the locals kept for many years. It too is a hot spring, it too flows fresh and is croc free but it too is now growing in popularity. Someone has told the tourists and with the commercialization of Mataranka’s famed hot springs, Bitter Springs now holds the jewel in the crown… a jewel that outshines Mataranka like a diamond in the rough. Don’t tell anyone… particularly the tourists. Send them to the more tourist oriented Mataranka… shhhh. There they will find all the services that some tourist crave… me? Take me to Bitter Springs any day.

We are now headed into Litchfield National Park… which is the favourite stomping ground for Darwinites and the military ‘on leave’ from Tingal, Darwin & Pine Gap, amongst the many other nearby military installations. We expect the place will be crowded as it also services many tourist operations and day trippers, being only 100klm from Darwin. We have a plan and the weather is looking good.

Travel Well

Jan is an author and a novelist. You can find out more about her fictional stories involving Aboriginal Lore under The Dreaming Series, and the Spirit Children.

Her stories are based on extensive research and touch on the legend of the Karadji, the Kadaitcha, the Featherfoot man in the making of the Shaman in Aboriginal Lore. They are tales born of history, anthropology and research.
Available in ebook and print they are a journey into a hidden world.

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