Friday morning we continued our drive south and after about an hour we finally hit the Stuart Highway. We drove another 40 minutes or so again to Pine Creek, where I’ve been with Jakub just the week before. After an extensive lunch break we continued in the afternoon to Edith falls. Surprisingly I could fill up the jerry cans with fresh drinking water, which should now last again for at least 6 days. Then we headed to the main plunge pool of the Edith falls and started the walk to the upper pools. From there we had a nice view to the flat land around. Also a 60 kilometer bush walk, which starts at Katherine gorge, arrives here. As I just finished the Tabletop Track three days ago, I wasn’t in the mood for another long distance multiday walk. After this walk in the afternoon heat we decided to have a swim in the main pool and a refreshing shower afterwards. For the night we headed back almost to the Stuart Highway, where also other campervans, 4WD and trailers stayed for the night. Unfortunately, it was a bit noisy as the road trains drove the whole night, but not so bad that you couldn’t sleep at all.
Thursday morning we followed the Reynolds River track further south of the Litchfield NP. After about one hour we reached the Surprise Creek Falls. These feature three pools, but unfortunately the water flow almost ceased completely. Hence, the water quality wasn’t so good. After spending some time around the pools we headed further south to the Daly River Road and therefore out of the Litchfield NP. The following about 100 km were characterised by several large cattle farms. Both sides of the roads were fenced with barbed wire, some of them were just in construction. In order to grow enough grass the savanna trees and termite mounds were platt rolled. Which is a severe change of the local landscape. During dry season some grass land is irrigated in order to grow hay for the cattle. The butterfly gorge is a fair detour from the highway, but it’s definitely worth to go there. It’s a lovely and calm place with a large main pool. Unfortunately, also the water flow ceased here at the moment and we didn’t went for a swim. But I did therefore some easy rock climbing up a pillar. We were just relaxing the afternoon in the cool shade of the main pool. Due to the water and the exposition the main pool has a decent cooler micro climate, where it’s even refreshing just to lay around. We decided to stay the night over there.
Wednesday morning we continued our drive through Litchfield NP. Our first stop wasWangi Falls, which was pretty in the smog from the nearby bushfire. Nevertheless, I took the walk up to the escarpment and down back on the other side. It was nothing spectacular to see and the path was prepared for all tourists, nothing compared what I’ve seen the two days before. When I returned down, I tried to use the Free WiFi but as it is free, it didn’t work at all. We decided to wait for another hour or so, until the Café opens to enjoy some morning coffee, as this is the only opportunity in the national park. Afterwards we continued to Tolmer Falls, where only a walk around the top is possible, as the pool is a sacred site from the Aboriginal people. After finishing the walk we drove further on to Buley Rockhole. This is a very popular spot for splashing around and having a beer in or around the pool. Unfortunately, I still needed to drive and with the 0.05‰ limit of alcohol in Australia, you couldn’t even have just one beer. So we headed to the nearby Florence Falls and had also a walk and look there. Especially during it was evident that once there is water, everything is green around, but when there is suddenly no longer water available, then you’re in something like savanna and everything is dry for the time being. The savanna land covers a fair amount of the northern NT, and the trees are everywhere, not just in the Litchfield NP. In the afternoon we drove back to the Reynolds River track, a 4WD track through the southern part of the Litchfield NP. The first stop was the old Blyth Homestead, an outpost of a cattle station. But the purpose was to mine the nearby tin. The homestead house is really small and was finally abandoned in the 1960’s. The final stop of the day is the Sandy Creek Falls, which is a fair walk from the parking area. The nearby campground is pretty nice and even equipped with showers. But be aware of large spiders in the evening, which might want to take a sip. Janet struggled in the evening to pitch up the tent, as there were some flies around her, and she always needed one hand for her headlight (well this is why it’s called headlight and not handlight – so you always have two hands free) and also she neglected my advices how to pitch up the tent. In essence it finally showed me, that she’s not into that kind of travelling and we agreed that I drop her off, once we’re in Katherine.
Tuesday early morning I continued my walk in the direction, as the fire extincted during the night as I could observe. I started at 6:05 just when dawn begun and used my headlight only for the first few minutes. After I crossed the creek I walked through some high grass and light forest. The sun just came out and the dew just got up. This was a magic atmosphere which lasted just for a few minutes. Then suddenly I smelled smoke and no 50 metres later I reached the fire line. Luckily the fire was only remaining in some trunks and branches at this time. And I could savely cross into the burnt area. Now I’m save from the fire, I just need to make sure that no branches or trunks will fall on me, as they do when they burnt out. All the area still smelled badly but it was not a problem to breath. About after one kilometre I reached the fire track road, but as the fire came from that direction, I decided to further walk to Florence Falls. Almost all of the remaining track was already burnt, which was save for me, but not a really nice view. About 600 m before I reached the link to Florence Falls I crossed another small creek. The first flowing water since Wangi Creek the day before. I decided that this was a good spot to refill my water supplies and have my second breakfast. As the day is going to get hot again, I decided not to waste too much time and continued. My last information from three days ago was that the section between Florence Falls and Walker Creek is closed, but of what I could see was that actually it wouldn’t be worse than the last 6 kilometres. Hence, I decided to proceed to walk. And in case it gets really worse, I could still return to Florence Falls. After about 2 kilometres I crossed the next two creeks, which both had flowing, but as I had enough water for my trip to Walker Creek I didn’t got any water. And actually this was also the last water resource until Walker Creek. So if one would start from Florence Falls, then there would be no water until the creek after Tjenya Falls, which is really a long distance. The walk to the link to Walker Creek was mainly burnt down already, and it was getting noon again, which meant it was getting really hot again. When I reached the link down to Walker Creek I saw some bushfire pretty close, just in the direction where I was walking the day before. This was actually scary, as there’s no indication in Walker Creek that the bushfire is so close. I had also the impression that the ground near the link walk was just burnt down in the last 29 hours during my walk, as it was not yet burnt the day before. Getting down to walker creek took me another 40 minutes, before I could jump into the pool near camp 4 of Walker Creek to get a refreshing bath. This was also the point when I met again some people after the last two days at my own in the bush. After having a rest at the picnic area near the carpark we drove to the nearby Cascades. Janet and me had then eventually a short walk to the lower cascades in the evening. Before we had some dinner and prepared the car for the night there.
Monday early morning my alarm clock run shortly after 5 o’clock. I had some breakfast and finally checked my backpack. I prepared the walk the best I could do, even got some gpx tracks from another travel blog. Janet my travel mate decided on short notice not to join me on the hike. Hence, I went by myself. The last time I had network connection I also checked the latest news on the official NT national park website. We called them also a few days ago to make sure we don’t need a permit, as this is sometimes the case from September on. It took me about one hour to walk the link from the car park across the camping area all the way up to the actual tabletop track. It’s a round track, that means it has at least 4 links from where you can start the hike. And if you’ve a driver you could even just do a section of the overall track. The first part it was a bit rocky, and I already reached the highest point of the overall track. On top of the tabletop the landscape changed and it was more easy to make some kilometres. I crossed a lot of creeks, but all of them were already dried out, as well as also the landscape around. After about 3.5 hours I reached the campsite at Tjenya Falls. The nearby creek already dried out and just left a billabong behind. I had my second breakfast here. As it starts going hot pretty quickly I decided not to rest to long, but to proceed. After maybe 2 km I crossed another creek. And like a miracle there was still water flowing. I was so happy to found water in this dry environment. I already had a Plan B, if I don’t manage to find a good water source. But luckily I filled up all my bottles and had also a quick wash. I declined to have a swim in the pool down, as it was already late morning. Additionally, 3 kilometres later or so I reached Wangi Creek, which was actually also flowing. I just filled up again my bottle, before I continued. The place is really awesome, with a lot of shade and some kind of micro climate. Nevertheless, I decided to walk another 4 kilometres to the campground. This was pretty rough, as I stumped across several boulders shortly after noon, when the sun is almost on top of you with no shade to escape. Then just a few hundred metres before the campsite, I missed also the track and walked for almost 100 metres in the wrong direction. At about 14 o’clock I arrived at the campsite. As the creek which I was following was already dry before, I didn’t anticipate to find flowing water, but as there was a swimming sign on the map I hoped at least for a billabong. And indeed there was some water left. The backup would be to walk back to the main Wangi Creek about 2 km, and get some water from there. I rested in the shade, at least in what the dried leafs could provide for the next two hours. Then I saw a large cloud of smoke pretty nearby. The bearing of this bushfire was in NNE, so not really where I want to go, but it was hard to guess a distance. I observed the smoke the next hours. In the evening there was also smoke from East. That’s not so good, as it’s the direction where I wanted to go. During dusk I pitched up the tent und had something to eat, before I lay down early. Even after sunset I could see some light from the bushfire. I wasn’t scared about that at the moment, because the area where I was, was just recently burnt. But nevertheless, I thought about several alternative options and plans of how to proceed.