Travel

Lure of Kakadu's swimming holes

All Northern Territory waterholes are potential croc habitats, but the higher the pool, the lower the risk.
All Northern Territory waterholes are potential croc habitats, but the higher the pool, the lower the risk. Supplied

THERE is something surreal about waking up to the sound of a didgeridoo and opening your eyes to the undisturbed landscape of the Northern Territory. And on this World Expeditions adventure to the Kakadu National Park, there was no time for sleeping in.

During the week our aptly named guide Steve Trudgeon (that's "Trudge On" to most of us) had taken us trekking over boulders, up rocky hills and among 10-foot termite hills. Every day I was left speechless at the magnificent views. But what I didn't realise was that I hadn't seen anything yet ...

On this, our last day in Kakadu, we set off at the crack of dawn on our full-day hike into Koolpin Gorge, packs filled with water bottles, swimming gear and lunch provisions. The walk is only about 4km return but the terrain and the unrelenting Northern Territory sun make it a full-day adventure.

We start by climbing up and over a decent-sized rock wall, which is a little tricky at first. Knowing where to put your feet and hands takes a bit of getting used to, as do the precarious angles you find yourself in as you climb. But it's not too long before I find my climbing feet and start to enjoy myself.

Once over the wall our first stop (and there's one every 50 or so metres) is beside a picturesque pool. No swimming, though, as a croc was hauled out of here earlier in the year. All waterholes in NT are potentially croc-filled, but apparently the higher we go, the less likely it is we will come across any.

Looking up in the direction we are travelling is slightly daunting. It seems unbelievably steep and unforgiving, so I bravely try to focus on the breathtaking scenery rather than the scary bits. Soon I'm scrambling up boulders that are taller than me, enjoying the problem-solving aspects of the hike - left foot here, right hand there - and finding it really satisfying to get to the top.

We clamber up narrow tracks along steep cliffs and stop for the second time on a rock face that gives us a new perspective on where we've come from. From one side we look over the pools we have passed. On the other side we look into the Black Hole, the first croc-free pond on the day's journey. But still no swim. Trudgeon has better things in store for us first.

We clamber up another steep track and stop in the shade for a photoshoot. Trudgeon calls them "hero shots" - photos of people balancing precariously on rocky outcrops or boulders, with awe-inspiring scenery as their backdrop.

We march on as the sun gets hotter and finally reach our first swimming spot. The water is deep, cool and drinkable. It's absolute bliss diving in and following Trudgeon upstream to the highlight of the day. Surrounded by rock walls and flowing into a pure, deep pool, the waterfall here is itself worth the trek.

Floating on the surface of the water with the waterfall splashing behind me, I am the most relaxed I have been in a long time.

We swim for an hour, then indulge in a delicious poolside picnic before we have to move out of the sweltering sun. Relaxing in the shade, soaking up the unspoiled surroundings, it's really hard to imagine ever going back to the hustle and bustle of the real world.

Eventually we tear ourselves away after one last swim and trek back to that first rock wall. The entry to our adventure is now the exit, and with more than a tinge of sadness I climb back over into the real world.

The sadness, though, is soon surpassed by a huge sense of pride that I've managed such an amazing hike - and by a new appreciation for a totally unique environment.

Hot deals

World Expeditions is offering discounted Australian itineraries booked by September 30, 2010.



10 best street art spots to take an Insta selfie

IF YOU are in need of a few trendy new Instagram snaps, then get your phone and selfie-stick ready and head to Brisbane.

Where to find the best coffee

Strauss is known for its superb brew.

COFFEE snobbery is at an all-time high.

Theatre royalty graces Brisbane stage

Don't miss Charles Edwards in this incredible theatre performance.

WHEN acting royalty comes to town, you sit up and take notice.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls…find them on these drives!

The Scenic Rim is just one place nearby that you'll love.

BRISBANE isn’t all bright lights and city slickers.

Your boots are made for walking these tours

Brisbane Greeters tours are a great way to learn the local history of the city.

YOU don’t need a bike or bus for a seriously good tour of Brisbane.

Discover Brisbane’s laneway gems

Brisbane's laneways will surprise you.

NOT all of Brisbane City is as it seems…

Drink where the cool kids do this summer

There are a bunch of new bars open in Brisbane, make sure you're there!

CHECK out these new funky bars.

Women's achievements inspire at Warwick event

Sarah Elliott, Anna Hardy, Sarah Ogden and Sally Higgins enjoying the 2016 Women's Day breakfast.

Zonta Club invites all to celebrate International Women's Day

Help celebrate Aboriginal heritage

PROUD IDENTITY: Sharman Parsons with father David Parsons at the Bunya Festival stall during Jumpers and Jazz.

Head along to Maryvale for the Bunya Festival

A Warwick volunteer's unwavering passion

DEDICATION: Long-time volunteer and Warwick Show chairman John Wilson is excited to present the 150th show this year with the help of an incredible team of volunteers.

Meet Warwick Show chairman

Local Partners

Fancy dress tea party stirs up the past

EVER wanted to dress up in 19th century attire and don tails and a top hat or an ankle-sweeping dress with a petticoat and corset?


Help celebrate Aboriginal heritage

PROUD IDENTITY: Sharman Parsons with father David Parsons at the Bunya Festival stall during Jumpers and Jazz.

Head along to Maryvale for the Bunya Festival

REVIEW: Under the Gun doco looks at right to bear arms

ARMED: A still from the 2016 documentary film Under the Gun by Stephanie Soechtig.

An in-depth look into America's gun culture.

The true cause of the Oscars bungle

THE Oscars have ended with a moment that left everyone speechless — but not in a way anyone expected.

HUGE OSCARS FAIL: Wrong film handed Best Picture award

Presenter Warren Beatty shows the envelope with the actual winner for best picture as host Jimmy Kimmel, left, looks on at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The winner was originally announced as La La Land, but was later corrected to Moonlight.

IN A monumental stuff-up, La La Land incorrectly named Best Picture.

Blue Heelers' Ditch Davey joins 800 Words cast

Ditch Davey joins the cast of 800 Words as Terry, the younger brother of George, played by Erik Thomson.

George Turner's brother, Terry, arrives to Weld with a 'few demons'

Oscars winners 2017: Full list of Academy Award winners

Viola Davis accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for Fences at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

WHO won Oscars this year? Here’s a full list of every winner.

Why can’t Nicole Kidman clap properly?

Nicole Kidman's style of clapping has puzzled Oscars viewers.

FOR some reason, it seems Nicole doesn’t really know how to clap.

Muslim actor makes Oscars history

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for Moonlight at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

MOONLIGHT star Mahershala Ali makes Academy Award history.

NO ONE OFF LIMITS: Kimmel burns down the house at Oscars

Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

HOST delivers a torrent of abuse on Hollywood’s night of nights.

Mining homes dive: $600k homes sell for $120k-$300k

18 Yeates Street, Moranbah sold for $135,000 in December, after being repossessed by a bank. The owners bought for $545,000 in August, 2011.

The economy still has two speeds, but with a painful twist

Mackay's property market climbing like a Rocket Man

Renewed confidence in Mackay means more homes are being snapped up by those eager to plant their roots in the region.

There's movement in the real estate sector and it's all positive.

'Why we drove 800km to buy a treehouse with a disco ball'

The new owners have planned a few updates, but will stick with much of the original design.

A couple travelled almost 800km for the home of their dreams.

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!