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.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Baden-Clay decision shows appeal judges are 'out of touch'

Citing the Court of Appeal’s decision to downgrade Gerard Baden-Clay’s (pictured) murder conviction to manslaughter, Judge Clive Wall says “too much emphasis” is placed on offenders by the Court of Appeal.

Judge says some colleagues are touch with victims, community.

A gnarly new BMX spot

NEW FACILITY: Cr Jennie Breene at Doug Larsen Park where the BMX track is being demolished and replaced.

New BMX park for Beenleigh.

Tiahleigh Palmer: Foster brother bashed in prison

SEARCH: Police excavate a section behind the foster home of the Queensland schoolgirl  at Chambers Flat. (Below) Tiahleigh Palmer, 12.

Trent Thorburn assaulted in prison

Local Partners

Logan sure uses its ImagiNation

New children's festival showcases Logan's best.

A HELPING HAND

HELPING OUT: Renee and Joel Chapman from CentroCentre offer essentials .

CentroCentre provides help for those in need.

A gnarly new BMX spot

NEW FACILITY: Cr Jennie Breene at Doug Larsen Park where the BMX track is being demolished and replaced.

New BMX park for Beenleigh.

Tiahleigh Palmer: Foster brother bashed in prison

SEARCH: Police excavate a section behind the foster home of the Queensland schoolgirl  at Chambers Flat. (Below) Tiahleigh Palmer, 12.

Trent Thorburn assaulted in prison

It's all about respect

ON A MISSION: #R4Respect ambassadors Jennifer Uwineza and Andrew Taukolo.

Ambassadors head to conference.

Eagleby supermarket theft

Police need your help.

Upgrades under way for Daisy Hill

IMPROVEMENTS: Mick de Brenni MP pictured last year with John Saville and Sandra Lott at Daisy Hill Forest.

Upgrades on the way for Daisy Hill forest.

Local shoppers help children's hospice

Coles Queensland state manager Paul Bradshaw, community relations officer Sonja Marsden and Hummingbird House co-founder Paul Quilliam.

Fundraising for Hummingbird House.

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Nowhere to Hyde: Matt Nable is Australia's man in demand

Matt Nable stars as Detective Gary Hyde in the TV series Hyde & Seek.

NABLE returns to the small screen amidst busy film work.

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E7: Manifest review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E6: Suckas Need Bodyguards review

Rosario Dawson and Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E5: Just To Get A Rep review

Mahershala Ali, centre, in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E4: Step In The Arena review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Rob Kardashian admits his first crush was his sister Kim

Rob Kardashian once had a crush on his sister Kim Kardashian West.

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual