Friday, October 19, 2012

Northern Territory Part 3: The Mary River

After a night in Darwin, which turned out to be more of a back packer town than a holiday destination, we jumped in the car again and made our way to the Mary River.

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The river is about a 1.5 hour drive South East of Darwin, and as you can see from the map above, is pretty far away from civilization.  We passed my favorite Aussie named town so far - Humpty Doo on the way, and also drove through the largest drive through liqour store (bottle-o is Australian) that we've seen on the way down.
Emma from the fishing lodge had recommended that we spend a night on a houseboat on the billabong which we agreed sounded like a great idea.
After speaking with some of the other guest at the fishing lodge who had done the houseboat before we were even more excited as they were gushing about all of the wildlife that they got to see. 
With a minimum list of instructions Chris drove us away from the dock, narrowly missing sideswiping another houseboat, and we were off for two days on our own on the river.
This was another one of these experiences, similar to Africa, where you go into it expecting that you're going to see a few birds and crocodiles, and are blown away but how much wildlife you get to see.
We took an extra bread roll and tossed some pieces in the water to watch the eagles and kites swoop down to pick them up.
Then we got an extra special treat as this eagle flew by with an actual fish in it's talons and then returned to the nest. 
We thought that it was going to start a fight with another bird in the tree near the nest, until we realized that this was actually the baby eagle (big baby)!
As we putted along the river we also saw numerous crocs up on the bank or lurking in the lilly pads.
We were warned to find a good spot to anchor and batten down the hatches in defense of the mosquitoes so we decided to stay the night near the eagles nest. 
As the sun was setting we finished up our dinner and put down the mosquito nets over the deck, assuming that these were just a silly precaution.
Little did we know that the mosquitoes here are actually a force to be reckoned with.  As the sun dissapeared you could literally see them coating the screens and hear them buzzing around.  We ended the evening hiding inside in the dark, enjoying a few drinks.
After a restless night huddle under a bug net, we woke up early to watch the sun rise over the river and were greated with a stunning view of the sun coming up through the fog.
We bravely stuck just the lense of the camera out through as small of a gap in the bug netting as possible to grab a few pictures as the fog cleared and the sun came out fully.
With it were a few enthusiastic fisherman who were clearly very eager to get started catching dinner.  How they weren't being carried away by the mozzies, we're not sure.
After breakfast we rolled up the bug netting and set off for a morning cruising the river.
Similar to the previous day, the scenery did not dissapoint.
We putted along the river for most of the day, enjoying the solitude and abundance of life. 
Overall the NT trip was spectacular.  The people were really nice and it's a completely unique part of the world.
Hopefully we'll be able to return someday to see it in the wet season when everything should be lush and green.
But until then, it's never as bad returning home when you've got a beautiful view out the window.

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