What We Did:
There are two national parks sort-of within a day trip of Darwin: Kakadu National Park, and Litchfield National Park. We would have loved to get to the iconic Kakadu, but the distances were too great and our time too short. Litchfield on the other hand, is a perfect 2-day trip with three great natural attractions. We picked up a rental car in Darwin (no mean feat on a public holiday) and headed south out of Darwin on the Stuart Highway. First time we’ve seen 130 km/hr speed limit signs in the country! Just over an hour later we checked into the Batchelor Butterfly Farm (more below) and then continued onto Litchfield. Of course both kids fell asleep exactly when we needed them to be up (and were up exactly when we needed them to be asleep). Florence Falls has two sizeable cascades falling into a 30m round rock pool. No crocs here, it’s a very popular swimming spot. The 1.1km trail to the falls (or alternative trail with 134 steps) is peanuts without grumpy, just woken up kids. With kids, we may as well have been carrying pianos made of razor wire. So we gave up on Florence Falls and headed to the nearby Buley Rockpools, and here we found…a little slice of natural paradise. A series of cascades flow across shallow rock shelves and into a series of very deep pools. The kids took time to warm up to it (even though it was 35C) but when they did they loved it. We did some rock jumping and swimming against the current in the deep pool, and soaked in the natural jacuzzi of the shallow pools. The water seemed clean enough to drink, which Gali did every time we took our eyes off him, (and I haven’t been able to find anything online that says he shouldn’t have). No crocs in this neck of the outback either, just a beautiful place to enjoy ponds, creeks and nature at its very best. On the way back to the farm, we passed 3m-high cathedral termite mounds glowing orange at sunset. What a wonderful place to spend the night…a farm with bunnies and butterflies and stuffies and frogs and dolls and snakes pink flamingoes and colouring books and toys and yes, snakes. Who can blame the kids for wanting to stay longer? But we had to return to Darwin, so Dad could pack for the Ghan train to Adelaide and Mom could brace herself to for a solo red-eye flight with the kids to Melbourne.
What We Ate:
Lunch: Delicious Kong Pao (chicken cooked in ginger, nuts and basil), and spaghetti bolognaise.
Dinner: Beef Kaldereta (tomato, pineapple and spices) and chicken nuggets and chips. Better eat them or Chris will come and gobble them up!
Where We Ate:
Lunch and Dinner: Batchelor Butterfly Farm
My Favourite Pictures Today
Where We Slept:
We haven’t stayed in a quirkier, more creative and friendlier place anywhere else in the country. The Batchelor Butterfly Farm is the work of a boisterous Irishman named Chris (and his family) who loves babies, butterflies, and bunnies. There’s also goats and rabbits and pigs and snakes and a butterfly atrium; there’s a pool with rock waterfall and a fish pond; there’s Buddhist shrines and bean bags and lots of oversized teddy bears; there’s a dozen big toys and flamingo floaties and frogs hopping around. It’s a kid’s paradise, and Chris and his wife will swoop them up with big smiles and silly jokes and carrots to feed the animals. Chris will even put a butterfly on your nose if you ask him nicely. Batchelor is a tiny town at the outskirts of Litchfield National Park. If you’re travelling with a family, you’d be crazy to pass up a night or two at the Butterfly Farm.
On a 12 lane highway in Victoria, the speed limit is 40 km/hr. On a 2 lane highway in NT, the speed limit is 130 km/hr. Go figure. We learned wet season and dry season around Darwin are like two different planets. We learned that Dad won’t let Raquel watch scary anything, but he has no problem letting her watch The Last Jedi (she loved it and didn’t have nightmares). We learned the quickest way to a kids heart is a with a bunny. We learned its best to hold your nose when you rock jump (no seriously). We learned the outback can look a lot like the dry African bush. We learned the biggest butterfly in Australia looks like a small bird.
Reflection of the Day
The Best Part:
Hanging out at the Buley rock pools in the late afternoon sunshine (and playing with the bunnies).
The Worst Part:
Going to sleep (see: Note from Mom and Dad)
We'll Always Remember
- Name: Chris
- Favourite Place: Batchelor
- I Love Travel Because: it makes my brain work
- My Advice for Kids: Be happy, don’t worry, and grow up slowly
- Name: Nikki
- Favourite Place: Thailand
- I Love Travel Because: I love to see the world
- My Advice for Kids: Travel, and believe you can do anything you want to do
- Name: Tiger
- Favourite Place: Thailand
- I Love Travel Because: it's fun
- My Advice for Kids: Get a good education
Today's Random Thing
A Note from Mom and Dad
It doesn’t matter where we are, sleep time for Raquel has descended into a pit of despair and our nightly personal Heart of Darkness. Giving in a little inch here and there over the months, eventually, we’ve completely lost the ability to put this kid to sleep on her own. Heck, even the co-sleeping thing isn’t working anymore (we’ve fallen asleep before she does!). She’s restless and agitated and wired and up at night and nothing works, and since every day we need to wake up early or catch a plane or do some activity, we’ve just been caving in to do anything that will get her to sleep. Of course, she sleeps like an angel in the morning when it’s time to go! What a hot mess. The good news is there’s just one more week of mayhem until she’ll finally be in one place long enough to introduce something approaching a routine. Then, oh boy, then…we might all get a night of decent sleep.