Our second day in Kakadu involved the usual bright and early wakeup, followed by a bit of a drive. But today’s drive would be a bit more challenging.
This is why we have the big fancy 4WD bus this tour, so we can cross rivers and handle dirt roads that aren’t the least bit flat. Everything in Kakadu seems to flood like crazy during the wet season, so most roads take a severe beating during that time. As such, much of Kakadu is still only accessible via dirt roads, often very bumpy ones. Or in this case, ones involving a small river to cross.
There were pretty much just two stops we were making in Kakadu today – two big waterfalls. The first would be Twin Falls. After a walk and short boat ride we could start making out the falls in the distance.
We hiked up until the rocks stopped and a white sandy beach popped up in front of Twin Falls.
The Twin Falls are actually substantially large (around 50 meters high), though it might not appear as such in the pictures. That’s because the walls on ALL sides are huge.
The water looks inviting and the air temperature was hot, but there was no way anybody was going too close to the water – saltwater crocodiles were still known to be in these waters. One step too close and you might disappear quickly…
From this corner you could just start making out the second set of falls.
Then we hiked back to our boat. This was just a quick look-see place. The main part of our day would be spent elsewhere.
That main elsewhere would be Jim-Jim Falls. Unlike Twin Falls, Jim-Jim required a lengthy hike to reach. You can see the spot where the falls are, in the left hand side. Or I should say, would be. In the dry season the falls nearly dry up completely. Still, I was looking forward to the hiking.
The main view of Jim-Jim falls, where many a postcard are shot. Usually with water for the falls though. Still, at this point my camera was downright failing me due to the dreadfully difficult lighting. Things would only get worse. The pictures don’t express just how dramatic the scenery already is…and things would get even more spectacular.
For we hiked into the heart of the Jim-Jim Gorge towards the falls. The water here is safe to swim in – there is a considerable wall of rocks that the crocodiles can’t get over. I hate using this picture because of the numerous problems with the shot, but it’s the only one that comes slightly close to capturing the spot. It is MASSIVE, the walls are 200 meters of rock shooting straight up.
The main view of Jim-Jim. As the water was safe and it was the middle of the day, it was time for me to go for a swim. I truly regretted not bringing my waterproof camera with me, a silly mistake. From this spot I had about 100 meters of swimming to do until I hit a large amount of rocks. Climbing over the rocks you get to the main splash pool of Jim-Jim falls, which is still enormous. This massive lake is in shadows nearly constantly due to the sheer 200m+ cliffs surrounding 3/4 of it, and is remarkably cold because of that. I swam in and after several minutes and probably another 50m+ of swimming, I had reached the base of Jim-Jim Falls. I and one other guy on the tour were the only ones to make it this far, we had the spot to ourselves. There was still a mist of water coming down from 200 meters above. The others missed out – out of all the places I’ve swam, this spot, right at the base of the falls, looking straight up at rock on nearly all sides was the most staggering spot I’ve ever swam in. I simply lay on my back and enjoyed the sight for at least 10 minutes. Then I started getting really cold so I headed back to my towel, the sun, and the rest of the group.
After relaxing in the sun for a while, our day was mostly done. We hiked back to the bus, had our lunch and made our way back to Darwin. I had been skeptical about these falls before getting to them. I’ve seen a LOT of waterfalls in the last 14 months. New Zealand has plenty, and quite a few nice ones. And if it had just been Twin Falls that I had seen, I probably would have left slightly disappointed. But not only seeing Jim-Jim but swimming in that immense canyon was incredibly memorable and a big highlight of the North End for me.