Edith Falls (NT)
(Stuart Highway) 105kms
90 minutes and we were moving to the much vaunted, Edith Falls. On the way, we kept our eyes peeled for Orangelanders, as the exercise, Kangaroo 95, was now well underway. However, to Sam's great disappointment, not an O'lander to be seen!
An important stop was the purchase of a new bed for Sue and I. The attrition rate on sleeping mattresses seemed to be high among the adults, but we could no longer accommodate the bubbled, lumpy blue thing which had once been a comfortable air bed.
We arrived at Edith Falls at morning tea time and immediately erected the big tent and organised gear. The weather was hot and after set up, it was lunch and for some of us, a rest.
As the slow coaches were waking from their afternoon kips, I took the first look at the main or lower pool of Edith Falls which is adjacent to the camping ground. A short 30m track leads to an oval shaped pool approximately 190m by 150m, bordered on two sides by sheer rock walls ranging up to 60m high. Off centre, in the pool, is a sand bar created by the swirling current created when the falls are flowing at maximum capacity during the wet season.
Another sand bar exists at the mouth of the Edith River as it flows from the pool and continues its course until joining with the Katherine River. For the most part, the Edith River is little more in width than a creek, but much of this has to do with the state we were seeing it in.
Despite the distance and height above the water, the camping area was actually flooded in January of this year, when 226mm of rain fell overnight. We saw pictures of the event at the Kiosk which operates under franchise to the NP Service of the NT. The folk operating the Kiosk and controlling the campground were both friendly and helpful and during our stay and we engaged them in conversation, ascertaining that the water in the pool reaches depths of 4 to 5m at this time of year and is the customary crystal clear we had come to expect of the water courses in the NT.
After rousing all of our party, we were back in numbers and soon enjoying the delights of the cooling pool. The sand bar near the river exit was perfect for the younger members, whilst Sue, Chris and I enjoyed exploring the deeper parts of the pool.
Coach loads of tourists passed through the pool during the afternoon, with the only cessation coming mid afternoon, when Sue thought she spotted a fresh water crocodile basking half in and half out of the water, on a rock on the far side of the pool. Everybody raced for the opposite bank. A knowledgeable American member of a coach party, informed them all it couldn't be a croc, as they never lounge in such an indeterminate fashion. They were always either in or out of the water, so back in they all went and many swam the 190m across to the falls, safe in the belief they had been scared by an over anxious Aussie who had mistook a log for a reptile.
When most of them were past the halfway point to the falls, I noticed Mrs USA's log slip quietly into the water and swim down stream. Apparently those swimming reluctantly to the falls also noticed, for there was a sudden, yet dignified retreat from the water. Mrs USA did not appear keen to further test her theory and announced that the water was making her wrinkly, so she was returning to the coach.
All of the information we had, was that "freshies" were of no concern, during the day. In fact, all of the few who were in this vicinity, were 1m long or less, as the rangers removed them when they exceeded this figure, Not that the larger "freshies" were of any greater risk, it was just they worried the tourists more !