Monday, August 1, 2016

Australia 2016, Day 12 - Maguk Falls, Jim Jim Falls

Day 12 of my Australia trip was quite an adventure! A small bus picked us up at the hotel and took us to where our explorations would begin. We met the rest of our group and set out in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle for what would be some rather bumpy, dusty, dirt-road driving to two waterfalls. The first waterfall was supposed to be Twin Falls, but we were there so early in the dry season that the road to Twin Falls was not yet opened. So they took us to Maguk Falls instead. 
The trek to Maguk Falls was rather easy bush-walking, plus crossing a flowing creek by using rocks as stepping stones. Remember, the water in Kakadu is not safe. There are signs everywhere warning of croc danger. Hiram, our guide, told us "Step, don't jump, on the rocks." Not a problem! So we easily made our way to the waterfall and plunge pool. It was HOT, and this was only about 10am or so! The water was crystal clear and green, and the waterfall still had a good flow coming down from the cliffs surrounding it, not yet too affected by the dry season. It was beautiful!

We didn't stay too long at Maguk, because the whole group voted for more time at Jim Jim Falls instead. So we started retracing our steps, back to the bus. Stephanie were near the back of the pack. Remember the signs warning of croc danger? Well, we were stepping (not jumping) on the rocks back across the creek when the rock under my left foot shifted, I lost my balance, and down that foot went into the water, followed quickly by my right foot - at the same time, my right hand (holding my camera) went straight up in the air! I was in the water up to my knees, and I just kept saying "I've got to get out of the water! I've got to get out of the water!" I don't think I was in the water for more than 30 seconds, but it sure freaked me out. And in hindsight, I really don't think they would have allowed us to walk across that water if there were crocodiles in it, but all their warnings had me quite scared until I got out. Yikes! So I finished the walk in soaking wet tennis shoes and socks and with a fun story to share. When we caught up with our guide, I said, "Hiram, you missed it! Stephanie pushed me in!" Hee hee... 
Right after this picture I took that fateful step.
Back at the bus, we made our way to a campsite where we had a nice picnic lunch. I luckily had my flipflops in my backpack, so I took off my socks and shoes and set them in the sun to dry while we ate. That Aussie sun is intense and did the job! It's a good thing too, since I don't think I could have done the Jim Jim "walk" in wet shoes - it was intense enough as it was! 

Soon enough we got back in the bus and went off-roading to the car park for Jim Jim Falls. The sign says it's a 900-meter walk to the plunge pool. It should say it's a 900-boulder climb! Oh my goodness, I was SO not prepared for that! We climbed up and over and down and around and up and down boulder after boulder, following little arrows posted here and there. It was NOT easy! Several times I fell on the rocks - I was seriously afraid I was going to break my ankle. I'm not the most coordinated person, you know! One time I went to walk down a large boulder, my feet slipped out from under me, and I slid down the rock on my bum. The people behind me sat down and slid down it, learning from my mistakes. At another point I slipped on the sand covering a rock. My legs were so beat up after this day! 
This was at the beginning of the hike, before we hit the boulders!
(See the waterfall behind us)
I put my camera away after this point, because I could tell I was going to need both hands as well as both feet to make it over the boulders. But finally the plunge pool and waterfall came into view again, and it was amazing! It was definitely worth the hike. The plunge pool has been deemed croc-free and safe for swimming, so a lot of people brought their bathing suits and actually went swimming. Stephanie and I were not really comfortable with that, but we did get in up to our knees, and it felt GREAT! It was actually quite cool, which was so refreshing because we were extremely HOT and sweaty - it was in the mid-90s and humid too. We spent about an hour there, enjoying the water and the beach and the view before Hiram rounded us up and made us retrace our steps across the boulders. By the time we reached the bus I was DONE! 
Gorgeous!
Hiram, our guide
Starting the trek back to the bus
At least we had beautiful scenery for the grueling hike
Made it back to the car park, but I am worn out!
When we finally made it back to the hotel at dusk. Neither of us was up for venturing out for dinner - we were sweaty, smelly, and sore! We thought a dip in the swimming pool sounded nice, so we changed into our suits and decided to order room-service burgers and fries by the pool. Well, it was dark and the mosquitoes were swarming, so we quickly abandoned that idea and ate our room-service in the room instead, and quickly crashed from exhaustion. We had one more day left in Kakadu - and thankfully, we already knew it wouldn't be quite as strenuous as the day was had just finished.
I posted this picture on facebook that night - my "war wounds" from the rocks.
But it was worth it for the adventure! 

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