How could I ever squeeze the words “freezing”, “dry”, “red”, “traditional”, “heat”, “crocodile”, “billabong”, “blue” and “bushfire” into one photo essay description without writing a novel? You’re right, I can’t. So let me just briefly discuss some weather phenomenons of the Northern Territory, which create a huge natural variety and diversity on the 1,800 kilometres between Australia’s tropical North and the continent’s arid centre.
During our first week in the Red Centre — around Alice Springs — we didn’t see a single cloud. Unfortunately, that clear blue sky over the desert didn’t offer much protection when temperatures dropped from comfortable 20°C over the day to uncomfortable 0°C at night. Camping fun!
That said, taking the plane to Darwin to spend our second week in the Northern Territory’s tropical North sounded like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Due to the wet season, when tropical cyclones and monsoons reign the northern top end, the Darwin region gets 9 times more rain each year than the central desert. While it didn’t rain during our stay (July = dry season), we got to see some clouds up north; and we were finally back to comfortable camping temperatures at night.
Let’s have a look at how these weather differences influence(d) the land, nature and animals of the Northern Territory.
Typical morning routine: A hot beverage to forget the freezing night temperatures
Uluru — Ayers Rock — is the reason why thousands of tourists travel thousands of kilometres through the Australian desert each year
Some shapes, like this wave, are inexplicable (if you don’t believe in the Aboriginies’ mythology)
The moon over Uluru, which isn’t all that smooth on the surface and actually reminds me of New Zealand Kauri
Each evening, Uluru does its magic when it’s turning redder and redder
Every morning the same procedure…
Sunrise over The Olgas (Kata Tjuta)
These large domed rock formations are not far from Uluru but lesser known
The Kata Tjuta Rim Walk leads through beautiful landscapes, though it’s often unsheltered and tough in hot summer temperatures
Kings Canyon, another red National Park in the NT
To be honest, I preferred the walks and views over Kings Canyon to Ayers Rock and The Olgas
Enjoying the sunrise on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Ghost Gum, a rare evergreen eucalyptus tree growing in rocky and arid regions of the NT
Harsh desert conditions are tough on plants, which often appear spiky
That’s the soil such plants can grow on in the West McDonnell Ranges (Trephina Gorge) near Alice Springs
A species found in the East McDonnell Ranges
Ormiston Gorge reflections (sorry for the mind play :) )
Perfect reflections like this one are only visible in the early morning or late evening hours when the wind settles down
Ellerlie Creek Dolomite Walk — a kangaroo’s paradise
Nature is the best artist!
Waterhole at Ellerlie Creek (10°C)
Taking the plane from Alice Springs to Darwin; flying over the beautifully meandering Adelaide River
Must do from Darwin: Visiting the Kakadu National Park
Marveling at the sunset over these wide plains with heaps of billabongs
It isn’t recommended to go close to billabongs since crocodiles live in there
So we focused on the tiny animal world…
…and flowers growing on arid soil
The NT is and always has been home to many Aboroginies
Their culture and dreamtime stories are well documented and explained in the National Parks as well as museums nearby
Kakadu NP: yellow flowers
Kakadu NP: Yellow Water
When joining a Yellow Water Cruise, locals will guide you really close to these inhabitants of the billabongs
Crocodile blending in. That’s why they’re so dangerous and unpredictable
Lotus flowers on the Yello Water billabongs
Bushfire between Kakadu NP and Litchfield NP
Litchfield is known for its amazing termite mound landscapes. Besides the cathedral mounds that you can also see in Kakadu NP, Litchfield is home to magnetic termites, building their mounds in a Nort-South direction to avoid that their homes heat up too much
This cathedral termite mound is over 3 metres tall
Litchfield’s waterholes serve as natural pools, which are frequented by locals as well as tourists
After walking around this natural pool in the midday sun, nothing could stop us from jumping straight in
Last sunset over Darwin before heading East to Queensland (photo essay to come)
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When winter is coming to New Zealand, a Kiwi’s biggest concern is How to make the summer last a little longer.
Top answer: “Fly to Raro, mate!”
No sooner said than done, the waterproof GoPro, Mr ae.i and I found ourselves back in a time travel machine (aka flight VA173, leaving Auckland each Friday at 7pm, arriving 4 hours later in Rarotonga, on Thursday shortly before midnight).
Being a Pacific Island, Rarotonga is all about white beaches, coconut palm trees, and stunning sunsets over a turquoise lagoon. But the island gets mountainous in the centre, with Te Manga exceeding 650 metres.
That peak is where surprisingly many rain clouds get stuck, which supported the creation of a dense forest (I will write up another article about the island crossing through that forest – stay tuned).
So if you find yourself under a grey cloud on one side of the island, grab your scooter and drive 15 kilometres (half way) to the other side. You will likely end up under blue sky and sun. We explored the lagoon each single day; by kayak, paddleboard or while snorkeling. Enjoy our Top 25 Paradise Photos below.
Sunset over Taakoka, a small coral islet at Muri Beach (place of our guesthouse)
The lagoon at Muri Beach couldn’t be more turquoise
Lagoon at Black Rock Beach, waiting to be explored
Fisherman enjoying a picturesque fishing location
Sunset over Rarotonga
Black Rock Beach
A long grey rain cloud which didn’t seem to move at all for over 1 hour
Walk for 5 minutes along Muri Beach and you’ll end up with a dog accompanying you for a few hundred metres; I don’t know where they come from or whom they belong to, but they are always there :)
The Rarotongan Beach
Curious fish, getting closer and closer from the GoPro
Swimming in the middle of a swarm
Typical sea star colour in Raro: blue (awesome!)
View towards the island centre
A first impression from the island crossing, leading through dense forest
Sunbeams made visible by a small fire in the woods
Taro field; typical Southeast Asian vegetable
Coconut palm trees everywhere
We had full moon during our stay, but I still managed to capture a few stars over Muri Beach
Getting prepared for the evening…
…enjoying a little cocktail…
…while watching the sunset (and the big waves at the reef)
Cultural show explaining the history of the country
A coral washed ashore (like every 5 metres)
This coral cemetery is close to the reef; you can walk there from Koromiri, another coral islet at Muri Beach
360° panorama of the Muri Beach lagoon entrance: left = open sea with big waves rolling in and hitting the reef; right = beginning of Muri Beach lagoon