Got up at six to go do a morning boat tour, but when I went outside it was still raining and I decided not to go. Even with a little more sleep I was still able to get an early start. Just outside the lodge I picked up Barry, a seventy four years old hitchhiker. Barry was quite a character - he'd retired four years ago from running a large (2.5 million acres!) cattle station in WA, since then he's been on four nine month hitchhiking trips around Australia!
Drove down through the park then turned off the pavement to the 4WD only Waterfall Creek road. The road was actually pretty good, with only a few rough spots. The 4WD requirement was because of the numerous floodways (max depth around a foot) and a couple patches of sand. The drive in took about 40 minutes. A ranger had recommended the trip to Gunlom Falls when I asked about the currently inaccessible Jim Jim Falls. I figured it probably wouldn't be much - just a consolation to not being able to visit the famous falls. I was wrong, it was a lovely site. A fairly high waterfall dropping in to a deep, large (200 yards wide) round pool - and best of all no crocs, so swimming is safe! Even though, according to the guidebook, part of Crocodile Dundee was filmed there. Barry wasn't to keen on the hike up, so I left him at the bottom and climbed the steep trail (nearly a scramble) up to the top of the falls. Even better! There are several large pools of water for swimming - and an incredible view out over the Kakadu forest. This would have been an incredible spot to camp for a couple days - spending an entire day frolicking under the waterfall and exploring upstream would be fantastic. Shortly after getting back to the pavement I narrowly avoided running over a huge goanna - it stretched across the entire lane, nearly five feet long!
After leaving the park, continued an hour south on the Kakadu Highway until it joined the Stuart Highway. I dropped Barry off another hour down the highway at a river just north of Katherine - he was going to camp and fish for a few days before facing the "big" city (Katherine has a population of less than 8,000). From Katherine I backtracked another three hours to Daily Waters (where I'd stopped at NT's oldest pub on the way north). Daily Waters is where I'll off the Stuart Highway to start east. Since it was five thirty and three hundred kilometers east to the next accommodation I knew I was staying here. I decided to stay at the cheaper modern roadhouse instead of the old pub. Unfortunately I pulled in minutes after a large tour bus so I had to wait nearly an hour while everyone ordered from the kitchen until I could check in. It's a bit ratty, but the skies are starting to look threatening so I decided not to camp again.