We are up in the Northern Territory staying in the spacious campground at Elsey National Park where the sun at midday could blow your head off, and I sweat just thinking about rolling over in bed at night. The temperature varies between a delicious low of about 30 degrees, which, if you are lucky, it might plummet to in the early hours of the morning and 33 degrees the remainder of the day and night. Standing out in the sun when there is no wind, it feels as if your body might just burst into flames and your life force flare out like an asteroid streaking to earth.
In the evening, when the sun slips away, I feel as if I can finally simply breathe without sweating, and, at the same time, every single camper in the campground (apart from us) lights a wood camp-fire. I understand we are in an age of political correctness where people are vertically challenged not short, horizontally rounded not fat, and differently abled not disabled, but, euphemisms aside, lighting a wood fire when the temperature is 30 degrees and the planet is rapidly heading to a climate induced burn-out is simply fucking retarded.
Roper River kayaking
I frequently wonder, as I watch these representatives of what is supposed to be, the most intelligent species on the planet, if any of them ever says to themselves "What the hell am I thinking? I've been sitting here all day, prostrate with the heat, it's 30 degrees and I'm lighting a fucking fire? Am I a complete imbecile?" Apparently not, as all over campground, the wood fires are winking on.
Anyway, dullards aside, Elsey National Park is on the banks of the Roper River. This twisting turning braided stream rises as a creek north of Mataranka and west of Katherine and runs a long and convoluted course out to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Along the way countless other small rivers and streams join in, the river splits, meanders, rejoins, and eventually flows out into the shallow waters of the Gulf almost 300 km away in Limmen Bight.
A well marked hiking track runs the length of the park from the clear spring fed swimming pools at Rainbow Springs east to the tufa falls at Korowan on the Roper River. Yesterday, we walked the length of the park, and, although we had a swim in the thermal pools at Rainbow Springs, the best swim we had was in the spring fed creek where the trail crosses the Little Roper River on a low metal bridge. Here, the water was clear, deep and running fast, and, as you have to walk to this spot - no infernal combustion engine access - there was no-one else about. We splashed around for half an hour in the near body temperature water doing front levers (water assisted) under the bridge and attempting to mantel onto the bridge from the water (surprisingly difficult).
A National Parks crew (of two) have been hard at work improving and rerouting the main track after the wet season floods, which must be hellish work in the pervasive heat. It's great to see the government promoting a healthful activity like walking, but disappointing to see how few people take advantage of the trail network. I've spent about 10 cumulative hours walking about the park on the tracks and have seen no more than a handful of other walkers almost all of them on the short 1.2 km walk to Stevie's Swimming Hole. Most of the other campers here seem to think that the chair under their butts (large) is permanently attached. Perhaps, after all this time in the hot weather (and by a campfire) it is.