After hours of walking through 36-degree heat, you can probably imagine the feeling when you get to drop backpacks at a spot like this.
I spent most of last week hiking on the Jatbula Trail, a 65-kilometre route along the Arnhem Land escarpment in the Northern Territory’s Nitmiluk National Park. Each day boiled with heat, but every one of them ended beside water. This particular stop was at a run of cascades just above the point where Crystal Falls tumble off the escarpment. It was the end of our second day of walking – a long stretch of open savannah woodland suddenly split by a rush of water.
We strung our mosquito nets – our homes for the week – a metre or two from the water and then cooled the afternoon away, swimming upstream, clambering through cascades just to see what lay beyond. The night air was colder than the water, and a near-full moon hovered in the sky like a reading lamp. By morning, when this photo was taken, the river was steaming through the chill like some sort of natural soup. The lilies that carpeted the water’s edge were still to yawn open and the citrusy light of dawn was slowly seeping through the valley.
The heat was coming fast behind, and we were setting off again along the escarpment in search of another waterfall and more cooling water.