Best kept secret of the NT – Keep River National Park

M: “I’m Miranda”

K: “No, I’m Miranda”

M: “You can’t be Miranda, your a bloke. You’ll have to be Bertie”

K: “I don’t know who Bertie is. I’m Miranda”

M: “No, I’m Miranda”

K: ” No, you’re the screaming fat chick”

And on it goes……

Maybe a bit too much sun but there is a very good reason why Kevin and I are having this totally inane, ridiculous, husband and wife style banter while doing the Garrundalng walk in Keep River National Park.

Anyone who remembers the Australian 1970’s classic movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock” will get it. The haunting soundtrack while Miranda, like at Botticelli angel with her blonde hair and white dress, is drawn deeper into the mysteries of Hanging Rock until she vanishes, never to be seen again.Walking through the dome sandstone formations here, I feel like Miranda (well, obviously we both do). It’s an ancient, hauntingly beautiful and timeless place. There’s an energy here that draws us in and we feel a connection. A sense of being in the right place at the right time. It’s almost spiritual.  In a place that has registered Aboriginal sacred sights that makes sense. Or maybe we just genuinely had too much sun.

A significant portion around the Jarnem Campground is fenced and ‘out of bounds’. Some of the good bits. Signs on the fence tell us to respect the sanctity of the registered sacred sight and keep out. That’s actually a bit like waving a red flag at a bull. Tempting to slip through the fence and explore but the $20 000 penalty is a bit off putting. Kevin quizzed the Park Rangers on what lies beyond the fence and even they are kept in the dark and not allowed to enter. The mystery deepens.

In any case this tiny National Park, located only 3km from the WA border, is special. It’s written up in the NT parks guide as “one of The Territories best kept secrets”. Never has a truer word been spoken. We have driven straight past twice before but not this time (because we have time in abundance).

The scenery bears similarities to the Bungle Bungles in WA; mysterious bee hive shaped sandstone domes on a smaller scale set against a brilliant blue sky. Easy access dirt road, short distances, two equally visually spectacular campgrounds that cost us $3.30 each per night, lovely walking tracks, very quiet, an odour free long drop that blows cool air on your butt, cool temperatures at night and no caravans. Doesn’t get much better than this and we had so many perfect moments during our 3 night stay – from a bonza camp fire chocolate cake to Kevin’s hilarious yet technically accurate rendition of the bower bird mating dance. I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. The full moon rising in a mauve and pink layered sky each evening just topped it off beautifully.

Three nights is definitely our maximum time limit in one place though. The walks are all done and we just can’t hang around doing nothing for long. Still early days so maybe that will come but for now time to be moving on.

Cheers Miranda and Bertie xx

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