Don’t Ever Look Back is built around the theme of affordable luxury and although we’re always looking for ways to save money on our travels, we’re not budget travelers.
We travel with suitcases over backpacks. We prefer to stay in boutique hotels over hostel dorms. We would much rather pay to eat a delicious quality meal than choose processed tinned food or ramen noodles just to save a few dollars. You get the point.
So when we found out we were to spend a night under the stars at the picturesque Gunlom Falls, we knew that this would put us well outside of our comfort zone.
Kieron hadn’t been camping since he was in school and for Amy, this was her first ever proper camping experience.
The two of us wouldn’t have the luxury of tents – we were going to be sleeping in swags, a portable sleeping unit used primarily in the Australian bush before motor transport was common. Our only protection from the outdoors was a mosquito dome!
The two of us had an enjoyable day, relaxing in the pools at the base of Gunlom Falls which is one of the best swimming spots in all of Kakadu National Park.
As the sun set, our Adventure Tours guide Richard prepared a delicious meal of lamb stew and freshly baked bread over the campfire. We shared in good conversations with the rest of the group before saying goodnight and getting into our swags.
We made ourselves comfortable and looked up at the full moon and the stars above.
This wasn’t so bad – our only complaints were that we were a little cramped in our mosquito dome and that the heat was still a factor but apart from that, we didn’t mind this whole bush camping thing as we drifted off to sleep.
Look out for snakes!
Richard told us earlier in the day to make sure we wore shoes at all times and tread carefully, particularly at night when snakes are most active due to the hot weather. Did you know Australia has 20 of the top 25 most venomous snakes in the world? Scary!
We woke up in the middle of the night with the need to go to the bathroom – approximately a 2-minute walk from our campsite. Despite our best efforts to get back to sleep, the urge to pee became too strong so we put on our shoes and stepped outside of the swags.
Rustling in the bushes!
Very slowly we walked to the bathroom, taking each step with caution. Kieron shone the flashlight firmly on the path ahead and we were approximately halfway to relief when we heard some movement in the bushes ahead of us.
“Oh shit!”, Amy said. We stopped dead in our tracks – could it possibly be a snake?! Or perhaps it was a dingo, a creature that one of our tour group had seen earlier in the day. We had come too far to go back and fear of the unknown had paralysed us.
Cautiously we lifted the torch up to see what was in our way..
There were several large shadows standing directly on the path to the bathroom and they definitely weren’t moving based on our presence. It seemed like the only way to go was through them and there was no chance in hell of us doing that!
We were already terrified when suddenly we hear the sound of loud, heavy footsteps on the dirt..
*KLOPP, KLOPP, KLOPP, KLOPP, KLOPP!*
These things were coming in our direction and fast!
Kieron ducked behind a tree while Amy was long gone back towards the campsite..
When the shadows finally emerged from the darkness, they were mere meters away from us and what they were became evident.
Not actual photo. Photo used for dramatic purposes!
6 huge brumbies! These wild bush horses stormed past us at quite the speed and in a flash, they had disappeared into the distant bushes.
In the silence of the night, we’re pretty sure the sound of our thumping heartbeats could have woken up the entire campsite!
Fearing that perhaps this was a trap and there was still a few brumbies waiting to attack us, we decided to enhance our bush experience by using nature as our bathroom.
Once finished, we quickly rushed back to the campsite and secured ourselves in our mosquito dome.
For the rest of the night, all we could hear these large horses rustling in the bushes right near where our swags were located. “Just leave us alone!” was all we could think to ourselves.
It took a while before we were able to get back to sleep but eventually we did and the next thing we knew the sun was starting to rise. Phew!
We had survived our first bush camping experience!