'There's nothing like dawn at Yellow Water, Kakadu National Park. The beauty and tranquility of this place is simply surreal.'
As the guide and driver for a camping tour company, Gary had visited Kakadu National Park countless times. Yet watching hundreds of magpie geese take flight from Yellow River was a once-only experience for him.
“This is what I came to love about the Australian outback. I could never say, ‘I’ve seen it before’, because it always threw up delightful new surprises,” Gary said.
He and his group - 14 people from England, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany – had crawled out of their sleeping bags before dawn for the Yellow River cruise. Witnessing the flight of magpie geese was one of many “magic” experiences that Gary had on this early-morning cruise while he was a guide.
“I made sure I joined the group on every single trip, and was always amazed by the changes that I saw in the different seasons of the year,” he explained.
The other highlight of his Kakadu tour was watching the sunset from the top of Ubirr Rock.
“There is truly nothing more serene to do in the world, even with around 200 people doing the same thing. Most of the time everyone becomes so entranced and reflective you can scarcely hear a pin drop,” Gary said.
When he took the photograph, Gary and his group were halfway through a 42-day clockwise loop from Sydney. They had travelled via Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Adelaide, and up through the Red Centre to the Top End. They headed back to Sydney along Australia’s east coast, taking in attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast and Byron Bay.
Gary has many great memories from this particular action-packed Australian adventure, including “standing by the Stuart Highway at dusk, watching a lightening show that would put the Sydney New Years fireworks to shame”!
While in the Northern Territory, Gary and his group also cruised past massive crocodiles on South Alligator River, swam beneath Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park and soaked up Darwin’s spectacular sunsets. They met a singing dingo at Stuart’s Well roadhouse and were spellbound by the flat, treeless Tablelands Highway. They did the rim walk around Kings Canyon, which Gary describes as “the country’s most awe inspiring hike”.Gary can reel off many other trip highlights, including an “extreme white water rafting adventure” on the Tully River near Cairns. He loved hiking the pristine beaches of Great Keppel Island, flying over the Twelve Apostles and meeting fearless emus in Mt Remarkable National Park.
“Working as a tour guide cemented within me the feeling that the whole of Australia truly is my home. It also made me fiercely proud of this amazing country,” Gary said.
Gary now lives full-time in Newcastle with his British-born wife, whom he met on one of his tours. The couple often do weekend trips around eastern Australia, but Gary is keen for a longer adventure in Western Australia’s north-west.
“I would love to see places like Broome, Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles) and Karijini National Park. I would also love to take my wife to see Uluru, Kings Canyon and Kakadu,” he said.