Walking in NT in Jan & Feb - crazy or not?

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Walking in NT in Jan & Feb - crazy or not?

Postby Osbos » Sun 17 Sep, 2017 4:48 am

Is it crazy to go out for day or overnight walks in NT is the middle of summer? Heat? Weather?
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Re: Walking in NT in Jan & Feb - crazy or not?

Postby mikethepike » Sun 17 Sep, 2017 1:15 pm

I'm afraid that it is highly advisable NOT to go walking any distance in the NT during summer. If you are in its tropical zone north of Katherine, it is the wet season and the weather is hot and very humid. Further south around Alice Springs it is hotter but not humid. In the humid tropics the body can't cool down by perspiring and even the afternoon rains are warm and generally accompanied by thunder and lightening that are both incredibly impressive to witness but also frightening if you are exposed to it. Bushwalking in the NT is really limited to May to September and most walking is from June-August and where in central Australia, night temperatures can drop below zero. Walking alone in hot weather is an extra risk because if you become affected by heat stress, you may may not at first realize it and you can deteriorate very quickly from there. In this situation you will need competent and urgent help. Drinking water is not enough (and plastic water bottles soon warm up) to cool the body core and brain in these conditions. In summer, bushwalkers in the southern and eastern states tend to head to the high country of Victoria and NSW or to Tasmania or New Zealand. Walking is always possible during cool spells in the southern mainland states during summer but you can't plan this much in advance. Unfortunately, this is not an option in tropical Australia. I have briefly lived and worked in the NT (and spent 3 weeks walking in central NT last month) and I write this because you are from overseas. I'm sorry I can't be more positive than this but wish you a good time Downunder..
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Walking in NT in Jan & Feb - crazy or not?

Postby RonK » Sun 17 Sep, 2017 1:31 pm

Forget it. I grew up in the NT. Jan-Feb is the height of the wet season in the top end and all the rivers, billabongs and wetlands will be full of water and crocs will be way upstream. In the centre you can expects temps approaching 50 degrees C.
Last edited by RonK on Sun 17 Sep, 2017 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Walking in NT in Jan & Feb - crazy or not?

Postby Osbos » Sun 17 Sep, 2017 1:49 pm

Thanks for your replies. We have done some walking in VIC, NSW and QLD during the summer. Good times; good tracks. Will stay out of the north, 50 degrees is too hot!
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Re: Walking in NT in Jan & Feb - crazy or not?

Postby walk2wineries » Sun 17 Sep, 2017 6:19 pm

Access is unreliable anyway; roads to the best walks likely to be closed. I was walking from Edith Falls last week and it was very hot by midmorning. I have been in Darwin during the summer; there's quite nice walks along the beach to the Military museum and Nightcliff so if you happen to be there you can walk but one wouldn't visit in order to walk.
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Re: Walking in NT in Jan & Feb - crazy or not?

Postby Osik » Wed 27 Sep, 2017 4:25 pm

Many people have died from walking in the heat and mikethepike's advice is spot on. Once your body gets to a certain temperature it finds it very hard to cool down if the ambient temperature is v high. In particular, the radiant heat from rocky or exposed areas can be very dangerous.You also need to be aware that around Darwin/katherine if the wet's started, that the lovely cool refreshing looking river/billabong is probably currently home to a very dangerous saltwater croc or three

However having done a number of day walks of between 4 - 8 hours in summer in the NT I think it's possible if a few conditions are met:
i) you are an experienced bushwalker and are able to recognise when it might be time to change the plan
ii) you are very fit
iii) you are acclimatized to the heat
iv) You start early, and I mean early. I started at about 3-4am. Finish by late morning/midday at the very latest. This way you not only avoid the very worst of the heat, but also less chance of being caught out in afternoon storms;
v) you carry enough water, I generally carried at minimum 1 litre per hour sometimes more.

If you're keen to walk in Jan or Feb. I'd strongly recomend heading south.
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