Even 50ºC heat and ball-biting creatures couldn’t stop Louis-Philippe Loncke from trekking in the outback…

I woke up with the harsh Northern Territory sun shining on my face. It was mid-October and I was about to enter the Nitmiluk National Park, near Katherine.

I went to the visitor’s centre to register for the Jatbula Trail – a 66km track from the stunning Katherine Gorge to Edith Falls.

I had already completed a number of bushwalking tracks in Australia so I thought I could do this one in two days, but the receptionist told me the hike takes a minimum of four days because it’s remote, dangerous, and the temperature can rise to 50ºC in the shade. She told me to go to the ranger’s office.

The ranger was a big, tall Germanic-looking woman who I will call “Greta”. Greta started arguing with me immediately: “People have died on this track,” she said. “It’s the warmest period of the year, and you tell us you want to do the track in two days when people usually complete it in four days? Are you mad? You can do it in three days and two nights, or you don’t go at all. Now on the track there are ECDs – Emergency Control Devices. We want you to call us each time you reach one.”

“Okay, I’ll grab another can of spaghetti.”

I started the walk at 9am and indeed, I had never felt so hot in my entire life. It was 50ºC in the shade in the early afternoon. Hundreds of flies buzzed around me. I couldn’t escape from them, even after I ran for 200 metres they were soon back.

Each step meant a drop of salty sweat and I was drinking around 12 litres of water per day.

Around noon I found the first campsite and ECD. I did my job properly and the ranger told me to go and stop for the day at the next ECD located at a river stream.

There I pitched my tent in the shade, waiting for the temperature to drop.

On the second day I woke up at 6am and left camp at 6.30am. I soon reached the highlight of the track, an Aboriginal art site known as The Amphitheater and took a small break.

I reached the third ECD at noon and the ranger told me to stop for the day, which made me angry as I would have to deal with the heat and the flies.

The only way to escape was to dip myself into the dirty pond. The water was warm and full of little fish biting on my legs.

Suddenly a bigger fish bit me quite painfully – it felt like removing hair with tweezers. It took me an hour to get them off: they weren’t fish, they were little shrimps biting me in the legs, arms and some managed to enter my underwear and bite my balls.

I got out of this hell at 7pm when the sun went down. But then I had to fight with the ants that were carrying the cheese out of my backpack.

The next morning I woke up early and finished the walk at 11am. By that stage I hadn’t seen any people for 50 hours, so when I saw some tourists I shouted: “Humans!” They looked at me like I was crazy.

I still had to reach my car by hitching out of Edith Falls. It took me an hour, then my friend Jason picked me up. He invited me for supper after I told him my adventures.

He said that the outback is full strange characters. I guess I had become one of them.