Kakadu National Park
Trip Start Apr 20, 2007
32Trip End Sep 20, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The tour started with a 6am pick up from my hostel in Darwin and a 3+ hour ride in the 4x4 that we would all be spending a large part of the next 3 days in. My tour group consisted of nine people (myself included) there were four English, Matt, Jo, Stuart and Liz; one German, Iris; one Swede, Anna; one American Dave and an Australian called Sally. Our guide was a guy called Dan who was really funny and had a great knowledge of all things Kakadu.
Our first stop was crocodile spotting on a boat with Jim, a man who had lived on the billabong (river) for years and knew all the wildlife and plants in the area to a tee
The next stop was trekking up rocks to see some Aboriginal art while Dan filled us in on details of what it meant and how old some of it was thought to be (some of it is apparently 10,000 years old!). More trekking next as went up to the top of a rocky range to get some great views over the park. Bush fires were being set below us to get the park ready for the dry season a practice the Aborigines used to do and now do in conjunction with the park rangers.
Another hours or so drive and we setup camp for the night at a site owned by a friend of Dan's. A really funny (if not a little too drunk) Aborigine called Charlie who drove everywhere on a quad bike and would be taking us all for an Aboriginal experience the following morning.
We all pitched in, setting up tents, collecting firewood, chopping salad and barbecuing before getting into the "slab" (crate of beer) that we had bought earlier in the day
After a few hours around the fire people began retiring to their various tents, I was somewhat apprehensivley sharing with Stuart, but it was in the tent that I had one of the best experiences so far!!! No I don't mean I found love. It was the sky; behind the net that topped our tents, you could see nothing but stars, the only light for thousands of killometres is from the a few campsites, meaning that on a clear night (like we had for both nights), you can see pretty much every star in the sky including the occasional shooting one. This is a sight I have never seen before, and I will never forget lying out under the starlit sky, just staring for a good hour or so before falling asleep. The nights sleep wasn't as peaceful as it should have been given the tranquillity of my surroundings. At every rustle and noise I was convinced that an animal was coming to kill me, and on one occasion Stuart's arm brushed against me and I sat bolt upright thinking some kind of posinous creature had made its way into the tent (much to the ammusement of Stuart)!!
A 6.30am start the following day meant that we could climb some more rock and see some more Aborigine art before returning to the campsite at 9am for our Aborigine Experience. We awoke to see Charlie coming out of his tent, dance music booming out, (full blast at 6am!), using his gas cooker and zooming off on his quad bike, (remarkable the traditional and ancient way the Aborigine's live!).
When we returned from our morning walk Charlie and his two sisters were waiting and we learnt more about how the Aborigines lived in the past and how they still hold a lot of those practices in everyday life today, (that explains the quad bike). We were shown the way fires are made, the plants used in cooking, the wood used for pretty much everything (paperbark), and told a few stories that the Aborigies belive about their land and how it was formed. Once the theory had been covered it was time for the practical; the girls were made to basket weave and the guys practiced throwing spears. I assumed the spears would be thrown in a way not too disimilar from javelins, I was wrong. A handle that you keep hold of is used to launch the spear giving more power and accuracy (although I didn't see much evidence of this!). We had a series of plastic targets, buffalos, kangeroos etc and the guys, (joined by the girls once they had weaved thier baskets like good little women!) all had varying levels of failure at making a solid strike
After lunch, the plan was to drive to our spot to set up camp for that night, before going to see one of the few waterfalls that is open at this time of year (the wet season has only just finished). It was after succesfully setting up our camp and dettaching the 4x4 from its trailer to give us a bit more speed as we headed to the waterfall.....disaster struck!
Somehere between the campsite and the waterfall the drivers side rear tire suddenly and very noisily defalted leaving us stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing in either direction as far as you could see
When we got there, we trekked up what was deffintiley the most exhausting part of the tour. To get to the top of the waterfall where (according to Dan) the best rock pools were, we had to walk up rock, boulders and stones for about an hour (with a five minute break halfway to catch our breath)
After the much easier climb down we headed back to the camp for another night of barbeque and beer around the campfire and staring at the stars. The atmosphere was good; everyone seeing the funy side of our breakdown and having to flag down help from passers by, combined with the buzz of spending a few hours climbing and swimming in waterfalls, meant that everyone was in good spirits. Soon enough the conversation went back to pollitics and we all ganged up on Dave!
Our third and final day in Kakadu was spent visiting more waterfalls (which involved more steep inclines), and was rounded off by a visit to a pub to break up the long drive back to Darwin
After two more visits to beautiful waterfalls, we headed back to Darwin and stopped off at a pub that is home to the famous Charlie the Buffalo. Charlie was in a famous scene from Crocodile Dundee 2, when he is at first wild but then sedated purely by the the extension of the arm and index and little finger. I found dominating Charlie surprisingly easy; particularly because he's stuffed and stood on the bar!!
After the pub we made our final journey in the 4x4 back to Darwin, before being dropped off at our various hostels we decided we'd all meet up later for a drink which I only got in from at 11pm. Not too clever considering my 4am start!!
So its off to Cairns tomorrow to recover from my efforts off the past few days, I'm absolutley shattered but content in the knowledge then when the aches, pains, bumps and bruises are gone; I will have unbelievable memories of the time I camped in the Austrailian outback!!