Kakadu National Park
Trip Start Jun 18, 2008
72Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Back in Mary River, we started where we ended last time - doing a couple of bush trails they have in the campsite, and walking alongside the aforementioned River, looking for Crocs. We had seen a couple on the drive down - I'm wondering if I have a sixth sense for dangerous animals near the roadside, as going past one wetland area, out of the corner of my eye I saw something large swimming. A quick, although safe, turnaround later, and we were watching a 4m Croc trying to catch some birds. With the sun setting, it really was a pretty scene. Although a lot like Apocalypse Now - lovely scenery then bam, blood everywhere. Then later on crossing the Adelaide River, we saw a huge Croc swimming downstream, although we couldn't stop, it being a bridge and all. I said a Sixth Sense for dangerous animals, simply because it's happened a few times before - in Virgina, I saw a huge bear walking through the trees alongside the car
Anyway, Mary River. We went for a few walks, saw all sorts of Birdlife - something I'm becoming really interested in here - and saw a few Wallabies as well. Then we had to crack on into Kakadu, where we spent the afternoon at Ubirr. It's a popular spot, as it has a lot of Aboriginal Rock Art there, plus some gorgous views over the wetlands and out onto Arnhem Land, the massive (size of Portugal) Aboriginal area. I really like the stories behind the paintings, so interesting, and make a lot of sense when thought about. I know many Westerners laugh at the stories, but to me, it's no different than the stories found in most religions - they tell a tale, normally with a moral to it, to teach the kids and to hopefully make them grow up better.
We also went down to Cahills Crossing, the ford that takes you into Arnhem Land (with a permit, and a decent 4wd car!)
We then headed into the only town around, Jabiru, which was built to house the workers at the nearby Uranium mine. With that sort of thing in the rock, it's small wonder the local clans call this area "sickness country". Mess with the land, they say, you get ill. Later scientific studies of the area showed very high concentrations of all sorts of horrible minerals around. I think it wise to listen to the local clans. 50,000 years and still going says it all.
Day 2 - 14th august
With a very early start we went back to Cahills Crossing and got ourselves onto a boat tour that cruises the East Alligator River. Owned and run by the local Aboriginal clan, it was a really good tour, pointing out all the plants and trees that can be used for everything from medicine to food to string. As well as that, we saw countless Crocs, tons of birds and a few fish
We actually stopped off at one area which was just sand, just into Arnhem Land. Here, the guides showed us various tools and weapons used by the locals, and a few demostrations of some hunting spears showed the Americans on the tour that a gun is useless when it comes to hunting Birds. Very, very interesting indeed.
After this we spent a few hours at the Bowali Visitors Centre, which had tons of information and displays on the park, its wildlife etc. Learnt quite a bit more about the place, and got some good ideas for bush walks.
Stayed again in Jabiru, the only highlight was seeing a Dingo in the campsite. It wanted my sausages, but there was no way I were sharing them. They were lovely.
Day 3 - 15th august
Woke up to a stunning sight. It was a German fella, completly naked, in the campsite next door. I shut the curtain and didn't tell Helen. She would have looked and yet again would have questioned why she is with me. He was a big chap where it counted. No wonder he didn't mind being naked in front of all. Yet again I questioned why I seem to get in situations that end up seeing other fellas ample bits, yet never seeing any females. It's unfair.
It was yet another early start. First we got down to Nourlangie, site of more extensive rock art. We managed to catch a rangers talk too, which was a bonus, as you learn so much from them. We happened to be at the place with a painting of Namarrgon - the Lightning Man. The story goes that he lives near by in a serious of outcrops in the nearby escarpment. Yet again, scientists have studied the area and seen that it records more lightning strikes than anywhere else, in the world. Yet again, don't question the wisdom of the locals. Other artworks tell stories of the law of the local clans, and about the complicated kinship groups they have. Too long to explain here, I'm sure Wikipedia has something on it!
After this we went to Muirella, with the intention of going on a 5k bushwalk through the wetlands. We got about 2k and found the trail was closed due to the damage caused in the Wet Season, so we sat quietly watching the birds, and looking out for the Crocs that live there too.
In the afternoon we headed down to Yellow Waters. We were going to walk around the Billabong there, but first thought best to get into a campsite. As we needed some more water etc, we went to the commercial one in Cooinda. However we learnt once we paid $30 (for unpowered!) that there was no drinking water. So to get our moneys worth we made sure to spend ages in the pool, then ages on their Gas BBQ's. It wasn't quite $30 worth (for nothing extra than what you get in the park run campsites, for $12) and we didn't have any time for Yellow Waters, so Helen went and watched the Olympics while I carried on reading my Phil O'Brian book. He is a local legend, spending 25 years drifting around the Outback, getting into all sorts of scrapes and never getting anywhere, but having a bloody good laugh along the way. I can sympathise with the never getting anywhere part. After finally getting somewhere in my life and career, I gave it all up to come here, knowing that when I go back, I have to start again!
Day 4 - 16th
As a goodbye to Kakadu, we went up to Yellow Waters to take an early morning stroll around. As it happens, you can't get too far at this time of year, and the only other option was a boat cruise. So we went back to Cooinda, where Helen decided to watch some more olypmic coverage, whilst I went and found the walking trail to Home Billabong, which links to Yellow Waters. Warning signs were everywhere, all about the Crocs, but to be honest this didn't keep me back. I'm basically SAS trained. Well, not officially, but I have read Brazo Two Zero a few times which is close enough. As it was, I didn't need any of my survival skills, as the walking trail was shut. Not the best way to say goodbye to Kakadu, but the sun was shining, and we did get to watch the early morning feeding by the animals for a while.
Then it was simply a case of cracking on south. With a stop in Katherine for supplies, our next destination was Mataranka.