Kakadu National Park
Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
34Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
The way work and travel plans fitted together for me, the trip to Darwin was now or never. We aimed to squeeze it in just before the rainy season turned towns into islands and roads into rivers. Unfortunately, in the Northern Territory, the build up to the Wet season is characterised by an escalation in both heat and humidity. The air around you is several degrees warmer than your core body temperature
Unfortunately, when you’re travelling Australia, you’re not supposed to be sitting around, counting your fingers to see if any have melted away - you’re supposed to be out and about, hiking up mountains and doing walking tours of inner suburbs and visiting botanic gardens. When we arrived in Kakadu National Park from Katherine, a world heritage site of incredible geological, historical and cultural significance, I’m ashamed to say that we weren’t really that bothered. But, we did manage to rouse ourselves sufficiently to get out of the van and were all very glad we did.
After an abortive first attempt at visiting a waterfall along a track that the Lonely Planet had erroneously described as suitable for 2WD, we made our way to Noulangie Rock. We climbed the craggy cliff in the heat of the midday sun and were rewarded with views across an endless plain, which presumably, we’d driven through but which had been nowhere near as spectacular close-to
The walk had sapped our energies and dehydrated us. We returned to the van considerably more grumpy than we’d left it. Tensions rose when we got to the visitors’ centre, where Rhiannon engaged the girl behind the desk for what seemed like several hours with question after question, despite knowing I was anxious to leave and get to town. She later explained that the reason for this was to piss me off. It was decided, therefore that the only course of action was to find somewhere that did air-conditioning and an intravenous drip of iced coffee.
It is important to understand that national parks in Australia are not like national parks in Britain. In Britain, you can have a leisurely stroll around most national parks in a couple of hours. You are never more than ten minutes’ walk from a litter bin or a public toilet. In Australia, national parks are the size of small European countries. They have whole towns buried in the middle of them
First stop in Jabiru was the bakery, which was air-conditioned but had no seating inside. So we headed to the only café in town, which had seats but no air-conditioning. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so we went to the bar in the Holiday Inn, where the air felt like liquid nitrogen on our skin. For some reason, the hotel is shaped like a giant crocodile. Despite this, it is the poshest place in town, which of course made us the scruffiest people they’d ever seen. However, they were very understanding and professional when we made one lime and soda and one half pint of lager between the three of us last for three hours. Lisa claimed she had heatstroke. The rest of the afternoon was something of a write-off.
Our campsite in Jabiru was very nice indeed - clean, with excellent amenities and a pool and bar area, shaded by palm trees. We enjoyed a sneaky few beers before retiring to the van, where as ever, the residual heat of the engine warmed us through the thin mattress like an unwelcome electric blanket.