Trip Start Nov 02, 2003
50Trip End Mar 01, 2005
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Our Kakadu trip was a welcome break from Darwin, even the early start was not too bad. Our group of nine was in very good spirits too. We took a long drive to the local wetlands, where we would embark on a "Jumping Crocodile Cruise". We were first greeted by some friendly pythons, Monty and Medusa and helped ourselves to the free Coffee and Toast. It appeared the crocs were more hungry, and had become accustomed to Kangaroo meat.
A... At first glance their are few signs of life in the river, but the local crocodiles know that the passing boats equal free food, so you soon see the tell tale bow wave of a crocs nose moving across the river. They feed the crocs with a line on a stick, with which they try to get the crocs to jump as high as they can. The smaller crocs are very agile, and can get all their legs out of the water. Hannibal the Cannibal however refused to play that game. He's the largest croc in that section of the river, and at over 5 meters long, and weighing nearly 1,000 kilos those sort of shenanigans are beneath him. Instead he has a kind of arrogant sneer and a glint in his eye as he looks over the people in the boat to work out who would make the best snack, before begrudgingly settling for whatever is dangled at him.
C... Our half Aborigine half Irish guide Sean then took us to show some Aborignial rock art. Thousands of years ago, painting on the rocks was a way to communicate what was happening in the community. We saw scenes of a celebration and what food the aborigines ate. Sean was a great storyteller, but they also vary from person to person, as the stories told have only ever come from these mysterious paintings, so are only as accurate as what we can imagine they are telling us. We then took in the larger picture of the whole of Kakadu, after dragging ourselves up to the top of the lookout. A gentle walk on a normal day, but a marathon in the sweltering heat and with five hundred flies trying to bury themselves up your nose.
A... Apart from a look round an aboriginal cultural centre in which Sean was able to point out all the inaccuracies in the displays, that was about it for the first day. The problem with Kakdu as a visitor is that it is such a vast untouched wilderness that all the accessible parts are a long way apart, if they're not completely closed for the wet season (or just because they feel like it). Most of the park is made up of very sparse, flat monsoonal forest, which you really don't need to see for 800km to get a good view of!
C... We ended the day in a large cooking tent, where we sampled some delicious Kangaroo meat. We then learned to play the didgeridoo, making embarrassing noises, and generally sounded like a heard of elephants, trumpeting away. To get back to our cosy shipping container/dorm for the night we had to take on the dark dirt tracks that were now raging rivers from the heavy rains. With the lack of light to guide us back, I managed to get stuck in every muddy puddle, losing my flip flops on the way, and ended up a bedraggled and muddy mess, ready for bed.
A...Sean, who had been such a great fountain of knowledge on day 1 turned into a bit of a moody git on day 2, which was mostly taken up by getting to and swimming in a series of waterfalls. There was a bit of scrambling up rocks (as well as a lot of driving) involved, but it was well worth it for the swimming in the gorgeous cool fresh water, and getting a head and back massage from sitting underneath the falls.
Yesterday we took a day trip to Lichfield, another National park which is a bite sized version of Kakadu. Aside from a few termite mounds we spent most of the day alternately getting wet from waterfalls and the rain. We stopped for a swim at the first fall we reached just as the rain really started to come down. It's quite impressive to see how a lovely tranquil swimming spot can turn into a raging torrent in a few minutes, and I think our guide looked a little nervous when he noticed that the bridge we had crossed on the way there had disappeared under 6 inches of water rapids.
C... Our less enthused group, managed to find some amusement though, when my shorts were apprehended by a tree root and was left dangling above the waters edge, while I was trying to take to the rock pool as elegantly as you can, while hanging on to the local plant life.
I was also lucky enough to pick up some unwanted hitchhiking leaches, which was also a highlight for the grumbling group. Kakadu might have been a bit of a long trip, but the highlight of it was certainly the great group we had, where as Litchfield could have done
better, but the amazing and accessible waterfalls more than made up for it.