Kakadu and a Kool Kabin for Christmas

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End Apr 22, 2011

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Where I stayed
Anbinik Kakadu Resort Jabiru
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Darwin FreeSpirit Resort Holtze
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Big4 Hayes Creek

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Monday, December 20, 2010


Monday 20th December 2010

Kakadu National park is just outside Darwin, there are two entrances one via Darwin and one via Pine Creek. The road loops round and all the attractions are off the main road.  We are not going to be able to do much in Kakadu, most of it is 4 wheel Drive and because it is wet season a lot of the side roads are flooded.  However there are a few things still available to us and it's also great to be able to say we went to the National Park where they filmed Crocodile Dundee.  Our first stop was the Window on the Wetlands.  A large lookout tower over the start of the National Park, because it is wet season, and water isn’t a problem, birds and animals are scattered all over the area, in the dry season these wetlands are teaming with animal life attracted by the water.

Our next stop a bird billabong (waterhole), they have build a hide so you can watch the birds without disturbing them, but again due to the wet season, not many birds to be seen.  Gary was looking out for crocs as there was a sign at the beginning of the walk telling you to be croc aware as some had been seen crossing these paths.   There are crocodiles everywhere in Kakadu, not that we have seen any, but they have warnings all down the road and at bridges about no stopping and being Croc aware.  It’s enough to make you nervous, these large snappy predators can run up to 10mph on dry land and can jump 3m out the water, for a decent meal......I didn’t fancy being on their menu.

We were advised to visit the Information Centre just outside the town of Jabiru, they can inform us of road conditions and flood warnings.  One of the rock art caves I wanted to visit tomorrow was actually 4 wheel drives only because the road was 40cm underwater.  It was a shame but not a problem as there was another cave further on that also had some examples of ancient aboriginal rock art and that road was fine.

Distance                               238km
Accommodation                    $35
Weather                                Sunny  34 degrees

We drove into the town of Jabiru and found a good campsite.  All the pitches had on-suit bathrooms as standard, which is always nice.  We settled down for the evening, made a phone call home and had a chat with my Mum.  Finished just in time for a big electrical storm to arrive, flashing and booming over head.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

We visit the Nourlangie rocks and took the 1.5km walk round the area.  The walk takes you up through the rocks and past the caves and shelters of the ancient Aboriginal people.  These caves are full of paintings reflecting scenes of their daily life, they would have drawn these while taking shelter from storms or sun.  The shelters are caves or rock ledges and are cool and dry, the park rangers have built walkways round the art to preserve the area but they have also put silicon drip lines so water and mould can’t run down or grow on the paintings.  The paintings date back 6000 years and are remarkable clear for their age.  The rest of the walk took us to a lookout point so we can view the magnificent towering rocks of Nourlangie from afar, very impressive.

It was a hot walk round and the flies where relentless as usual but we have made it a bit easier on ourselves by buying fly nets that go over your head......yes we look prize pillocks but it works and made the walk so much more relaxing.  Back in the van we turned the AC on full blast to cool down, there are no swim holes here for the obvious reasons....crocs, so no chance of a nice dip to cool down.  In fact there is very little else for us to do in Kakadu, there are a couple of river cruises but they cost big bucks, so one more stop at a lookout before heading on out of the park.  Gary’s a bit gutted we had to buy park passes at $25 each and no one has even looked at them....still the money goes to a good cause I’m sure.

Distance                               290km
Accommodation                    $23.50
Weather Sunny & Rain pm 32 degrees

Booked into a road side caravan park that was actually a Big4....not the nicest one we have been to but we got to use our discount and we had the place to ourselves.  We set the nets up round the awnings and set about making our weekly traditional dinner of Fajitas.  With happy full stomachs we finished the washing up just in time for the skies to open, oh good the rains back.

Wednesday 22nd December 2010

With only three sleeps until Christmas and one until we are booked into the FreeSpirit Resort we have a day to kill.  Of all the places we have been to in the last couple of weeks Litchfield Park has to be our favourite, so we thought we would head back into the park today as it’s on our way up.  We only went to the lookout at Florence Falls last time and didn’t do the walk down to the base were we could have swam in the fall itself.  So this time we are doing the 2.2km walk down to the base and back again. 

We pulled up at the carpark and first things first we had some breakfast.  We then needed to slap on the suncream, than spray on the mozzie repellent, pack a drink, change into swimmers, put walking shoes on and bag the mask and snorkels....Finally we were ready to go.  It was a lovely walk down to the falls, over little bridges, through streams and up pass rocky cliffs, it was cool, shady and very pleasant. We arrived at the base of the waterfall and wasted no time getting stripped off down to our swimmers and jumping in.  The water was a tad cooler than the previous pools we have been in but still a delight.  There were some big fish swimming around and the water was lovely and clear until you got closer to the waterfall then the visibility got a bit cloudy but that’s not surprising.  We had good fun swimming around, taking photos and getting nibbled by the fish, well one fish in particular wouldn’t leave me alone.  He was only little but he kept nipping at my legs....very annoying.   It was so sheltered under the waterfall that we didn’t even notice it had started raining until we got out.  Once we dried off and changed into drier cloths we then took the same route back but a bit slower as the rain was making the walkways slippery and the stream crossings deeper.  

Distance                               267km
Accommodation                    $27.00
Weather                               Cloudy & Localised Rain - 29 degrees

We drove out of Litchfield Park sandwiched between two Road Trains, which was quite funny as they were talking to each other on the 2 way radio.  We listen to them chat about boring stuff then one of the asked the other how his truck drove, the other one said fine but the break are a bit soft.  It took us a while and some worrying glances in the rear-view mirror before we realised it was the one in front of us with the dodgy breaks not the one behind.  The rain in Darwin is often known as localised rain because it comes down over one area often leaving the other side of the street completely dry.  It is fascinating driving into one of these freaky weather events because you can see the rain like a curtain across the road in front of you before you get to it.  I tried to take a photo but couldn’t quite get it. 

We are staying a proper Big4 campground tonight, in an area called Howard Springs, just outside Darwin.  The strangest thing happened as I cooked dinner and Gary Skyped his niece, a peacock walked past the door happy as Larry with all his feathers trailing after him followed by two peahens.  The hens had disappeared by the time I grabbed the camera and ran out but I chased the peacock round for a while....shame he didn’t put his tail up that would have been a wonderful sight.

Thursday 23rd December 2010

Distance                               10km
Accommodation                    $137.50
Weather Sunny Thunderstorms PM - 29 degrees (22 in the Aircon)

We checked into our cabin, just two rooms one lounge diner with basic kitchen the other a bedroom with on-suit bathroom....it was luxury and all ours for four nights. We set about unpacking the van, moving over essential items like the oven (the cabin didn’t have one), clothes, bits for the kitchen, music, TV as the one in the room didn’t have a DVD player....  Once we were unpacked we closed the doors up on the cabin and sat and enjoyed being in the aircon.

No time for sitting round though, there was food shopping to be done.  The shopping centre up the road had a Coles and a Woolworths so we headed in for them.  As we left the campsite the monsoon rains they have been promising us all week finally arrived, leaving us on the road and blind in the torrential rain.  The only thing we could see out the window was the welcoming golden arches of McDonalds leading us in like a beacon....well it was lunch time. The Weather forecast shows Darwin as being a lot cooler over the xmas period, temperatures of  28/29 degrees and I have to say we couldn’t sit in McDonalds Aircon it was too cold we sat outside...now that’s a first.  Once the rain stopped we could see where we had to go and drove over to the shopping mall.

Christmas here is the same as it is at home, mad, trying to park the van, people coming at you from all directions, lack of parking spaces leading to parking rage.....it was all very stressful. We gave up on Coles and drove over to Woolworths, found a perfect parking space only to realise it was one hour parking only so left that carpark and drove round to the other side. Finally parked the van, now time to battle the supermarket.  We have noticed shopping centres in Australia are all pretty much the same design.  You have a supermarket, usually Woolworths or Coles which is in a mini mall with a few dress shops, a newsagent, chemist, a cafe and a cheap dollar shop like the Reject Shop or Crazy Clarks.  There is always a butcher’s most often two, one selling chicken, kebabs, kievs, schnitzels, Etc... and one selling beef, steak, pork, etc, and there is always a bakers selling bread, cakes and sausage rolls. Also a bottle shop as they don’t sell alcohol on the shelves in supermarket but there is usually an associated shop next door like Liquorland.  Anyway it was one of these mini malls we found ourselves in, stocking up on booze, meat and goodies for the Christmas period.

Back at the cabin we unpacked the van again and filled the fridge and cupboards up with our hoard. Time for our first Xmas beer and a flick through the TV channels, the cabin has satellite TV so we can watch boxing day football.  I made Chocolate Brownies and Potato Salad (sorry Nikki) and then settled down to consume large amounts of cider.

Friday 24th December 2010

What bliss! Slept all night under a quilt, had a long lie in and a long hot shower in the morning.  Made and consumed a large cooked breakfast and planned our day. Every year Gary traditionally goes present shopping on Christmas Eve with his brother, this usually involves visiting some licensed establishments on route.  Obviously the last two years this hasn’t been possible but Gary does like rituals so we are off today to buy each other’s gifts.  There is a shopping mall called Casuarina Square which has lots of different shops and a couple of supermarkets as well as a Big W and K Mart.  We both went our separate ways and arranged to meet up again in an hour. I knew every inch of that shopping centre by the time I'd finished, it’s very hard to buy Christmas presents when you have no room in the van, don’t really need anything and are on a budget. Still I was pleased with my purchases and met up with Gary after the hour to head back to the van.  Back at the cabin, drinks all round and then wrapping to be done....Gary’s most hated job.  This was the first time he’s done it sober in years.....didn’t improve the presentation....in fact if you saw his attempt of disguising one of the pressies as a cracker....well let’s just say I’m glad he told me it was meant to be a cracker!!!

We are going out to the camp bar tonight for Xmas Eve drinks, so we cooked dinner first, Chicken Kebabs in pita bread, one of our favourites.  I then did something I haven’t done in fifteen months....I ironed my clothes to go out... what a novel experience, I won’t be repeating it!!  All dressed up with our Santa hats on we headed over to the bar.  It was very quite only a few people having a drink and a large family eating pizza we stayed for a couple of drinks before heading back to the cabin.  There was no atmosphere in the bar and we might as well drink our own booze indoors while playing backgammon. 

Now you would think as it’s my birthday Gary should go easy on me and let me win at backgammon, but no, thrashed me 16 – 9 ..... I think he cheated!!  Turned the computer on to check Facebook and got chatting to the nieces, all of them were together tracking Santa on his website.  He was just about to visit Australia so we chatted until he had reached Darwin.... I sent Gary out to look for him.

Saturday 25th December 2010

We got up early cooked breakfast, had a shower then settled down to open presents.  We both had a budget this year of a $100.... we both blew the budget.  Gary got an Aussie Bush Hat that really suits him, a new necklace as he lost his NZ Green stone (very sad moment) and lots of chocolate.... keeping  with another tradition Gary got a Terry’s Chocolate orange....which he has done since he was a kid.  I got a much loved bottle of JD and a book on Australian Birds so I can now name the birds I am photographing, a pair of shorts (smaller size), some DVD’s and lots of chocolate. Bernie got a huge bag of coloured popcorn...he was in his element.  After the wrapping had been cleared up we settled down to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (one of my DVD’s) it’s not Christmas without that or the Wizard of Oz. 

We are having steak and salad for Christmas dinner, neither of us felt like a big roast dinner this year and we had planned to cook the steak on the barby but when we went for a walk round the campsite the resident campers had commandeered the whole camp kitchen and although I am sure we would have been welcome to use it we did feel like we were imposing so we pan fried the steak back at the cabin.

I set the table adding the two crackers the barman gave us last night in the camp bar....not sure why he did, but we had just been saying how you can’t buy crackers in packs of two for sados like us who are having dinner alone.  However the cracker jokes in Oz are as terrible as the ones back home!  Dinner was delicious we had bought Porter House steaks and they were very tasty.  I had bought Diane Sauce to go over it but didn’t put it on as the meat alone had enough flavour.  We finished dinner nicely full rather than so uncomfortable you just want to sleep.  Gary did the washing up...well it is my birthday, while I set up Skype to call the parents who were round my brother’s house for Xmas day. 

Having spoken to the parents and the Gillies we tried our hand at cards but I kept loosing again so we gave up and checked Facebook and email for all my birthday wishes.....I got a nice amount thanks everyone.  We spent the rest of the evening chilled in front of the TV with a cheese board and a nice bottle of port while a tropical storm pelted rain at the windows of the cabin and thunder rumbled underfoot.  It had been a lovely Christmas/Birthday.

Sunday 26th December 2010

If we had been at home this year we would now be half way to Manchester by now to watch Man U play Sunderland instead we are watching the first day of the forth test of the Ashes on TV.  We will however be able to watch the football live on cable for the first time this year....at 12.30am.  Boxing Day was a relaxed one for us, we made full use of the Air-conditioning by not leaving it all day.  We did clear the van out, repack the cupboards and give it a spring clean but all that involved hopping back in to the cabin to cool off every few minutes.

We’d bought a large piece of beef for dinner and sandwiches so put it on early to cook.  We are driving out to the casino for the evening, it is right on the harbour and is meant to have lovely sunsets over the water.  After dinner we showered and changed and headed out.  It was a lovely cool evening and we arrived at the Skycity Casino while it was still light.  It is free entry for anyone and the place was buzzing.  We had a walk round the gaming tables but it was a bit rich for us poor backpackers so we headed for the computerised blackjack table.  We didn’t win but then again we didn’t lose either we put $20 in and after half an hour of playing took $20 out.  Gary nearly got arrested by security for taking a photo of me at the table...we had to delete the photo in front of them. 

Sunset was a washout the sky was black with clouds with no sun to be seen, so we when back in a trying our luck on the pokies.  We had more fun this time made $4 last ages, we were just doing one line at a time, the experts were feeding the machines with dollars and hitting twenty lines ago....serious stuff.  We left the Casino about 9.30pm and drove back to the Cabin, very weird experience being out at night, not something we do very often as we don’t like setting the van up after sunset or being on the roads because of cattle and Kangaroo’s.  Town’s always look different in the dark.  Back in the cabin we tucked into our cheese board and watched TV.

Monday 27th December 2010

We slept like babies, in fact we slept in.  I am always awake at 6.30am I can usually set my clock by it, but this morning I didn’t stir, it might have been due to the fact that the football didn’t finish until 2.30am.  It was Gary who woke me up at 8.30am which wouldn’t be a problem except we are checking out today and have to be out the cabin by 10am and we had a lot of stuff to move...Panic!!!!  Amazingly we got it done and still had time for a shower and 2 mins to spare. We checked out and thanked them for a fantastic time.

Distance 302km
Accommodation                   $24.30
Weather                              Monsoonal Rain  27degrees

Today we are driving back to Katherine, this is the only way to get to the Gregory Highway and over to Western Australia.  This is the third time we have driven this road so we thought it would be a long boring drive today but it actually went really quickly and we arrived in Katherine in no time at all.  Having been to the town before we headed straight for the Woolworths to buy a few bits and then off to the campground to book in.  While we were in Woolies the sky’s opened and we came out to torrential rain.  The bridge over to the camp ground was flooded and we had to go the long way round.  When we got to the campsite we were the only ones there, it was a bit spooky, big campsite and just us.  The rain continued to pour down all night but it was lovely a cool...in fact it was almost chilly.

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