Arrival in Kakadu National Park - NT

Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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What I did
Mamukala Wetlands - Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park Visitor Center

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Saturday, March 16, 2013

This is a much earlier time for me to be doing my blogging and photo uploading, but I kind of ran out of energy, or something, here in Jabiru - it is the name of a town in Kakadu National Park as well as a type of stork, although I thought Heather told me that they have renamed the stork, to distinguish it from the African one.  Yes, the Black-necked stork.

It's 6:15 pm or so, and I am sitting on my bed in my tent-bungalow.  You never know what names people will give things but this is a quite large tent structure.  I have a fan with overhead light on, but I really need more light on the keyboard.  I will wait just a bit before I put on my bedside lamp.  I have a double bed with dark green linens and a bunk bed with matching linens, of course.  I have put my belongings, those that I have brought into my bungalow, onto the top bunk.  I am not sure whether people can see into my bungalow, but I can see out quite well through the mesh screening.  In here, I also have a small refrigerator and a sink cabinet with an electric teapot, cutlery and dishes, etc.  Almost everything you would need.  Oh, I have my own toilet block in the cinder-block building a few steps from my bungalow.  It has shower, toilet, and vanity counter with sink, soap, and complimentary shampoo.  It is very clean and modern.  Since I am not sure about the visibility issue, I am disappointed that I just got some next door neighbors.  Hope they are not too noisy.

I finished my dinner of the usual solo travel fare of cheese and crackers, plus smoked mussels and grapes.  Not bad - not so different from home, except that I haven't had any popcorn in nearly 3 weeks.  I will probably have withdrawal symptoms soon.

I woke up at 7 am at Heather and Jeremy's and went out in the after-rain morning.  Everything was still kind of dark and overcast.  I tried to take photos of Heather and Jeremy's marvelous farm, but I think the photos will mostly look like greenery.  I stalked a peahen and her chick but couldn't really get close enough before they eluded me.  I tried to circle back a different way, but ended up walking through some longer wet grass before I found myself in their backyard again.  I tried not to make much noise so I wouldn't disturb their new guests.  When I went upstairs, Heather was up reading the newspaper so I quickly packed up my stuff - or most of it - and joined her.  My breakfast was all laid out with some dragonfruit from their orchard among the chunks of papaya.  Heather is such a wonderful hostess - I felt so pampered and looked after.  She did some extra research on Kakadu and Katherine to help in my travels and let me use her cell phone to call the Kakadu visitor center to ask about what tourist sites are closed because of the wet season.  Around 10 am, we said our goodbyes and took photos of one another.  Heather said that once they get settled in town after selling their farm, she might join me in some travel adventure!  Hopefully, I won't scare her if I have to drive on the left side of the road.  We could go anywhere - each covering our habitual side of the road!

I set off down the road, back onto the Arnhem Highway, past the Jumping Crocodile Cruise  and Wonderful World of Wetlands Center turn-offs, toward Jabiru and Kakadu.  The sun was shining brightly, the air was warm (or hot already) but for awhile at least, I was comfortable with the window open.  I checked the signs for a tourist attraction - several possibilities near the Mary River were too far off the road, so I motored on. 

At first, the landscape was the typical wetlands:  blue skies, green and gold spear grass and an occasional blue lagoon along the side of the road.  Then I went through a section of bush with low trees along both sides of the road.  I stopped at one roadside interpretative center and took some photos.  By this time, I was forced to put on the A/C.  My glasses would steam up whenever I opened the door and walked outside the car.  That, and the attack of buzzing flies and mosquitoes, forced me to spray with repellent and put on my floppy hat and long-sleeve shirt before I went out on a walk anywhere.  I stopped at one place I thought was a Kakadu visitor center but it was only a resort and snack/gift shop.

Finally, I found a real tourist stop close to the highway:  Mamukala Wetlands - a little walk to a lagoon with a bird lookout.  Some signs showed the different bird life during the various seasons - quite instructive.  I didn't really see a lot of birds, but I think I saw some whistling ducks and a black and white magpie goose.  There were some birds on stilts that were fun to take photos of and I think there was one of the lapwings that I saw with Heather.  There had been several large white birds but they all flew away when I came, as well as a smallish grey bird that I couldn't capture by photo because it was hidden in the leaves.  Oops, more people going into the toilet block - I wonder who they are and where they are from - they are speaking some foreign language.  Before I left the lookout, there was some really loud bird that scared off the goose and some smaller birds.  But, I left contented - it was a lovely place.  Right now, from the sounds of it, there is a crow flying around the caravan park.

After the outlook, I continued on to Jabiru and nothing much else appeared until I reached the Visitor Centre.  I went through their interpretive center and checked out their gift shop.  The gift shop had some nice things but I wasn't ready.  I thought I might do some shopping in Jabiru itself, but I am not sure where - it is very small.  Maybe the bigger hotels, like the Holiday Inn, have gift shops but they might be pricier.  I hear some other birds now - they sound more like New Year's noisemakers - have no idea what they are.  I bought an ice cream since there was someone at the counter and asked where I could get my Kakadu Park pass.  I was told it was at the counter where I hadn't seen anyone stationed ever since I entered the center.  After standing there awhile, I called in and a woman said she would be right out.  I got my pass and some info - it seemed rather begrudgingly.

From the center, it was not very far to Jabiru.  It took a bit of driving around before I found the entrance to Lakeview Park but I soon had my key and was headed for my tent.  It took awhile to sort through all the stuff in the front and back seats of the car, and the trunk, to figure out what I was going to bring in.  I ended up bringing practically everything except some food and my big green bag.  As it turned out, I did manage to bring in most of what I needed.  I haven't needed to go back to the car for anything yet, but I don't have my flashlight out. 

I asked the man at reception where I might go to maximize my time here and he suggested Ubirr.  He said you never knew if the water was too high to get through but he thought I might be able to do it with the Yaris.  I'm chicken though.  I had also had a suggestion of a walk somewhere across from the Holiday Inn, but I got lazy and decided to take a little nap.  I was awakened by the sound of rain.  Another afternoon thunderstorm, so I settled down and figured I was here for the night.  It was after 5 pm and I hadn't really had any lunch, so I broke out my dinner supplies and ate my dinner.  Lots of car doors banging now - I wonder if they are coming or going??  The tent seems pretty secure in the rain.  I did feel a few drops on me and there was a small wet spot under the fan - not bad considering how the wind was blowing.

So it was a pretty uneventful day.  Tomorrow I have to try to see the rock art site that is open and arrange for the Yellow Waters cruise.  Both are in the direction of Katherine and I will have to come back here tomorrow night before setting off for Katherine the next morning.  Now it is time to upload photos.  There is quite a bit of jungly bird noise out there now - hooting, squawking, cawing and cackling.  Not to mention all the talking, shouting, and the rock band playing.  After all, I just realized, it is a Saturday night!

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