Kakadu....or don't

Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Friday, June 24, 2011

The drive was mind-numbingly boring and far longer than we expected.  Burnt out land, ubiquitous half dead gum trees, and views of nothing for 400km.  Whats the big deal about Kakadu?!
Alex and Andrew set off ahead off us, heading for Edith Falls en-route to Jabiru.  We hit Gunlum Falls, just inside the Kakadu National Park which actually was beautiful, and even appears in the film Crocodile Dundee.  My very own Mick Dundee didn't manage to find any crocs to wrestle, just 2 grumpy boys who couldn't be bothered to walk the 60 metres to yet another waterfall.....

Back in the car to Jabiru, in search of accommodation for me and Benjamin.  I meant it when I said I was through with camping!  

We located Alex and Andrew and found me and Benjamin a "bush bungalow" in the next door campsite - another interesting take on a tent, but again thankfully came with beds, kettle and fridge.  Brad and the big boys choose to camp next to A&A, and by the time Benji and I arrived the next morning, they were running feral around the campsite with some other kids. 

Friday morning was our big day in Kakadu when we hit the Ubir area to look at some important rock art and some amazing views of the floodplains of the East Alligator river, separating Kakadu from Arnhem land which is a huge aboriginal-owned territory for which you need a permit to enter.  Like many parts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia, Arnhem land is completely dry ie alcohol-free.  In fact, the whole alcohol/aboriginal issue is so difficult up here that you can only buy alcohol between 5pm and 8pm in off-licences and only on presentation of id to prove that you are not on the "banned drinkers" list.  

We had a great picnic next to Cahills Crossing, the river crossing you take to get into Arnhem land.  Andrew and Brad couldn't resist driving the vehicles through the water just for the hell of it....thankfully no one was there to tell them off.

Back to the campsites and everyone relocated to the bush bungalow.  The local social club had some Eagles tribute band playing at the loudest volume you can imagine, not helped by the fact that the bush bungalow was in fact made of mesh and provided no sound-proofing whatsoever.  Just as the music finished at 1am Zach shouted "I'm going to be sick" and Brad grabbed him from the top bunk faster than the speed of lightning.  Zach, blaming the music on his illness (?!) proceeded to talk on and off for the next couple of hours before finally passing out, only after having seen 2 dingoes sniffing around the scene of the earlier incident.

We had booked an early morning boat trip along the Yellow Water, starting before dawn, but Zach's illness meant that only Brad and Jamie went.  I had done the same trip 15 years ago so was happy to play nurse, but was glad that Brad would see what Kakadu is famous for: amazing birdlife, stunning wetlands, and some local saltwater crocs.  It didn't disappoint, and they came back with amazing photos and tales of huge crocs.

All in all we thought that Kakadu was pretty stunning, once you get into it.  Having said that, despite being the size of Portugal, the highlights are concentrated in a few spots, and it has become much more sanitized than last time I was here 15 years ago.  Most places are accessible on tarmac roads, and so it is much less of a rough-and-ready experience than I remember.

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Diana on

Stunning photo of sunrise, one for the wall.

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