Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Daly To Darwin via Kakadu / Kaka-don’t

Tuesday 9th October

From Daly Waters we drove up through Mataranka to Bitter Springs. We had stopped there last year and it was beautiful. 

We arrived at the car park; we were the only ones there and walked down the track to the springs. It was very disappointing at first glance. It was very overgrown with weeds and it was a bit scummy on the surface around the edges. There was a lot of weed on the bottom and we didn’t care because it was so hot and the water was crystal clear. We jumped in and it was glorious! 

After our swim, we went back to the picnic area and ate lunch. As we were sitting there, back packers arrived in droves. (There must have been about a dozen which at this time of year seems like droves especially since there were only five vans at Daly Waters the night before and last year we were crammed in so closely together that sardines would aspire to so much space!!!!)

We drove on towards our next stop (132) King River Rest Area. We got caught behind a wide load for some of the way but figured it was better to stay behind than attempt a passing run (like we had a choice!)

It was possibly the hottest night so far and the campground was crowded. I spoke to a German back packer who told me my German was excellent but there was still some room for improvement because the only phrase I knew was ‘Quiet Please’ because that was all we ever heard the German teacher at school saying to her class. 

Wednesday 10th October

We left early in the morning and headed off to Katherine to see if we could get our gas bottles checked. It seems we had lost a grub screw or something and all our gas had leaked out.

It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I just started to cry. Indie has become so frustrating. All these little things going wrong have caught up. I’m so over it! Ron is a bit the same way too….just fed up!!!

We called at a camping supply shop in Katherine who did not have anything but told us to call round to Hobbit Motors because they do a lot of work for Camper Rental companies or there was a Mobile Gas Fitter called Allan Talbot we could call.

We drove round to Hobbit Motors, no joy there! They only do repairs with pieces that the camper companies supply so we rang Allan and he was doing deliveries and could see us about 1:30 that afternoon.

We decided to do the groceries while we were waiting and then go for a drive to the Hot Springs. We did not know Katherine even had Hot Springs – we only saw the sign because we drove out to Hobbit Motors.

It was glorious!!!! Heaps better than Bitter Springs – no weeds, clean gravelly bottom and crystal clear water. There was nobody else around in this section so we had it all to ourselves. It was fabulous…..Indie works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform! If it hadn’t been for the leak, we would not have found the place at all!!!!!!

Anyway, after our swim we drove to Allan’s house and he fixed it all up for $20.00 then we were off again.

We drove on to (137) Pine Creek Service Station on the turnoff to Kakadu. They have the tiniest Caravan Park, only about 10 sites and a few cabins out the back. We figured for $20.00 for a powered site it was well worth it and we settled in to a night of luxury i.e. air conditioning.

Thursday 11th October
We decided to stay another day and relish the air conditioning while we could before tackling Kakadu (or Kaka-don’t as so many folk refer to it). It was very hot again and I went across and bought take away chips and salad ($8.00) from the pub to go with our steak and eggs that Ronnie had whipped up for dinner.  Yummo!!!

Friday 12th October

We took off early again to avoid the heat and drove in to Kakadu.
We saw wild buffalo and giant termite mounds by the side of the road

We drove in through Yellow Water region and of course because it is the end of the Dry Season there is not much water around but still heaps of birds. 

We walked along the boardwalk for about 300 metres and then drove on through to Bowali Visitor Centre. The lady there was most insistent that we go and look at Nourlangie, East Alligator and South Alligator regions and circled the main attractions in each.

I then did the touristy thing and went to the gift shop and lo and behold, I found a silver charm for my bracelet – the first one I’ve seen since leaving home!!! Needless to say, I now own a lovely little gum nut and leaf.

We drove on to Jabiru, bought provisions and headed straight on to Kakadu Lodge Caravan Park ($34.50 with CMCA discount). We plugged into power, turned on the air conditioning and fell into the pool. Heaven!!! When we and Indie were sufficiently cooled down, we had dinner, watched a bit of telly and then off to the land of nod.

Saturday 13th October

We were up early to beat the heat and back tracked to Bowali Visitor Centre then on to  Anbangbang (Arn-barng-barng) Billabong. Touted as one of Kakadu’s most attractive billabongs with Nourlangie forming an impressive backdrop we were there not only at the wrong time of year but also sadly, the wrong time of day (for photos anyway). There were heaps of birds and it would be amazing in the wet!
We then went on to do the walk around Nourlangie. It is just over 1.5 km.
There are several galleries in this area and the paintings are spectacular.
This is Nabulwinjbulwinj (Nar-bull-win-bull-win).
He is a dangerous spirit who eats females after striking them with a yam.
This is Namarrgon, lightning man.
As we walked around, we passed through Anbangbang shelter. It is where there is a gap between the rocks and it was really cool and a breeze was blowing up through it. We were very tempted to stay there for the rest of the day.
We then walked up to the lookout and looked across to Arnhem Land.
It was one of the best walks we have done. It was fairly cool and it was an easy walk and the art was amazing. We considered going to Ubirr but the call of the caravan park with air con and a pool was too great so back we went to Jabiru and booked in for that night as well.
Later that night, as I was taking a shower, we had a black out and it was black as pitch. Fortunately the water was not affected so I got to finish off my shower. I was just standing there wondering what to do next when ‘Rescue Ronnie’ arrived at the door complete with headlamp – my hero!!!!
Sunday 14th October
This morning we set off to the East Alligator region, first stop Cahill’s Crossing to see the crocodiles coming down to catch fish on the turn of the tide. The crossing joins Kakadu and Arnhem Land and about an hour before the tide the crocs start gathering. The really scary thing is the fisher folk like the turn of the tide as well.
They stand on the crossing and fish completely unaware or uncaring that crocs are gathering. That is actually a croc at the bottom right of the first photo just below the wood sticking out of the water.
The local Indigenous folk who run the boat cruise know how to fish. They obviously didn’t have a nine o’clock cruise booked that morning so they came down to fish as well.
They were using the traditional spear and just like every fisherman we have ever watched, they left empty handed as well.
t was amazing to watch the high tide come in. The water was flowing across the road in one direction when it just stopped and started flowing the opposite way bringing heaps of mullet (and mud) with it.
By this time there were about eight crocs that we could see. It was incredible to see them in action.
They float along with their front legs spread wide and if they feel a fish….chomp!!!!
We stood and watched them for over an hour; it was fascinating. There was one that stayed just near the crossing and others stayed further back – there is a definite pecking order as to who hunts where.

The crocs were obviously on both sides of the crossing because we watched one swim/walk across.And still the people stood on the crossing.

We also saw one very lucky bird……obviously today was a fish only day….no fowl or red meat!!!!!!

After the crocs, we went back to Indie and I decided to walk down the track to Merl Campground (we were considering staying there the night) while Ron drove there. It is only a 500 metre walk….what could go wrong? Well, let me tell you....

I had a lovely walk through the bush and emerged in the middle of the camp. It was huge. I then walked further than the original 500 metres to the entrance to find a deserted Indie.  Ron had set off down another track hoping to meet up with me but it was the wrong track. After blundering about for a while and in spite of enlisting the help of a passing tourist, we finally were reunited some fifteen minutes or so later and decided that splitting up was a very bad idea.

We drove back to the Border Store Manblyarra and bought Coke and sat in the shade. The heat was intense.
We decided to do the Manngarre monsoon rainforest walk beside the East Alligator River. We had been told it was nice and cool during the heat of the day and it was hot!
We saw a colony of flying foxes.
 Further along the track we came upon this sign.
After the morning’s effort, we were quite reluctant to separate but we did and I discovered ‘The Old Lady Sits’ a banyan tree and a boulder at its base which mark a women’s site. The Rainbow Snake Garranga’rreli travelled to Ubirr. Later she changed into an old woman known as Birriwilk and came to this forest. She rested here and piled sand around her which later became the boulder at the base of the tree. Then she continued her journey across the East Alligator River. Young women would gather here in the shade of the banyan and learn of Birriwlk’s journey during the time of the Creation Era. Aboriginal men following traditional law are not allowed here.
After our walk, we rested by the river for a while and I decided to open up the Kapok pod that I picked last Monday. It has been in the glove box for nearly a week and is now quite brown
The fibres are very white and silky looking but it is full of been shaped seeds.
  Next it was off to Ubirr and another art site with a few galleries
One of the most interesting pictures was this one that looks like a Tasmanian Tiger
There is a one kilometre circular walking track and a moderately steep (according to the brochures) 250 metre climb up to the top of a rocky look out that offers superb views over the Nadab floodplain. Intrepid travellers that we are we did the climb.  There are not enough wows!!
We sat up on the top of the lookout waiting for the sunset. It was lovely with a cool breeze blowing.
We even saw feral pigs on the floodplain below

But of course, you are never alone, there are always tourists!!!!!
We had been told that Ubirr is best at sunset and it was very pretty. I think we needed to stay a little longer for the full effect but we did not relish the climb down in the dark.

After 10 seconds of thinking music, we decided to return the 40 kilometres to Jabiru and the comforts of air conditioning and a swimming pool rather than stay at Merl. It had been a long hot day and we did not fancy a long hot night as well.

Monday 15th October

Today we leave Kakadu and go to Paul’s.

I went to pay for our previous night and pointed out that we should get a discount because we were honest and could have just sneaked out without paying at all, we were good repeat customers having come back for a total of three nights and that on our second night we had that blackout and I was caught in the shower. Finally the man gave in (probably in sheer exasperation because he did point out that $34.50 which we had paid previously was already the discount rate) and only charged us $30.00.
We drove through the South Alligator region and stopped at Mamukala (Mar-moo-car-lar) wetlands. It was enormous and there were thousands of birds and acres of pink water plants
We finally left Kakadu behind and as we drove down the Arnhem Highway we saw several of these .signs in the bush
I’m still deciding whether it is Kakadu or Kaka-don’t. It is huge (about a third the size of Tasmania) but I think you need a 4WD and hiking boots to do it justice.

We headed out on to the Stuart Highway and towards Darwin.





  1. Hey Penny and Ron,

    Those crocs look dam scary! Is that really big one really real? I cant believe a croc could get that big. It's like saying pineapples grow as big as the Big Pineapple!

    Glad Indie is keeping it together for the most part and looking after you two. :) Hope Darwin isnt' too hot, much!

    Love those 'highways'!


  2. Oh, and Happy Halloween! :D

    Ronnie, you are a poke demon!! xxx