The Ooh Tour
Kakadu National Park, Australia
April 30, 2011: Uluru - Darwin - Jabiru
Australia is a big place. From east coast to west, it is about the same width as the
United States. Uluru is just about smack-bang in the center of Australia, and a
three-hour flight from Sydney. It is a two and a half hour flight from Uluru to
Darwin, which is in the far and steamy north end of this vast continent. Julia
and I bid Uluru goodbye and gladly made the long
journey with great anticipation for our next destination, Kakadu National Park.
On our journey, we were amazed to see the normally dry, stark, and deep red center
flourishing with green plant life. There has been so much rain lately it has
transformed the place.
On landing at Darwin, we made the three hour drive on to Kakadu. We arrived at
dusk. I asked the receptionist if she thought it okay for Julia and I to make a two kilometer walk through the bush to the
information center. She warned me that it was at just
this time of night the creatures of Kakadu stirred, and advised against making
the walk. Not wanting to be eaten by a crocodile, we
took her advice, and were soon tucked safely away in bed and dreaming of
Video of Kakadu
May 01, 2011: Nourlangie / Mirrai Lookout
Our first stop next morning was to drive to the information station to find out which
parts of the park were open and which closed. Early May is after the rainy
season in Kakadu, and this year there had been lots of rain. We discovered that
a few areas and some roads were still closed. Given
our options, we put our day's plan together, and drove to our first
a few kilometers down the road, we took our first glimpse of the immense Arnhem
Land escarpment, which dominates Kakadu. The walk at Nourlangie
also contains aboriginal rock art and it is amazing. The native Australians
have lived in this area for over 20,000 years and so have had much time to
create and develop their art. How and why would hunter-gatherers waste time and
energy creating art?
We supposed that there was so much food in the area that
they had plenty of time on their hands, giving rise to boredom and driving
their creativity. Alternatively, perhaps it was the sheer beauty of Kakadu, which
we drove on to the Mirrai Lookout. By this time, 10:30
a.m., Kakadu had become hotter than hell. However, Julia and I
climbed up the thirty-minute walk to the top of the lookout. It was worth our
sweat as the views of Kakadu were astounding.
May 02, 2011: Gungurul / Mardugal / Yellow Water Wetlands
We were up early to try to beat the heat for our next hike at Gungurul.
This walk had two parts. One took us up 800 feet to a lookout that gave us
spectacular views of the Kakadu landscape. The second part of the hike dropped
down to a crocodile infested river. We found ourselves spooked by spiders,
scared by snakes, in dread of dingoes, and creeped
out by crocodiles on this trail.
Next, we hiked at Mardugal, on the Gun-gardun
bush walk. This trail is very representative of the bush, or rather jungle,
here in Kakadu. It contains much of the fauna and flora of the region. The best
part was its flatness as it was late morning by the time we started, and
getting very hot.
Later in the afternoon, we drove to the Coolinda Lodge and
the Yellow Water Wetlands, to cruise on the South Alligator River. It was still
very hot, but being out on the river gave us some relief from the stifling
humidity and temperature. The wetlands are teaming with life this time of year
and we saw most of it on this wonderful trip. We spotted: crocodile, kingfisher,
jabiru, snake, whistling kite, catfish, and of course
more crocodile. This place is how I had imagined
Kakadu, lush green and teaming with life.
May 03, 2011: Kakadu by air
The next day we headed to the local airport and took a helicopter flight to gain a
different and amazing perspective of this vast place. The aircraft soon had us
flying over the Ranger Uranium Mine, which is the true human power in the area.
Then we flew past the enormous escarpments and inaccessible high ground of
Arnhem Land. We encountered many waterfalls along our route; the most notable
were Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls. The helicopter
enabled us to grasp where we were and how immense and incredibly beautiful
Kakadu is, a recommended activity while in Kakadu.