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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Northern Territory - Kakadu

Sadly it was time to say goodbye to Brenda and we were on the road again. This time onto Kakadu National Park.

There is a lot of burning off that happens in Northern Territory. While we understand why it's done, we were a bit surprised to find so much of it happening unsupervised. We could be driving along and as the road curves be presented with a sky full of grey smoke.

Our very first stop involved some more off-roading and a steep hike up a vaguely signed climbing track brought us to Gunlom Falls.

At the top the view of Arnhem land is amazing. This is the perfect example of a national park still largely untouched by tourists.

What makes this a popular stop is the rock pools at the top of the waterfall. When you stand on the edge it gives the impression of an infinity pool on the edge of the world. The waterfall was dry the day we were there but you can just imagine the water running off the top and dropping the 1km down into the pool. 

When we got to the top there were a couple of large families in the lower pools by the edge of the falls. We had run into a couple on their way down who gave us a tip that if we continued up for another 300 metres or so there were other beautiful pools we could have to ourselves. Great tip! We were all alone up in paradise for hours on end. 

While I stayed and took in the sunshine and the peace and quiet in such an incredible place, Scott and the kids swam out through the canyon to discover a waterfall. There are no pictures as I may have been napping on a rock while it happened. 


We spent so much time at Gunlom Falls that it was dark by the time we rocked up to our holiday park in Jabiru. This was the one stay where the accommodation prices were nuts! $270 per night for a one room ensuite cabin. Scott and I had a double bed and the kids were on the sofa bed. There was a kitchenette and an ensuite bathroom and had everything we needed, but I just couldn't believe it was almost $300! I can't imagine how much the larger cabins were!

The kids were happy to discover that we had a new pet waiting for us when we checked in! You've just gotta love these little geckos!

Tyler had just spent all of term 2 at school studying aboriginal history, ending the term off with a great project and presentation on aboriginal tools. All that is to say he was keen to take in as much aboriginal culture as he could this trip. Kakadu was the best place to make that happen for him.

After a quick stop at the Jabiru bakery we drove to the Bowali Visitor Centre. The centre is also headquarters for the park.  It was a great place to start with lots of information on the different plants and animals in the park.

From here we were off to Cooinda and the Yellow Waters. Our plan was to take a cruise and walk the boardwalk to check out the wildlife in the wetlands, but the gangway had recently flooded and there was yet another pesky saltwater croc in the area so our plans were dashed.  Before leaving we took a walk over to the lookout and took in how beautiful the wetlands are.

Next we went to the Waradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. This was a beautiful building displaying so much information about Aboriginal culture in Kakadu. Traditions, stories, pictures, tools, hunting and history of the Aboriginal ways of life are all laid out in this very cool building that is built in a circular shape representing the local Warradjan (pig-nosed turtle).

Pictures weren't allowed, but I can tell you it was an interesting enough display to keep Tyler and Hannah interested from beginning to end. We learned heaps, and I was amazed at how Tyler was able to add a lot of information to what was displayed.

After some lunch we drove over to Nourlangie Rock. It's a site listed on the World Heritage Register for the large number of shelters and amazing Aboriginal paintings.

 This guy was a particular favourite. He's known to be quite dangerous. Clearly.

But this one is one of the most famous. The dreamtime story says that Lightning Man is responsible for the lightning and thunder during the wet season.

It was pretty hard to get a bad picture, it was just so beautiful. 

Ubirr is an amazing spot a few kilometres north of Jabiru and it's rumoured to have the best view of the sunset in the Northern Territory. So of course we had to go see it!

We followed the crowd and climbed up to the top of this amazing rock made out of cool compressed layers and took in the view. It was nothing short of spectacular.

We sat, took in or surroundings and enjoyed the sunset together.

With just one day left in Kakadu we drove out to one last waterfall and rock hole in Maguk.  We decided to leave it until the last day so that we could make pack a lunch and make a whole relaxing day of it.

There were lots of little rock pools along the way. These ones were some of my favourite. Again it was so quiet! With the number of tour busses we saw on the roads I was constantly amazed that if we just walked a little further the reward was the place all to ourselves!

And of course a typical Aussie hiking track. There were a couple of times we actually had to look around and move rocks to find the next arrow for direction!

Just a few hundred metre further we found this. It was perfect and empty. We made it ours for the afternoon.  We swam out to the waterfall, climbed the rocks and jumped in from high up, and lounged in the sun. 

We sat at one of the lower pools for a quick snack and few more photo ops, and then it was time to go.

Time to go, though the river and down the dusty red road.

Those of your have been to the Territory before will know that Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls are 2 of the biggest tourist draws in Kakadu. We didn't make it to either, Twin Falls was closed (darn crocs again) and there was just one tour running to Jim Jim and it was booked for the week. I'm sure they're spectacular, but I'm also sure we saw our share of amazing and spectacular sights during our visit. 

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