Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park - 11th – 13th June 09

Ubirr, Kakadu National Park
Ubirr, Kakadu National Park Northern Territory Australia

It is around 140kms from Darwin to Kakadu (the largest national park in Australia), we stopped on the way to fulfil the ambition to see a Salty in the wild and took a ‘Jumping Croc’ boat tour on the Adelaide River.
There were around 10 guests on the tour and the boat was a good size. The captain advised that we should not let any part of our bodies hang over the sides of the boat as it could be seen as food! We all sat nervously in the middle of the boat, no sooner had we pulled away from the docking area we say our first croc, apparently it wasn’t very big (!) and we carried on down the river.

Croc Jumping Tour
Saltwater Crocodile Jumping
From Kakadu NP

It was then that a larger male floated over and the action began. The deckhand basically had a piece of chopped Buffalo tied to the end of a stick and she hung it just up out of the crocs reach. Then when the croc could be bothered (it sometimes took a while) he would let his tail fall down below himself and propel himself up a metre out of the water to grab the meat. Often the croc was unsuccessful as the meat was hoisted even higher in the air (They called this encouragement, not teasing!!) I felt a little sorry for the croc but the captain explained that if there was no jump in the wild there would be no food either. Their policy was if the croc jumped and made an effort he would get the chunk of meat in the end. The croc was estimated to be around 4.5m long, we were told any croc over 3m could pull down a human and could kill.

Saltwater Crocodile
Saltwater Estuarine Crocodile
From Kakadu NP

We carried on up the river to a spot where a mother had been seen at a nest site. As we pulled over many baby crocs jumped of the bank and into the safety of the water. We were told it was very rare to see baby crocs just out of the nest in the wild – we were very privileged! Mother croc tolerated us and got a piece of meat for jumping out of the water. It was when she jumped that we saw that she had no front legs, this was due to bigger males being a bit rough during/after mating! Tough life!
Ambition fulfilled we headed to South Alligator (so called because the first explorers thought the creatures they were seeing were Alligators not Crocs) and set up camp for the night.

Ubirr, Kakadu
Ubirr, Kakadu National Park Northern Territory Australia
From Kakadu NP

Refreshed and clean we headed in the direction of Ubirr and the main source of the World Heritage listing – the Aboriginal Rock Art. Some of the art is estimated to be up to 4000 yrs old and they have gone to great lengths to preserve it. There are railings guarding the rocks for which there is a $5,500 fine if you cross. There is also a bead of silicone around the art to stop rain water dripping on to it and degrading it.
Ubirr is also the site of a 360 degree lookout over the surrounding wetlands and of the Arnhem Escarpment. Arnhem Land is a massive area of land under Aboriginal ownership and you need a permit to enter the area – it is a mysterious place!

Ubirr again
Ubirr, Kakadu National Park Northern Territory Australia
From Kakadu NP

Also visible from the lookout and probably the most exciting thing of all (Carl) you could see one of the places where Crocodile Dundee was shot. Kakadu was used heavily for this film and Carl was excited to have seen a piece of it.
From Ubirr we headed for the Uranium mining town of Jabiru for a few supplies, stopped in at the visitor centre for some interesting facts and then headed out of the park to the Mary River Roadhouse. We realise we did not see all the park had to offer and had we more time Jim Jim Falls (via 160kms return of rough dirt road) would have been on the list, but time is very much of the essence and we bid farewell to Kakadu.

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