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Posts Tagged ‘water buffalo’

While we have been exploring this magical land, we have been lucky  enough to visit the first five of the seven regions of Kakadu. An excellent description of each can be downloaded from the ABC radio podcasts at http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/03/16/2847217.htm.  We are continually reminded of the role of the original owners and custodians of this land in managing and safe-guarding it for future generations – that is us.

We are in for a bigger day today!  This morning we were up super early – although we haven’t been able to book in for it, late last night we decided to try to get on the dawn cruise at Yellow Water.  This is the time of day when the birds are stretching and the crocodiles getting ready to retire after a night’s hunting.  We depart the Kakadu Lodge before 6 am and are soon screaming along the highway to try to make the 6:45am cruise.  The needle occasionally even creeps over the 130 kph limit!  We make the head of the walkway out to the boat right on 6:45 but have passed a sign that says tickets can only be purchased at the resort – bugger.  Michael dashes down to the boat to plead our case, but it falls on deaf ears.  Bigger bugger.  I am really really disappointed as this means we are going to lose two hours out of our day and will have to rush other areas. 

 Anyway, there is nothing for it, we have missed the boat in the very true sense of the word!  We drive around to the resort and catch a few more zzzz’s in the car, albeit rather uncomfortably. 
The next cruise starts at 9 am and we are determined to be on that one!

Tickets firmly in hand, we make the decision to leave the car at the resort and catch the courtesy shuttle to the boat.  Although it is only 8:30 in the morning, the sun is rising quickly and the heat already has considerable sting.  Again, there are only 12 people waiting – a mix of young traveller and more mature wanderers. 

As we arrive at the jetty for the second time in the morning, we are greeted with hordes of people streaming off the boat that has just pulled in again.  Wait a minute – there is another boat pulling in as well. Wow, about 100 people have crammed in the two boats for the cruise.  Hmm, maybe it wasn’t so bad missing that one after all, as the 12 of us and our guide push off into the morning.  The light is amazing for photos – still low enough in the sky to minimise harshness in photos, but bright enough to highlight everything that we are drinking in with our eyes.  This is truly a most beautiful spot.

No sooner than we had moved away from the jetty, we spied the first of many crocodiles – sneaking in close to where two men are launching a boat.  Pays to be on the lookout up here – something that I suspect you learn very young!  And crocodiles were not the only wildlife on display.
We could see the waters beneath the boat teeming with fishes – mullet and barramundi where two James named, while the billabong and river banks and rushes were supporting thousands of countless birds. 

And what an array there were – from ducks to cranes to the magnificent Jabiru (or black-legged crane as it is now more accurately called) sunning its huge wings, to the tiny Blue Kingfisher (Australia’s smallest at 5- 7 cm, and second smallest in the world) to our second largest bird of prey – the Sea Eagle.  Our guide was busy snapping away here telling us that in all the years he had been guiding, he had never before seen one walking around on the ground.

And to top it all off, a herd of water buffalo fresh from mud-wallowing paused to take a gander at us before they quickly darted into the protection of the bamboo thickets.  Yellow Water Cruising 

The vegetation is varied and lush and within months, will be fully under water once the wet season fills this watercourse with another 12 – 20 metres of water height!  All too soon we are back at the car park to rejoin the bus back to the car.

From here it is off to Nourlangie to have a look at the first of the local Rock Art galleries.  There is something special about the primordial recordings of thew traditional land owners as they leave their stories and laws for those yet to come.  Just as we were wowed by the primitive cave art in Europe, these too conjure up images of pre-historic beings intrinsically in touch with their world.  And not for the first time, I wonder at the enormity and the insignificance of man in his place.  The figures are simple, but the messages are strong and unmistakable.  We need to give greater credit to those who went before us for their ingenuity in finding ways to leave their mark.

Michael takes a walk up to one of the lookouts to get a view of the rock wall that houses the artistic works.  Nourlangie is well-known for the amazing display of colours that are displayed with the setting of the sun.  Too bad we don’t have the time to wait to see it this visit – but the camera battery died and we are resorting to the camera in his phone!

And then our next stop is Jabiru to get some bread from the local baker so we can enjoy our deli purchases.  Given that it is now Saturday after 2pm, we can only hope that they are still open – yes, they were and had a nice vienna loaf which they happily sliced for us.  If we want to make Ubirr we will have to hurry now.

Ubirr Rock Art Site lies just to the west of Jabiru, about 40 kms off the Kakadu Highway.  It is nearing 3:30 pm when we get to the car park where I gleefully discover that the closest lot of the artworks is a mere 300 m walk. Here we find the important Rainbow Serpent painting and I am waiting for Michael and James to return from a climb to the top of Ubirr Rock when a ranger appears to give a talk on how the aboriginals used their artwork to tell their laws.  There are too many photos to insert, so tak a look at this PowerPoint of some of them  Ubirr Art Site.

The sun is heading for the horizon by the time we finish listening to the Ranger.  It is now after 5 pm and although the sunset from atop of Ubirr Rock is supposed to be one of the best sights from within Kakadu, we don’t have time to wait.  We have a long drive back to Darwin ahead of us.

So we head back to the car and the Kakadu Highway and watch the sun finally slip beneath the earth’s influence as a huge red ball of fire amongst the trees just after 6:30 pm.

It is almost 8:30 pm when we pull in to the car park under the building in Darwin and am truly tired, but oh-so-glad that we made the effort to see this fantastic part of Australia.  You know, during our two days out there, I couldn’t help but feel as though dinosaurs would run out at us at any turn!

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