Day 14 - Friday 6th July
Helicopter flight, Cahill Crossing, Guluyambi Cultural Cruise and Ubirr
We were up early this morning to get ready for our 9am chopper flight from Jabiru Airport - about 35 mins drive.
We arrived early and there were school kids everywhere. They were from Coffs Harbour NSW and were all going on plane flights. Our pilot introduced himself. He was Tate and he came from Seymour! There are a lot of Victorians working up here.
The flight was amazing. It was bumpier than I thought it would be, a bit scary for a start.
We flew over a uranium mine that is next to the airport. It was there when Kakadu became a National Park so has continued working. Other mines have tried to be started since but were not allowed to go ahead.
We flew over the Magella River system, following the river up to where it flows over the escarpment in Arnham Land. There is no waterfall this time of the year. The country is amazing. It is very rugged with patches of rainforest. There were no roads in the Arnham Land area we flew over. Photos don't show the ruggedness. We flew over Arnham Land and saw an 'arch' (like what London Bridge on the Great Ocean Road looked like). The escarpment is all sandstone and millions of years ago was the coast of the ocean.
We flew back over the low area and saw a huge billabong that is slowly shrinking in the dry season, over Ubirr and a massive flat, green area. Tate told us that the flat area is covered with water in the wet season. It is a station owned by the aborigines and cattle are run on the grass this time of the year. We flew over great expanses of water that are getting shallower and will dry out.
Our 45min flight was over too soon. We have a new item for our bucket list - to fly over the area in the wet season. The waterfalls would be amazing.
I did some souvenir shopping before we drove to the Border Store to book our 1am Guluyambi Cultural Cruise. We bought a sandwich and had an early lunch before we drove to the cruise car park.
We were early so walked to Cahill's Crossing, where the road goes over to Arnham Land.
This is a really interesting spot. There are lots of people, some of them standing in the water on the crossing, fishing! And there are crocs on the bank and in the water about 40 yards away. We chatted to other tourists and headed back for the 1 3/4hr cruise.
The driver and guide is a local aborigine and he told us about their ways as we went.
We headed downstream towards Cahill Crossing (East Alligator River) and saw crocs. We were told that for every croc you can see there are 40 you can't see! There was one swimming with his front legs sticking straight out from his body and his toes out of the water. It is almost high tide and he is fishing. He can feel the vibrations of the fish with his feet. There were a few crocs down there. Someone asked if the guide would fish on the crossing. He said the closest he would get to the water is on the rocks. If you were 2 meters from the water a croc could have you before you knew what was happening!
We went upstream and were told about two of the trees that the locals and what they are used for. They both had a number of uses.
The scenery was just beautiful: the river, the sandstone cliffs, the flora...
We saw a number of crocs as we cruised, and stopped and hot off at a lovely rock in Arnham Land. We were shown traditional aboriginal tools and weapons, and the guide showed us how to throw a spear using a woomera. He threw three and the third one was thrown across the river - amazing.
Then it was back on the boat and enjoy the trip back.
From there we went to Ubirr (pronounced 'oobeer'). There is amazing rock art here - even Merv was impressed.
We went up to the lookout and caught up with a tour guide explaining about the rock art. As we got to the rock he said this is where part of Crocodile Dundee was filmed - where they were looking out over the flat land and said 'this is Mick's country'. The view was amazing - we loved it up there. But, we had to get back to the lodge in time to do 'Cheers' with our friends back in Victoria.
The sun set as we were getting back to Cooinda. It was brilliant. There was some cloud like cotton wool balls and they colored up brilliantly. It is impossible to describe.
We ate at the lodge - $76 for barramundi, roo and a plate of chips! It was very nice.