MATT: We arrived in Darwin in the early afternoon after a pretty unexciting flight from Cairns... at the airport we are pretty quickly through to the arrivals hall with all our stuff and asking the tourist info lady what tours we might be able to get on, how to get to the hotel and if the rain has had an impact on the national park and where we will be able to go. The answers are...these three are on a deal today, that bus for $11 each and it should all be fine, the park is big and the guides know where to go and where not to. All good...so we jump on the bus, head to "The Esplanade" where our hotel "The Palms Resort" is located. When we arrive at the hotel, the bus driver asks us where we are from, when we tell him "Scotland" he gets very excited and tells us that his granny was from Ayr...nice!
We get into the hotel and the hyper young guy at the front desk says we have been upgraded to a Superior room...that means we have a microwave and a sink. The hotel is pretty nice... we are happy.
We head out into Darwin to try and book a tour into Kakadu...about an hour later we are back at the hotel having booked a Valentines special (saving us a few bucks) 3 day trip leaving on the 14th (the day after tomorrow), and with a bag full of groceries...
It is getting on a bit by this point, so we head out for dinner at "Outback Jacks", an ozzie themed steak house where we stuff our faces...we head back to the hotel after with sore stomachs and fall asleep farting...
The next day we sleep late, watch a couple of movies on cable then we head out to do a few chores and explore central Darwin. The main chore is to get Kel a new bag...which we do pretty quickly...after being in one of the best camping stores I have ever seen (you can get EVERYTHING in here...including fold up sinks). After this, we go exploring and are back in the hotel after about an hour - nuff said. Darwin is hardly the most exciting place on earth! It is also pissing with rain... so hotel, more movies and pack up for our 6am pick up for the tour the following morning.
As promised the tour guide, Adam, collects us at 6am and we proceed to collect the other guys that are on the tour with us. There are 11 of us in total and a pretty nice, multinational bunch...representitives from Ireland (N&S), Germany, Hong Kong, Austria and Denmark.
The first hour or two of travel, as we drive in our 4WD truck from Darwin towards Kakadu, is spent asleep, as is most of the time in the vehicle over the next few days. The first stop (not including the stop to bbq some hot dogs and chat with our fellow passengers) is to go on a jumping croc tour on the Adelaide River.
Our boat captain - Peter - explained that the small, flat bottomed boat would not sink, even if completely filled with water, and not to stick any body parts over the safety rail...nice. Unfortunately we only saw one croc...about 2.5m long....a small one. I think that one was enough for Kel...although I would have liked to see a bigger one. Peter, coaxed the croc up to the side of the boat with a lump of horse meat on a stick, teased it a bit and got it to jump half its body length out of the water to take the meat. The noise of it's jaws cracking together was enough to convince us that inside the boat is the best place to be.
No more crocs - but Peter did feed a few Whistling Kites with chunks of horse flesh before bringing us safely back to dry land and Adam, who was waiting to take us, in the truck, to Kakadu proper.
Once in the park, on the way to the camp site - we went for a bit of a hike through the monsoon forest to see some amazing views and a cave full or Aborigional art - which is about 5000 years old...amazing. The cave itself a cool, breezy hide away high on the hillside above the lush valley below - easy to see why the locals would have chosen it as a place to chill out back in the old days.
After the cave we descended back into the valley, past the "Beware of the Croc" signs and into a really nice swimming hole to cool off.
To end the day we head to the campsite to find our tents ... more like a big mosquito net full of spiders and bunk beds. Pretty low on the accomodation table so far - but a bed all the same. We are all knackered after a long active day, and after a meal of Kangaroo meat, we settle down for a sweaty nights sleep.
The next two days follow a similar pattern. Up early, all day hiking, swimming, driving and visiting traditional Aborigional sites before heading to smelly, sweaty beds. But we have seen some of the most spectacular countryside and wildlife of the whole trip so far. Completely unlike anything we have experienced before - and we managed to avoid croc, snake, dingo and spider bites...so not too bad.
Getting back to Darwin - and a hot shower - was very pleasant after roughing it in the bush for a few days, heading straight to the airport to get our flight to Sydney - not so much fun. We were both destroyed by the time we got on the plane at about 1am.
Although Queensland and the Northern Territories and not much to look at from the point of view of Australian culture - they are amazing for the natural wonders we have visited - the rainforest, the great barrier reef, the monsoon forests, the beaches. It has also been interesting to learn a bit more about the Aborigional people and how their culture and religion (undisturbed for more the 40,000 years) has been more or less destroyed in the last 200 years or so. Apparently the indigenous people where considered part of the native fauna as recently as the 1960's. It is a real shame that almost the only Aborigionals we see as tourists are either drunk in the street or performing (spear chucking and dancing) in the tourist trap shows. The Aborigionals that still live in a traditional way (of which there are several tens of thousands) do so completely away from western ozzie society...so we have no opportunity to meet with them or get any idea of how they really live.
It has certainly been an interesting couple of weeks up to leaving for Sydney.
Kel: Just so we remember we visited
Saturday (valentines day): Adelaide River - croc cruise, bird watching,The Castle (walk + rock paintings), Gubara Springs.
Sunday: Motorcar Falls, Boulder Creek Way, Maline Rockhole
Monday: Nawurlandja lookout, Nourlangie rock, Bowali visitors centre