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Land Belonga Mick
Kakadu National Park (Australia)
Member Name: catsholiday
Kakadu National Park (Australia)
Date: 05/07/09, updated on 16/08/11 (543 review reads)
Advantages: See the real Australia of Crocodile Dundee
Disadvantages: hot and wet at times
WHERE IS KAKADU NATIONAL PARK?
The Kakadu National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site in the Northern Territory and became most well known for being 'Crocodile Dundee' country from the film with Paul Hogan as the famous Mick Dundee. It has a tropical climate with an obvious rainy season in the Australian summer. The rainy season can bring huge floods and at times some areas are impassable by road. The park covers an area about half the size of Switzerland.
Most people would go to Darwin before going into the Kakadu National Park but it is possible to come up through the centre of Australia via Alice Springs and Katherine by road - the Stuart Highway. We flew into Darwin where we spent a night before driving out into the National Park and our first stop was an amazing Jumping Croc cruise.
JUMPING CROCODILE CRUISE:
The Jumping crocodile cruise was on the Adelaide River and cost £30 for an adult and $20 for children and I felt we certainly got our money's worth as you will read. The base from which we boarded the boat was really a large corrugated iron shed with a few chairs and in the centre was a table with a kettle, instant coffee, tea bags, milk and sugar for making your own drink in polystyrene cups as well as a couple of tubs of margarine, a jar of vegemite and a few sliced loaves of bread and a toaster. As breakfast was not included at our hotel we were very grateful for this as a top up to our banana and a muesli bar that we had enjoyed in our room prior to our departure from Darwin. The toilets were round the back in a sort of tin shed - huge rooms with just one flushing toilet in each, the basins with soap and paper towels were outside - all very clean.
When boarding the boat I was told you get a better view from downstairs. There was plenty of room on the boat with seats so that everyone could easily see the sides. I was next to the window which was open so hoped to get a great view. I thought I was being very brave and rather hoped the crocs did not get too enthusiastic in their jumping.
We hadn't gone far when we saw our first croc - he was most obliging and jumped a few times each side - he was quite a large one too. There was a man on the top deck standing on a sort of extended platform from which he dangled meat on a rod. He lifted it up and down and this is what attracted the crocs. The boat went up river a little way and didn't see any more so they turned round and went the other way. We were lucky and saw at least six of these huge reptiles performing and one was particularly enormous beast.
Apparently crocodiles jump naturally for their food as birds in particular tend to try and fly off when they spot a crocodile's open jaws moving in their direction. They are amazingly fast for their size and jump out so that only their tails are still in the water supporting their weight. The crocs in this river now know that boat engines mean food and do tend to come to the boat which helps the tour ensure they usually see at least one croc jumping. Conservationists criticise the idea of this tour as they consider it is feeding wild animals and making the crocs lazy about hunting their own food. Others criticise the tour as they feel it attracts crocs to boats and this may mean more people being attracted by crocs in the area. I can see both arguments but I have to admit that it was an amazing sight to see and I am glad I was able to see the crocs jumping in the wild even if it was not for natural prey.
On the river on either side it was possible to see egrets and other birds while we were waiting to spot the crocs. On our way back to the jetty the men who had been feeding the crocs threw meat for the whistling hawks which hovered and flew down in hoards. These hawks swooped down so quickly to catch the meat that was thrown up and they obviously also enjoyed the benefit of not having to hunt too hard for their breakfast as well as the crocs.
On the boat they provided an esky (ice box) with water for you to help yourself during the trip which was great as it was hot and of course it is vital to keep up your fluid intake in the tropics as you can easily get dehydrated. All in all I really enjoyed the trip, the commentary was typical Australian dry humour mixed with Australian croc stories and also information about crocodile behaviour in the wild and I thought the breakfast and cold water on the boat were nice touches included to make it a great trip.
We got back in the bus just in time as the rain came down in buckets. We made our way to Fogg Dam and saw a number of different birds - egrets, plovers, Jesus birds, magpie gees and a goanna.
THE BARK HUT:
We then drove on to the 'Bark Hut' for our lunch. It was in the middle of nowhere with a typical Aussie tin roof and very rustic logs to sit on with wooden plank tables. There were fish trophies, stuffed mounted barramundi and also buffalo heads as well as other quirky Australian signs such as "stiff shit Corner". It was quite bizarre but the food was nice and service swift and it entertained us as well.
After lunch we made our way into Kakadu National park. We stopped off at our hotel the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn hotel at Jabiru to drop off our suitcases so that they would be in our rooms when we got back at the end of the day. We made our way to Nourlangie Rock which looks exactly like Jabba point in 'Crocodile Dundee'. We filled up our water bottles, slapped on the sunscreen and our hats and went off to Gun-warddehwardde lookout point. It was a 1.5 km walk climbing up the rocks to the lookout point and on the way we went through caves used by the Aboriginal people as a place of spiritual significance. There were a number of cave paintings known as the Anbangbang shelter paintings which could be seen on the way and some lovely wild flowers. It was a lovely walk through the caves and then the bush with typical Australian bush vegetation - wild passion fruit, goat plums, and other bush fruit.
We returned to our lovely Crocodile shaped hotel (see my previous review about this hotel) for a bit of relaxation time, a few drinks and a pleasant evening meal.
WARRADJAN CULTURAL CENTRE:
The following day our first stop was Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural display which was a sort of Aboriginal museum explaining lots about their way of life. The building has been designed in the shape of a pig-nosed turtle ( Warradjan).There were things for sale like pandanus (a type of plant whose long leaves are stripped into long strips and woven into things) bags for $98 but we didn't bother. When we first arrived there was a queue to get in so we decided to go and look at the gift shop and then look around the back. There was a small group of Aborigine women weaving the pandanus baskets and so I went and had a chat and they told us they lived nearby and came to the Aborigine centre to share their culture and help people learn about their people. After this we went into the museum and spent some time in there. It was a very visual display with simple explanations. The displays took us through food that was eaten and how they obtained this -their hunter gatherer methods and equipment. There was also a lot of information and displays about their beliefs and how their art paintings reflect these. It was fascinating and a really very informative place to visit and enabled visitors to learn a bit more about the local Aboriginal people.
COOINDA LODGE AND THE YELLOW WATER BOAT TRIP:
The next stop was Cooinda Lodge for the Yellow water boat ride. We were supposed to see lots of bird and possibly crocs but as the river was flooded because of the wet season rains there were no crocs to be seen and very little bird life but it was interesting to see the flooded areas, the water lilies were beautiful and used by the Aborigine people to make bread, the leaves as rain hats and to carry water in too.
We did see some Dollar birds, a male Jesus bird, kingfishers and some nests. There are more photos and some details on this website:
We returned to the Cooinda Lodge to have lunch. We just ate out crisps, apples and fruity biscuits. There was a buffet on offer for $19 and pies and sausage rolls. In the shop the ice creams were $5 for magnums and I got a very small ice lolly for $2 - the cheapest there! This was not a cheap place and we really did not want to waste money on what we call functional food, we'd rather spend it on a nice meal somewhere in the evening.
After lunch we drove onwards toward Katherine where we were staying for the night. We stopped by the Park gates of Kakadu to take a photo and stretch our legs. Then it was about an hour to reach the mining town of Pine Creek - a former gold mining town and now mineral mines and energy production. It was a very frontier type of town founded in the 1870s - a real outback place with a shop that sold everything and was owned by a Chinese family who were one of the original families arriving in the gold rush. Pine Creek was on the rail route and gold was found as they were digging holes for the railway, this started the gold rush in this area. We stopped for the toilets and some went to the shop to buy drinks. We walked down to take a photo of the old original pub and the railway station which also had a few of the original engines on display. The 'Ghan' train passes through Pine Creek as the railway from Adelaide to Darwin still follows this route.
The Kakadu National Park is enormous and would take days to explore and I am aware that we saw only a small part of the park but I do feel we got a feeling of what the park offered. There are a number of tours that operate out of Darwin and most are two or three day trips. I believe there are some that do long single day trips taking in a couple of visits of interest. The tourist information in Darwin at the various hotels and hostels is excellent and I am sure most people would be able to find an option that would suit them. This park gives you a taste of the real Australia and is well worth a visit. Australians from the southern states ten d to visit in the winter and out of the rainy season when it is cooler and apparently it is possible to see more wildlife out of the rainy season and of course it is easier to travel on the rivers as they are not in full flood.
Summary: Unspoilt country and natural beauty but can be hot and wet
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