Warning – this blog is a long one so grab a coffee and
make yourself comfortable !
Top End Australia
We picked up the vans….. Jackamy, Miss Tippy and Blue
Magic road ralliers ready for our next adventure…..
The 200km drive to Kakadu National park
was very boring with sparse scrubland for miles and miles. Huge termite mounds were
the only dramatic mark on the endless landscape.
We stopped at the information centre at the entrance to the
park but it was not manned and there were just a few guide brochures in a
wooden box, we had already picked up the guide in Darwin.
So on to the Jabiru region which is the main township and
the gateway to all parts of the park.
We found a site at Kakadu Lodge with a swimming pool,
barbeques, a shower block and electricity and had a comfortable first night in
Next morning we did the bush walk to the Bowali Visitors
centre which was very hot and the centre was quite uninspiring.
The centre was listed as one of the 7 top things to do in
Kakadu so we were beginning to wonder what the other sites would offer !
The afternoon however was much more successful, we first
took a walk through monsoon forest, following East Alligator
River where we saw
hundreds of black flying foxes hanging from the trees and causing quite a
cackling commotion. They look like huge bats and climb about the trees like
Along the river banks we spotted a few crocodiles surfacing
and then disappearing again. Two of them collided and for a moment we could see
both heads out of the water snapping at each other.
We had a picnic along side the river and then motored on to
Ubirr to see the rock art sites.
The area was beautiful with huge rocks that we climbed for
fantastic views over the floodplains which are currently in dry season.
The aboriginal art was quite primitive but interesting.
Apparently it is the act of painting rather than the painting itself that is
That night we stopped in Muirella Park
one of the park camps looked after by a local aboriginal family (well distantly
We had collected lots of firewood on our way to camp ready
for our evening barbeque and Freddy did a grand job of lighting the fire.
We set up the awnings together as it looked like rain and we
were joined by Andy, the local guide, who was married to a part aboriginal lady
and lived under canvas running the site. He certainly enjoyed having an
audience and kept us very entertained with gory stories about tourists who had
been taken by crocodiles in the nearby river.
The torrential rain came and the children had water fights
by collecting the water cascading off the awnings.
The next day we explored the Nourlangie region, the huge
Nourlangie rock was a fantastic site and there was more aboriginal art telling
ancient legends. We climbed to the top for some great views and photographs
before heading off for Litchfield
National Park in search
of some waterfalls and pools for swimming.
We arrived early evening at Litchfield and enjoyed another
evening under the stars watching the wild kangaroos and wallabies hopping
around in the adjoining field.
The following morning we headed for the magnetic termite
mounds and read all about the termites on the information boards.
They are fascinating colonies, the termite mounds are built
up in the air as they cannot burrow under the ground because the whole area
floods in the wet season.
The mounds feel like rock and are built from a mixture of
dirt and spit from the worker termites, some of them reaching over 10 feet
Most of the termite mounds are ‘Cathedral’
mounds that look very dramatic, like cathedral pillars, the magnetic mounds are
flat and thin and look like grave headstones.
These mounds are all built facing the same way so that the
eastern face warms up in the sun all day and keeps the inside a constant
temperature so that the termites can survive the dramatic changes in
At last a chance to cool off in the beautiful waterfalls and
fresh water pools at Florence
falls and then Wangi falls where we had a picnic lunch.
Our last night at Litchfield saw us arrive at the camp
reception which consisted of a tent and rusty caravan surrounded by several
tables full of junk, old fridges etc. and a metal portacabin across the way
which contained the campsite shop !
Our first impressions were proved wrong as we stocked up
with ice from the shop, plugged into generator power and made use of the gas
barbeques and shower block. But the best part was yet to come….
At dusk the wallabies and kangaroos, many with young in
their pouches, came close to graze all around us – what a sight !
The final trip home took us 40km along an unsealed road,
which was like driving over a dry river bed complete with lots of undulations
that shook us and the van about unrelentingly.
We had to stop several times to put things back together in
the van, push the microwave back into position and pick up deck chairs that
Miss tippy had lost out of their external storage locker !
We made an unexpected stop at Mick’s Whips where
Freddie bought a yard whip to practise whip cracking. He had spotted the whips
on the market the previous week and had been very industrious since, working on
the rally boats to earn enough to buy one. We had missed the market so it was a
stroke of luck to find Mick’s home where he welcomed us and sold Freddie
his new whip.
A quick stop at Woolworths to provision for the next leg
before returning the vans and getting back to our homes on water !