The bush is endless in
these Northern territories and we had to drive hundreds of kilometres
between the various national parks. Below is one of the beautiful
waterfalls in Lichfield National Park where we swam in the cool
waters, a welcome relief after the short walk we had to take to get there
from the car park, so great is the heat.
for our first night in a town called Katherine where we were extremely
lucky to find two rooms in a motel as we were sharing our trip with a
large percentage of Australia's school holiday families. We had taken our
Iridium satellite phone and laptop with us to be able to keep in contact
with friends and family. Satellite phones don't work too well inside
houses and so I found myself sitting in odd places to communicate. I was
caught here by Dave in the car park of our
Wandering around Katherine
the following morning we came across this lovely old steam train which had
been decorated by the local Aborigines.
We walked past the first
cataract to take another boat waiting for us on the other side. It really
was stunning scenery.
Katherine we were lucky enough to get onto a dawn cruise of Yellow Waters
, a swampy river breeding-ground for birds. We struggled out of bed
in the dark, Dave and Di produced cups of comforting tea and it all felt
worth while as we watched the sun rise over the waters.
We saw some wonderful birds
on this trip and I would like to thank Dave for letting me reproduce some
of his photos which were of a far better quality than mine.
The white-bellied sea
Eastern reef egret
We went on to
Nourlangie Rocks where we saw this nasty little spirit painted on one
of the rocks. He is called Narbulwinjbulwinj and he wanders around eating
women after striking them with a yam. The view from the lookout more than
made up for his malevolent presence.
You can see he's really
excited by the sight of his pork chop...
off to Indonesia on Saturday 21st July, and the next instalment of our
story will be from Singapore, unless we are really very lucky to find some
internet facilities in Indonesia. However, please do send emails, those we
can pick up via satellite phone, although it will not be from such exotic
places as termite mounds...
Once we had settled the
boats into their marina for a well-earned rest we hired a car with Dave
and Di of Amoenitas and set off on a 5-day safari, a walkabout in the
Aborigine Dreamtime. We, however, travelled in a comfortable
air-conditioned Nissan X-trail at 120 kph instead of slogging it out on
our feet in the crippling heat. Our first stop was at this
strange-looking graveyard, actually a huge space full of cathedral
termite mounds, all variations on the one below, in front of which we
are standing to give you an idea of their size.
The forest canopies are really very beautiful ...
A small swamp in the bush...
...and later on in the bush... (I have to admit that one was set up,
but the car park one was genuine!)...
We then drove to Katherine Gorge where we took a two-hour cruise
up the river and past the first cataract. You can go up as far as six or
seven cataracts, but it takes all day and for us unaccustomed
Europeans, two hours was plenty in the heat of the day.
People do canoe up this river where crocodiles are a protected
species, so on their breeding beaches which look idyllic for a picnic
lunch there are plenty of signs like the one below...
Darter and baby
Wandering whistling ducks, tranquil in the early morning sun and
taking off in alarm at the approach of our boat later in the
The elgant black-necked stork or Jabiru
and, of course, the
ubiquitous crocodile, basking in the sunshine while we slide safely past
in our aluminium boat
One of the sights you are not allowed to miss up this end of
Australia is a jumping crocodile, so, on our way back to our boats, we
stopped off at Adelaide River to see this sight. I found the sight
of this tree full to bursting of cacatua parrots much more
enthralling than the crocodiles who were particularly sluggish the day we
As a finale I offer one of Dave's pictures; unfortunately Chris
and I never saw this fascinating animal, which is a lace monitor.
It's tongue is real and flips out at incredible speeds and round amazing
corners to catch its insect prey. One wonders where it keeps it when
asleep... neatly coiled up maybe...