Walkabout in the Dreamtime

Thu 19 Jul 2007 13:15

                                    WALKABOUT IN THE DREAMTIME, JULY 2007




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.




 We stopped 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 motel...   



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.


 After 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 eagle

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...




We are 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 morning
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 visited them.
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...