Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 163. Katherine to Gungurul Rest Area, Kakadu

Nitmiluk and Kakadu – Jewels of the ‘Top End’

We were packed up and on the road by 8am this morning. We had a date with a boat for morning cruise through Nitmiluk – also known as Katherine Gorge. As it was 30kms out of town, and we had to make sure we got there in time to find parking (as we had the van with us), and to pick up our tickets.

Walking down to the departure point from the Nitmiluk visitor centre, we couldn’t help but notice the 1000’s upon 1000’s of Little Red Flying Foxes that have made their home along the banks of the Katherine River. There was that many of them that we had no choice but to walk under them; which meant a very quick dash – as there was droppings everywhere. Even Scarlett commented that “they Stink!”
We were first on the boat, so we had prime seats sitting up the front. The weather was actually quite cool, as Bec had wished that she had brought her jumper along as she was that cold. The first gorge was great, with stunning views and amazing rock formations; including seeing people doing the various walks along the top of the gorge.

At the end of the first gorge we left the boat and went for a 800mtr walk along a very easy to follow path. This led us up to a number of 10,000yr old aboriginal paintings that adorned the gorge walls. They were easy to identify, and told a story about hunting in this region – thousands of years ago. We continued along the pathway, and soon found another boat at the end of the walk. We boarded, and continued deeper into the gorge system.

It was here that we discovered that Nitmiluk really starts to show itself in all its glory. The high walls of the gorge and canyons are spectacular! Not too sure if anyone knows this little bit of history; but you might have seen it if you ever watched the movie “Jedda”. It is here that we were shown the cliffs that “Jedda” was forced to leap off. A bit morbid, but still very interesting.

I must admit that I found the second gorge the most beautiful. The contrasting colours of the rocky walls; the plants and waterfalls; and not to mention the freshwater crocodiles! This place has it all. I can honestly say that I walked away impressed with what I saw. What made it all the more interesting was the commentary given by our Jawoyn (aboriginal) guide. He had us all laughing on numerous occasions, but he certainly made the time fly.

As soon as the tour was over, we headed back into Katherine to top up our diesel before proceeding north into Kakadu. While in town we noticed a tour bus that had ‘the Ghan’ written on the side of it. So, on the off chance that this famous train was in town, I dragged Bec, Scarlett, the Pajero and the van out to the new Katherine train station for a look. Sure enough there it was, sitting alongside the station with its engines still humming.

We had a look around and then hit the highway. The trip north itself was quite a non event, other than the number of dead feral pigs that littered the road – obviously the victims of a road train or two. We passed into Kakadu about 2 hours after leaving Katherine, and found a quiet free camp at Gungurul Rest Area. We had an early dinner, before venturing down to the South Alligator River that is only a couple of hundred metres away from our campsite. There were numerous signs warning of large Estuarine Crocodiles in the area, so Bec had us all down walking the banks of the river looking for our very first ‘saltie’.

Unfortunately for Bec the river level is very low, and the water crystal clear; so again that first ‘saltie’ has still eluded us. However as it was going on dusk, we did spot a wallaby coming down to the river’s edge to have a cool refreshing drink. Bec couldn’t help herself and put her feet in the river, as the heat and humidity here today has been brutal. I’m led to believe that the water was beautiful, but I wasn’t game enough to find out as I thought one of us still needs to raise Scarlett should the unthinkable happen…

posted by Shane

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