Where are we now?

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

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 165. Jim Jim Billabong, Kakadu

Sunrise over Yellow Waters

Scarlett and Rebecca; ready to tackle 'Yellow Waters'
OMG! We were up by 5:30am this morning as we needed to be on the road by 6am. It was dark – I mean really dark! We were off to do a sunrise boat cruise at “Yellow Waters Billabong”, and we wanted to be up a little early anyway. We allowed a little lee-way for time; and I’m glad we did because we ended up in the front row of our boat! Back at the campground, there were a few other campers up at this time also, and as we soon found out it was because they were also on the same cruise. I heard on the grapevine, that there were over 150 people booked in for this morning, but as we soon found out that there were three tour boats going out, so it was not that crowded at all.

Our little 'micro-bat'
What can I say? Words cannot describe what we experienced this morning. On the way down to the jetty we heard two Barking Owls calling out, so Scarlett decided to get in on the action and started making her own calls – and they called back. Then, even before we left the jetty there was a neurotic micro-bat that kept circling our boat – and it even started to fly down the centre of the boat, trying to catch insects as they were attracted to the lights! This went on for ages, and it freaked out some of the older grey nomads – but Scarlett was having a ball trying to catch the little fellow!

Feral Pigs on the wetlands

We were on the water before sunrise, and the first thing we saw scurrying across the floodplain was a feral pig! We have done a number of bushwalks since arriving up here in Kakadu, and everywhere we have been we have seen signs of pigs. They tear up the ground searching for bulbs and fresh shoots. Our guide explained to us about the culling program in the national park, but unfortunately they never get all the pigs. He also said that the ones they miss are a ‘controllable population’, but from what I can see they are doing heaps of damage. (During the course of our two hour cruise we ended up seeing about another dozen or so pigs scattered throughout the wetlands).

Wild Brumbies in Kakadu

We also came across a number of wild brumbies that roam within the national park, they were absolutely beautiful to watch as they grazed on the buffalo grass. We were lucky enough to spot the black stallion that leads this herd; and he was a majestic sight as he watched over his mares. If it were at all possible, I would love to catch and keep this ‘ripper’ Aussie, as he is a true survivor!

Sunrise over the wetlands - Kakadu style

As we cruised the waterways of ‘Yellow Waters’, the sun started to rise and the colours of the billabong were revealed in all their glory! The sky was a turquoise blue, and the sun a blood red as it slowly rose above the distant horizon.

Lotus flowers

The wetlands themselves seemed to come alive with the coming of the sunshine, as the numerous species of birds transformed the quiet billabong into a thriving waterway of life and sound. It was amazing to watch; and even Bec who isn’t the biggest bird fanatic was spellbound by the sight that was unfolding before her. There were thousands of plumed whistling ducks, hundreds of magpie geese, and the same again of ibis, egrets, and whistling kites. We were lucky enough to see a number of forest kingfishers, Jabiru’s (in the far distance), and Red Capped Jacana’s as well. Bec has mentioned few times in her blogs that I’m a bit of a bird nerd, and I truly say I was in heaven. The sheer numbers of birdlife species on this wetland is amazing to see; and I’m sure Scarlett and I will be up all night trying to identify and tick off the birds we encountered today in our bird book!

Yellow Waters reflections

Unfortunately as the water level is still a little high (due to a late wet season), so we didn’t see any Buffalo or Brolga. However we did spot a number of Estuarine Crocodiles – or ‘Salties’ as they are commonly called. We didn’t see any at first, but once that sun came up, so did the ‘Salties’. All up we must have seen at least 6 to 8 crocs came up from the depths of the billabong and move onto the mudflats to warm up in the morning sun. One croc that was resting in the water, even started to follow our boat, before quietly submerging as we came closer! Both Scarlett and Bec were enthralled as they watched these living dinosaurs, it was a great morning out on the water.

A 'saltie' catching the first sun rays of the morning on the mudbank

Our cruise was followed up by a huge buffet back at Cooinda Lodge, which was a great way to finish off our morning’s adventure. We even managed to sneak away with a few extra muffins and croissants to have for lunch. We certainly got our money’s worth!

After breakfast, we uploaded the last couple of days missing blogs, while Scarlett played in the playground. No sooner had we finished uploading, and we were back in the car heading for our next discovery.

The view from Nowurlandja lookout

We headed north to the Nourlangie region, where there is an amazing lookout by the name of Nowurlandja. This lookout overlooks the whole of the Kakadu escarpment, including Anbangbang Billabong. With the heat and humidity, the 600mtr steep walk up to the lookout wasn’t easy, but the view certainly paid off and we soon forgot how uncomfortable the heat and humidity was.

Amazing Aboriginal Rock Art
After immersing ourselves and drinking in the landscape, we headed back to the car for a short drive to Nourlangie Rock. Here we enjoyed the cooler temperature as we made our way around the base of the rock escarpment, checking out some amazing rock art. Scarlett enjoyed trying to identify what the drawings were, and surprisingly got most of them right. The only difficulty she had was trying to identify the dreamtime spirit drawings.

Scarlett 'getting some tips' for her craft time back at the van

Before heading back down to the van at Jim Jim Billabong, Bec wanted to walk around Anbangbang Billabong. We soon found out that Bec had an ulterior motive, as she is now hooked on crocodiles and will go to no ends for the chance to see her next one in the wild. Unfortunately the heat was getting to us, and Scarlett had had enough by this stage, so we had to bribe her by promising to go for a swim back at Cooinda Lodge. It worked; and she begrudgingly followed Bec and me around the billabong. Worst thing was when we reached the far side of the walk around the billabong was closed due to high water, so we couldn’t finish the walk. Bec and Scarlett had certainly had enough by this stage, so I left them sitting at a rest area with water, as I walked back to the car. I soon returned in the Pajero to pick them up, and you should have seen the smiles on both their faces!

Bec and Scarlett at Anbangbang Billabong, with Nourlangie Rock in the background

Scarlett: at the end of another 'walk'
We went back to Cooinda and cooled off in their resort’s pool for about an hour or so, where Scarlett soon found a number of little girls to play with. It was a very relaxing end to a great day of adventure, exploration and discovery.

After returning to the van I immediately got the camp fire burning, tonight we are having a chicken curry with vegetables and rice – cooked on the open fire. I pulled out the camp oven, and Bec prepared dinner. As soon as I had the food in the camp oven and simmering over the fire, Rebecca disappeared down to her ‘favourite’ fishing spot to have another go at catching that elusive barramundi.

An hour or so later she returned – with no fish. She did say she hooked up onto another small barra that continually jumped and leapt from the water before throwing the hook; but again it was undersized. During her fishing expedition, Bec spotted two more ‘salties’ as they swam past her as she fished. “Now this is fishing!” she remarked, as she watched the second croc swim past! This is exactly how she had envisaged Kakadu – untamed wetlands bursting with birdlife, and ‘wild’ salt water crocodiles cruising the rivers and waterways!

Bec - Kakadu fishing in Jim Jim Billabong

We sat around the fire as we enjoyed our chicken curry. It was beautiful, and it’s something we will have to do more often. There is nothing quite like cooking dinner out on an open fire. The flavours are amazing, and the sunsets are truly spectacular!

A 'saltie' slowly cruises past bec as she fishes for Barramundi at Jim Jim Billabong

PS: I think Kakadu has just been added to Bec’s ‘Top places to visit’.

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