Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park, almost 20,000 square kilometers. Apparently that’s about half the size of Switzerland. The park is managed jointly between the traditional aboriginal owners and the parks department. A $25 permit must be purchased to enter the park and lasts for 14 days.
As we weren’t sure of our dates when we were in Darwin we hadn’t purchased a Kakadu permit before leaving. We stopped in at the Aurora resort on the Arnhem highway on our way in, but they had run out although they gave us a guide book which we used to decided where to camp for the night.
Deciding to stay at Malabanjbanjdju for only $5 a night we set up the camper and were pleased to have the place to ourselves. As the sun went down we realized why this place wasn’t busy. Located next to a billabong the mosquitos emerged in their thousands. The dishes were done along with strange dance-like moves where we slapped ourselves silly trying to swat the mozzies.
We headed over to the Bowali Visitor Centre where we bought our visitor permits. They also had a large information display had been set up highlighting the difficulty of managing a park this size. From information on the rangers, crocodile management and the extreme weather along with some of the local wildlife. A quick chat with one of the guides there and we’d sorted out our itiniary for the next few days.
Next we headed down to the Nourlangie rock art where we had a pleasant walk in the shade of the large boulders as we were amazed by the ancient markings on the walls.
We ate a picnic lunch overlooking the Anbangbang billabong before taking a leisurely stroll around the billabong. There was an amazing array of birdlife to be seen, but we kept our distance from the waters edge, heeding the signs advising the esturine crocodiles inhabit the waters.
In at attempt to ward off the mosquitos we lit a fire that evening. Whether the slight breeze or the addition of some smoke we managed not to be eaten alive that night.
The following day we did a boat tour on the East Alligator River, the border between Kakadu and Arnhem Land. We saw plenty of crocs along the way before we stopped at a small beach area on Arnhem land side of the river where our guide Neville spoke a little about the aboriginal culture and traditional tools. Unfortunately an older gentlemen in our tour group took a tumble so the description was cut short while Neville looked after him. Although we did get a quick demonstration of spear throwing, which covered an amazing distance, before we re-boarded the boat.
As the boat returned a little later than scheduled we dashed up the road to Ubirr where we joined the free 10am talk about the ancient rock art here. Marcus was a great guide at explaining how images related to the legends of the aboriginal people of this area.
In the afternoon we headed to the Warradjan Cultural Centre. This holds displays some of aboriginal peoples relationships with different animals and landmarks and the 6 seasons in the region as well as explenations for some of the complex relationships within a tribe.
We stopped off at the town of Jabaru on our way back to camp to top up our fuel in preparation for the next day exploring