A Travellerspoint blog

3 Intro to the "Top End"


Saturday 22nd May
Well, we are into our third week today! The sun was shining, the mosquitoes were out looking for breakfast and we headed for the ablution block for all the necessary showers etc. Oh joy! No electricity or water for the many toilets. Oh well, we were going on the 9.00am Yellow Water cruise, so we would have plenty of fresh air there! A quick breakfast and off to join the cruise, to find a boatload of French speakers were also on the cruise. Another vessel, so no need to panic!
The two-hour cruise among the water lilies, the many birds and plants, and to everyone’s delight about eight crocodiles, very close to the boat. A most enjoyable morning.
Lunch then we headed out in our car along the road towards Jabiru to do a bit of rock climbing to enjoy the wide panorama before us with the distance escarpment and the flat wetland plains surround us. Further along the road we saw an ‘art walk’ that lead to various Aboriginal art sites. A hot and humid return to Coiinda/Kakadu camp and straight for the very large swimming pool and a most enjoyable cooling off. Showers and toilets functioning OK so managed to get past that hurdle too.
We decided to retain our original 3 nights here so we could enjoy some of the sights on offer.

Sunday 23rd May
Brian drove us to Ubirr, about 50 or so Km from Coiinda, to see some Aboriginal rock art, and to climb some interesting rock formations also. The road was covered by rushing water in two places but no trouble for Brian’s Subaru AWD. The fascinating rock formations along the way, and the infrequent views of billabongs covered in water lilies made for an interesting trip.
Some of the rock formations, covered with greenery and vines, looked just like Incan or Mayan ruins. We climbed a couple of rocky outcrops and were rewarded with fabulous views of the surrounding wetlands. No sign of the deadly rock adders, to everyone’s relief.
The rest of the team insisted on visiting all the art work along the base of the range of hills. I didn’t feel that enthusiastic so took the opportunity to try and get some unusual photos. I did manage to get a nice shot of a very young rock wallaby.
It was another very hot and humid day so we headed to the Border Cafe, on the Kakadu boundary with Arnhemland. Territory of another Aboriginal tribe and we were not supposed to crossover. However, as it was so hot and we were rather hungry Mary and I ordered a Barra pie and Fanta at to famous Border cafe, and were somewhat surprised to be charged $11.00 each! It did taste really nice however.
A rather tired group finally made it back to camp ready for dinner and the next day’s journey to Darwin.

Monday 24th May
We made a reasonably early start for Darwin, via Jabiru and enjoyed the changing nature of the landscape as we journeyed. Mary kept trying to take photos through her open window and wondered why all she got was a blur! There were some trees and flowers to see and we did get some photos when I could find a safe place to pull off the highway.
We hadn’t heard from Brian on the UHF for a while (they had headed on towards Darwin intending to get a replacement food supply as they had had an accident with their fridge and lost all their cold stuff), when the mobile rang to tell us that they were booking the 1300 cruise for the Jumping Crocodile show. We didn’t realise how close to that event until a few minutes later we rounded a corner and saw the sign advising it was only a couple of Km down the road.
Arriving in time to have our lunch and cold drink, we immediately booked for the cruise also. It was an hour on a two-storey boat and was intended to show us how dangerous crocodiles in the wild could be. They used a pole with pieces of pig attached and encouraged the crocs to jump for their lunch, which they did! It was quite spectacular to watch and we managed to get photos of the smaller and a couple of very large crocs doing their thing. One male saltwater croc weighed about one tonne! However, he was recovering from a local battle with another male rival for his lady crocs but had suffered some nasty damage in the process.
However, the highlight of the cruise turned out to be the white-chested (?) eagle who also likes free food. He gradually flew closer to the boat until, suddenly arriving at the precise moment that the croc’s free lunch was being dangled it front of it; the eagle just swooped in a flash and took the lot from the jaws of the unhappy croc. Then the many whistling kites (a local bird of prey) arrived looking for their lunch too. It looked a bit like a scene from a Battle of Britain movie as they surged around and past us in large numbers, and fearlessly grabbing their food morsel as they swooped past, and then eating it as they returned for seconds. The crowd of the boat really had a view of something special that day.
Arrived in Darwin mid-afternoon and headed for an auto-electrician to get the problem with the van brake lights attended to. Found a Peter Brown near to our camp who did an excellent job of finding the problem and fixing it. Safe from prying cops eyes at last!
Checked in and had difficulty getting access to a rather tight campsite, but managed to accomplish it without damage to our gear from the very close and large trees.

Tuesday 25th May
After so many hard days on the road, and with rain at most stopovers, we decide to spend the day tidying up and sorting stuff to minimise changes in the ensuing days. Had a coolish swim in the afternoon to enjoy ourselves as the expected dry season was still to arrive (now three weeks late!) with continuing hot and humid day and nights.

Wednesday 26th May
Mary & I headed for town to look at the sights. I should have expected that the multiplicity of T-shirt shops would have required so much time and attention!!!
Finally started to look at the historic sights such as the underground tunnels that were built to protect Darwin’s oil supplies following the vicious Japanese air attack on Darwin in February 1942 that destroyed many buildings and ships, and cost hundreds of lives in deaths and injured. A range of historic war sites made an impression on the memory that will last for a long time.
I can’t overlook the good news that Darwin Buses provide FREEEEE travel to Seniors!! Oh what a civilised city – at times.

Thursday 27th May
Had a swim to cool off. Did a few easy chores. (We were on holiday you know) and then drove to the Mindil Markets for our evening meal and the sights and sounds, and, their famous Sunset. What would we do without our faithful Tom Tom? Enjoyed a huge Indian beef something and the large crowds of fellow dawdlers for a relaxed evening. Didn’t buy much however, so we watched the free sunset and then some clown who did dangerous things with large fiery sticks as he pretended to be a whirling dervish. Home to sleep in the infernal heat again!

Friday 28th May
We all walked to the nearby (adjacent to Darwin Airport) Aviation Heritage Museum, famous for having one of only two B52 bombers as lead item if interest. The fascinating story about these very famous, and large, aircraft, together with political and historical data went an hour longer than the thirty minute talk that was scheduled. Here was an aviation enthusiast to beat all others. A most fascinating Museum and worth the visit. Highly commended.
Then it rained, and kept raining for some time. Sorry about the dry season!

Saturday 29th May
Mary and I drove towards East Point district and enjoyed a long walk along the low cliff top, even in the heat. We returned along the beachfront and were greatly impressed with the amazing rock colours, so we took some photos as proof. Accidently ran across the old Fanny Bay Gaol and were saddened by the awful place it must once have been.
Tom Tom then took us to the very large Casuarina Shopping Centre to see Robin Hood, the movie. Just missed the 12.50 session so wandered around the shops until the next session. We enjoyed Russell Crowe’s version, although of the scenes seemed more fiction than fact! Never mind, we were entertained. Tom brought us safely home by another route!

Sunday 30th May
We were up quite early for the 0845 church service at Darwin Baptist Church – not too far from our camp. Sadly the signwriter had not yet reflected the 0900 service change! Not to worry, as we headed towards the building a lovely lady greeted us as we realised we were very early – an unheard of event in Baptist Churches! No problem – fresh brewed coffee was made for us, and we learned that Tony is the Associate pastor there and was scheduled to preach in a few minutes!
The service was lively, but ordered and very ministry focused with excellent singers, numerous announcements and special prayers for other ministry workers involved in the community. The impression was of a very dynamic and caring church – a pleasant change from some.
Mary and I managed a few light chores and a swim.

Monday 31st May
The day dawned fresh and relatively cool – the Dry may have arrived!
Major washing was completed in preparation for our departure for Litchfield National Park tomorrow. Mary & I headed off to Casuarina for major food replacements as we were not likely to enjoy reasonable choices or prices for some time as we make our way slowly down the WA coast. Had another swim!
However, our day was marred by a call from our John that his doctor had sent him to QEII Hospital to try and resolve some very serious head pains. Frequent text messages and calls resulted throughout the day as we wondered what the outcome might be. Obviously if it became a serious issue then Mary would fly home (and David would have to drive the van), however, late in the day John called to say that he was now back home and would need some specialist advice about some eye troubles that appeared to be the source of the pain.
We went out to top up with petrol and then tidied up the storage of our stuff in the van and the car in readiness for the departure in the morning.
Another cool evening, which made a very pleasant day. Pity that we seem to have missed the cooler Dry Season by only a few days.

Posted by psstevo 06:10 Archived in Australia

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