Day 67, Year 3: Day Trip to Kakadu National Park
Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Weather: No Change, Still Beautiful but Warmer
Location: Fannie Bay, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Right now we are sitting in $75 motel room in Pine Creek, Australia. That is $75 for four people. Not bad. It’s not fancy, far from it, but it is clean and has air conditioning and a refrigerator-and most importantly, it was the only room left in town. So we don’t have to sleep in the car. What more could a person want?!! Well, wireless internet would be great, but that is just not here. So this log will be posted when we get back to Windbird tomorrow night.

We spent our day doing the fast tour of Kakadu National Park. We are a bit tired, but it was a great day. We left the Sailing Club at 7 am and arrived in the Kakadu by 10:30 am. Our first stop was the Mamakala (Mar-moo-car-lar) wetlands. There was an observation platform that allowed us to view birds in the wetlands. There were lots of Magpie geese and various other ducks and water birds. The kapok trees are now in bloom and I got some great photos of the beautiful yellow flowers and newly formed seed pods. We then visited the Bowali (Bor-warl-ee) Visitor Center. There were wonderful displays of park wildlife, so we read as much as we could quickly, fixed and ate a lunch of cheese and salami that we brought with us, and headed on to Nourlangie Rock. We had been driving in flat scrub country all the way from Darwin, but the setting at Nourlangie was among huge rock outcroppings of red sandstone striped in places with orange, white, and black. Nourlangie, called Anabangbang (Arn-barng-barng) by the Aboriginals, was used as an ancient Aboriginal shelter beginning 20,000 years ago and there were numerous rock art sites. Some of the rock art was repainted in 1964. The Aboriginals say that it is tradition to do this periodically and it does enhance the viewing, but somehow it seems to be cheating just a bit. Regardless, we really enjoyed seeing the rock art and only wish we had been able to visit the other rock art site at Ubirr. Mark and I walked to the top of the Nawurlandja (Now-oo-larn-ja) Lookout to see the distant cliffs on the edge of Arnhem Land, to view Nourlangie in all its splendor, and to see the Anbangbang Billabong from afar. It was a truly awesome site. When we walked down, we then drove to the nearby Anbangbang Billabong and walked the 2.5 kilometer path leading around the billabong. A billabong is a wetland that is covered with water in the wet season, but looks more like a shallow pond in the dry. We saw more Magpie geese, beautiful osprey, lots of ducks, and our first red-tailed cockatoo.

From Anbangbang Billibong we drove to Cooinda. We had hoped to have time to visit the Warradjan (Warr-ar-jarn) Aboriginal Cultural Center, but it was getting late in the afternoon and we had miles to go before we could sleep. So we filled up the car with gas at the Gagudju Lodge General Store and headed southwest through the Kakadu. We made one stop to watch huge numbers of red-tailed cockatoos come in for the evening. You can really only see the red tails when they are flying, and they are beautiful.
It was a very special experience which made us glad we had decided to drive all the way through the park. Just about dusk we reached the first town out of the park which was Pine Creek. We had a great seafood curry at the Pine Creek Hotel right across the street from our “hotel.” We packed a lot of traveling into one day and will sleep well tonight. That will prepare us for our trip to Litchfield National Park tomorrow.

080715 Day 67 Best of Day Trip to Kakadu National Park