|Entering Kakadu from the South|
|Mike, Natalie, Sam and Josh in front of Gunlom Falls|
That night we went to a slide show (where a Kakadu ranger gives a presentation and talks about the subject of the slideshow). The slideshow that night was about the local Jawoyn (Aboriginal) people, we found it very interesting and the kids loved it too.
Monday 25th June: Our body clocks were still a bit off (and it was a bit of a later night the night before), so we didn’t get out of bed until 8am which was quite nice (normally we are up at 7am). After some bacon and eggs for breakfast, we did our school work for the day. Once school was out of the way we donned our swimmers and walked up to the top of Gunlom Waterfall to have a look at the falls and go for a swim at the pool at the top - where there are no crocodiles. The water was nice and refreshing.
|The pools at the top of Gunlom Falls|
|Mike and Josh at the top of the Gunlom Falls|
After a great time at the top, we headed back down the track to the bottom for a late lunch. We didn’t do too much that afternoon - just had some quiet time, the kids watched a movie and then we went for a small walk to Murril Billabong, which is not far from the campsite. Afterward, we decided to have showers while the sun was still up (so that there was still hot water left in the solar showers). That night we lit a campfire, cooked dinner (which included some damper that we cooked on the campfire) and ate marshmallows while we sat the campfire until bed time.
|Josh and Mike getting their hands dirty making damper|
|Natalie loves toasted marshmallows|
|The view of our 'ransacked' caravan at the top of the road out of Gunlom|
|I could have sworn there was a watertank under this van last time I checked!!|
|Some of the rock art at Nourlangie Rock|
The drive to Twin falls took 2 hours as the road was quite rough and the 4WD track was very slow going. Once we got to Twin Falls, we needed to get on a boat to visit the falls.
|Taking the boat out to Twin Falls|
|The view of twin falls from the boat|
We were so glad we went there because they were absolutely spectacular.
|Twin Falls, Kakadu National Park|
|A saltwater crocodile trap - a reminder that swimming anywhere in the top end can be dangerous!|
We had a good look around the falls and then walked (and rode the boat) back to the car. We had some lunch there and then drove to Jim Jim Falls. The walk to Jim Jim falls was quite challenging; with large boulders to hop across, but the kids all did very well. Sam takes 3 steps to every 1 of dad’s steps, so he walked a long way!
|On the walk out to Jim Jim Falls|
We got to the falls and it was another very spectacular sight - even moreso than Twin falls.
|Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park|
We didn’t know that you could swim there, and unfortunatley we hadn’t taken our swimmers! Nonetheless, the kids stripped off to their undies and went for a swim in the freezing water. Mike swam in his shorts and enjoyed the icy waters too. Josh and Mike went across to the Plunge pool at the bottom of the 100 metre waterfall to have a look and a brief swim. After Jim Jim falls, we drove back to the caravan at Mardagul campsite. We drove to the resort at Cooinda after dinner to watch a slideshow about Saltwater Crocodiles (called Ginga in the local Aboriginal language). It had been a very big day and everyone was exhausted, but we had a fantastic day and saw some great sites.
Thursday 28th June – We weren’t far from Yellow Waters, so that morning we drove there to have a look. We decided not to do the famous Yellow Waters boat cruise (as it was too pricy and the kids probably wouldn’t appreciate it fully at their ages), so we walked along the boardwalk and admired the wetlands – it really is a beautiful place. Unfortunately some of the walks were still closed due to the water level being too high.
|Yellow Waters wetlands from the boardwalk|
|Josh, Sam, Mike and Natalie at the end of the Yellow Waters boardwalk|
|Some of the stunning scenery at Yellow Waters|
After Yellow waters, we picked up the van from the Mardagul campsite and drove toward Ubirr. We stopped in at the Bowali Visitor Centre to have a look at the exhibits and watch a brief film on Kakadu. When we left the visitor centre, we were thinking that we would head to the next campsite (called Merl) near Ubirr, but we had to stop in Jabiru to get some food and thought we’d check out the price of the caravan park. It turned out that the kids were free, so we only had to pay $38 for a night (for a powered site (with water too – which was helpful because we didn’t have a tank)) so we opted to stay in Jabiru for the night. We swam in the lovely big pool (which was pretty cold). We met Cara and Michael and their 2 year old son Kevin. Our kids had a ball playing with Kevin at the pool and Liz and Mike enjoyed chatting with Cara and Michael for a while by the pool. We watched another slideshow that evening about Kakadu Wildlife.
Friday 29th June – The weather was really hot (mid 30’s) and we decided that we needed a rest day, so we re-booked into the caravan park in Jabiru and stayed there for another day. We got all the schoolwork done to finish Term 2 for Josh and Natalie before heading back to the pool for a refreshing swim. After lunch, we went back into the pool for the afternoon. The park was showing the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ that evening, so we went to watch it with the kids. Josh and Sam didn’t want to stay so came back to the caravan with Mike while Natalie and Liz watched till the end. Overall, it was a pretty restful day - which was exactly what we needed.Saturday 30th June – When we were starting to pack up at the Jabiru caravan park, we noticed that our car battery was dead! We jump started it off our auxiliary battery and hoped that it would keep charge. We thought that the central locking unit which Mike installed had a problem with one of the mechanisms in the door, so Mike disconnected it until we get the chance to investigate what's going on. So for a while we've had to live without central locking on the car – and it’s amazing how useful it really is - when it works! Nonetheless, we packed up and hooked up the van and drove to Merl Campground near Ubirr. It was another 35 degree day (and quite humid too), and so we all felt a bit hot and tired. We also saw some clouds roll overhead that day – something we haven’t seen for quite some time! There was no rain of course (we’re not likely to see any rain for another 2-3 months) and the humidity blew through fairly quickly. We continually thank God for the weather we’ve been having. We really haven’t had much rain for all of our trip, and we quite like not having to think about taking wet weather gear - just in case the weather turns!
After the van was setup (which only takes about 10 minutes in a free camp because there’s no water or power to hook up), we went and had a look at Cahill’s Crossing – one of the crossings over to Arnhem land. After some lunch, we went back to Cahill’s Crossing to try and spot a crocodile (but we didn’t see one). Later that day we drove out to Ubirr to listen to the ranger talks about the Rock Art in the area. The Ubirr Main Gallery has hundreds of Aboriginal paintings (some over 5000 years old – and even one of a Tasmanian Tiger!). It was really impressive to see the rock art and the detail is quite amazing.
|Some of the Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr, Kakadu|
|A 5000 year old painting of a Tasmanian Tiger, high up on a cliff face in Ubirr|
We climbed to the top of the lookout and saw a beautiful view across the flood plains and over to the mountains. We didn’t stay for sunset (but weren’t too far off) and left the hordes of people (at least 300) and walked through the empty art sites below. We ducked back to Cahills crossing again to have a spot for crocs (and have a fish) but didn’t see any - or catch any fish.
|The beautiful view from the top of the rock at Ubirr|
|Hundreds of people enjoying the beautiful view!|
We needed to eat breakfast inside on Sunday 1st July, because the mozzies were absolutely terrible at Merl Campground (especially in the bathrooms!). We were glad we only stayed at Merl for 1 night because the mosquitos were just so unbearable. Later that morning, we went down to Cahills crossing again to spot for crocs (and have a fish).
|Mike trying for a Barra at Cahill's Crossing|
|Some other fishermen trying their luck (with the fish and the crocs in the water!)|
Liz spotted a croc swimming along down the river a bit but Mike didn’t catch any of those elusive Barra. We packed up the caravan and drove to Marmukala wetlands and walked to the bird hide to look at the birds in the wetlands. After the wetlands, we drove to the Aroura Kakadu caravan park in South Alligator. Shortly after lunch, we went back to the South Alligator river to look for crocs, and we saw eight salties in the water or on the muddy banks of the river.
|A big saltie sliding back to the water|
|I hope his put on his sunscreen!|
|Another Large Saltwater Crocodile|
When we’d done enough croc spotting, we went back to the caravan park for a swim in their pool to cool off. The rest of the afternoon was spent around the caravan playing soccer and riding bikes and practising with dad's stockwhip. After dinner we saw a few fireworks because it was Territory day in the NT – the only day where you can buy and use fireworks.
We had been wanting to go on a Jumping Croc Cruise, so we had booked into one on Monday 2nd July. We had to rush a bit to make it on time because it was a bit further than we had thought. We made it on time and had a fantastic cruise watching crocodiles be fed and having them jump right next to the boat. It was great fun and the kids enjoyed watching the crocs.
|It's amazing how high the crocodiles can propel themselves with their tail|
|Feeding a huge crocodile called 'Brutus' - they really are massive animals|
When we’d finished the cruise, we drove into the Big 4 in Howard Springs (not far outside of Darwin) and setup the van (in a very full caravan park). Our friends the Guse Family and the Leonard Family were both staying at the same caravan park, so we all had dinner together. For us it was a bit of a farewell dinner for the Leonards because we are unlikely to see them again on our travels as we’ll head in different directions.
|Liz, Mike, Kev, Sonia, Catherine and Dean|
Overall, we really enjoyed our 9 days in Kakadu. For us it was the perfect amount of time to see everything that we wanted to see without rushing it too much (and also have a rest day in the middle).