Darwin - Kakadu
Kilometres 8755 – 9560 km
Here’s a first for us, we’ve spent over a whole week in the one place and I must say “it’s felt a little strange”. We’d planned to have 9 nights in Darwin and it’s been very relaxing and good to recharge our bodies but having spent the past 6 weeks living the country/rural lifestyle, Darwin is a little overwhelming. There’s too many people, too much noise, too much traffic and the pace of a bigger town has caught us off guard. That aside we’ve continued to see some amazing places in and around Darwin.
|Oil storage tunnel under Darwin|
On Monday the kids did a few hours schoolwork where they learnt some of Dad’s bad classroom stories, afterwards we headed into Darwin central to have a look at the old WWII Oil Storage tunnels. This was another glimpse of Darwin preparing for war. These tunnels were built to store the large volumes of oil Darwin had, but they were never used…. From there we went to the Arts Museum to check out the Cyclone Tracy display. Once again the kids were amazed by another piece of Australian history while we relived a piece of our childhood. The kids were keen to know whether Santa got hurt in the cyclone that levelled Darwin on Christmas Eve! (Beautiful)
|The BIG bucket was a BIG hit - Leanyer Water Park|
On Tuesday I headed out for a bit of a caching run around Darwin, with so many options I concentrated my time on finding the locals favourite caches and I must say there were a few good ones. Once again the fighter planes filled the skies with their ear piecing sounds while the big refuelling planes circled high above. We concluded our lazy day with a swim in the pool and Ethan’s favourite food – cheap Tuesday from Eagle Boys.
|A shocking reminder of Cyclone Tracy|
Wednesday morning we did a few odd jobs around the van, I washed the car in an attempt to remove some of that red dust that clings to everything, we put some more of our winter clothes away and since the weather had become surprisingly hot we took the kids to one of the many free waterparks that are dotted around Darwin, we took our lunch and made a great picnic day of playing on the slides, getting smashed by the water cannons and swimming amongst the pools.
|Darwin Northline Speedway|
On Thursday we headed out to do some more sightseeing of Darwin. We just had to go back to Fannie Bay again, where we stopped at the old Gaol and a QANTAS hanger which now doubles as a museum. After a few more stops we headed back for another dose of Mindil Markets. These were such a buzz last time that we had to get more of the culinary cuisine followed by another beautiful sunset over the ocean.
|This salty is about 3.5m long|
As Friday was our last full day in Darwin we spent much of the day packing up the extra gear that we’d managed to accumulate over the course of our 9 days in Darwin, we went shopping to re-stock the cupboards, lazed by the pool and then for our last night, we took the kids to the speedway which had been built as a huge 2-day event in Darwin. We all had a lot of fun, especially Ethan who won the half-time raffle of a new BMX bike…. This is just great when you already have 4 bikes and are on the road for 6 months!
|The water lilys on Corroboree Billabong|
Saturday was moving day and we reluctantly said goodbye to Darwin, but since we’d booked a mid-morning wetland cruise in Kakadu there was no time to waste. As we headed to the meeting point the Kakadu environment catches you by surprise as we seen Water Buffalo grazing in paddocks beside the road and every creek crossing displayed a crocodile warning sign. We’d ebbed the urge to see our first crocodile till we could actually see them in the wild and as we joined the wetlands cruise the guide assured us we wouldn’t be disappointed. However with a local fisherman being taken by a croc only last week not far from where we were, we boarded the small tinnie cruise boat with some scepticism…. The guide gave us the standard safety talk, no arms or hands outside the boat and he mentioned there were life jackets under the seats but went on to say “you won’t need them cause if we capsize I’m sure all of you will walk on water to get out of this croc infested place”. Once out on the billabong the beauty of the area was amazing, flowering water lily’s line the banks, mangroves in other parts, plenty of birds and fish, then bam! We see our first saltwater crocodile, it was probably 2.5m long and the guide managed to get our boat within a few metres of it before the croc slinks off the embankment and into the water where it immediately disappeared. Over the course of the next hour we probably seen 5 or 6 more crocs, both saltwater and freshwater crocs, all of them had us in awe. Just as the guide says its time to head back we spotted a huge crocodile, easily 5m long with a massive head and torso. It didn’t hang around for pictures and we didn’t hang around once it disappeared under the water…. Our tour of the wetlands was well worth the wait.
By mid-afternoon we were well into Kakadu and had soon found a spot to camp, surprisingly not far from a billabong where signs warn you of the crocodiles.We finished our week with a real cultural day exploring many of the attractions Kakadu has to offer. We saw some rock art done by Aboriginals dating back 1000 years ago and the caves where many of them lived. We visited the townships of Jabiru and Ubirr where of course, nothing was open as it was Sunday. On a number of occasions we saw crocodiles warming themselves on the banks of rivers or creeks with roadways only metres away (that was pretty freaky). At Cahills Crossing we saw 2 crocs swimming just near the causeway crossing that we drove as we headed into Arnhem Land. As the sun set on our 7th week we took in the vista of the East Alligator River from one of the lookouts at Ubirr Rocks. Simply amazing!