In part two of our Kakadu walking story, Great Walks ventures further into this ancient stone country to hear about the stories of the First Nations people and how they left their mark.
For part one of our story click here.
After spending half a day exploring the Ubirr rock art sight we headed to the East Alligator River for a boat tour that would take us across to Arnham Land, basically the other side of the river. On the boat cruise we spotted 30 or so saltwater crocs (the dangerous type – as opposed to 'freshies' who probably won't eat you just give you a nasty bite if you got in their way).
We stopped at Cahills Crossing, Australia's most dangerous river crossing – because you guessed it, crocs. It's not a crossing where you want your car to break down, or get flooded. Each year, dozens of brazen drivers attempt to make it across the submerged crossing but instead end up being washed away into the croc infested waters. Others risk their lives by wading in the waters and fishing. Some even bring their children. A crocodile once decapitated a man there in front of his friends.
And yet there were dozens of fishers throwing in a line and constantly catching massive barramundi as if they were fishing in a barrel. And as for the crocs, we'll there were plenty to be seen but the fishers didn't seem to care. Go figure.
After the boat ride we spent the afternoon at Hawk Dreaming Wilderness Lodge. This remote and restricted area of Kakadu covers wetland and open savannah, and features some of the most impressive rock art we had the privileged to see.
We spent the night at a new resort called Anbinik which featured gorgeous accommodation and amazing Thai food. Yum!
It was an early wake up the next morning as we had a big day and a bit of driving to do. One thing you appreciate is the share size of Kakadu - try 20,000 sq km! Reaching the Noulangie Region of Kakadu, another area famous for its dramatic rock art, we set off on the 12km Barrk Sandstone Walk. Barrk is the Bininj name for the male black wallaroo, a stocky dark-coloured member of the kangaroo family.
The track had only just opened by a few days and you could see and smell the burn-off that the local park rangers had managed - the reason for this was to clear the track after it had become overgrown from the wet season. We passed through an area of sandstone outcrops, rock slabs, prickly spinifex and open woodland. Half way along the walk we came to the our second rock art sight for the day and there was plenty to see.
After the walk we hopped on the bus and headed to the local aerodrome for a scenic flight over Kakadu. This is the thing about Life's An Adventure, they love the 'wow factor' and we certainly got 'wowed' today! Our group was divided into two planes and off we went soaring above the skies with the amazing national park 1000 feet below. It gave us a different insight into the contrasting terrain that makes up Kakadu – high rocky peaks, miles of wetlands and open savannah, swamps, low lying bushland and hundreds of acres of forest.
For our last two nights we were based at Cooinda Lodge which was very popular with campers and you could see why as it had plenty to offer including two pools, a games area, a bar and a fine dining area. We were all very happy.
Our penultimate day included a wonderful walk – or more like rock hop – to the spectacular Jim Jim Falls where we had plenty of time for a swim and a lazy lunch, and our last day included a walk up a steep rocky track to the Gunlom Infinity Pool for more swims and scenic spots for lunch.
After five-days my family and I said our goodbye to our guides and fellow travellers. My daughter Matilda had formed a bond with one of our guides called B and I saw a few tears in my daughter's eyes as we headed back to Darwin. And if that isn't a sign of a great trip I don't know what is!
Words and photos_Brent McKean