Monday, 11 August 2008


On the way to Kakadu we stopped at a roadhouse for a break and came across the army on the move for an exercise nearby. A line up of five APC’s and a number of support vehicles greeted us on our arrival. Well, they didn’t exactly greet us, they too were having a break from army rations and stocking up on fried chips and the usual fare of roadhouses. They looked very impressive and when their intrepid leader gave the order to move out we thought this was going to be really an experience to remember. That was until the lead driver said to his intrepid leader, “It won’t go, Sir”. Not exactly what our taxes at work were hoping for and even worse, they couldn’t get it going so the other four APC’s left it behind “Nigel no mates style”. A bit embarrassing really especially with a large number of grey nomads recording the incident on cameras and posing for photos beside said sad vehicle! Photo provided for Kate and Waz (another big thing)!
Kakadu has been another great place to visit for us even though we have only stayed two nights. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon at Cooinda which is one of the major resorts within Kakadu and immediately noticed that it was not as humid as Darwin which was nice. We loved being warm don’t misunderstand or think us ungrateful, but it’s nice to sleep without humidity. There is a great pool here which we have taken full advantage of and really enjoy heading off for a swim a couple of times each day now.
We went to the Cultural Centre on Thursday morning and walked out along the boardwalks at Yellow Water Wetlands and decided we had made a very good choice to go on a sunset boat ride as it’s pretty warm to be walking around too much during the day. We did learn from our walk today how important the wetlands are and how far birds migrate from to visit Kakadu – Siberia no less!
We retreated to the pool for the afternoon and then embarked on our boat ride from Muirella Park. This boat ride is run by a family who are Indigenous to the area. Our guides were both born in this area and their father used to run crocodile hunting expeditions from the billabong we travelled along. The camp beside the billabong is completely packed up during the wet as it is inundated during that period. It is incredible to see from the debris caught up in the trees just how high the water comes.
Our guides, Fred and Douglas were fantastic as they took us on a tour of what can best be described as ‘their neighbourhood’ and their supermarket. It seems like we were travelling down a suburban street and being introduced to their friends and neighbours and visiting the local shops too.
Before we set out on the boat down the billabong Fred showed us how he cooks for the visitors they have to the camp (including Peter Garrett last week, geez I hope he’s not a vegetarian!). In a hole in the ground lined with hot, really hot coals and rocks he placed a shoulder of buffalo, and a leg of pork which he covered with pre heated rocks, then leaves and paperbark and covered with more hot rocks. This cooked for hours and was delicious. It was shame we all decided, that we hadn’t come for dinner, he made it sound so appealing.
It is incredible to see all the birds, plants and fish not to mention the ‘salty’ waiting for one of the poor unsuspecting fruit bats feeding on the new blossoms above to dangle within his reach. Fred introduced us to each of the birds and told us how long they had lived in that particular tree and how some had been forced to relocate by others taking over that particular branch. We even managed to identify the mystery bird from Bramston Beach last year. It is a Burdekin duck. Now I know you had all been waiting since last year to find that out!
We also learnt a lot about how the local people would cook many of the fish and animals and how you would never go hungry if you only knew what to look for, how to catch it. The story of how the women catch the water snakes was interesting and I’m really happy buying meat, fish and chicken at Coles thanks! Especially with the description of putting the snakes head into your mouth to break the neck! Ta but no thanks!
It was a wonderful night – and we are so glad we came. Now it’s back to Katherine and on down the road.

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