When it comes to bucket-list places for any around Australia traveller, Kakadu would have be very high on anyone’s bucket list. When we turned onto the Kakadu Highway, Joanne did say “Oh my God we are finally here and I just realised we are a long way from home.”
Kakadu has been a bucket-list item for both of us, this fantastic place has so many sites and attractions you can become overawed with what to do and where to go. We decided right from the start this first visit would be one of many to this region, so we were not too concerned about trying to do the whole Kakadu experience in our first trip in just a few short days.
The first stop in Kakadu was Gunlom Falls, arriving in convoy with our good travelling companions “Woodies from Melbourne”, but unfortunately Cat (mum Woodie) developed an allergic skin complain. So the Woodies broke camp after the first night and headed directly to Jabiru for medical assistance. We remained for an extra day/night to explore the local area. This time of year, only a trickle of water descending into the large lagoon at the base of the high falls, however the lagoon proved a very large deep refreshing swimming hole. The next day, some people advised us that Park Rangers were advising people to stick close to the small sand beach as a 3m freshwater female croc was patrolling the other side if the lagoon where the water falls into the lagoon. I didn’t get that memo the day I decided to swim the 150 metres across the lagoon.
A walk to the top of Gunlom Falls, over a very steep and tortuous rocky track was heavy going especially in the middle of the day. The effort was certainly rewarding with spectacular views and refreshing dip in the infinity rock pool, right on top of the water falls. Unfortunately, having completed the decent back to the campsite and only when we were walking back across the very level and clear campground Joanne managed to twist and sprain her ankle.
Given Joanne’s injury any further bushwalking or climbing expeditions were unlikely for a few days so we decided to head into Jabiru to rest up, And there was a game of football that weekend that was of interest, Richmond vs GWS. One other sporting event where we were spectators, was the Carhill Crossing challenge. Special viewing platforms are available to allow spectators to watch at height of flood tide:
- Large crocodiles coming together to feast on mullet spilling over the causeway
- Human daredevils attempting the Cahill Causeway crossing
After this exciting sporting event, we had a change of pass. Within the East Alligator region of Kakadu National Park, we spent the afternoon at Ubirr. It consists of a group of rock outcrops on the edge of the Nadab floodplain where there are several natural shelters that include a collection of Aboriginal rock paintings, some of which are many thousands of years old. The art depicts certain creation ancestors as well as animals from the area such as barramundi, catfish, mullet, goannas, long-necked turtles, pig-nosed turtles, rock ringtail possums, and wallabies. Joanne was so brave still recovering from her sprain ankle, my brave soldier walk all the way up the top of Ubirr Rock to take in the panoramic view of the floodplains and escarpments.
While in Jabiru we also caught us with a delightful German couple, Nick and Victoria, they had been travelling with the Woods for some time. As they did not have a 4WD they came with us in the Dmax on a day trip back to Jim Jim Falls. The walk into the falls was very hard going, and again Joanne showed how brave and determined she was to walk all the way in to Jim Jim Falls.
We also spent one day on the Arnhemlander Cultural & Heritage 4wd Tour, which briefly took us into West Arnhem Land to Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) to the Injalak Arts & Crafts Centre we also visited many important rock art sites and learnt so much from our guide that day.
This short trip was a taster for the next exciting adventure we were to undertake into Arnhem Land.