• Day4


    August 22, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    22 August 2017

    After breakfast we boarded the bus and headed for Kakadu. This park is massive and is Australia's largest terrestrial national park. Being so big and popular means it takes a lot of careful planning to manage it properly so it is jointly managed by the Federal Government, NT Government, and the traditional owners.

    Out first stop was at the signpost for the entrance to the park, there is a photo below. In the photo you can also see a road train, these are quite common and are usually as long as 4 semi traillers and will have over 70 tyres on them. After a few photos we went on a bit further and stopped to view the escarpment that runs through the park, really spectacular. Sharon told us some of the aboriginal stories associated with how it all came about.

    Next stop was Nourlangie Rock. This is a large sandstone outcrop that has some spectacular cave art dating back hundreds of years as well as some more recent work from the last hundred years. It is difficult to date aboriginal rock art so they have to do it from what is painted, if there are white men then it is recent, if there are extinct animals (like the thylacine) then it is older, and if there are giant kangaroos then it is really old. The aborigines also paint over old paintings so some areas have been painted for centuries. We climbed up to the top of the rock and had a magnificant view over the East Alligator River flood plain and across the escarpment.

    Next was a short trip up the road to Cahills Crossing. Named after a pastoralist from the early 1800s this is the entry into Arnhem Land and you can only access this area by permission or if you are one of the traditional owners. The causeway across the river is a favourite for 4 wheel drivers who seem to just go across and then come back. The causeway is great for fishing as well which means it is a fantastic spot for crocs. Indeed a few people have lost their lives to croc attack here and by my quick count there were 21 big crocs (some were a good 4 metres long) in about 200m of the causeway - and that was just the ones I could see. The river here is tidal so the crocs hang out catching the mullet that swim up stream. Crocs can stay under water for over an hour and the water was the colour of milk coffee so there would have been many more than the ones I could see. There were a couple of guys fishing here despite the signs and the bunch of flowers in memory of one of the victims.

    Suffice to say we kept well away from the water.

    Next was more rock art and stunning scenery from Ubirr Rock. This is a different tribe to Nourlangie Rock so the stories are a bit different. The geology of the rocks are also different with lumps of quartz through the sandstone. The art was just as interesting and Sharon told us some of the stories about the art. We are close to the uranium mine and the aborigines knew the area where the mine is located as a 'sickness area' so they avoided going there, in their paintings they showed some people who were sick from being in that area. Sharon also explained some of the aborginal culture and how their society functioned - who is your brother/sister (not just immediate siblings, all cousins are counted as well), who you are allowed to marry (that one is confusing but suffice to say they had it well worked out to avoid in-breeding), and once you are married you can't talk directly to your previous family (though there are ways around that). All very interesting.

    Last stop for the day was Bowali Visitors Centre for an ice cream and then back to the Mary River resort.

    Tomorrow is a day of rest!
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