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Saturday, 29 August 2015

Kakadu National Park: the beauty and the beast.

Kakadu National Park, home of many aboriginal clan groups. Home of outstanding beauty and terrifying beasts. 

I promised last week to take you from Darwin to Kakadu and on to Litchfield National Park, but, well, there's a lot of photos. A LOT. Too many … and I've done a lot of culling. So, it's become a two part journey. Obviously, you're in Part 1 … Part 2 to come next week.

So, this week, let's get into Kakadu. First stop, some of the beauty.

Nourlangie Rock where artists have been at work for 20,000 years recording their way of life and stories.

See that little skeletal man at the top right with an almost complete circle around him. That circle is lightning and he's lightning man. He makes thunder too. I think he's pretty cool.

This is Nabulwinjbulwinj. He is fierce. He eats females. You can tell his strength by the size of his genitals. (This applies to females too.) In aboriginal art, size really does matter.

This amazing art is clustered in, what I found to be, cool, protected spots where the rocks overhang. Maybe art was a way to avoid the extreme heat and the monsoonal rains?

The age and beauty of this art astounds me.

And at Yellow Water Billabong more beauty. Stunning beauty.

Lotus flowers in abundance.

Green Pygmy Geese.

Egrets, Intermediate Egrets, I think. My brother will know.

A pair of brolga.

Little Corellas and Wandering Whistling-ducks.

  A Little Eagle, I think, and a White-bellied Sea Eagle.

One of my favourites, Rainbow Bee-eaters. Look at that colour and the oh-so-fine tail feather.

In the distance, a Jabiru, Australia's only stork and our largest wading bird.

And another favourite of mine, the Jacana, otherwise known as the Jesus bird for its seeming ability to walk on water. Look at those feet.

And then there is the beast.

Or rather the beasts.

LOTS of them.

I had not seen a large one in the wild, so I was suitably impressed, terrified, in awe.

Crocodiles … estuarine … salt water crocs. They're a little tricky; they live in both salty and fresh water.

And they're scary. Very scary.

These are apparently females. Not big enough to be males. 

Okay, so these aren't big? Enough?

This one sat statue-like for so long I thought it was plastic. A plant.

But then the jaws slowly closed.

Keeping the mouth open helps to control their body temperature, apparently. No sweat glands. I suppose they save a lot not having to buy deodorant.

They were everywhere. Lurking. Gliding.


Big and scary.

And that's probably enough for this week.
Photo overload.

There's more to come.
A trip to the edge of Arnhem Land,
possibly one of the oldest aboriginal rock paintings,
Litchfield National Park.

Have you been to Kakadu?

Been in awe of the paintings?

The lotus?

The wildlife?

The history?

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Darwin, a short break at Australia's Top End.

"Darwin," MLP says. "Why don't we go to Darwin … and Kakadu … and Litchfield? What do you think?" He'd been away for work for a very long time and this was to celebrate his return. I'd been thinking somewhere closer, like the Southern Highlands, but the idea of warmth, maybe even heat, and the opportunity to swim made the decision easy. So, within a week, we are there. Darwin. The Top End. The Northern Territory. Crocodile country.

Reality TV, Northern Territory Cops, suggests a beer-swilling, outback-outlaw culture with severe heat and humidity to drive even the best troppo, yet, despite this media headline showcased on every street corner on the day of our arrival,

that is not what we find.

It is Festival time and the city is alive with art, entertainment, food and song. Culture in the Top End. Who would have thought!

Number One, my brother's first born, a six weeks Darwin resident, greets us at dinner in Festival Park with, "I love this place! I never want to leave." (She hasn't experienced her first Wet yet.) The Wet (season) is long, hot, humid and extremely wet … apparently … and the build up to The Wet is even worse … apparently … waiting for the storms to come and provide relief from the stifling humidity and temperatures.

We, however, are here in prime time. The Dry. Pleasantly hot, but not humid. Not a cardigan, jumper, coat in sight, nor a storm cloud. Perfect.

We walk the city. Australia's smallest. Its new waterfront development

with wave pool and one sole swimmer (much busier later in the day),

and Convention Centre.

Yes, we swim, not in the wave pool, but in the croc and stinger free enclosure. Always good to be croc and stinger free … an added advantage in the Top End.

I wish I could have found these in my size to swim in,

or had someone small to buy them for. Sooo cute.

Over the walkway and into town, we find heritage buildings lucky enough to have survived the Japanese bombing raids (19 February, 1942) and Tracy (Cyclone Tracy: Darwin's Christmas Eve present 1974)

or to have the surviving parts subsumed into a new structure.

High rise

versus colonial style Parliament House.

  and its magnificent views.

The ubiquitous bougainvillea of the tropics,

and a monsoon forest walk

lead us to the shoreline

a spot that reveals the remnants of what was once the Governor's swimming pool, or so we are told by a local spending his afternoon lazily watching the seas.

A lunch break selfie in MLP's new sunnies.

Later, we head to Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, a Darwin institution.

There is food from around the globe.

Slappers … arch support thongs (flip-flops, if you will)

sold out of the coolest vintage VW Kombi.

All sorts of market wares.

Crocodile souvenirs.

The cutest kids-wear.

Cowboy boots for Top End cowboys and girls.

The crowds grow exponentially as sunset draws nearer, so get there early.

We don't do the sunset that night, but, when we return from Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, we venture to Darwin's best kept secret … Darwin Sailing Club on Fannie Bay … to see the Top End's spectacular red sunset. The Sailing Club, perched on the edge of Fannie Bay, provides a perfect farewell for us from Darwin.


After the sun is gone, a short wait and this happens. Amazingly beautiful.

And finally, our last dinner.

I'm impressed.
Darwin is a city worth exploring
and it provided our gateway to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks,
but for them you will have to wait till next week.

Have you been to Darwin?

Seen the sunset?

Discovered its history?

Were you impressed?