Yesterday we drove 250km for a one hour scenic flight over Kakadu National Park.
Kakadu National Park is an enormous, bio diverse nature preserve in Australia’s Northern Territory. With terrain encompassing wetlands, rivers and sandstone escarpments, it’s home to some 2,000 plant species and wildlife from saltwater crocodiles and Flatback turtles to hundreds of bird species. Aboriginal rock-art paintings dating to prehistoric times can be viewed at sites such as Nourlangie, Nanguluwur and Ubirr. (Thanks Mr Google)
In my mind I pictured Kakadu as a vast wetland but as I soon discovered it was also an area of sandstone escarpments covering a very large area. The drive out to Jabiru was quite exciting really as we drove along the Arnhem Highway and just passed Humpty Doo we saw the rear end of two animals waddling along side the road. The first impression was that of a pair of Hippos, (no we hadn’t touched a drop). How could that be, but as we came along side they were clearly water buffalos out for a morning stroll. Even the truckies commented on them as we heard on the CB.Later we saw wallabies grazing in the shade along side the road. It was coffee time so we stopped at the Bark Hut Inn and joined a bus load to tourist fighting for refreshments.
Bar at the Bark Hut Inn
An Original Toyota “Bull Catcher”
An Original Bull, Water Buffalo
Here there was some memorabilia of history in the area. One item shown above was a Toyota Landcruiser setup as you see with the “cage” on the front. The buffalo catcher would stand in the “cage” with a rope and the driver would try and drive alongside the running buffalo. The catchers job was to get the rope around the buffalo’s neck so they could secure it and get it picked up by a truck. I don’t fancy being a catcher nor the driver as they drove at speed over open country and anything was likely to happen.
Continuing on we made it to Jabiru township in good time. The town was built to service the Ranger Mine a little further down the road. The town was started in the 1980s and boasts a bank, supermarket,Police station, community health facility and a community centre. The airport is actually owned by Ranger Mining to fly their workers in and out and is located a further 5km down the road.
We checked in for our flight and waited for the previous flight to return. The flight arrived and the pilot came dashing into the terminal grabbed the phone list from the counter and was on the phone to the medical centre.Apparently one of his passengers on the flight was very ill thinking she had had a stroke. The Pilot diagnosed her condition as hyperventilation. The pilot diagnosis was confirmed by the medical centre and the passenger was brought into the terminal and made breathe into a plastic bag. The Pilot had suggested this while in flight but the passenger was to scarred to try it. After a short interval she recovered and went on her merry way. It was now our flight and Pam and I were the only passengers. I think the pilot was quite relieved when he found out that we had some light aircraft experience.
After take off he suggested we take a more leisurely route to give us a better opportunity to take photos. I was using a long lens and he suggested he would make several passes of the water falls at different distances to give me a better chance of a decent photo. It was brilliant to see all the different formations and could not imagine how the area could be traversed by foot and horse as did some early explorers. During the Wet season there are thousands of temporary water falls. In the Dry season these dry up as do the more permanent ones. Jim Jim Falls is one of the bigger falls is feed by a system of creeks that will dry up during the Dry season. Twin Falls is a more permanent one as it is feed from springs.
Returning to the airstrip we passed by the mine and the township
Open Cut Pit at the top
Resort in Jabiru in the shape of a Croc
Driving back after our flight was full of surprises as we spotted a dingo just trotting along the roadside. Every so often we would spot Wallabies on the verge and various birds. We were concerned that we might be caught in a bushfire as we saw the smoke rising in front of us but it was off to one side of the road.As the sun was setting we stopped at the Humpty Doo Pub for dinner. We ordered to Mixed Grill (Barramundi, Crocodile,Buffalo and pork ribs)
Wallaby at dusk
Fire alongside the road
Dinner at Humpty Doo Pub