NOW: KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
On our last visit to Kakadu 23 years ago in the Commodore, we couldn’t get into Gunlom because the road was too rough for our sedan. This time the road was still corrugated gravel but far more accessible in the 4 wheel drive than the poor old Commodore. We did see some 2 wheel drives that had slowly managed to get in over the corrugations.
Gunlom Falls eventually drop into a big pool with a sandy beach. There are warnings about crocodiles that could be in the area which had the European tourists frightened. They let us get in the water before they dared enter the pool.
We camped overnight at Gunlom so that we could climb to the top of the falls in the morning when it was cooler. A steep rocky climb takes the adventurous to the top of the falls with a natural infinity pool cascading down to the sandy pool near the campground. The views from the top of Gunlom Falls go in both directions across the hills to the north and the southern plains of Kakadu.
Further north are the Maguk (Barramundi) Falls. On our way into Maguk Plunge Pool we walked through monsoon forest and along a boardwalk which was still partly submerged in the creek just past the signs warning of crocs in the area. There was still a lot of water about so we were watching for crocs, just in case!
After a rock scramble and an ankle deep creek crossing we enjoyed a swim across the plunge pool. David even edged around under the waterfall where he got a surprise dunking when the force of the water pushed him under. After scrambling back out over the river rocks we lunched under the trees and headed to Cooinda. They have a billabong style pool which was quite nice but it’s hard to replicate the real thing!
Cooinda is home to Yellow Water Billabong. A 6.00am start had us watching the sunrise over the water, a rare thing for us, we’re much better at sunsets than sunrises.
As we cruised slowly through Yellow Water a pair of Jabiru were nesting high in the paperbarks, a family of Jacara having a lily pad walk, whistling ducks giving a salty plenty of space, the shy blue kingfisher rarely seen and a lone freshie sunning on the bank. Lots of birds call Yellow Water home.
The Anbangbang Gallery at Nourlangie Rock tells the story of the lightning man. The rock art shows traditional stories about customs, hunting and food sources. As we walked through the cliffs and caves we understood why people had sheltered here from the sun and enjoyed the cooling breezes. We’d visited this special place with our children when they were young and they still remember their visit now that they are adults. We felt a bit guilty though, we’d certainly made those little kids walk a lot!
The caves of Ubirr also tell stories of hunting and fishing on the Nadab Floodplain. As the sun set over the plains the billabongs glistened in the light and birds settled for the evening. Ubirr is particularly special at sunset, but this evening presented a very threatening sky over the wetlands.
NEXT: COBOURG PENINSULA, GARIG GUNAK BARLU NATIONAL PARK
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David