Part one –
The Northern Territory used to have an advertising slogan, “You’ll Never Never Know, If You Never Never Go.” Of course this was a play on the title of the book by Mrs Jeannie Gunn, We of the Never Never, recounting her experiences in the bush. The book was set in the area around Katherine, but the advertising slogan befits the Kakadu experience. You just won’t get it, if you don’t visit.
It is so hard to describe Kakadu, because it is so diverse. It covers approximately 20 000 square kilometres. There are countries in Europe that aren’t that big. Because of its expanse, it boasts many different landscapes; even the information booklet you receive when you pay for your park pass identifies seven different regions of Kakadu. There is dry scrub. There are amazing wetlands. There are spectacular waterfalls and rock pools and crocodile infested creeks. There are ancient rocks and an ancient culture. You need several days to appreciate it all, and that it is in the dry season; apparently it’s a totally different experience in the wet.
Our first day was a leisurely drive to Kakadu. Along the way we stopped at the Window on the Wetlands Visitors Centre (free entry) which overlooks the flood plains of the Adelaide River. This is a great little interactive experience especially for little kids, with lots of flaps to open and buttons to push. I was interested to find out that there had been attempts to get a rice industry started here in the 1950s but it failed. Maybe it’s just the water buffalo grazing on the flood plains, but it sure looked like rice growing country to me. And that ladies and gentlemen, accounts for my appalling results in Agricultural Studies at high school.
We saw the Cult of the Fifth Wheeler for what turned out to be the last time today. As we were driving past, there were those green and blue team shirts at the front of the line for the Adelaide River Jumping Croc Cruise (an activity we will have to do next time). I actually noticed the shirts before I noticed the behemoth vehicle in the carpark. I only hope that the shirts didn’t prove too eye-catching for the jumping crocs and they all made it off the boat alive.
Our second stop was in the park itself at the Bowali Information Centre, where we set upon by the most enthusiastic mosquitoes and were greeted by the most enthusiastic park ranger ever.
“Do you think we will get the caravan into Gunlom?” we asked.
“No worries, mate. Plenty of those Wicked Campers will have graded it with their diffs.”
Kakadu attracts A HEAP of visitors each year, and I reckon you get pretty good value out of your $25 pass (fourteen days, children under 16 and NT residents free). The Visitor Information booklet provides all sorts of information about the area: the culture, the land, the flora and fauna, as well as details about things to see and the campgrounds.
We chose Gagudju Lodge at Cooinda as our base for three nights. We hadn’t booked in advance and Continue reading