Kakadu to Home

24th July, 2003
25th July, 2003
26th July, 2003
27th July, 2003

Thursday 24th July, 2003

Postcard Crocodile Hotel

Postcard, Gagadju Crocodile Hotel

Drop Cap to a very good night in the Croc. Mattress too hard. I have not actually described the Gagadju Hotel. It really is shaped like a crocodile. We entered through the jaws, which are open with tooth shaped pillars. They even have yellow eyes at the top of the head with red spotlights to glow in the dark. Reception and restaurants take up the head and stomach, rooms are on two levels around the body, which incorporates the pool as the heart. The legs form staircases on four sides up to the upper floor. It is a crazy gimmick, but fun.

Croc photograph

Lunchtime at East Alligator River

Drop Cap oday we went out at 08:00 to have a cruise on the East Alligator River with aboriginal guides. They all warned about leaning arms or heads out from the boat, or even pointing. Although we did not expect to (rather like whale watching) we did actually see quite a lot of crocs, the salt water type. None really big, about 2/3 metres, I guess, but it was great to see them.

East Alligator River photograph

Cruising the East Alligator River

Drop Cap he river was lovely and we had a very interesting cruise, stopping to let us off at a rock in Arnhem Land to get the view and a talk and demonstration of spear throwing, which was illuminating, to say the least, by the young man who was driving our boat. The lady who took the other boat showed how to make fibres from natural leaves etc and weave them into dilly bags and platters etc. Very interesting.

Ubirr Art photograph

Aboriginal Art, Ubirr (Long Necked Turtle)

Drop Cap hen we reached land again we went to Ubirr, where there are rock faces covered in centuries worth of layers of paintings. There were several styles, including the characteristic X-Ray style. They had a picture of a thylacine, extinct for thousands of years up here, among many more recent, including two white men smoking pipes with their hands in their pockets. These are known as "contact art".

Ubirr Art photograph

Aboriginal Art, Ubirr, Man Hunting

Drop Cap e had a meagre lunch at the Cultural Centre (they had run out of food) then had a look at the exhibits. There was a pool with examples of local fish including a really incredible archer fish. They are called archer because they shoot a jet of water into the air to knock down insects for food. One of our tour members, Ross, held up a crumb over the pool and the fish swam up and spat it out of his fingers. It was absolutely amazing!

Drop Cap e came back to the hotel for a rest afternoon. Decided to have dinner a la carte at the restaurant, as a change from buffets. We both decided on curry, I had butter chicken and Mac had lamb korma, complete with jasmine rice, naan bread and chutney etc. Quite tasty and very filling. Tomorrow is a very long day before we get to Darwin.

Back to Top spacer Blue up arrow

Back to Contents Yellow up arrow

Friday, 25th July, 2003

Croc photograph

Tempting the Jumping Crocs

Drop Cap eft Jabiru at crack of dawn today so we could get to the Adelaide River for the 09:00 Jumping Croc cruise. We had seats upstairs in the open, I always prefer being outside on a boat. Before we even got on board we saw our first croc, swimming on top then it dived as I was watching through binoculars.

Croc photograph

Here, Crocky Crocky

Drop Cap he crocs have learned that the boat motors mean food, so they come up to the boat but the operators don't give them food unless they jump for it.

Croc photograph

Jumping Croc, Adelaide River

Drop Cap ome did, some didn't, but they come really close to the boat, some of them quite big. The smaller ones can jump better, of course.

Croc photograph

Aggro (their heads are only one seventh of their length, so we didn't see all of him)

Drop Cap n the way back we came upon a huge old bull lying on a sandbar. He showed no interest in coming out, but they threw him a "packed lunch" - meat in a paper bag - and he clambered up the bank to get it. He was enormous! They have named him Aggro (which speaks for itself, really) and said he was old and big enough to have been around in the hunting times, which ended in the early 70s. We also fed sea eagles and kites. Today we have seen the icon birds jabiru, brolgas, sea eagles and magpie geese. To say nothing of the millions of corellas and kites. As well as crocs.

Drop Cap hen we headed off for Litchfield National Park. On the way we passed through Humpty Doo, which in our day was a failed rice paddy turning to wetlands, and today is just another small community, like any other. Then we hit Batchelor. Lou took us a long way round but the only thing recognisable was St. Barnabas' Church and the Rum Jungle Recreation Club. Batchelor is now a centre for Indigenous Studies at University level and has lots of new buildings, motels, service stations etc.

Wangi Falls photograph

Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park

Drop Cap e passed through and went on to our lunch stop, Wangi Falls. Here we got some lunch at the kiosk and went for a walk to the Falls and pool. This looked lovely and inviting, some of the group went for a swim. It was tempting but I didn't bring my cozzie. (Interestingly, the following day they found the body of a U.S Marine who had drowned there.) We saw quite a large goanna, strolling across the picnic area.

Us at Wangi Falls photograph

At Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls photograph

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Drop Cap e headed off again, this time to Florence Falls. This is a double fall and is perfectly lovely. It drops to a deep pool, where young people were swimming and jumping off the rocks. The pool is at the bottom of a long flight of steps (or a short jump off a cliff - not recommended) so none of us were tempted.

Magnetic Mounds photograph

"Magnetic" Termite Mounds, Litchfield National Park

Drop Cap n again, we stopped to look at the "magnetic" termite mounds, which are all aligned on a north/south axis. Quite weird. The experts think it is about exposing the least area to the midday sun.

Novotel Darwin photograph

Our Room, Novotel Atrium, Darwin

Drop Cap ack through Batchelor again, by the other road which runs beside the airstrip, and into Darwin. This place has changed so radically that we have decided to treat it like a completely foreign city. The Novotel Atrium is a lovely hotel on the Esplanade, overlooking the ocean. Our room has a lovely view of the Bicentennial Park opposite and the sea.

Foyer, Novotel Atrium photograph

Foyer, Novotel Atrium, Darwin

Drop Cap he foyer area is decorated as an indoor rain forest with palms and ferns and hanging vines from each floor and a stream running through it. (The foyer rises the full five floors and has a glass roof.) The lifts are also glass with a view of the foyer. It reminded us of the Burswood Dome in Perth. Our room is lovely, a bed, couch, coffee table, breakfast bar. Great.

Drop Cap e had a farewell barbecue dinner in the outdoor patio near the pool and it was very good. Tomorrow we have a half day tour of Darwin and a dinner cruise on the harbour. Then home.

Back to Top spacer Blue up arrow

Back to Contents Yellow up arrow

Saturday, 26th July, 2003

Drop Cap oday we went on a half day exploration of Darwin. This only went to show how little there was now to recognise. I have to remember that we only visited Darwin weekly or so to shop, we didn't live there. I don't really remember even noticing that Darwin is on the sea front. We drove around, seeing the few buildings that remain from pre-Tracey, old government buildings and colonial service housing made of stone, unfortunately slated for "redevelopment". I think developers should make a bid for Fannie Bay Gaol, it is prime ocean view property and the houses around it cost millions.

Botanic Gardens photograph

Shade Walk, Botanic Gardens, Darwin

Drop Cap e visited the waterfront, now being redeveloped into a "Fisherman's Wharf" type concept, then East Point with fabulous views of Darwin Harbour. From there we went to the Botanical Gardens, one of the few places we have been before. It is still an oasis of shady green in the warmth of the Top End.

Fountain photograph

Fountain at the Entrance, Botanic Gardens, Darwin

Darwin Museum photograph

Some of the Group outside Darwin Museum

Drop Cap rom the Gardens we went to the Museum of the Northern Territory. This was a lovely cool modern building with some interesting exhibits. The "Cyclone Tracey" Gallery was very interesting, with video footage of the morning after and sounds of the cyclone in a darkened room. We had coffee here then went back to the hotel, where we got rid of binoculars and camera and went out on foot to see if there was anything recognisable (and do some shopping for souvenirs).

Lyons House photograph

Lyons House, Darwin

Drop Cap he only thing still there that I recognised was the old CWA Building in Peel Street, although now it is a Red Cross Op Shop. I remember that it was the first place I would make for after getting off the bus in Cavenagh Street, have a cool drink and a rest, then do the shopping. Smith Street is now a pedestrian mall, or some of it is, with lots of arcades leading off, one of them called Anthony's Plaza, obviously where Anthony's Homewares used to be (the place we bought most of our household goods).

Ibis in the park photograph

Straw-necked Ibis in Bicentennial Park (opp. our Hotel)

Drop Cap e bought Neil a Darwin T-shirt and a couple of badges for my hat, then had lunch and walked back to the hotel. Room hadn't been serviced and it was after 14:00. Oh, well.

Darwin Lock1 photograph

Approaching Darwin Lock

Drop Cap fter the room was serviced I had a shower and we got ready for our last excursion, dinner cruise at sunset on an old pearling lugger in Darwin Harbour. This was a delightful experience. Just our group and perhaps a dozen others. We arrived on board and were given a free drink (champagne, beer, wine or soft) and headed off for the lock which regulates the flow from the tidal harbour (eight metre tides) and the marina basin inside. Millionaire's Row, with a boat moored outside every huge house. Lots of restaurants as well.

Darwin Lock photograph

Entering the Lock

Drop Cap nce through the lock and out into the harbour they raised the sails and cut the engine. It was a glorious evening, the sun went down in splendour caused by smoke from fires (Hrs and I think some that weren't intentional) and we had a meal of nibbles (cheese, biscuits, dips, olives, etc) followed by large platters of oysters and prawns. Then salads and barbecued barramundi, beef and chicken kebabs. Very nice too. There is a lot of shipping in the harbour, a couple of American "research" vessels with Commonwealth police keeping a 100 metre exclusion zone around them, a cruise liner, the "SuperStar Leo", heading for Hong Kong, military vessels, small craft and an oil drilling platform all lit up like Christmas trees.

Drop Cap e had a really good time and it was a fitting end to the tour. As it was an optional tour, included in the price, it didn't cost any extra either. Great stuff.

Drop Cap omorrow we get picked up at 11:30 and taken to the airport. Home, via Adelaide.

Back to Top spacer Blue up arrow

Back to Contents Yellow up arrow

Sunday 27th July, 2003

APT Crew photograph

Rosemary and Lou, Tour Director and Driver

Drop Cap e arrived at the airport at about noon and to our horror, we realised that our tickets were for the 12:55 flight, not the 2:55 as we had thought. If we had known that we were cutting it so fine we would have been panicking. As it happened, however, we went straight through boarding, getting our bags through and our boarding passes. Then no problems at all with security. I put my hat through the x-ray because it has a wire rim, to say nothing of a kilo of badges! So we had a very short wait instead of rather a long one, all to the good. The plane to Adelaide was quite full and I had a kid in the seat in front who kept reclining his seat. The tray table would not go down, of course, so I kept the tray on my knees and it worked.

Drop Cap t Adelaide we had an hour before our flight to Sydney and when it came it was fairly empty. We were in the second back row with just us, nobody in the seats across the aisle either. So we moved apart and put the tray on the middle table.

Drop Cap hen we arrived at Sydney we were met efficiently by the lady from Anchor Minibuses and got home about 21:30 to the welcome from Geoff and Carrot.
It was a good tour, the high spots were very high and the GABA went by relentlessly in between. Rosemary and Lou tried to liven up the long open spaces and, although my feet were their usual nuisances, we managed to keep up with the energetic bits. The mix of people was good as well, only one irritating me and another irritating Mac. We were mostly Aussies, with one American girl, one girl from Ireland, I think by her accent, and a couple from Hong Kong, originally from New Zealand. We enjoyed it very much.

Drop Cap here was only one sour note. The "Sails in the Desert" Hotel at Yulara, which is five star and horrendously expensive (having stayed there one night and day at our own expense, we can say that) seems to indulge in bill padding, to put it mildly. We were warned that they are in the habit of charging for minibars used by the previous guests so we should check our bills carefully. We checked out the previous evening as we had an early start, and the couple in front of us were charged for in house movies they had not had (because the video system was non functional during the stay). We checked our bill carefully and were not charged for anything else. However, our next Visa statement contained an item of $66 from Sails which was dated well after we had left the hotel. In fact we were home. We knew we had not incurred it so wrote to the hotel asking them to investigate. They telephoned us to apologise. "They had charged us for breakfast but now realised it was included in the room rate"!!

However that was the only bad one. We had very good experiences in the other hotels, even the strange modular motel in Tennant Creek.

Back to Top spacer Blue up arrow

Back to Contents Yellow up arrow

Orange left arrow Back to Previous Page