Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Big Second Day in Kakadu

It is amazing to wake up just before sunrise when you sleep in the bush - somehow you feel that you have a head start. I needed that this Saturday morning, a head start that is, since I had planned a big day!

When I decided to go for Darwin I ran a little Danish style of joke, the type where you do give a good hint of what is cooking, but in usual style you never really tell ;-)

Iain have been subjected to this exceptionally clever - and funny - type of humor for nearly 4 years now and obviously he knew straight away what was going on, when I proclaimed I would be going for the White-throated Grasswren (WTG) during the long weekend. Of all the potential habitats in the universe the WTG has decided only to live on the sandstone escarpments in Kakadu and if you want to see it you go to Gunlom.

Despite it all starting out as a joke I had been playing with the possibility of actually doing it - even with it involving 66km off road driving in the (very) 2WD 1.3L Yaris, luckily I had a chat to one of the fellow campers at the Malabanjbanjdju campsite, who could tell me that they had "floored" their car multiple times getting into and out of Gunlom the day before - looking at the nearly virgin (178km) Toyota I knew that Gunlom would have to wait till my next Kakadu visit ... I am confident the Magna can do it :-)
First stop was Mirrai Lookout, where I scrambled up the hill get get a view of Kakadu - not the best lookout in world but an excellent way of getting the sweat pores going and I there was a fair amount of wildlife on the way.

Next stop was Yellow water; one of the "bush-supermarkets" of Kakadu. Many of the great places in Kakadu have been heavily commercialized and it is nearly impossible to explore these areas on your own - even with a 4WD and a boat you will need permits to enter certain areas. I had no boat, no permit and a 2WD with half empty tank, so I had to let the VISA bleed somewhere above $50 for a trip onto the water in a tinny :-\ Hm ... at least it was an absolutely amazing cruise, with the best wildlife I have seen in Australia! :-) Please take a look at the Picasa album, which I link to at the end of this blog entry.

Not being able to do Gunlom I still had one option of getting onto a sandstone escarpment without risking the life of the Yaris. Nourlangie is known for its Aboriginal rock art, but in my "Walking in Australia" book I had found that behind the lookout where approximately 99.9% of tourists turn around and begin the journey back to the comfort of the car, there was supposed to be a track going to the top of the escarpment - the beginning of the Barrk Sandstone Bushwalk.
Great having a "little" workout and lucky that I had brought water :-) When returning to the Rock art walk about 3.5 hours later I looked like I had been swimming in some secret rock pool and I might have scared quite a few tourist away from going to the outlook, since judging from my appearance it looked like a challenging walk :-D

Views had been great from the top, bird-wise it had been very disappointing, since I had only seen 3 birds in total while doing the extra bit of the climb ... when I got to the car and took a look in the book it helped a little bit realizing that one of the three had been a Banded Fruit-Dove, but one new bird in 3.5 hours was way too slow .. ;-)
It had been a fantastic day and I was getting tired so decided to head for Muirella Park, a campsite situated just a short drive from Nourlangie. That proved to be an excellent choice, since the $10 fee at Muirella included the posibility of getting a proper shower and having drinking water on tap - all that sweating meant that I had already used 10 liters of the water I bought in Darwin.
Driving towards the campsite I realized that there was quite extensive "controlled" burning going on in the forest surrounding the site, I would only understand the next evening how lucky that was, since the only thing that can really scare away mosquitoes is smoke. The Northern Dtellas (Gehyra australis) running around up-side-down on the ceiling in the toilet blog did not mind the smoke and I did not mind them - after having been few meters away from their much larger and significantly more dangerous cousins (the saltwater crocks) I found them quite amusing.

Darwin & Kakadu Escape, Day 2


Jarrod said...

Nice story. Still think a dedicated man could have tramped into the WTGW rather than drive. Oh well maybe next time.

AGL said...

I actually considered to drive down there, set the car and try to catch a ride in with someone in a 4WD ... and hopefully also a ride out the day after. In the end I went for Ubirr instead, I will try to get the last pictures up soon.