Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 3 in Kakadu, Ubirr and Arnhem Land

The expression "happy camper" is often true. Guess it relies on the fact that people on holiday often are happy - particularly when they are out of their cars and have established camp, hence the camper bit. All that happiness transform most of them into "chatty campers" so chatty in fact that even a sweaty (and potentially smelly?) single male traveler with a funny accent will be the target for a conversation. Having only 4 days up north there is a great deal of optimization that can be done based on advice from fellow campers as soon as you learn how to graduate levels of happiness - very few people will admit that they wasted a (holi)day on something disappointing so instead of asking if something was good, then stir the conversation to an evaluation against alternative options and remember to analyze the background; a Dane would call anything above 120 meters a mountain and an Australian from Darwin would say that below 20 degrees would qualify as cold :-) ... but if the same Australian from Darwin says that some place has a lot of mosquitoes then believe it!!

The advice picked up by applying the above wisdom kept pointing me towards Ubirr in the North-Eastern end of Kakadu, so Sunday morning I pointed the bonnet of the Yaris North and took of towards Arnhem Land.

All those campers had given excellent advice! Ubirr and the surrounding area is the "best" part of Kakadu that I saw ... except if you only count the quality of a site by number of new birds. Despite having a solid presence of tourist the Ubirr area seems "wilder" than down South and it provides a good mix of all the good stuff; rainforest, sandstone, wetlands, river cruise, vistas and rock art for those who are into that.

Again I had a busy schedule and with the mercury hitting mid 30'ties it was going to be a tough day. I started out by doing the Bardedjilidji walk, I had heard that this would be a great spot for feathered wildlife ... it was a great walk, with excellent sandstone views, but maybe because I did it around midday I saw absolutely no life, except for 4 other hikers.

After having ticked the walk, I went for the Border store in Manblyarra to book a river cruise. Going for a late departure gave me a couple of hours where I managed to run up to the top of Ubirr to enjoy the look out over the wetlands and into Arnhem land. My camping companions down at Muirella Park had pointed out that it would be worth the effort to scramble up the hill again later during the day when the sun was setting.
Still having a bit of time before the cruise I did the Manngarre rainforest walk, great little walk along the river, where I could have used a more time but still managed to see some feathers and some fairly grown-up spiders:

It was a very clever choice to arrange an event where I would be sitting down, waiting for the boat I realized that I was absolutely knackered, so taking another spin in the bush-supermarket shelling out another $50 for a cruise was a great idea.

hm .. sign was right :-)

Excellent trip in the boat, not as packed with birds as down around Yellow Water, but somehow it felt more real and you actually had a feeling of being on the edge of civilization ... and who complains when a black bittern struts up and down on the bank.

Take a look at the Picasa album that I link to at the end of this post to see more pictures.
Arriving back to shore, I decided to swim against the flow and go to the campsite to set up my tent before heading towards Ubirr for the sunset. That was quite smart thinking by a tired Dane ... guess the tiredness made me priorities organizing my sleep before climbing rocks again - how lucky was that, had to circle ca. 80% of the campsite before finding a little spot for my tent. 15 min later I would probably have had to drive all the way back to Jabiru or having to find some camping-capable-bush on my own ... since my skills in evaluating how close a piece of bush is to crock territory are not that well developed, I would probably have done the drive :-)

Beautiful sunset! - again, take a look at the Picasa album I link to down below - I was nearly to tired to enjoy it, but got that good feeling of having accomplished. 3 days gone and it had been absolutely fantastic, now there was only Monday left and for the first time I actually felt that I could relax a bit and just enjoy the last bit of the ride.
Darwin & Kakadu Escape, Day 3 and 4


Jarrod said...

The aboriginal rock art all seems to be a crude form of pornography.

Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad said...

We too loved the Ubir site. So magical and a real privilage to be there.