Day 38 132 days to go. Distance: today 102km yesterday 116km total 2748km. It’s 6.30pm Monday 13/8/12 Burdulba (Kakadu NP). It’s not too often I’m stuck for words but I must admit I’m having a pregnant pause moment now stuck in the amazement of the last 2 days. Cycling Kakadu…..what a treat for the senses which are in a state of smiling overload tonight bursting at the seams with pure bliss. As taken from the visitor’s guide, ‘Kakadu is a living cultural landscape. Generations of Bininj/Mungguy have lived on and cared for this country for tens of thousands of years. Their spiritual connection with the land is globally recognized in Kakadu’s World Heritage listing which honors one of the oldest living societies on Earth.’ At the Aboriginal Cultural Centre today a clan member wrote on a welcome note ‘we hope you take the time to look listen and feel the country to experience the true essence of the land.’ Rube and I may not be able to reach some of it’s treasures but we’re so open to having a sensory experience of what we can connect to. I feel every bit honored to have this opportunity and we’ll make the most of what’s to come. The rainbow serpent is a powerful ancestor known by many Aboriginal groups and played an important role in the ‘conception of Kakadu and their cultural obligations to care for country.’ The act of painting including rock art puts the artist in touch with their creation and ancestors therefore the act of painting is more important than the artwork itself. Kakadu is one of the few place heritage listed for both its cultural and natural values. It provides habitat for a significant proportion of Australia’s mammals, birds, retiles, frogs, fish plants and insects. There are 6 main landforms: Savanah woodlands, monsoon forests, southern hills and ridges, stone country, tidal flats and coast, floodplains and billabongs. The aboriginal people have always burnt their country using a traditional patch burning technique in the cooler weather to prevent wildfires, to repair country, and to encourage biodiversity to recover. There are 7 regions: the wetlands and floodplains of the south alligator region near Mamukala, the services centre of Jabiru, the east alligator region in the shadow of Arnhem land with its rainforest, stone country, rock art, flood plains and east alligator river, Nourlangie region with it rock art, billabongs, woodlands and fresh pools, the yellow water region with its world famous wetlands, the Jim Jim and twin falls Gorge region, and the Mary River region with its bush walks, waterfalls and waterholes.
Yesterday we travelled the 65km from Pine Creek to the park entrance at the Mary River Roadhouse. There we spoke to ‘Allison’ the Aboriginal park ranger who helped us out with a $25 pass and an itinerary to enjoy what the park can offer us in four days of cycling/walking. She was fabulous and I told her so. She also pointed us to a handful of campsites that work in well with the days. We watered up at the roadhouse as the campsites for the first 2 nights don’t have any. Then we were straight into it. The landscape was initially stone country with huge boulders covering the undulating hills. A real feature is the patch burning where most of the land has been burnt during the dry cooler months. The essence of ‘cleaning’ and ‘regrowth’ is so apparent with the new shooting natives a sight for warm smiles. Rube and I stopped today and sat amongst it for ages. It felt so full of life and regenerative and was just beautiful to savor being part of.
Our first stop yesterday was the Rock Hole. Allison said that if no one was around I would experience the abundance of butterflies. It was a 1km walk in and we had the good fortune of being the only ones there. So as we walked into the leafy waterhole area we disturbed hundreds of black and white butterflies that showered around us before disappearing into the woodlands. I stood there speechless with a drop jaw look of ‘did that just happen?’ The rock pool had greeny blue crystal waters busy with little fish. two small estuaries meandered away from the main pool which had sheer red rock sides and a 10 metre waterfall. The waterhole is spring fed and therefore runs in all seasons and is safe for swimming not having any creeks or rivers linked in. It was alive with small bird varieties that I hadn’t seen before an needed our bird book and binoculars from home. I lizard it on the rocks for yonks and took in what was our intro to Kakadu nice!!! The ride is stunning crossing rivers and creeks all with crocodile warnings not to venture near the banks or swim. It’s so photogenic and I can’t wait to load this wod as a gallery to share with you yay. Our next stop was at ‘Bukbukluk’ which was an elevated escarpment with views out over the a sheer cliff face showing off it’s red hues in the afternoon sun. Again we had the place to ourselves then this couple came up and it was Tiss and Gary the folk who have the ‘Hi Maree’ sign on their caravan rear window. How cool!!!! That’s out 4th time meeting which qualified for a big hug hello. They were glowing with Kakadu stories which I loved hearing as the places are away from our reach but sound amazing with big time ‘wow’ factor as Tiss put it 🙂 They wondered off all happiness and I enjoyed the last of the views for a wee while longer. When I got back to Rube Tiss had left a Booster chockie bar on her seat for inspiration for the 25km ride to our camp ground. Thank you guys and enjoy your hop over to Indonesia xx
Our first sleep was at a spot called ‘Gungurul.’ It had a few other campers there and it was on dusk when we arrived. I was so tired and Rube was snoring by the time I had set up the super tent. It was pretty much dinner and bed last night and I slept in my own ‘dreamtime.’ So much so this morning I was soooo doughey and morning coffee o’clock hit the spot to start what’s been another awesome day.
It’s now an amazing evening of stars and campfire and there’s a choir of curlews serenading the river life. We’re camped at Burdulba which is alongside a river system. The campgrounds are of course at a safe distance from the water which is a comfort because today I saw my first croc!!!!!!!! We cycled the 60 odd kms to Yellow Water and hung out by the estuary spotting birdlife mostly white cranes, blue kingfishers, and shags. There was a boardwalk that meandered around the water’s edge and the area is the launch spot for river cruises booked in Cooinda. It was all pretty quiet which was awesome and only a handful of folk about doing the same thing. A ranger came up to me called Dave and asked if I had spotted the crocodile. Not as yet and my eyes must have shone like a child at Christmas. He lead me out to his boat and pointed back to the grasses on the boardwalk edge. There was a 2 metre female croc tail out in the water and I squealed my best chick effort it made him laugh. He left me to my oooo’s and aaaa’s and pickies. He said that females aren’t territorial this is left to the fellas who like their own patch. Apparently I’ll see allot more tomorrow but I’m no longer a croc virgin. On the way out I shared this with Dave and thanked him for making my day indeedy.
At Yellow Waters I also met this family from east of Melbourne also traveling around Australia with their two children. They were very cool and were telling me about their trip to Ubirr which is tomorrow and very very excited. We’ll cycle the 20km to Jabiru early in the morn and check into the campsite there. That way I can detach the trailer and Rube and I can enjoy the 36km ride in/out without the added weight. It’s apparently one of the highlight spots in the National Park and I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow night. Their picks of places around Australia so far has been the peninsular to Exmouth WA which is on the ‘must do’ list down the track. I met the family later on in the day along the ride here and they gave me a can of Coke Zero which I devoured when I got arrived about 3.30pm. This camp is totally exquisite with only one other couple camped in the other corner way off yay. I watered up at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre which was very interesting and personable. It shared cultural aspects through personal stories written by local Bininj clan. One very moving story was a written by a brother a sister separated from their family and each other when they were put into missions as children to cleanse them of their Aboriginality. Our white Australian history towards the Indigenous is an abomination. It needs to be known, remembered and respected for the lives and spirit it broke. Are the Aboriginals in recovery? I don’t know. What I do know is that Kakadu is healthy, the land, the spirit, the people. It’s an extremely positive experience and I hope indicative of cultural health and generative life for Country’s indigenous.
I thought about this allot today stopping at so many beautiful river crossings and spots all the while in company with black cockatoos. I think they’re my favorites but in very fine company. I followed a walking track here along the river and the estuary life was beyond words. Being back from the water’s edge the birdlife seemed quite unawares of my presence and there were no other folk about. It was my first ‘wow’ moment and I wondered for a couple of hours breathing it all in. I snapped some great photos of a Jabiru mooching in the wallows and taking off in flight. I also spotted two blue kingfishers poised in a branch top awaiting their next tasty treat in the grasses below. I’m constantly pinching myself that such places exist and we have the privilege of experiencing it in living motion.
On that note it’s time for dinner and an early night to be all up and early for tomorrow. There’s a gentle chill bill in the air perfect to join Rube for a good cosey night of zzzzz’s. Talk soon x