Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Yellow Waters Cooinda to Katherine Gorge

The serene scenes are our reward for our early morning ride from Jabiru to Cooinda, Yellow Waters.
Come on the boat with us and watch the birds among the wetlands of floating buffalo grass, pandanus, lotus flowers and water lilies.

A basking saltwater croc. The lumps on his back - highly vascularised osteoderms -  are his solar panels.
Brolgas in the distance, egrets, and whistling ducks in this bird sanctuary.

The cormorant and the sea eagle are having better luck fishing than the men on the boat.
This sea eagle is airborne with his catch.

The men have a remote controlled electric outboard at the front. Apparently it is so quiet the fish can't hear it.
We are surprised to see fishing in this national park - but it is legit so long as they use a lure. Barramundi daily catch is limited to 5 fish with a minimum length of 55cm.

Barter bird drying out after his fishing.
The Indigenous flag.
Indigenous people from various tribal groups that we have met in the Northern territory have been gracious and forthcoming about their culture and their lives.  

Mella brings people to us.
John and Marie are kiwis on the road in a 4WD.
 Floodway signs are endemic.
I am forming a view that Australia is one giant riverbed. Even when we ride over the crest of a hill we find ourselves riding over a floodway.
Markers show the depth at the deepest part of the floodway.

We followed this car for some distance - he was harder to pass than a Road train.

Bubbles and a lovely welcome from Kathryn at the end of the day, and..

A smart tent for tonight.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Crocodiles galore - East Alligator river

Another glorious day in the Northern Territory.
Just the day for the Guluyambi tour of East Alligator river...

beyond the savannah grasslands beside the East Alligator River which is the border between Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land.

The warning signs about crocodiles.

All aboard.
 Downstream to the only vehicle crossing on the river.
This is the border crossing from Kakadu to Arnhem Land.

 Gentle little side streams - who is lurking there?

The rugged escarpment of the Arnhem plateau in the distance.
It is great to see these from the river after having flown above yesterday.

We saw 41 crocodiles today.
Some were sleeping, some were on the move and some were smiling.

Our very informative guide for the day, Neville.
We are safe in his boat.

 Ah, another one.

 We come ashore on the Arnhem land banks of the river.
There is an amazing sense of peace.
 Look carefully and you will see the wiggle of a crocodile's tail in the sand.
 Neville tells us about life in Arnhem land.
He shows us how to throw a spear with a woomera and talks about natural history and food sources.
He mixed ochre rock with water to show us how the paint pigment is formed.
We saw ancient aboriginal rock paintings.

And a modern one at the National park.
This shows the seasons.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

To Kakadu National Park

My driver has returned from New Zealand. 
Mella is wearing new 'shoes'.

Farewell to Dave and Judy and to Darwin. 
Hello Jabiru,  Kakadu National Park.

 Places names amuse us. Humpty Doo is on our route to Jabiru.
Clear skies, eucalypts and very little traffic.
It is early Saturday morning.

 A small scrub fire alongside the road.
The flames are working their way through the undergrowth and tidyng up the forest.
 The eucalypts and ferns are well adapted to this annual event.
These interpretation panels at the Bowali National Park Head Quarters explain the purpose of forest fires to the Gukberlerri (aborigines)

 But first, let's get airborne.
I am co-pilot for this sunset flight.
 To our right very close to Jabiru township is the Ranger Uranium Mine. The mine company owns the airstrip and contributed to the cost of building the Jabiru township.
 The mine was set up as the the national park was established in 1978.
It seems strange to us to find a mine like this within - but technically not inside - a national park.

The flight takes us over the Arnhem Land plateau. 
We would need a permit from the Northern Land Council - which represents the indigenous people - if we wanted to venture in to visit Arnhem Land.
 Gorges and fault lines abound in this plateau which has areas which have never been inhabited.
Then west - the East Alligator River with a managed fire patch...

 and the flood plain.

 Back near the mine.

We are sleeping in the belly of a crocodile tonight.