A Travellerspoint blog

Kakadu Part 2

Southern Kakadu

sunny 34 °C

A long five hour drive from Garig Gunak Barlu National Park saw us arrive in Jabiru around midday where we needed to get some supplies and fuel before setting up camp at Kakadu Lodge again for an overnight stay. The following day we were headed to Gunlom to stay for two nights but first we detoured 12km off the bitumen to have a look at Maguk. The dirt road in was heavily corrugated so the short drive was bone shaking but worth the effort as Maguk is a beautiful spot.

An easy shaded 1km walk takes you through monsoon rainforest beside the crystal clear creek to a waterfall flowing into a large pool which is a lovely swimming spot. There were probably a dozen people at the falls when we arrived and after a nice swim we made our way back to the car park where a tow truck from Katherine was about to load a 2wd car onto its tray. Why people in stock standard 2wd cars drive on these tracks which are clearly marked 4wd only is baffling, the cost to tow that car back to Katherine would be enormous. On the way in we passed a hired 2wd campervan driving out at snail’s pace trying to avoid the suspension disintegrating, what is wrong with these people, they haven’t got a clue.

Gunlom has a huge campground which had a small number of campers there during our stay so we were able to get a nice shady spot. The view of the escarpment from camp and the surrounding woodlands makes for a picturesque campground. Our timing for driving on freshly graded roads has been impeccable and Gunlom was no exception, the road in was excellent having been freshly graded. After setting up camp and some lunch it was down to the plunge pool which is just a short stroll from camp to cool down in the huge pool. Later that afternoon we climbed the rocky track up to the top of the falls and swam in the infinity pool which gives amazing views out over the surrounding hills and woodlands. We stayed up there until sunset which just had a little cloud to make it a colourful end to a great day.

Next morning we drove out to the Yurmikmik walking tracks car park to walk the 8km return track out to Motorcar Falls. This walk is quite easy but you wouldn’t want to do it in the afternoon heat as there is very little shade. It took us about an hour to walk in to this quiet shady pocket of rainforest with a crystal clear deep pool beneath high cliffs with a small amount of water cascading down the rock face. The water temperature was just perfect for cooling down from the walk and to have a swim in the clear turquoise water. We had the falls all to ourselves for half an hour before another couple arrived and passed no other walkers on our way out.

Gunlom was the highlight of Kakadu for us, the beauty here is stunning, there is easy access to great swimming holes, the campground is excellent and it was totally uncrowded. Motorcar Falls should not be missed if staying at Gunlom. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Kakadu and sad it has to end but we have a lot more of Oz to see yet and we need to keep moving.

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Posted by OzJourney 20:09 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Kakadu Part 1

Northern Kakadu

sunny 34 °C

Our plan was to stay at Shady Camp for two nights to see if we could catch a barramundi but our plans changed when we found the place to be a construction zone. They were in the midst of building a new boat ramp next to the barrage where you fish from, and the amount of noise and dust was enough to make us change our minds and only stay one night. The construction noise scared off both the fish and the crocodiles which are the two main reasons to stay here.

Instead we moved on the next day to Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park in Jabiru which had a nice unpowered section where you choose where you want to camp. The facilities here are great with good amenities, a great pool and garden area with bar and bistro at the same price you pay for a basic camp site in Kakadu. We used this as a base to explore the northern section of Kakadu before traveling up to the Cobourg Peninsula for a week and then returning to visit the southern end of Kakadu.

The afternoon of our arrival in Jabiru we headed out to Ubirr to hear a ranger talk about this famous rock art site, admire the huge natural gallery of paintings and to climb the rock to watch the sunset. On climbing up to the rocky lookout the first glimpse of the lush green Nadab floodplain below stretching out to the horizon was something we will never forget, it was astonishingly beautiful and peaceful. The rock art was great but that view as the sun was setting was a truly magical experience.

The next day we drove south to Nourlangie where we saw some more interesting rock art and climbed up to the lookout which gave nice views of Nourlangie Rock and the savannah woodlands and escarpments. Next stop was Anbangbang Billabong where we walked the 2.5km loop around the billabong. There was quite a lot of bird life around the billabong which you could view from a number of car parks along the road so the walk was not necessary as nothing was gained other than some exercise in the heat. Our last stop for the day was Nawurlandja lookout which was a 300 metre climb up a steep slope which gave nice views of the escarpment, Nourlangie Rock and Anbangbang Billabong.

The pool at Kakadu Lodge has been a godsend as the weather here has been unseasonally hot so after a morning of walking in the heat it is nice to come back for a refreshing swim during the hot afternoons. Our last day here was a busy one, we had booked a Yellow Waters Sunrise cruise and had to be at Cooinda by 6:20am so had to leave camp by 5:30am. Well the cruise lived up to our high expectations as we had read good reports about it. The boat driver was very good at spotting and getting close to the large range of wildlife that was present around the billabong and the South Alligator River.

Max is a large male crocodile who rules the area and he is not scared of boats so we were able to pull up beside him and get a very close view of this magnificent specimen. We saw a number of other female crocodiles at close range but they wouldn’t let us get too close. The bird life here is incredible and not scared easily by the boat. This was a fantastic cruise with a buffet breakfast afterwards back at Cooinda Lodge, well worth the $99 each.

After our buffet breakfast we decided to drive down to Jim Jim Falls which is 50km of dirt road off the Kakadu Highway. We were in luck with the road as the grader had graded the entire road on our side on the way in and finished the other side before we returned so it was an easy smooth drive. It is only a 1km walk to the falls from the car park but the going is tough as you have to scramble over rocks nearly all the way. There was only a trickle coming over the falls into the cold dark pool below which we avoided swimming in, instead preferring the sandy beach waterhole just below the main pool. The water here was a nice temperature and we enjoyed a few swims to cool down before making the trek back to the car. The walk is shaded most of the way and the scenery is nice so even though the falls were a trickle Jim Jim Falls is well worth the drive. On our arrival back at Jabiru we had to prepare for our week long trip up to the remote Cobourg Peninsula.

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Posted by OzJourney 20:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Garig Gunak Barlu National Park

Cobourg Peninsula

sunny 34 °C

Garig Gunak Barlu National Park is located 570km northeast of Darwin on the Cobourg Peninsula. The park includes the entire peninsula, the surrounding waters of the Arafura Sea and Van Diemen Gulf, and some of the neighbouring islands. The park contains sandy beaches, dunes, coastal grasslands, mangroves, swamps, lagoons, rainforest patches, coral reefs, sea grass meadows and rich marine life. You need to apply for a permit to visit the park which we applied for 6 weeks before hand. The cost is $232 per vehicle which covers camping for 7 days and a transit fee through Arnhem Land.

There are two campgrounds, one for generators and one without generators, the latter being the better campground. The facilities here are excellent with composting toilets that don’t smell, hot showers, and each campsite has a BBQ fireplace, aluminium picnic table and shade sail. The campsites are huge and private with protection from wind and good for solar panels.

To get to the park you have to cross the East Alligator River at Cahills Crossing which is affected by tides so you have to time your crossing to avoid two hours either side of high tide on the bigger tides as we encountered. It took us 5 hours to reach the campground from Jabiru with us leaving at 6:30am and arriving around 11:30am. The road condition was good for most of the journey, there were some corrugated sections and washouts that were hard to see so you had to be careful but overall a nice drive through some beautiful country.

There were other campers here but most places you went you didn’t see another person. A lot of the campers are fisherman with boats who would be gone most of the day out fishing and the remainder older travellers. Each morning we would be up before sunrise to walk the beautiful beach in front of the campground and not see another person. There are crocodiles here but we didn’t see one, however you could see their tracks up the beach where they would cross the road to go into the billabong during the day. There were plenty of turtle tracks where they had crawled up the beach to lay their eggs.

Some of the things we did here were driving around the Wetlands Track which takes you through the bush around the large billabong where we spotted a group of Banteng Buffalo originally introduced from Bali and are now an endangered species in their native habitat. The coastal drive takes you around the remote coastline past numerous bays with sandy beaches, rocky points and blue water. Oysters and mud crabs can be procured from the rocky areas but you need to be careful when lifting rocks as we came across a deadly blue ringed octopus in one rock pool. Beachcombing was another favourite activity with the beaches covered in shells of all shapes and sizes.

Sadly the land based fishing was not so successful with just a few emperor to show for it. However if you have a boat you are in a fishing paradise, the amount of fish caught here by boaties is phenomenal. The ones we spoke to threw back a lot of their catch as there was just too much, they were catching nice tuna, reef fish, trevally etc and we were given a beautiful tuna which will last us a number of meals.

The week went by very quickly and we were sad to leave this beautiful place. The sunrises and sunsets here are stunning and the sense of isolation, natural beauty, wildlife and pristine beaches made this a memorable stay. We will be back here in the future with a boat which will add a whole new dimension to a magic place.

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Posted by OzJourney 02:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bali

The Adventures Of Mossy And Baldy And Their Better Halves

semi-overcast 33 °C

A late night flight from Darwin to Bali got us to our hotel in Seminyak around 2:30am to find they had no booking for us even though we booked the room seven months prior. As luck would have it they had a room vacant so we dumped our luggage and went straight to bed. At breakfast that morning we caught up with our good friends Kate and Peter who had flown in from Melbourne two days ago. It was great to catch up again after being away for six months.

Our time in Seminyak was spent reading by the pool, swimming, having massages and some retail therapy for Deb. I was up at dawn each morning for an early surf then back for breakfast. On the second mornings surf I was coming in and paddled to catch what looked like a small shore break wave which became large suddenly and broke at the rear of my board forcing the nose to rise viciously, tearing the board from my hands and slamming into my face. The force was so great it cut my nose and pushed my front tooth right through my bottom lip. I had blood streaming down my face from my cut nose onto my board and could hardly stand up as i was almost knocked unconscious. Anyway I made it back for breakfast with a swollen lip and nose and the bleeding had stopped by then. It has taken 3 weeks for my lip to heal.

After four nights in Seminyak we caught the fast boat across to Nusa Lembongan, a small island to the east of Bali with good surf, snorkelling and a more relaxed pace of life than the mainland. We have stayed here a number of times and like the more traditional island lifestyle it offers. Things are changing here however and the once quiet island is becoming popular with Chinese tourists who arrive in large numbers which means the roads have become busy and the once peaceful natural wonders are now crowded. Unfortunately the world is shrinking and the less visited places are where people want to be, so we may have to look for another little piece of paradise somewhere else for a future trip
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We stayed in a nice villa on the cliff tops overlooking the ocean with good views of the surf breaks and across the water to mainland Bali where the towering Mt Agung would occasionally appear through the almost constant cloud it attracts. The way to get around Nusa Lembongan is by motor scooter so we hired one for the week and together with Kate and Peter we had a great time riding around the island admiring the scenery and visiting its beaches. We also rode across the yellow suspension bridge which takes you across to the neighbouring island of Nusa Ceningan. There are some great lookouts here and a nice secluded beach as well as some rugged coastline.

The original suspension bridge collapsed killing a number of locals in 2016. The new yellow bridge was opened in February 2017 and is slightly wider than the old one. We did a cliff jump at Ceningan Point which is also a surf break and Peter managed to get a flat tyre on the scooter which resulted in a humorous stop at the local mechanic shop to get a new tube. One day we went on a boat trip through the mangrove forest where they take you in a wooden boat with the pilot using a bamboo pole to push the boat through the channels in the forest. The fresh local produce is a real treat here and we had many wonderful meals at various restaurants around the island, especially the fresh fish.

A week soon went by and we bid farewell to Kate and Peter as they headed back to Melbourne while we went to Ubud for another three nights. One afternoon in Ubud it actually rained which is something we hadn’t experienced for many months so was a bit of a novelty. All too soon we were back on the plane heading back to Darwin to resume our big lap. We stayed one night in Darwin to restock and then the next night back at Zanadu in Humpty Doo before setting off to Shady Camp in the Mary River National Park.

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Posted by OzJourney 01:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Darwin

half Way There

sunny 34 °C

Darwin was to be an important base for us as we had parts to get for the solar panels and camper trailer and also a place for us to store our car and camper while we flew across to Bali for 2 weeks. However before we drove to Darwin we stopped off at Humpty Doo for one night to stay in a room at the Zanadu Resort which is owned by an old school friend of Deb’s who she hasn’t seen for 30 years. Lee and her partner Mick made us most welcome and we spent the afternoon catching up on the past 30 years worth of life.

The next day we moved on to Darwin and made camp at the Lee Point Caravan Park which is to the north of the city close to the beach and away from the noise of the airport and Stuart Highway. This is a large caravan park and you are able to choose your own spot so you are not crammed in like other parks and there are lots of large shady trees. We spent 4 nights here before Bali and one night after our return and were quite happy here with no insects, a pool and it is close enough to all the places we wanted to see.

Neither of us had been to Darwin previously and we were quite impressed with it as a city. The roads here are really well planned and uncongested which makes it easy to drive around. There is lots of greenery, nice beach areas, no rubbish and the place has a relaxed atmosphere unlike the big cities. The Mindil Beach night markets are huge with lots of stalls and a huge variety of different takeaway food. They run Thursday and Sunday nights from 4pm to 10pm and attract huge crowds, especially Thursday nights. There is a variety of entertainment and also the tradition of sitting on the beach at sunset with thousands of people watching the sun go down.

Other things we did in Darwin were a visit to the Museum which was quite interesting, a visit to the Oil Tunnels, a walk around the wharf area with the waterslide and wave pool, lunch at the Ski Club in Fannie Bay (great ocean views) and a night out at the cinema. The other interesting activity we did was a visit to the Aquarium down at the wharf. The difference between this and other aquariums is that with this one the owner takes you around and explains the exhibits, giving wonderful information along the way.

One afternoon we walked around the Darwin Botanical Gardens which is well worth the visit. There are lots of magnificent trees here that make the walk shady however this day was very humid and by the time we had finished we were totally drained and heat stressed. Another day we drove out to the Territory Wildlife Park and spent most of the day there enjoying the displays, animals, birds, reptiles and the talks given by the staff. One kilometre down the road from the park is Berry Springs so we dropped in for a refreshing swim in this natural spring before heading back to camp. The surrounding park area is very beautiful and you could spend a day here with a picnic lunch as many were doing.

A friend of Deb’s cousin Robin owns a pool business in Darwin and he was kind enough to allow us to store our car and camper trailer in his large shed while we were in Bali. Thanks Rod for looking after us and making things easy for us while we met up with friends for a holiday within a holiday in Bali.

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Posted by OzJourney 01:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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