Katherine Gorge Endurance Race Cancelled Due to Crocodile Fears

There probably isn’t too many endurance races out there where the possibility of being eaten by a crocodile exists:

Organisers of a multi-sport endurance race in the Northern Territory have had to relocate the swimming leg amid concerns about crocodiles at Katherine Gorge.

The 100 kilometre Katherine Ultra Challenge involves a 3.2 kilometre swim, a 10 kilometre cross-country run, a 25 kilometre mountain bike ride, an 8 kilometre road run, a 17 kilometre kayak and a 37 kilometre road bike ride.

The annual event’s swim usually takes place in the river at Katherine Gorge, about 300 kilometres south of Darwin.

But the Parks and Wildlife Service says late rains have caused water levels to rise at the gorge, meaning surveys for saltwater crocodiles will not be completed before this weekend’s race.

The co-ordinator of the event, Lachlan Kelsall, says racers will now swim at the Copperfield Dam near Pine Creek on Saturday. The main event will still be on Sunday.  [ABC News]

You can view pictures of my prior visit to Katherine Gorge here and and read about my own concerns about being eaten by a crocodile at the gorge here.

Plenty of more pictures I took of Northern Territory crocodiles can be viewed here and here as well.

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It’s Raining Fish In Australia’s Northern Territory

Something fishy going on here in this Northern Territory town:

WHILE the Top End and Central Australia have been battered by torrential rains, a Territory town has had fish falling from the sky.

The freak phenomena happened not once, but twice, on Thursday and Friday afternoon about 6pm at Lajamanu, about 550km southwest of Katherine.

NEWSBREAKER Christine Balmer, who took these photos of the fish on the ground and in a bucket, had to pinch herself when she was told “hundreds and hundreds” of small white fish had fallen from the sky.

“It rained fish in Lajamanu on Thursday and Friday night,” she said, “They fell from the sky everywhere.

“Locals were picking them up off the footy oval and on the ground everywhere.

“These fish were alive when they hit the ground.”

Mrs Balmer, the aged care co-ordinator at the Lajamanu Aged Care Centre, said her family interstate thought she had lost the plot when she told them about the event.

“I haven’t lost my marbles,” she said, reassuring herself. “Thank god it didn’t rain crocodiles.”  [NT News]

Read the rest at the link, but goofy and weird stuff like this always seems to happen in the Northern Territory.  Apparently locals are speculating that a tornado may have blown the fish from lakes hundreds of kilometers away from the town.  I wonder if someone flying overhead with an airplane wasn’t just playing a massive prank on the town?

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The Northern Territory Holiday Journal Archive

Our trip to the Northern Territory was definitely something my wife and I will remember for the rest of our lives which we recommend to anyone else living or traveling in Australia to experience for themselves. The place is filled with amazing landscapes, vibrant wildlife, and an interesting Aboriginal culture. Below are the links to my fourteen part series that covers our incredible journey that hopefully inspires others to take an adventure to the Top End themselves.

Part 1Brief Outline of Journey
Part 2To the Red Center
Part 3 On to Ayers Rock
Part 4The Mighty Olgas
Part 5 - On the Stuart Highway
Part 6 - Darwin and the Jumping Crocodiles
Part 7 - Kakadu National Park: Nourlangie Rock
Part 8 - Kakadu National Park: The East Alligator River
Part 9 - Kakadu National Park: Ubirr Rock
Part 10 - Cruising Katherine Gorge
Part 11 - Beautiful Edith Falls
Part 12 - A Day in Litchfield National Park
Part 13 - The Pearl of the Top End, Darwin
Part 14 - The Journey Home

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On Walkabout On: The Ghan Train Through the South Australian Outback – Part 14

My wife and I had an absolutely great time touring the Northern Territory. The differences between the Red Center and the Top End really make the NT feel like two completely different countries. The Red Center is well, very red along with being dry and remote. However, within the dry, remoteness of the Red Center there is so much life. Not in the way of people because there are very few people who live in the Red Center, but in the way of wildlife. Just the amount of kangaroos, camels, eagles, and other animals, along with the various plant species you see surviving in remoteness of the Red Center is truly impressive. Oh yeah, Ayers Rock (Uluru) was cool too! The Top End felt more touristy then the Red Center, which is saying quite a bit because Alice Springs is definitely a touristy town. However, Alice Springs has more of a backpacker feel to it, while Darwin combines both the backpacker and wealthy tourist cultures. It seems like for every backpacker hostel in Darwin there is at least one 5 star hotel to counter balance it. In the Top End the best times my wife and I had were not in the touristy areas, but in areas recommended by locals such as the Arnhem Land tour at Kakadu and Edith Falls in Katherine though I would have done the Jumping Crocodile cruise no matter how many tourists were on that boat. The Jumping Crocodiles are just incredible. But, once again we had an absolutely great time in the Northern Territory and hopefully we will be back one day.

However, to get back to our home in Victoria from Darwin we had nearly 2,000 miles of rail between Darwin and Adelaide to cover and then another 500 miles of driving from Adelaide to Melbourne. The train journey was going to take two full days.  The amount of traveling was definitely getting to us now, but I did get plenty of reading done and saw more of the Australian Outback from the train:


Just south of Alice Springs we also got a good view of Chambers Pillar:


The white pillar has long served as a navigational land mark and was named Chamber’s Pillar after the Adelaide man who had helped fund Stuart’s expeditions across Australia, which ultimately led to him being the first person to travel from the south to the north of Australia and back in 1862. His expedition led to the successful completion of the overland telegraph a few years later. To reward his chief financier, Stuart named many things after Chambers, and one of them was Chamber’s Pillar.

Here is another well known landmark to anyone who has ridden the Ghan before, the Iron Man:


The Iron Man located to the south of Alice Springs was constructed in honor of the railworkers who laid the track that made the Ghan possible. The statue is is holding the one millionth railroad tie laid down during the Ghan line construction.

Past the Iron Man was more of the deep red Australian Outback:


The terrain stayed like this until the train came within three hours of Adelaide where the terrain slowly changed to lush farm fields. Overall it was two solids days of travel to reach Adelaide and we arrived at around 10:00AM in the morning. However, we had to wait for nearly two hours before our bags were found and we could load them up in my Jeep.

So that meant we left Adelaide at around noon and then had to drive the 9 hours to Melbourne. After two days on a train the 9 hour drive to Melbourne really wasn’t to bad. However, we did learn another thing from this drive, whatever you do don’t eat at Australian roadhouses. We bought a quick dinner at a roadhouse while I was there gassing up and the food was barely edible. Just disgusting and this wasn’t the first time, but I promised after that time it would be the last time I ate roadhouse food.

I hope everyone enjoyed my Northern Territory Holiday Journal. I plan on doing more postings in the future of the interesting things I saw during my time in Australia. If you ever have any questions about touring around Australia feel free to leave a comment and I will make sure to answer promptly.  Thanks for reading.

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On Walkabout At: The Pearl of the Top End, Darwin – Part 13

Back to Darwin

After spending the day at Litchfield National Park we had to return our campervan to the Britz dealer in Darwin. It only takes about an hour to make the drive to the Britz dealership from Litchfield, however I had to stop to take one last picture of these amazing ant mounds. I never thought ant mounds could be so cool:


Once we got to Darwin we had some problems locating the Britz dealer since I was unfamilar with the area. I drove around for about 45 minutes before I found the place. Something to keep in mind when renting a campervan is that you have to turn it back in very clean. Campervans are not like rental cars. The outside of the rental van has to be washed and the inside sweeped out and cleaned including the toilet and shower. It is actually quite time consuming and a pain. We spent about four hours the night before cleaning the campervan for turn in the next day.

Anyway after waiting in line, completing the turn in, and waiting for a taxi; we only spent two hours at Britz unlike the half a day we wasted when we picked up the campervan when we first got to the Top End. The taxi cab took us to the Best Western and we proceeded to do the mountain of laundry we accumulated during our touring before getting some rest. However, before getting some shut eye we made sure we checked out the spectacular sunset over Fannie Bay from the park across the street from our hotel:


The next day we woke up ate breakfast at the hotel and then proceeded to walk around town. You would think that Darwin would be a bit of a frontier town considering how isolated the place is. Just think the nearest major city to the south of Darwin is Alice Springs which is about 840 miles away and this city only has about 15,000 people living in it. Any of the major cities on the Australian east coast are all over a 1,000 miles away.  To the west there is no city of any substance. In fact Indonesia is closer to Darwin than any major Australian city. Darwin is actually located geographically closer to Jakarta than Sydney. The isolation of Darwin in Australia is really quite incredible when you think about it.

Despite this isolation Darwin is not a frontier town by any stretch of the imagination. Some locals I talked say that not to long ago the term frontier town was very true, but now tourism has really shaped the city for the better. The downtown area is filled with new buildings, hotels, bars, restaurants, and shopping areas. The city is very well laid out and easy to get around. I was very impressed with how well designed the city was. The city was actually constructed twice within the last 60 years. The city was first reconstructed after World War II after the Japanese bombed the city 64 times killing a total of 213 Australians.  Some people may remember these bombings from the horrible movie Australia.

Many of the settlers back then moved inland to Katherine to escape the Japanese attacks, but the Japanese even bombed Katherine during the war as well. Littered throughout the Top End are the remains of old allied air fields that were used during the war by both the Australian and US Air Forces to fight the Japanese from. The second time the city was rebuilt was after Cyclone Tracy leveled Darwin on Christmas Day in 1974 killing 66 people. The rebuilding after the cyclone was definitely well planned and successful judging by the beautiful city Darwin is today.

During the day we had time to kill in Darwin, so my wife and I decided to focus on the historical sights and do some shopping before heading back to the hotel. Darwin is filled with many old historical buildings including this building housing an old Darwin pearling company:


I had a local tell me that Darwin has such a large population of ethnic Chinese because they came to Darwin to work for the pearling companies. Another old colonial building that survived the cyclone is the Brown Mart which has now been turned into a theatre:


Here are the ruins of the old Darwin town hall that did not survive Cyclone Tracy:


There is lots more to see in Darwin such as the Northern Territory museum, a few World War II sites, as well as the fisherman’s, wharf which has a number of seafood restaurants. We decided to get something to eat in the small Chinatown area which wasn’t to bad. If you are not into the historical and cultural sites; Darwin is filled with many strip clubs and bars that cater to the young backpacker tourism scene if that is what you are into. I’m married with a receding hairline, I don’t think I would fit in to well in the Darwin club scene though judging by the ages of some of the people hanging out in those clubs, I could be wrong.

Anyway the next day we got up early and I hailed another taxi to get us to the distant Darwin train station. Once again we payed the $40 dollar taxi fee to get to the train station and waded through the crowds to get our bags checked in and wait to board the Ghan. As you can see from the picture below, there is not much to the Darwin train station, but it was good enough for just two trains a week from the Ghan:


Below is a picture of the train engine that would be pulling us this time:


Overall we had a great time in Darwin and the Top End. The area is really scenic and was definitely worth every bit of money and time we spent to go and tour there. It was nice to escape the daily grind of work to go and hang out with the laid back Aussies of the Top End. If you are traveling to Australia and want to experience the Australian bush Crocodile Dundee style than the Top End is the place to go. You won’t find people or an environment like the Top End in any other place in Australia and should be a must see for anyone taking an extended tour of Australia.

Anyway it was time to load up and begin our journey back home to Victoria:


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On Walkabout At: Litchfield National Park – Part 12

Our final must see destination in Australia’s Top End was Litchfield National Park. Litchfield is only a short drive to the south of Darwin and very popular with the locals. There is a saying in Darwin of “Kaku-don’t and Litchfield-do” because of the huge crowds that swamp Kakadu National Park compared to Litchfield. Like the locals claim, I found Litchfield to be a really beautiful park and I wish I had a different vehicle to see it all because most of the roads in the park are dirt roads and according to my rental agreement I can’t take a campervan on to any dirt roads. However, the areas that are paved did allow us to see some of the parks best attractions.  Here is one of the first things we saw when we entered the park, the magnetic termite mounds:


I would never have thought termite mounds would be so interesting but these ones were really quite impressive. They literally looked like a large graveyard stretched across the horizon:




What is so amazing about these termites is that they create these mounds to point towards the sun at the narrowest point. This keeps the mounds cooler compared to having the wide portion of the mound being in direct sunlight. If these termites do not build their mounds properly they will die due to, too much heat hitting the mound. The termites also play a key part in the environment by picking up foliage on the forest floors thus reducing the threat of the ever present bushfires.

The termites aren’t the only ones who construct massive mounds in the Top End. All over the Top End we saw the largest ant hills we have ever seen. This one below is about 10 feet tall:


What brings most people to Litchfield however is not the termites or ants if you can believe it, but people come here for the swimming holes. The park is filled with waterfalls and some of the best swimming holes in the entire Top End. The falls you see below are Florence Falls:


What makes the waterholes in Litchfield so popular with the locals is the fact that there are no crocodiles in the vast majority of these waterholes. Most of the park is located on the top of a large mountainous plateau which means the crocs can’t climb up there to get into the waterholes. Heck our campervan had a hard time getting up the plateau much less a crocodile.

There are numerous hiking trails in the park as well and the easiest trail worth checking out is the loop trail that begins near Florence Falls. The trail travels steeply down to the valley floor where it follows the stream that runs from the base of the waterfall:



The trail follows the stream straight to the falls and the adjacent swimming hole:


From the waterfall the trail begins to ascend up the valley through thick rain forest:




Along the way there is an old cave used by Aboriginals long ago to check out:


After reaching the top of the valley the trail exits the thick forest and enters the semi-arid scrub land that can be found in areas in the Top End away from rivers:


The trail and the waterfall is a great way to spend a day at the park and is an interesting look at the various environments that make the Top End a great place visit. So if you are up in the Darwin area definitely give Litchfield National Park a look if you have the time. You won’t be disappointed.

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On Walkabout At: Edith Falls (Nitmiluk National Park) – Part 11

The last section of Nitmiluk National Park the wife and I wanted to explore was Edith Falls:


The falls are located about a one hour drive from Katherine and should definitely be included in any trip to visit the Katherine region. Edith Falls is a series of falls that crash down the surrounding cliff sides and into the one large pool.

The wife and I originally only planned to spend the morning at Edith Falls, but we had so much fun at the falls that we ended up spending the entire day there.We arrived at Edith Falls around nine o’clock in the morning and parked our campervan in the large parking lot located near the lower pool. Near the lower pool there is a little snack stand that also serves as the ranger station for this section of the national park. The water looked really clean and inviting to go swim in, but there was one problem, crocodiles:


Swimming in the Northern Territory is definitely a swim at your own risk activity. So I went and asked the park ranger at the snack stand if she had seen any crocodiles in the water. She said that she had seen plenty of freshwater crocodiles, but only one saltwater crocodile in the pool before. Freshwater crocodiles I’m not scared of because they are not known to attack people and even if it did I feel confident I could fight it off because I would have a size advantage on it. The salt water crocodiles though I don’t mess with because they will make a meal out of me in no time. So I started walking around the pool to scout for crocs.

None over here:


And none over there either:


So I decided to jump in and was that water ever cold. I stayed in the shallow area where I could still see the bottom so I could keep my eyes open for crocodiles. My wife stayed on the shore and kept a look out for crocs as well. I swam around for about 5 minutes without being torn to pieces and this gave other people visiting the pool enough confidence to jump in as well. That was great for me because that decreased my odds of being eaten by a croc since there was more people to eat now than just me. I was swimming now with only about a one in ten chance of being eaten, that made me feel much better. I actually think I had a greater chance of dying from hypothermia than getting eaten by a croc because I was freezing by now.  So I got out, dried off, and then my wife and I decided to hike the perimeter Edith Falls hiking course to check out the water falls higher up the escarpment.  The trail is only about 3 kilometers long so it is a pretty easy walk, but it is definitely worth checking out because of the beautiful views and scenery like this colorful flower that is quite common in the area:


Here is the view looking out from the top of the escarpment:


At the top of the hills there is a great view of the water falls higher up on the escarpment:


Here is a close up of these beautiful falls:


The upper pool is where we decided to hike towards and take a swim in. Those crocodiles surely couldn’t climb up there, could they?  We hiked up to the pool and found only a handful of people up there, warm water, and the best thing, no crocs!


However, there was one thing we didn’t count on, a nude weirdo! Yes that’s right, there we were minding our own business when this old guy sits down on the beach where we were swimming and takes off his clothes right in front of us! He then takes out a beer and just sits there and stares right at us:


I got out of the water grabbed our stuff gave the guy a dirty look and then walked over to another area of the swimming hole where my wife swam over too. I didn’t want to make a big issue of this with the guy because I figured maybe it was an Aussie thing to strip naked at a swimming hole. Even if it was I think it is bad taste to do it right in front of people without asking, but maybe I’m just a prude American. Anyway I later asked some of my Aussie co-workers about this and they assured me that this was not typical Aussie behavior and the guy was probably a loon.


Anyway we still had a great time at the swimming hole. Something I found interesting was that there was a smaller waterfall to the right of the large fall that I swam over to, to check out. The waterfall emptied into a large hole in the cliff rock. I climbed up on the cliff and looked down into the hole. The hole had been carved into the rock by the falling water over the centuries and the water was the most brilliant blue color you could imagine. The hole was also very deep because I could not see the bottom. I was very curious how deep the hole went down, but I was not about jump in there and find out though because the hole was filled with these small, green frogs. Having read to much about poisonous Australian animals I just consider all frogs poisonous and got away from the hole. It would be one thing to get killed by a croc, but to get killed by a frog would be a really stupid way to go.

After I swam back from the hole we decided to continue on with our hike. Here is a look of the upper fall from the opposite side of the cliff face:


Here is a view looking back towards the lower pool near the parking lot where I took my first swim:


A closer look at the pool shows that many more people are now swimming in its cool waters unafraid of any potential crocodiles:


We continued to hike around the cliff side and worked our way back towards the parking lot. However, before we headed off the cliff I made sure to get one last picture of the surrounding countryside:


This area of the Top End looks flat, but it really is not. The terrain is really quite hilly though none of the hills are very large. Also the land is heavily forested and has plenty of rivers providing water to the local area. This large well watered land has made the Katherine area one of the main cattle grazing areas in the country. A park ranger told me that some of the larger cattle ranches in the area could lose a hundred head of cattle a year to crocodiles, but their herds are so large and so well fed from the thick grass that the ranches still turn huge profits.

Anyway, we hiked off the cliff side and back to the parking lot. We spent a full day at Edith Falls and now needed to find a RV park for the night so we could take a shower and make dinner. We drove up the Stuart Highway for about an hour and a half and stopped at a RV Park in the city of Adelaide River. This was the same river that further up we had taken our Jumping Crocodile tour on. We pulled into the RV park and were greeted by the overly friendly and extremely drunk RV park owner. We payed 15 bucks for a spot and spent the next hour talking to the owner. He was quite happy to have some Americans stay at his park and talk to. RV parks are something I really like about Australia because the people staying there and the owners are usually very happy to meet and talk to Americans. They love to hear what my impressions of Australia are. After a few beers, dinner, and a shower we called it a night to get some rest and prepare for our last day with the campervan at Litchfield National Park.

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On Walkabout At: Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park) – Part 9

The next stop on our campervan holiday in the Top End was the southern Top End city of Katherine and it’s Nitmiluk National Park, better known as Katherine Gorge. Nitmiluk is the name given to the gorge by the local Jawoyn Aborigines who own the park. The park is located about a 3.5 hour drive south of Kakadu and worth checking out if you have the time.There is not much in the city of Katherine, but it does have basic services for all tourists. We arrived in Katherine late in the afternoon and stayed at a local caravan park for $20 which isn’t too bad. We got up early the next morning and arrived at the park at 8AM. We thought by getting there early we could get first in line to rent a kayak. Little did we know that the park starts renting out kayaks the day before and all the kayaks had been booked already. So word of advice to anyone wanting to kayak the gorge, book your kayak early, at least the day before.


So instead of kayaking we took one of the four hour boat cruises up the gorge. As you can see from this picture the gorge is not exactly the Royal Gorge or the Grand Canyon, but it is still quite beautiful:



The Katherine River that runs through the gorge has various water levels and our guide actually claimed that the river during a really bad wet season will actually rise to nearly the top of the gorge.  One thing that Katherine Gorge has that the Grand Canyon doesn’t is crocodiles:


The gorge is home to fresh water crocodiles (freshies) that are not known for attacking people. Sightings of the aggressive and much larger salt water crocodiles (salties) are very rare in the gorge.  Still it is best to be careful around sandy areas in the gorge where crocodiles like to hang out:


The boat cruise is actually a pleasant way to see the gorge, but we did have to do a little bit of hiking at some points because of the low water level during the dry season that causes some parts of the river to be non-navigable by boats:



The walls of Katherine Gorge can be quite impressive at some points:



Further up the gorge we went the more narrow and spectacular it became:



One thing to remember if kayaking up the gorge is that you have to exit the gorge by 5PM. Our boat guide saw some kayakers not returning to the boat ramp by the 5PM deadline and became quite agitated with them. Our boat tour also ended by 5PM and here you can see the sun starting to set on the gorge as we return to the boat ramp at the visitor center:


All in all, Katherine Gorge is worth checking out if you are up in the Top End. However, I wouldn’t consider it a must see location for anyone visiting Australia though. Honestly a gorge like this is a dime a dozen in the western United States so I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was with let’s say Ayers Rock or Kakadu. So like I said if you have the time and your up in the Top End anyway definitely check it out, if not don’t lose sleep over missing it.

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On Walkabout At: Kakadu National Park’s Ubirr Rock – Part 9

A must see location at Kakadu National Park is without a doubt the Ubirr rock art site just to the North of the Border Store and about 40km North of Jabiru.

I say it is a must see because of the abundance of well preserved Aboriginal rock art as well as the spectacular views from the top of the rocks. Some of the Aboriginal art here is estimated to be 20,000 years old:


The rock art site trails are all very well maintained and even wheel chair accessible. Anybody with just a moderate level of fitness should be able to reach the top of the rock escarpment to see the beautiful views of the Kakadu wetlands and the Arnhem Land rock escarpment:


Here is a picture of an ancient Aboriginal art form the represents the story of a fishermen that killed two thieves who had stolen fish from him. This picture is estimated to be 2,000 years old:


Many of the stories told in the rock art is known because the tales behind the art is handed down to each generation of Aborigines. It is amazing when you think about it that today’s Aborigines can interpret the meaning of art that is tens of thousands of year old.

Here is a common feature in Aboriginal art, X-ray style paintings:


The Aborigines paint many animals in X-ray form. Everything from fish, kangaroos, wallabies, and birds.  Probably the most remarkable painting at Ubirr in my opinion was this painting of the now extinct Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger:


The Tasmanian Tiger used to roam most areas of main land Australia but approximately 4,000 years ago, Indonesian traders introduced the dingo dog to Australia and the dingo spread across Australia and wiped out the Tasmanian Tiger. When Europeans arrived to Australia the Tasmanian Tiger was only found on the island of Tasmania where the dingos had not spread to. The early Europeans did what the dingos were not able to completely do and killed all the Tasmanian Tigers on Tasmania as well. Thus the Tasmanian Tiger is officially extinct, but evidence of their existence thousands of years ago on the Australian main land is proven by the ancient Aboriginal art.

The rock gallery contained rock art of sea life as well:


This rock across from me is where the art gallery containing the Tasmanian Tiger was found:


I hiked up another rock formation where more x-ray art could be found:


Here is another piece of art that represents a story of two Aboriginal sisters who had the power to turn into crocodiles:


Here is a piece of art that represents the Rainbow Serpent that Aborigines believe was the creator of the world:


This next wall had rock art that represents someone who was cursed with a sickness for going to a sacred site they were not supposed to go:


Here is the view from the top of the rocks looking out towards the flooded billabongs and wetlands of Kakadu:



Here is a view in the opposite direction looking out towards the east and the Arnhem Land escarpment:


I highly recommend checking out Ubirr mainly because of the wealth of Aboriginal rock art, but as well as for its scenic views of the park.  Unfortunately this was the last highlight of our trip to Kakadu. We did stop and check out a few more areas, but the sites mentioned in my journal here are what I found to be the most noteworthy. Really the only site we didn’t see that we really wanted to was Jim Jim Falls, but during the dry season the falls don’t have any water.  Not visiting the falls gives us an excuse to come back here some day, which we both would love to do again sometime.

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On Walkabout On: Kakadu’s East Alligator River – Part 8

My wife and I decided to get away from the flocks of tourists at Kakadu who flood the more popular attractions such as the Yellow River Boat tours and instead decided to take a boat tour into Arnhem Land up the East Alligator River. There are no alligators in Kakadu only crocodiles, but early explorers thought they were alligators and thus named the river system that runs through Kakadu the West, Central, and East Alligator Rivers.

The boat tours run from near the Border Store which is located about 40km north of Jabiru and on the border between Kakadu and the Aboriginal lands of Arnhem Land. The border store is where you buy tickets to take all the boat tours up the East Alligator as well as purchasing permits to travel into Arnhem Land. You cannot travel into Arnhem Land unless you have a permit from the Aborigines. The Border Store is also the only place in the area where you can purchase supplies. The people are quite friendly at the store and don’t mind chatting with tourists. I found them very helpful about answering questions about the park, Arnhem Land, and the Aboriginal people who live there.

The boat ramp to the East Alligator tours is a short ride from the Border Store. Signs like you see below are posted all around the river and the boat ramp and make it very clear that there are crocodiles, not alligators in these waters that would love nothing more than making you their next dinner:


Despite these signs and warnings from Park Rangers people still wade into the water, usually to fish for Kakadu’s famous barammundi and get eaten every year by crocodiles.

Look how peaceful and beautiful this river looks:


Who would imagine that such potential danger lies so readily below the waters surface? It didn’t take us too long to see the potential danger though. The Crocodile Dundee like guide who led the boat tour loaded 10 of us tourists into the boat and proceeded to take the boat upstream towards the Arnhem Land escarpment. Not to long after leaving the boat dock we saw our first crocodile:


The guide took us even closer to get a good look at him. In the words of the great Steve Irwin, “What a Beauty!”:


This crocodile was easily just as big as some of the 5 to 6 meter crocs we saw on the Jumping Crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River a few days prior. This croc would be the first of many giant crocs we saw hanging out in the river:


The further up the river we went the sandier the banks of the river became. The guide told us that the crocs like to nest their eggs in the sand with high grass. So the high grass around this sand embankment may very well be filled crocs:


Eventually we saw our first glimpses of the Arnhem Land escarpment:


The escarpment loomed larger and larger the further down the river we went:


Of course the further upstream we went there was still plenty of crocs to see as well:


This guy here was the biggest croc we seen all day. Just an absolute giant.

Here is another picture of the boat entering into Arnhem Land:


Once the boat enters into Arnhem Land the rocks tower over the river on both sides of the river. The scenery is extremely spectacular:


Eventually the boat stopped and the guide beached the boat and we quickly got out after making sure there were no crocs hanging out in the area. The guide took us on a hike up one of the rock escarpments:



After completing the hike we came back to the boat and proceeded to head back towards the Border Store dock. Along the way back we even saw a fresh water crocodile:


The fresh water crocodiles known as freshies in Aussie lingo are about half the size of the salt water crocodiles, which are known in Aussie lingo as salties. Besides the size difference the freshies also have thinner looking snouts that further distinguishes them from salt water crocodiles. Most importantly the freshies are not known to attack humans. They are only known to attack humans in self defense where as the salties would love nothing more than to eat you for dinner.

We eventually made our way back to the docks and our brief Arnhem Land adventure was over. Overall I highly recommend any of the tours up the East Alligator River. The guide was extremely knowledgeable about the local environment and the techniques the Aborigines used to survive in it. Plus the scenery was spectacular and we saw a ton of wildlife most notably all the crocodiles. We paid $80 bucks per ticket and it was worth every cent.

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