And welcome to Dabendan’s last post on his 2011 trip through Australia. We both had a blast everywhere we went, experiencing the upside down and inside out world of the great Down Under. The far north of Australia, in true iconoclastic Aussie style, was quite warm. July and August are part of the dry season, meaning little water and lots of bush fires. Most of the fires are set by the aboriginal peoples, in their roles as caretakers of the land. It does make for a smoky drive down the last stretch of the Stuart highway, though.
After Katherine, we made a slight detour west to visit Litchfield National Park. Litchfield is often overshadowed by its eastern neighbor, Kakadu, but we found it to have some of the best scenery the Outback has to offer.
Magnetic termite mounds, Litchfield National Park. These termite mounds are built by thousands of termites with a north-south orientation to control the interior temperature. So if you get lost in NA without a compass, let these be your guides.
Yours truly next to a magnetic termite mound. These things are enormous, or else I’m extremely tiny. Either way, it’s an interesting picture.
Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park. All of the swimming holes were closed when we went there thanks to recent saltwater crocodile activity. As you’ll see it the later photos, I’ll leave the swimming to the crocs without a fight.
Wild Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, Litchfield Park.
The road out of the park to Darwin wasn’t finished, and it was a long bumpy hell in our 2WD Caravan. All part of the experience, though.
Litchfield Pales in comparison to Kakadu. Kakadu is half the size of Switzerland, and possesses Aboriginal rock paintings older than those found in Lascaux, man-eating saltwater crocs, and gorgeous national scenery. It’s one of the only World Heritage Sites both for its natural beauty as well as its importance to humanity. It’s also home to the largest, most productive uranium mine in the world. Can’t forget that.
Alligator Rivers Floodplain, Kakadu. Weirdly beautiful.
Rock painting, Ubirr, Kakadu. The aboriginal elders regularly touch up paintings, so it’s difficult to date them, but archaeologists reckon this one to be upwards of 20,000 years old. It’s an anatomically accurate painting of a local snake-necked turtle, by the way.
Rock painting, Ubirr, Kakadu. This one’s from the oldest part of the rock art gallery at Ubirr, estimated to be about 50,000 years old. (For comparison, the ones at Lascaux in France are estimated to be 30,000 years old). This is part of a long stretch of paintings representing the animals and spirits of Kakadu over thousands of years. There’s even a painting that’s reckoned to represent a Tasmanian wolf, extinct in the Northern territory for many thousands of years. One sad story told by the very knowledgeable rangers was that once in the late 1980’s, when the park was first opened for tourists, one of the tourists walked up to the gallery and started to wipe away the paintings with a wet rag! The damage is still visible, and kind of heartbreaking if you think of what was lost. What a prick.
One of the few Aboriginal representations of the Rainbow Serpent. The Rainbow Serpent is viewed by many Aborigines of Northern Australia as one of the most powerful Ancestors of the Creation Time. It’s most often associated with water and oil, but it can be capricious if not respected.
We were a bit tired of photography by the time we got to Darwin, and also a bit depressed that our trip was nearing its end, so we didn’t take many pictures of the town itself. We did visit a reptile zoo in downtown Darwin itself, though, because although we did see many salties in Kakadu, we naturally were a bit heistant to get up close to them for a photo.
This is Big Burt, who starred with Paul ‘That’s not a knife… THAT’s a knife’ Hogan in Crocodile Dundee. Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin. He’s over 5 meters long, tips the scales at over 700kg, and is over 80 years old.
Close up of another of the park’s crocs, William. He was originally named Houdini, but his and his mate Bess’s names were changed to William and Kate in honor of the royal wedding.
Why you don’t want to jump into just any lake or river in the Northern Territory.
A pair of Goannas, Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin.
Well, that’s it for my 2011 Australian adventure. Thanks for sticking around, and if this gets enough feedback I might post a travelogue of my 2007 Transsiberian Railway trip from Hong Kong to London overland some time soon. Get to commenting and liking! Happy travels,