Kakadu is simply extraordinary. We had so many people tell us “Kakada-don’t” that we thought it would be touristy and boring – but it is, in our opinion, a world-class national park (and we’ve been to a few!). We were back in camping mode, after staying in a cabin in Darwin, and Kakadu is THE place to camp, it feels really remote, is blissfully quiet at night, and the scenery is breathtaking.
We started with the croc-jumping tour at Adelaide River, which is touristy, but for 3 of us (not Ben), it was our first experience of big saltwater crocodiles in the wild, and they are huge, up to six metres long, jumping out of the water for pork chops. Ollie was in crocodile heaven, and even had a favourite called Archie, that had limbs and some of his snout missing from fights with other crocs; a true bad boy of the river! But the guides also give you a lot of interesting information about the crocodiles, and the debate on their growing numbers. As a protected species since the 70s, they are increasingly in conflict with humans and there are signs EVERYWHERE in the NT about the crocodile danger. They are now removing eggs from nests in order to control breeding but not everyone agrees with this approach, as they can live up to 70 or 80 years. When you see them come out of the water for their chops you realise impromptu swimming in the NT is a really bad idea!
We stayed overnight in Jabiru, about 200kms into Kakadu and from here did an amazing walk to Ubirr, where they have the most amazing 20,000 year old Aboriginal rock paintings, many showing animals long-since extinct, or telling local stories and legends. Then it’s a good climb up to the top of an escarpment to see, in my humble opinion, the most incredible view I’ve seen this trip, looking over green wetlands into Arnhem Land, aboriginal territory. You can understand why it is regarded as a sacred place.
From here we travelled down a couple of dusty corrugated dirt 4wd tracks to the national parks campsites where we were treated to wild brumbies (horses) and dingo’s coming through the park in the small hours – just too exciting to sleep! And they provide toilets and hot showers for only $20 per night, too!
We also fitted in a sunset boat trip on the Yellow River and Billabong, treated to more of the gorgeous wetlands landscape, teeming with birds and large saltwater crocodiles resting on the banks. Even our guide was amazed as we watched a sea-eagle dive and bring a massive barramundi out of the river, only to drop it on the banks, whilst distracted (looking for its missing catch) the sea-eagle itself was stalked by a saltie who moved across the water at an impressive speed just missing snapping it up with its impressive jaws – worthy of an Attenborough documentary!