We are certainly in the tropics now – mild mornings and warm to hot days.
We left Jabiru around 9.00am and drove to a small spot on the Arnhem Road called Mamukala where there was a large bird hide situated right on a huge wetland. The view of water everywhere was just beautiful and there were enough water birds to make it interesting although the main attraction later in the season of thousands of magpie geese were just beginning to arrive, so there were just a hundred or more on the water. There were all the usual wading birds – herons, storks etc. (and we saw a stilt walking on the water lilies) as well as the larger ones such as pelicans and geese. There were lots of ducks as well – I think the larger number were whisling ducks but there were also dab chicks. The hide had a large mural explaining the different animals and birds of the area which the aboriginal people would either hunt or use as guides to know what ‘food’ was available, e.g. eggs, roots etc. It was a very well set out.
Before getting back to our car we then decided to do a 3km walk which led us through the bushland and occasionally alongside the water. There were warnings that crocodiles were close and to be aware of that even on the walk. There was also warnings that other animals are around and should not be approached (or fed) at any time – they were dingo/horse/bufflo/kangaroo. Ian saw a little wallaby just as we began the walk. It was very dry – especially in comparison to the huge water just a few metres nearby. Kakadu is certainly a land of contrasts! We saw some lovely little birds – one was a red-backed robin but I was unable to get a good photograph.
The walk took less than an hour and it was delightful.We then drove to a place called Aurora Resort where there was another walk which had a large banyan tree. But it was a long walk (up to 2 hours) and it was getting quite hot so we gave it a miss, and just headed in the direction of Darwin. The Arnhem Road was once again in tip-top condition and we began to once again see Road Trains – on their way to the uranium mine near Jabiru. The scenery changed constantly and there were huge areas where the land had been control burned so it was not very attractive.
We crossed over some very large bridges with very wide, full rivers. We actually asked one of the guides the other day how Kakadu coped during the recent 10 year drought. He said it was not affected in any way, and seeing all the water around at the moment we can understand that. We decided to find a place to stop and just over the West Alligator River we saw a parking bay and enjoyed a quiet lunch. There was a boat ramp there but once again warning signs to be aware of crocodiles in the area.
We arrived at Howard Springs (20kms from Darwin CBD) around 2.30pm. Again – another packed Caravan Park but we are in a nice position towards the back. There are 2 pools here so once we set up the van we went for a swim. The water was cold to start off but once we got swimming it was lovely. The weather is around 30C.Both our car and the caravan are desperate for a good wash and we have travelled through areas which are short of water so do not allow it. This Park here at Howard Springs has this wording on its information sheet “Please wash cars or caravans on your site. Water is a precious commodity and we appreciate the water on the lawn”. Ian will take up the offer!
We are now going to look through all the tourist brochures of Darwin to decide what we will do for the next couple of days. There is a wide choice.
Love to all, Janese and Ian