??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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Much Happier

Having left the ‘hotel’ we packed the little car for our last trip. We took the bags to our next hotel before dropping the car back. This hotel made me happy. An oasis in the desert (literally haha). A tropical coloured lounge sat in the main foyer. From the reception desk you could see tall palms swaying gracefully , shade for the swimming pool which was complete with waterfall. Our room wasnt ready yet (9:30 am) but they hotel (oops resort ) offered luggage babysitting. Leaving our bags in the trusty hands of these people ( my mind was sure I had made a good choice with this place even though I hadn’t checked out the room) we drove the car back to the hire company where it passed muster . All we had left to do then was walk to the main town centre (everything is close)  to find a nice breakfast place. We found one that looked busy (always a good sign) called …The Duck’s Nuts 🙂

They made the very best eggs and bacon breakfast! The poached eggs were runny and the yolks golden. The bacon was crisp but not burnt. I was in heaven. Brian had french toast which looked delicious ( and he said it was). We strolled then into the shops but it was too hot just to roam aimlessly so we decided as this was our last day we would allow ourselves the luxury of lazy poolside day (in the shade because I was wearing the cloak of redness from the day before haha. On arriving back to our hotel (about noon now) I asked if we could just sneak some things (swimwear) from our bags. The man at reception said he had a room ready for us …it just happened to have a view of those palm trees and pool when looking down from the window. How lucky were we. This room was huge , having two queen beds a large bathroom and sitting area…my type of hotel room (and Brian’s). We decked ourselves out in swimwear and went down to the pool area. There was a bar , tables and two pools. We chose the pool under the shadecloth for shelter. We had it all to ourselves! The other pool was the popular one (waterfall ) , lots of English tourists (judging by accents) burning their skin ( as I did the day before , minus the accent lol).

Soon it was time to return to our resort room to get dolled up for the sunset dinner cruise we had booked. We arrived at the wharf and were impressed with the restaurants here, not to mention the view they had of Darwin Harbour ( the same view as we had had in our luxury hotel on our first days in Darwin (seems like so much longer than a week ago).

 

 

Our boat docked and we stepped on board. It had allocated seating and so no bun rush to board. As soon as we had our seat a plater of two dips (spicy capsicum and smoked mackerel) were put down on our table. Tasty start ! Then as we sailed off into the sunset hahaha the fist course was presented. It was a buffet of banana prawns, mackerel and oysters. It also had 3 salads – asian coleslaw, a sundried tomato, olive and feta salad and a garden salad. Crusty bread and butter (not margarine) was also available. Each table attended the buffet alone and they kept replenishing it after each table. The banana prawns were sweet and the oysters delicious with their addition of Kilpatrick dressing. We consumed a well loaded plate as did everyone, not anticipating the serving size of the BBQ course. Our plate came out with a scotch fillet the size of my hand and about 3 cm thick. Again the buffet was reloaded with its dishes. We made our own surf and turf. Food was definitely plentiful.Dessert was individual cheesecakes.

Dips

 

While we ate we sailed along the coastline. We pased by our first hotel and saw many places we had visited while in Darwin from this new perspective. At one point we passed a large sandbar that’s only visible at certain times.   Although we were out on the harbour the breeze though full was still hot air. We waddled up the gangplank when we docked.

 

Our Mantra Hotel (the orange building)

 

The sunset  had been  the best ever. The camera wasn’t  able to do justice to the colours. I have never seen such deep oranges and purple hues tho I have witnessed many amazing sunrises and sunsets on this trip.

Sandbar in the harbour

 

 

 

Some sunset photos

 

 

 

This was a beautiful dinner, fitting for our last night in Darwin and last night of this special holiday.

 

The happy couple

We returned to our hotel to pack bags in readiness for our journey home tomorrow. Sad the trip is almost over, but excited to see  Tim and Ally.


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Storyteller :)

Around 3 am I must have drifted off to sleep. Rain was falling heavily on our tin roof. It is a pretty sound at night. When we got up and ready to leave looking outside I realise we hadn’t been the only people staying here. In fact there were several caravans down further. Not only that, the AAT Coach line trip from Darwin to Litchfield stop in ‘because the food here is really good ‘ . Ha ha I obviously read too any freaky stories 🙂 I do tend to have a good imagination and the ability to turn nothing into a really good story ( I sense you all thinking “no, never” and laughing )

Today we headed to Litchfield National Park. It is only about an hour and a half drive from Darwin. Litchfield National Park features numerous waterfalls and streams which cascade from the sandstone plateau of the Tabletop Range.

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    The first tourist stop was at the Magnetic Termite Mounds. It appears like hundreds of tall tombstones . Probably lucky I hadn’t seen this yesterday 😉 They are built by magnetic termites and have arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers. The mounds are aligned north to south to minimise the exposure to the sun. This helps with cooling.There are also cathedral termite mounds here. The cathedral termite builds a column styled mound . The build them up to about 6 metres high. As the younger termites grow they begin making their own nests. When the colony dies out in the large one ( with young left home and building new colony nests ) the tall nest is used by small animals for a home. Termites are not in fact ants. They are actually part of the cockroach group eating cellulose from grass and wood while ants are scavengers.

    Magnetic Termite mounds

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    Cathedral Termite mounds

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    Driving on from these majestic tower and eerie tombstones we visited the Buley Rockpools . Buley Rockpools is a stream which has formed rock pools of varying sizes and depths as it makes it way down to Florence Falls. Brian swam in the rockpools , I splashed in a shallow one 🙂 The water was tepid far from cool but still it was refreshing. The heat here near the water is bearable. It is exhaustively hot however , away from the water and trees.

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    We were quite hungry by noon having not had breakfast and drove to Wangi Falls as the only open kiosk was there. We ate the best hamburger…the type that has meat , lettuce tomato, beet root, egg, bacon , pineapple and onions. DELICIOUS !!! We then walked the 80 m to the Wangi Falls plunge pool to swim. This swim involved a certain amount of trust in the Parks and Wildlife people. Salt water crocodiles and freshwater crocodiles visit here during the wet season , but rarely in the dry season ( that’s the season of the moment) . Traps haven’t caught anything ( aren’t crocs supposed to be smart though) . It was a really pretty sight with two falls cascading down. The thunderous tones of the waterfalls is audible from the car park about 100 m from the waterfall. The pool has a concrete step with handrail into the water which makes entry easier. I sat on the steps . The water was cool and refreshing, little fish swam around my feet. Brian took off to swim to both falls. The larger of the falls he said, tumbled really hard on you.

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    We had one more ‘must see’ left in this park ( well ‘must see ‘if you only have a 2WD car like us…4WDs can get to more things ) which was Florence Falls. I read the 135 steps down ( translates to 135 steps back up !!!! ) and decided to give it a miss. I preferred the photos option for this. Off trudged Brian armed with towel water and camera .

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    Time to head to Darwin. There was no Internet yet so had to wait until we were near Humpty Doo to be able to search for a hotel for the next two nights. how arc could it be to find a room not too expensive for two nits in a city ?? Well I shall tell you !! It wasn’t dissimilar to another experience I had in another city – Hobart. Rooms that normally sold for say $300 we’re advertised at around $700!! Then there weren’t even many of those with vacancies. Vacancies were as you can see at a literal premium. I didn’t want to do another caravan park cabin ( metal even with air con in this climate is hot). So , I saw one in the main street of Darwin for only $105. Ok it was budget but in a city I thought how how could it be?? Well it could be really bad!! I was just looking for clean with a comfortable bed and air con. On arrival in our room the Ghan cabin was starting to look huge when in the perspective of train size compared to this. To enter the bathroom one of us had to stand hard in the room corner so the other could pass to go in. I like two pillows so I took the one from the single bed and it had dirty fingerprints. I went straight to front desk. They changed the pillowcase and came back to the room to check it out. She said the rest was clean ( which it was). I said I wanted to cancel the second night which she obliged but said she couldn’t refund tonight’s ( lets face it I couldn’t be any accommodation anyway and she probably knew that judging by the line at the front desk looking for accommodation. She offed a bottle of wine to make the night better but I explained I wasn’t looking for to be bought 🙂 retrospect I should have accepted it ha ha.
    Ate out at a really good Indian food restaurant and finished with cold rock ice cream.
    We returned to our box and found a night in the travelodge for tomorrow night. Thankfully all the rooms re returned to regular prices 🙂

    Tomorrow will be our last day on holidays. It has ran away so fast 😦

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NAVITALIM was the name of the workshop in Wolfe Creek (true)

NAVITALIM is an anagram of Ivan Milat. This will all make sense later so read on 🙂

Here’s hoping you are reading this. If you are it is Tuesday and it means I am in Litchfield National Park… with Internet connection finally 🙂

Monday started in Katherine. Oppressive heat met us as we opened the hotel door and went to breakfast. I realised the secret is to run from air con to air con and then it’s all good . The manager booked us on a 9 am Two Gorge Nitmiluk cruise . It was about a 20 min drive to the Gorge.

From the point where you wait it’s all trees and the gorge itself is just a glimpse in the background. Walking down the ramp to the boat it’s glory begins to unfold. As we walked the ramp I had my second snake encounter. This time it was a black snake that slithered with no haste , across the path in front of me!

We took our seats and the cruise began. The guide explained the formation of the gorge. The water reflected on the sharp rock faces dancing in colourful hues like a fairyland of lights. The water was green but not that deep n the first gorge. In fact the rocks below we’re visible . I’d say the water was only a few metres deep in parts though the depth of colour in other parts suggested it’s not all shallow.

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Along the banks occasional red balls float , not unlike boat floats. However apparently these bright floats are designed to attract any crocodiles that happen to venture into the gorge ( not so common at this time of year ..so they tell us Chomp chomp chomp us ha ha) . They bite the balls as they are apparently inquisitive. This lets the parks and wildlife people note there is a crocodile lurking and a bit about it judging by its bite marks. Saltwater ones are the ones most likely to attack while fresh waters are shy. Like I’m going test this theory by jumping in. canoeists do travel during this season as it is relatively safe. The crocodile traps sit untouched ( as do the pig carcasses within them that act as lure should a croc venture in. )

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We had to walk ( I shall dedicate a blog page to suggestions I have for tourism in NT later ha ha ) to the second gorge. It wasn’t that far but at 39C any walk is a long one . The second gorge was deeper in parts. We saw some fish swimming in the water and the walls were stunning in many varying colours. In one section the sandstone was almost white. This is its true colour the other colours are surface changes left by moss and iron reacting with water. The white rock is cleaned by a large whirlpool that whips the sand from the river banks during the wet season when the river is up to 7 metres deeper and spins past this curve. We also head dreamtime stories of the creation of the gorge and explanations for the limited examples of rock art visible on the walls in parts. I really enjoyed this cruise.

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All good things come to an end though. We headed back to Katherine for lunch. On the way we stopped in at an Indigenous art gallery and once again Brian had his wallet open. Beware Tim and Ally, the Forbidden Room looks like becoming the Forbidden Art Gallery!!

From there we continued on to Katherine for lunch then headed off in the direction of Litchfield NP. The sky was filled with dark navy storm clouds. Already things didn’t look good. I hate driving on freeways in the rain and here in the Territory the speed limits is 130 kms and the road is full of road trains ( trucks with 4 trailers) and much of the road is single lane…translate to Brian’s dream drive 🙂 So , I try phoning the place in Litchfield where I wanted to stay. It’s no longer school holidays nor a weekend so it’s the slow period now for visitors…the heat also limits the holiday makers. Also we weren’t exactly sure where we would be each day now so decided to book night by night. Phone rang out then went to message bank…’send an email’ it suggests and so I did. Phew we still had Internet connection. Automated email returns…’phone on this number if you need an immediate reply re accommodation . I ring…no answer, try again a little later, still no reply. We are now about 40 minutes from Batchelor ( where I intend us staying tonight as that’s the service town of the park) when I get an email reply….No accommodation tonight! No this can’t be. I had chosen this place back months ago. It looked so romantic and inviting…go on google Rum Jungle Bungalows and you will understand my comment. http://www.rumjunglebungalows.com.au/
OMG!!!! The only other places are camping grounds or caravan parks. I begin hyperventilating coupled with fast speed googling and then it happens….the Internet stops. I am doomed. Of course I rightly blame Brian as I hadn’t chosen to do the Katherine Gorge leg. 🙂 I had intended going straight up to Batchelor yesterday . We are now at Batchelor oh glory we have some internet albeit slow. We stop at the visitors centre. The nearby caravan park has only cabins left without an ensuite…UGHHH NO WAY. I would rather drive on to Darwin, which I hinted to Brian but he feigned a tired expression making me feel bad to even ask him to . So I phoned park after park…same deal. Then one said they had a cabin, with air con, with ensuite but at the price of $120!!!! They obviously knew my predicament. I accepted it and we drove on to the park 11 kms away on the road to the national park. As we saw the caravan park name I instantly knew that This Caravan Park was obviously an anagram in some fashion ( or code for ) NAVITALIM .

I saw the little metal cabins. I hyperventilate more. My vivid imagination expands even more as I’m greeted by this display at the pathway. We enter the reception. Brian is so more cool ( or is it ignorant about stuff like this. ..doesn’t watch and read what I do?) Peter Falconio’s image rushes through my head. Belangalo Forest is etched in my brain. To the left as we drive in a man is digging ( a large hole???) in the garden. We pass a small garden with a somewhat large mound in the middle and lots of flowers…last guests ????? My mind returns to the display at the entrance ( see photo below)

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I ask the lady about Internet access..she says there isn’t any much. Inside I shudder ( maybe I even shuddered outside lol) . We look at the cabin ( well Brian did , I wasn’t prepared to turn my back on this lady) . He says it’s fine and pays the money. Inside my head I try desperately to remember the trick Ally told me about passing your legs through your arms when they are tied behind you. She had shown me it was possible when we had read about the Peter Falconio case. Then I remembered it only worked cause she had long arms and skinny legs. I fail on both accounts. OMG . We are the only people staying here bar a caravan with lots of junk around it and a caravan at the back of the park. FREAKY!!!

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I sit on the veranda watching the storm brew…evil sounding birds ( or are they moans from a incarcerated human??? ) . Then I realise I have transient Internet and Telstra phone contact so I call Tim and Ally and Facebook them the photo making light of it so as not to alarm them but at least to leave a trace . Then I begin to blog. My Internet stopped again. The lady comes over and says I could use their Internet if I want as there would be no Internet otherwise. I assure her I have Telstra 3G working on my iPad and my phone and tell her I’m sending emails with ease ( wasn’t about to announce I had no connection with the outside world lol) . She says that is odd cause usually people have no phone or net contact. Luckily at that moment a text comes thru from Ally showing my phone is ( was then but not for long lol) working. I laugh and mention how I have just been talking with our family letting them know where we are staying 🙂 I emphasised the contact 🙂

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Then we go up to their shop to get dinner. I eat only what is prepacked after tasting my piethat tastes 'odd' . While we are their the lady we spoke with earlier's partner tells us he is making kangaroo jerky ( kangaroo meat???) My mind is now running overtime as you can imagine . He describes how he cuts the meat up, marinates it, dries it then re chops it up . He suggests we eat in the cafe so he can let us try his jerky. Now im sure they are trying to drug us first! I feign heat and the need for air con and hurry back to lock the cabin and us inside. It's dark now and shadows look so much more evil in the dark as do sounds.

Then Brian ventures back to the store for another bottle of coke and of course he returns with some jerky to eat. Luckily he didn't eat it 🙂 . I just looked at the clock and it's only 8 46 pm. I'm so tired but I can't turn my mind off to sleep. It is going to be a very long night I can tell.

This is kangaroo jerky.

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Off to Katherine

Again the threatening clouds dropped nothing. W leave Kakadu today. I had hoped to see a storm here but I have seen so many amazing things I can’t complain.

Today we drove in the direction of Katherine. Brian had one walk he wanted to do . He walked the steep path and I stayed in the air conditioned car 🙂

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The trip out of the park was green. The land even where burnt off has tall eucalyptus trees and palms in between them. Yesterday I learned that the palm leaves are used in strips to make dilly bags , rugs and wall hangings. They are dyed in varied colours using berries. We saw some brumbies grazing and eagles eating carcass of a young dingo. We passed green billabongs edged with tall reeds. Although it isry season this area is so ugh more lush tante environment we witnessed in Central Australia. The bright red landscape is replace too , with a browny red soil.Even saw a cloud that looked a bit like a gecko. Then we drove through he brick gates signifyingthat we had left Kakadu National Park.

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Approaching Pine Creek we saw a huge brushfire to the west. Black smoke swirled with red billowed up high into the sky. Turns out it is in Nitmiluk Park but it’s a huge park so it is no where near where we are headed…thankfully!

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Pine Creek has a population of around 700 people and it is he mining history starting point for Northern Territory. Gold was mined here in the early 1800s. Ate lunch here just after 2 pm then headed to Katherine our stop or the night. The hotel has a nice pool and w made use of it , refreshing after our long, busy, hot days. Had Chinese Food for dinner.

We hope to go on a gorge boat trip tomorrow. The owner here will tryo book t for us in h morning when e cruise company opens.

Glad I have finally caught my blog up. Being tire at night hasn’t been conducive to writing but also in many of our stays we just haven’t had reliable internet. I start posting and it cuts in and out so sending is inhibited.


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Nourlangie and Yellow Waters region

Despite the clouds last night no rain fell. Today the air was smoky and an oppressive heat surrounded us despite it being early morning. After breakfast we headed to Nourlangie and Yellow Water .
First stop was Nourlangie. It was a fairly flat walk with a few steep paths. I stuck to the flat path nursing my sore knee. The art here is also well preserved. Apparently they place silicon above the drawings which acts as an invisible ledge helping to stop rain run off traveling over the art. It is also touched up by the indigenous of the area. Though I must admit (should have taken a photo…but I’m sure there was a good explanation) I found it bewildering as to why the parks and wildlife utility truck had yellow brown red and black school style bottles of paint in a box in its tray) .

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Then we drove to Anbangbang Billabong. This was really a beautiful place. The serenity was broken only by the sound of wings as various birds flapped their wings flying to new pots on the billabong. A path winds about 5 metres from the waterline. At Bowali yesterday the parks and wildlife officer said there are crocodiles there but if you don’t go near the water you are safe. Brian walked the 100 metre path. I sat on a chair looking out admiring the beauty. Green lily pads covered much of the water. Pink and white lilies sat on the lily pads. Pelicans floated on the water. Other birds waded , pecking at things in the water. It was a place you could sit and watch for a long time. Just as Brian was walking towards me I turned my eyes back to the water. A pelican with another flew and landed on the billabong. In an instant the snout of an open mouthed crocodile slammed closed on the pelican. It tried to fly up as the jaws opened for a moment but again they snapped closed and a thrashing rolling crocodile rolled several times really fast with the pelican. Other birds flapped overhead screeching as if they were trying to offer support to the victim. Muddy water spun around. Then…stillness on the water. The lily pads rocked a little then the water was smooth as if the scene had never played. Birds however continued to screech loud and long. Those in the middle of the billabong flew to other spots. The shoreline waders seemed oblivious. No more than 20 seconds passed I would say. Another couple sitting near us just looked our way and said ‘croc’ . None of us had cameras at hand nor would we have been fast enough to capture this sight but it will stay in my mind for ever. We stayed for a while still trying to comprehend what we had witnessed and talking of what had happened. Warnings are everywhere about the danger of crocodiles but it had until now seemed like it might just be a little overboard. But now it’s an understanding.

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Continuing on we explored the Warradjun Cultural Centre. Neither of us understood anything much of the indigenous culture of the region but these centres are really teaching us informative lessons.

Next we took a look at Yellow Water. We didn’t go an a cruise here. The timing was wrong but we looked around at the billabong .20121007-222144.jpg20121007-222154.jpg

We were able to to use an unsealed road to travel then to Jim Jim Billabong. This was another beautiful billabong. The water here was a deep green heavy with weeds along the shoreline. I took some photos but after our other billabong experience I didn’t venture past the warning signs..

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Tired and hot (it’s around 39C )we drove back to the hotel. It was around 4 pm . We found just opposite the hotel is a fabulous bakery so we had an easy dinner and settled back to pack up ready to leave tomorrow, heading for Katherine Gorge. Tonight a colony of bats flew overhead as we parked in the hotel car park. They looked eerie as they flapped in the group of hundreds against the grey cloudy sky heavy with the scent of brushfire smoke.


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Jabiru and East Alligator Region

Awoke to feel another hot day brewing.its humid here and the heat is less tolerable than the dry heat. There at seven regions of Kakadu and we hope to see all except the Jim Jim Falls region as it is only 4wd access.Today our plans are to see the regions
Jabiru and East Alligator River .

We started off in the East Alligator River area. Here we started with a visit to Ubirr. It was a walking track that took us past some well preserved examples of rock art. Signposts explained the stories behind the art and at some parts of the walk guides gave informative talks. The hot weather dictates we drink lots of water. The flies buzz loud and relentlessly. It is now I wish I had purchased a fly net for my hat . There was a steep rock hill to climb so Brian volunteered to do it and get some photos for me. 🙂

It’s amazing how high up and in odd angles that the art work is. It is also interesting to learn more about the culture through these diaries that were created in pictorial form.

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From here we headed to Cahills Crossing. It is an entry into Arnhem Land and a permit is required to enter past the weir. Familiar crocodile warnings are on the water weir yet there were several men fishing ignoring the signs. The water here is an inviting turquoise colour with white sand banks. But the danger that lurks unseen prevents us from diving into these cool waters. While we were there on the safe landing viewing platform we watched a road train drive across the weir to deliver its stock to somewhere in Arnhem Land. A lot of precision was required in that!!

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Next we visited the Bowali Visitors Centre. It had an interesting display AND it was air conditioned . On the way back to the car I had a little trip over and my knees were little worse for wear. ..never trip over in fancy high shoes only ever in joggers…that should be a lesson for me hahaha. Went back to the hotel and made good use of my well prepared first aid kit.

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By now it was early afternoon and we were getting puckish. We drove around Jabiru looking at the school , clubs ending at the shopping centre. We ate fried fare in the cafe, bought some dips and chips from the supermarket and headed back to the resort. Brian swam in the pool and I sat in the room enjoying 17C on the air conditioner 🙂

Tomorrow we have more to explore and so we set the alarm for 6 30 so hopefully we can beat a little of the heat . Storm clouds hover tonight. A storm here would be special to see. They are overdue according to the seasons.


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Kick off to Kakadu

Had a great breakfast then hit the road ( via Woolworths for water supplies) to Kakadu. Using the ipad GPS we headed for the Stuart highway then Arnhem Highway. Our first stop was the Windows to the Wetlands . It is a viewpoint not far fom Humpty Doo looking ove wetlands. It had a hands on display explaining the termite mound formations seen everywhere, the role of fire and floods on the environment and the flora and fauna both native and introduced.

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The heat was building and the horizon was spotted with smoke . We headed off next to a Jumping Crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River. We too, our seats on the boat and before we took off received the talk of how to access our life jackets and how to wear them should w need to enter the water. Knowing those crocs were in the water I knew Id be walking on the water so fast if there was any chance would end up in that water, I’d never need that life jacket ha ha!!

Not long had we left the wharf when the boatman suggests we look behind the boat. There gliding in the water were two beady eyes and a square snout. Hardly a ripple was made as it glided to the boat…aware that this boat was a tasty food source-well not the boat rather than the pork chops on board. A pork chop was dangled and up jumped this huge beast to collect the chop in its powerful grinding jaws. The snap sound it made when it didn’t land the chop was frightening as you realised what those jaws were capable of!!

Croc after croc repeated this trick. Some were smaller than others , some larger but all had the watchful beady eyes…cautious but brave. Unfortunately the hour ended and we were back on land , but at least with all our limbs :))

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Exhilarated by this cruise we hit the road again for the drive to Kakadu. Along the way we saw even taller termite mounds than we had seen on the train to Darwin. We stopped for a late lunch at the bark hut inn….very ‘Crocodile Dundee ‘ style. 🙂 then continued the drive to our hotel.

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