Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

KAKADU – Definitely DO, DO, DO!!!!

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 24, 2010

Hi Everyone,

Well after catching up on appointments, haircuts and re-stocking the caravan we left Darwin and headed off towards Kakadu.  We decided to stay for 3 nights in Jabiru so we could explore the top end of Kakadu and then moved on to Mary River Roadhouse for an extra night to see the southern part of Kakadu.

We stayed at the Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park, which had grassed sites!, something we were not used to seeing and have almost forgotten what the green stuff looks like:). We arrived about 3pm so stopped in at the Bowali Visitors Centre where a very nice lady told us about places to go and things to see.

Cahill's Crossing

Golden Tree Snake

We decided to head out to Cahill’s Crossing, which is right on the border between NT and Arnhem Land, as there is a viewing platform to watch the crocs come into feed on barramundi, on the high tide at the crossing.  However it was a neap tide for today and the next few days so only saw 2 crocs.  We did see a couple of idiots fishing on the crossing, and yes they were catching barramundi but they’d have been dead meat if one of the crocs had decided to come right onto the crossing.  Wade asked if he could fish here a couple of times, always to be told “No-bloody-way”.  There was a family next to us with a son about the same age as Wade who just kept asking to fish here for about 30mins straight, had to give the kid points for trying but he too was unsuccessful!

Ubirr Rock Art

We headed out to Ubirr to see the Rock Art and listen to some of the Ranger talks.

Ubirr Rock and wetlands

The Rock Art was beautiful and real Art!  It was interesting to read the explanations about the art and the artists. As we got there fairly late in the afternoon we had missed most of the Ranger talks for the day but we did get to listen to one on top of the rock, which was interesting as well.  We walked around to see as much of the Art as we could before we climbed up the rock.  We almost stood on a Golden Tree Snake on the track on the way to the rock walk.  They are such a brilliant yellow and their heads are a blueish/grey colour – very striking (no pun intended!). We had seen a few at the Territory Wildlife Park so we knew they weren’t too deadly and they love Pandanas Palms, which are very plentiful in this area.  Still we gave him/her a wide berth and continued on the path. We climbed up to the top and watched a beautiful sunset as well, bonus. There were a few burn-off fires around on the horizon which just added to the colourful hues in the sunset.  What a beautiful and spiritual place this was! It was still quite green and there was some water on the wetlands which the Aboriginal Guide told us was due to some unseasonal late rains.  This guy was amazing, he was missing his right leg from a croc attack and he hiked up to the top of the rock with his crutches and made it look easy.  We stayed until the colour had almost gone from the sky and thought we’d best high-tail it down this great bit rock while there is a skerig of light left to see, so we didn’t end up with any broken limbs.  Safely down we headed back to camp for a swim and a late dinner.

Such Awesome colours!!

Ubirr Wetlands sunset

Next day we travelled down to Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls.  It’s a lot of 4WDriving and there was a nice deep water crossing heading out to Twin Falls.  You need to get a “boat pass” from either the Visitors Centre or the “Garnamarr Campground”.  We spoke to the Ranger there (after getting our boat tickets – adults only $12.50 ea, kids U16 free) who told us to probably not bother with the top walk as it is best done very early in the morning or late in the arvo – and we were there right on lunchtime! And “The temperature will be 10 degrees hotter up on top too” he said.  Ok…, we decided to just do the gorge walk then.

Twin Falls Gorge

There is a day use area, with no camping, at Twin Falls and you can do a 6km return walk across the top to view the falls form the top or do the 2km through the gorge to the falls.  It’s an easy walk to the boat ramp where you board a boat to take you up the gorge towards Twin Falls.  Mick was the Ranger on “boat duty” and he chatted about the area and the history and the crocs as well.

Rocky walk to Twin Falls

You cannot swim at Twin Falls, which such a shame as it was sooo hot there and the falls are so beautiful but they cannot guarantee no crocs, so therefore no swimming:(.  The Falls were very lovely and the walk there was mostly rocky, except for where they had built a floating jetty to access the actual falls.  There are showers (almost like a safety shower) along the walks so you can douse yourselves with water to cool off.  The falls are huge – in the photo you can just see Daniel walking over to the Falls in his red T-shirt (the red speck on the left).

Floating Jetty to Twin Falls

It was interesting to note that the Bowali Visitor Centre said there was not much water at Jim Jim Falls, the Ranger at Garnamarr told us not to bother with Jim Jim as the falls weren’t flowing but we asked Mick the Ranger on the boat and he told us we could swim at Jim Jim.  So off we went to do some more 4WDriving and headed to Jim Jim Falls for a swim.

Twin Falls - magnificent

It was a rough 4WD track into both the Jim Jim and Twin Falls area from the Garnamarr Campground.  The 1km walk from the car park into the Jim Jim Falls was rocky as well but the plunge pool at the bottom of the falls was deep and cool!  There were lots of fish in the pool as well.  It was lovely to cool off with a few swims here, have a bite to eat, and then head back to the car to head back to Jabiru.

Jim Jim Falls, well rocks anyway!

Jim Jim Plunge Pool

Daniel and Wade at Jim Jim

Next day we booked into to do a boat tour on the East Alligator River; it was called the “Guluyambi boat cruise”.  Our guide, Robert, was a lovely Aboriginal fellow who explained aspects of the local Aboriginal culture to us as we travelled up and down the river.  He took us up to Cahill’s Crossing on the morning high tide and we saw heaps of crocs, some right where those idiots had been fishing on the crossing.

Big fella just down from Cahill's Crossing

Robert re-iterated that you’d be an idiot to be fishing on the crossing but people still do and some get taken.  Maybe it’s the Darwinian Theory at work, thinning out the population! We also met Nigel and his wife Rosie on the boat, who are retired and have been travelling around our great country as well.  Nigel works for AAT tours and he told us that one day they watched a croc move onto the crossing and we was as long as the crossing is wide.  A car came down to the crossing, waited awhile but the croc didn’t want to move so the car moved forward a bit and the croc moved slowly off the crossing and as soon as the car was gone, the croc just floated and swam back to the same spot on the crossing, sitting with his mouth open waiting for the barra to come jumping past.  Wade finally stopped asking if he could fish here!  Can’t imagine why? Hee hee. Robert, our guide, is also an accomplished Artist and Nigel told us he was off to Sydney soon for a Gallery Exhibition.

Arnhem Land stopover

Robert with his spears

We stopped at a place along the river where we could get out and climb up onto a rock for a spectacular view of the river.  This spot was on the Arnhem Land side of the river too. Robert had explained how the local people use the local Hibiscus tree for all sorts of things, especially the wood for spears, spear tips and woomeras.

Robert demonstrating how to use a woomera

They have different names in his language but that is probably what most people would know them as.  He also demonstrated how to use the woomera and just how far he could throw the spears – like right across the river to the other side.  One just made it but the other ended up in the river, but this spear was made from bamboo so it floated and we picked it up on the way back.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and we’d recommend it to anyone who wanted to do it.

Marmukala Wetlands

Colourful Dragonfly

We returned to the caravan for a late lunch then off to the Marmukala (Mar-moo-car-lar) Wetlands.  It’s supposed to be at its most “dramatic” now as thousands of magpie geese congregate to feed here, so all the brochures tell us anyway:).  There is an observation platform (more like an army sniper lookout rather than a platform) where you can watch all the different birds on the wetlands.  There is a colourful mural inside the viewing area that illustrates the seasonal changes that occur here as well.  We did the 3km walk adjacent to the wetlands hoping to see lots of birds but it was pretty dry.  We did get to see a lot of the magpie geese, white herons and ibis so Wade could cross a few more sightings off his bird list! We’ve found these amazing-looking dragon flies here too, they have double wings and either strips or very bright colours.

Magpie Geese flock

We headed back to the caravan for a swim, a few coldies around the pool and some dinner.  We’ve seen a lot of the top part of Kakadu and we are definitely the KakaDO people. There’s still a fair bit we didn’t do including Yellow River, but we wanted to leave a few things to see next time around the block! It’s beautiful and we can only imagine how glorious this would be in the wet season, or even early in the dry season.  We will definitely come back here next year and make sure we are in the wet or early dry season.

Camp at Mary River Roadhouse

We stopped to get some fresh bread from the Bakery before heading down south towards the Mary River Roadhouse, which like most places we’ve visited lately are being very PC and changing the names to Aboriginal names.  The Mary River Roadhouse is still the name on the sign out the front so that’s what we’ll call it. The campground is out the back of the roadhouse and the sites are large, some with a bit of grass but mostly dirt.

Rainbow Lorikeets

The toilet and showers were very clean and spacious and the staff very friendly and informative.  We set up then headed off to explore Gunlom Falls and if we had time a couple of swimming holes. The lady who booked us in told Wade and I about a swimming hole that was only about 6-8kms down the road so we thought we’d check it out on the way back.  We saw more birds at the back of this Roadhouse than we saw in the Marmukala Wetlands-go figure!

Rock pools at the Top of the Gunlom Falls

View out from the top

The turn off to Gunlom Falls is about 11kms north of Mary River RH and the next 37kms or so are some of the worst gravel we have travelled on.  The corrugations were horrendous!  It did remind us a bit of travelling on the Kalumbaru Rd when we were on the Gibb, but a bit worse in some sections.  I had wanted to camp out at Gunlom but the road was too bad to be able to bring the caravan in.

The campground is lovely with lots of sites and a great big amenities block that doesn’t look too old or shabby!  There is a kiosk in the day use area and the grass was also nice and green too!   We went for the 2km steep climb (and yep it was very steep!) up to the top of the falls and then further up to some rock pools which looked very inviting.  We took some photos but decided to hike back down and swim in the plunge pool at the bottom.  We reached the bottom without anyone falling over the edge (read without Wade falling) as there are no handrails or anything and the path is very rocky and runs right along the edge of the cliff.  We stopped and swam in the plunge pool which was just lovely. We grabbed an ice cream from the Kiosk at Gunlom Falls then headed back out on the “gravel road from hell!”  We stopped in at the “local” swimming hole and found a small tour group there already but they were just about to leave which left us there all on our lonesome.  It was very cold in the water, so we had a quick swim but didn’t hang around too long.  It was a great spot and I made a mental note to thank the lady at Mary River RH for telling us about it.

Daniel's Titanic impersonation

Gunlom Falls Pool - This is in the movie

We had been told that a lot of the movie “Crocodile Dundee” had been filmed in Kakadu and a scene shot at Gunlom plunge pool.  We asked the kids and they have never watched it! OMG couldn’t believe it, so as we have most of our movies with us on our HDD we put it on that night to watch.  We could pick out several places, with the kids going “ohh we’ve been there”, or “that’s such and such a place” and so on.  Gunlom Falls is definetly in the movie, but i think he calls it Echo Pool or Falls. It was interesting to watch it after so many years and yeah some of was a bit corny:) but we did recognise a lot of places we had seen in the last few days.

Secret local swimming hole

On the way out I stopped in to say a thank you to the lady who had told us about the swimming hole but she wasn’t on yet but the bloke behind the counter/kitchen was in for a chat so i stopped for a bit.  He was very friendly and offered some more info about the places we were heading into.  What a great and friendly place! Well we’re off now, heading down towards Mataranka, NT.

Till Next time



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