Now I have visited every Australian capital city. We have just returned from a three day safari through Kakadu national park, starting in Darwin. I sat next to the driver, and he pointed out dozens of birds, monitors, and marsupials as we drive through the lush green land. I saw goose hawks, blue-winged kookaburras, brolgas, magpie geese, whistling kites, sulphur crested cockatoos, cattle egret, blue-faced honeyeaters and galahs.
My favourite animals were the agile wallabies that surrounded our campsite on the first night. Cute little creatures that looked at us with complete alertness, bounding off if we got too close. I even got to hold an orphaned joey who had been adopted by humans at the Didgeridoo Hut art shed. Some of the smallest creatures built the biggest nests – cathedral and magnetic termites building stark red towers over five meters tall, standing out against the bright green grass. We also saw short-eared rock wallabies, an owl, and sadly, cane toads everywhere, even throughout Kakadu.
We also got to experience the less friendly natives – crocodiles and dingos. We went on a jumping crocs cruise on the Adelaide River, where they drag huge chunks of meat through the water to encourage five-meter long crocs to jump out of the water next to our boat, and learn that tourist boats equal food. Not the smartest idea, but a terrifying and majestic sight to see a 240 million year old species lunge at prey. Like seeing a T Rex in action. Our last camp site was visited by dingoes, howling at each other throughout the night.
Our days in Kakadu were also filled with sweaty hot long bush walks through the outback, however they always ended with a delightful and refreshing swim in beneath a waterhole – a very iconic Australian experience. In one place, we were greeted with large illustrated “saltwater crocodiles swim here and will eat you” signs. Our guide insisted that it was just the government covering all bases, and the area was it was too high for the crocs. I was so over-heated that I trusted him and swam in the water, but now I can no longer mock those German tourists who get eaten in the Northern Territory after ignoring the signs.
We saw some amazing Aboriginal art sites ranging from 1 000 to 20 000 years old. Striking and beautiful symbols of the world’s longest continuous culture. Despite the government apologising for its genocide, the missionary spirit is still strong in the government’s handling of indigenous regions, as signs stating “no alcohol no pornography” were quite common throughout the region.
Photo by onlineoffroadtours