Thursday, 7 November 2013

Kultural Kakadu

Its a little unsettling knowing you've a busy day ahead and you've not had a decent nights sleep. This is made even worse when the temperature's closing in on 30 degrees before its even 8am.

First world problems aside we were keen to get started on an action packed day! We wanted to see some aboriginal art work and croc infested billabongs, and then maybe do some swimming in some safe ones.

So with a detailed tourist map in hand we set off to Ubirr. Ubirr is a small area north of Jabiru that houses some of Australia's best preserved aboriginal rock art. It was a short 45minute drive to the site itself, but by the time we got there it was already uncomfortably hot outside. Getting a car with air conditioning was already starting to pay off!

The site itself was spectacular. We are both fans of abstract art, or art that has a deep use of symbolism involved. Our flat in Sydney even has a couple of aboriginal inspired art works on the wall that we did ourselves. So it was amazing to see the real deal with our own eyes.

Some of the pieces, like one of a rainbow serpent, related to the aboriginal beliefs in dreamtime and respect for the country. Another of a fisherman who dished out a little revenge to those who stole from him are used as stories for young children as a way of instructing them on the types of morals that they should follow.

It was all very interesting and a humbling experience to be in an area of such fascinating Australian history. The aboriginal people settled in Australia approximately 50,000 years ago, which is about 20,000 years before homo sapiens managed to reach the European continent!

With the Aussie salute not getting the better of a particularly persistent group of flies we jumped back in the car and headed south towards the town of Katherine.

On the way down we stopped at a huge billabong surrounded by croc warning signs, but after a little wander around an elevated metal walk way we could see no signs of single "mud slide", let alone a the big reptile itself. I remember watching Steve Irwin or David Attenborough once who said that when the weather is really warm (like in November) the crocodiles don't need to warm themselves on the shore as the water is warm enough. So its possible that they are all sat at the bottom of the water in hiding. Crocs or no crocs it was still beautiful seeing all the water birds enjoying this little tropical waterhole.

However, again it was sweltering so it was time to find ourselves somewhere to swim, and we couldn't do that this far north without serious risk of waking up Jaws from his rock bed slumber. So we set off for the town of Katherine.

After a few hours of enjoying the scenery as we cruised down the Kakadu Highway we finally arrived in Katherine. Following the signs we headed up to the Katherine gorge national park. We parked up and made our way down to the water where an aboriginal family had the same idea and were jumping in off the a small jetty into the water.

After asking if there were any crocs in the area they replied, "Nah, well only the small freshies and I doubt they would bite ya!". Taking that as the locals way of saying its perfectly safe I swiftly followed their lead and cooled myself off in the water.

It was only 3pm, so as we sat on the jetty Jess and I had to make a decision. Do we stay in Katherine, and make up the hours tomorrow, or drive on to Elsey National Park and its hot springs. We opted for the latter, said our goodbyes to the family and jumped in the car knowing we still had a long way to go.

Thanks again to the long empty roads we made great time to Elsey, in spite of a truck carrying an entire house that acted as a slow moving road block!

Once in Elsey we found a campsite, set up our fold out tent, and headed off for a late afternoon swim in these supposed hot spring waters.

The springs were amazing. They weren't geysers, but just a small freshwater billabong that was naturally heated. The best thing was that it didn't smell all sulphury like some can, but it must have had some effect not he flies as it was completely clear of anything that normally buzzed in your ears.

After a little swim and bob around we finally succumb to the fear that we were swimming along in an northern territory watering hole and decided to get out before we woke up Mr Crocodile.

With another day done in this beautiful buy bloody massive country, we cooked our little backpacker meal by the car and headed to bed.

Tomorrow it will be a hell of a long drive down to Tennents Creek and the notoriously hot Australian outback!

1 comment:

  1. that craving for something fun without having to spend much and travel far while being with people I artfully value. Cheers to more art exhibits!