One of my most favourite things about Australia, is the quirky and interesting creatures that you are bound to see, when visiting this magnificent land.
The Northern Territory,The Top End, as its known, has two distinct seasons. Our travels took us through NT during the Dry. As it was out of season, in July the aussie winter, this enabled us to negotiate better rates for our motel accommodation along the way, except in Kakadu.
In Darwin we visited Aquascene – winner of a certificate of excellence 2012 – by Trip Advisor and a perfect place to to take the kids for a morning out. Normally only read about, seen on the internet or TV, Aquascene enabled us to connect with the abundance of marine life surrounding its bountiful shores. Here we encountered diamond scaled mullet, milk-fish, bream and shovel nosed rays; shyly staying away from the main action, over on the sandy shoreline next to the jetty.
Further on the Kakadu Highway and only 250 kms from Darwin, entering Kakadu National Park, we made an all important quick stop.Grabbing the opportunity to snap a couple of pics in front of the iconic Cathedral Termite mounds, dotted along the roadside. The termite being one of the many thousands of insect species found in the park.
Visiting Yellow Water Billabong, for the first time in all our lifetimes, we encountered wild horses grazing on its meandering shoreline. Top that off with yellow water crocs, encountered casually going about their daily business, no more than 7 metres from our boat and we found ourselves gaining an ever growing appreciation of the wonderful wildlife we were encountering in the top end.
It wasn’t only the glamorously appealing crocodylinae that grabbed our attention. With over 280 species of birds living within the park, we were bound to see a few dotted along its shoreline. During the dry season they are more likely to congregate on shrinking billabongs and deeper waterholes.
Observing the comb-crested jacana (otherwise known as the Jesus bird) with its fleshy red wattle, padding gently across the free floating lily leaves, where their nests are laid – only once was I concerned that our arrival disturbed the nesting of the birds and the possibility of our wake knocking the eggs into the water. On asking our Yellow Water Cruises tour guide, she informed us that the boats always stayed a respectful distance away.
Our overnight stay involved a last minute rush for accommodation and we ended up staying in the Aurora Kakadu Lodge.
The drive to the Aurora is only three hours from the city, so it is a good idea to book in before leaving Darwin. Allowing for peace of mind and no driving in the dark. This can be very dangerous, especially with kangaroos on the roads. If you can afford to stay a few days then base yourself in the Park and make the most of the walks, trails, vegetation and wildlife surrounding you. Although Aurora was a trifle expensive for what we wanted.
The room prices we assumed were higher in the Park as the lodges and motels were fewer but with howling coyote sending shivers down our spines, paying a little extra seemed worth it. After eating a reasonably priced meal in the Lodge restaurant located poolside and before resting in the spa, settling down to observe the clarity of the twinkling night sky above our heads, we realised that there is so much more to see here, whether in the wet or the dry. From Ubirr Rock to the Jim Jim Falls, walking trails and deep ochre escarpments, I think the wetlands and its inhabitants will always stay a firm favourite with me.
I would like to say at this point though, the most fascination I have seen in any of our family was when we encountered the dead cow, decomposing on the highway. The smell in the midday sun is something unfortunately, I am unable to share through this blog.
Most photos appearing on this blog, were taken by my loving and most wonderful husband Vince Stringer as we travel together through life and its adventures.