1. Yellow Water Billabong
Located at the end of Jim Jim Creek is the Yellow Water Billabong. Over 60 species of birds can be found in the Wetlands, gathering in the river channels, backwater swamps and floodplains. One of the most wonderful experiences on my adventures in Australia has been, being able to watch the yellow water crocs as they go about their daily business. Initially we had wanted to be wowed by a jumping croc cruise, and as fascinating as this must be, even more special was the luxury of observing a crocodile hunt for his morning breakfast in its natural habitat, without us humans being involved. There was a meditation in the movement of the croc, we encountered. The silent stalking it participated in, to fill his belly, was fascinating to say the least.
With birds such as the male Australasian Darter with its long slim neck and brownish black body, often seen swimming, leads a desire to spread out their wings to dry out, as they sun themselves on the jutting wetland tree branches. The Darter is mainly found in Wetlands and Coastal Waters. It catches fish by piercing them with its beak, flicking them onto the water surface then swallowing them whole. It can also be found in other areas of Australia such as Adelaide, Western Australia and South Australia. The birdlife of Oz is fascinating for a bird lover such as myself and my most favourite whilst travelling here were the pelicans.
2. Termite Mounds of Kakadu National Park
One of the natural occurrences that fascinated me the most, were the termite mounds that dotted along the roadside as we made our way along the roads of the park. Knowing that inside these huge crusty creations were millions of termites transporting food and water along intricate tunnels, left me standing in front of them in awe and wonder. I was incredibly nervous stepping into the grass, knowing that there were snakes around, although I’m sure the vibrations made by our movements would keep them away from us – as was my experience in Koh Tao when a Golden Tree Snake landed on me, as it attempted to fly from one tree to another and I dozed on the sun lounger below.
3. Kangaroos in Katherine
I have been led to believe, by many tv programmes and chats with Aussie natives, that kangaroos are dopey creatures but whether or not they are I do not know. What I will tell you is that their natural curiosity and desire to get a feed from you, when you have waited your whole life to see them, overrides anything else you may be thinking or feeling. It is wise to watch out for the big males (with their dangly balls) as there is more of a possibility for them to kick out, but if you sit quietly and wait, they will eventually come to you and feed out of your hand.
This was a wonderful treat for us and an amazing experience. To drive into Springvale Homestead and be surrounded by the wildlife, meant that I had finally realised my childhood dream of meeting Skippy the bush kangaroo and was able to share the wonder of the moment with my husband and children.
4. Bitter Springs, Mataranka
The Bitter Springs in Mataranka, are part of Elsey National Park and open all year round. The smell of decaying trees on our arrival didn’t stop the wonderful afternoon we spent here. The one bit of advice I would give you, if you are driving in this area and intend to take a trip to the Springs, is to take your snorkel and mask. The water is incredibly clear and freshwater turtles can be seen swimming along, underwater sometimes. Be aware, that although it doesn’t look it, the current has a bit of a pull. We discovered this when we decided to swim from one pool to the other. At the time we didn’t want to climb out and walk back round, so swam back, which was a little bit of a challenge and left us feeling tired but exhilarated. What else would you feel in 32° water!
5. The Great Barrier Reef
Although I wasn’t impressed by the huge vessels they used to take us out to the reef, I do understand the necessity to have something that can carry a large number of people to one of the world’s natural wonders, quickly. I was disappointed by the fact that we couldn’t go outside and enjoy the view as we were travelling. Part of my enjoyment is the journey, whether it be on land or sea and once there, the stinger suits were not popular with us but again you could understand their reticence to let you out into the water, with those nasty irukandji jellyfish drifting on the current. I personally didn’t like the way we were herded in and out of the water. It all reminded me of the terrible school trips I endured as a child with headcount and whistle blowing included. They kept you in particular areas to keep an eye on you and if you moved beyond a very short range from the boat, the whistle would be blown and back you would have to come. At times it felt as if people were clambering over each other, as fins connected and folks bumped into each other and our trip was not on a full vessel!
One of my dreams now, is to be able to charter a private catamaran and spend a few days out on the reef, scuba diving and sunning myself in this well known and world famous destination.