Today a waterbuffalo wandered in front of the car and into the bushland, stopping obligingly for a photo shoot. This was after a climb to Gunlon waterfall and a magic natural plunge pool. We climbed up the escarpment after a picnic lunch under a spreading salmon gum followed by a swim in another pool at the base of the waterfall. The area is very popular with groups of chatty backpackers from overseas and we got to practice our Italian. Called in at a billabong for a spot of evening birdwatching on the way back to the campground. Barramundi for dinner at the bistro. Tomorrow we start our long return south – from latitude 12 degrees down to 38 degrees.
After admiring fishermen dividing up their morning’s catch of barramundi , David wanted to test the Prado’s 4WD capability. So today we headed across termite mound country along the Old Jim Jim Road and back down a deeply rutted sandy track along the South Alligator River. We encountered piles of buffalo dung, but no actual waterbuffalo, thank goodness. But after several river crossings (here you cannot walk across first due to the prevalence of estuarine crocodiles), we came to another challenge: fire! The Indigenous owners and Parks staff find it is wise to burn in a mosaic pattern in the dry season to keep the terrain clear of undergrowth and prevent more intense fires later in the season.
Finally we arrived at our destination, Red Lily Lagoon, where we were rewarded with a pretty billabong edged by towering melaleuca trees. After we returned to the main Darwin road, we finished the day by visiting a bird lookout platform over another lagoon.
Today we drove to a spot near the boundary of the World Heritage listed Kakadu which is run as a joint venture between the local Indigenous peoples (who have land rights) and the government’s National Parks.
It is called Cahills Crossing and is a favourite fishing spot, despite the fact that crocodiles are often sighted there. First we saw a two metre crocodile, then about fifty yards downstream, we watched fisherman standing in the running water with their backs to the area where the croc was! Watching the local vehicles making the water crossing from Arnhem Land is a favourite pastime for tourists.
We also climbed the Ubirr site, saw ancient rock art and had a magnificent view from the top of the escarpment. Then drove back, calling in to the Nooralangie rock art site and Anbangbang billabong for a spot of birdwatching.
Today we did a Yellow Water cruise from Cooinda at Kakadu, a RAMSAR (internationally recognised) wetland. It was a photographer’s paradise: two crocodiles lying in the water next to jabirus, egrets and pelicans; an egret catching a snake, an estuarine crocodile basking in the shallows, weird, squat nankeen night herons, a white bellied sea eagle, hundreds of whistling ducks. At the end of the day, birds flew across the setting sun. Words can’t describe the beauty of the lagoon and river lined with melaleuca and pandanus. Enjoy!