I stayed already three days in Darwin and got a kind of bored. The heat was almost unbearable and if you stayed outside of malls and restaurants, it wasn't funny anymore, because of increasing rainy hours, mostly at late afternoon. For this reasons, I decided to discover some close National Parks over the upcoming Christmas days.
I tried to rent a car at a local rental-station. This attempt failed, because the car rental company wouldn't rent a car for the next few days. I saw the reason already in TV and read the headlines in the newspapers, however I ousted this fact in my mind....till now.
The Media reported permanently about and it was THE topic in Darwin:
It was "Grant", "Cyclone Grant". It is the upcoming cyclone in front of christmas 2011. Everybody was talking about.
The citizen of Darwin reminds what happen when cyclone Tracy arrived in 1974 and what disastrous and disruptive force it had this time. Tracy pioneered his way through Darwin. It happen on Christmas Eve and ravaged 6 hours. Finally 71 people were killed and over 100 people were seriously injured. Over two-thirds of the town's population of 47000 were homeless. Most of the city was damaged (about 90%).
I arrived at December, 21 in Darwin and I recognized the upcoming cyclone already in TV at some restaurants.
With this information in mind, i could understand, why the car rental company wasn't interested to do some business. They were afraid about their cars. Long story with a short end. I asked at the Tourist Information Centre and - surprisingly - they offered me, after a short phone call, exactly the car I looked out and also at the same local rental company and even with a better prize.
I was lucky, the woman from the TIC was happy as well, only the car company looked like they never learned laughing.
That''s business and after all that hassle renting a car, I was totally euphoric and answered hasty the question after automatic or manual gear, with manual. Not thinking about the different side of the stearing wheel and the gearstick. Anyway, I have experience in driving on the other side of the street (not as ghost driver), so the manual gear should be no problem at all, I thought.... Already in the city I realized the habituation to switch the gear with the left hand is very strange and it needs to get used to. Though, finally it workes perfect.
I drove back to my hostel, picked up my baggage and went to the super market for buying enough food and beverages for the next few days. Firstly it was christmas and in Australia are shops on this days also closed and secondly I expected not so many shops on my way in the National Parks.
Christmas shopping in a supermarket in Australia is exactly the same as in Europe. Everybody seems to have no time before the morning of December, 24th. and so it was crowded and the carts were filled well.
After a long and expensive shopping stop, I was happy to leave Darwin as quick as possible.
Unfortunately was in my direction of driving - the North-East-direction - a very dark grey sky to see and sometimes there was a bride white lighted cyclone at the horizon......
On the way to Kakadu National Park.
Picture made while driving. :(
My hope, a glimmer of light at the horizon.
I drove from Darwin on Stuart Highway 1 to the South. 35k's after Darwin, that's how the Australians call "kilometers".
There, I took the way to the East on Arnhem Highway 36. This highway is about 230 k's, ends up in Jabiru and it links to Kakadu Highway 21, which has a length of 201 k's in direction South-West, before this one is linking to Stuart Highway again.
On Arnhem Highway, I expected a road much more wide for a highway.Although I was already thinking about the long rides in the center of Australia. I was bored from only driving straight ahead.
Jabiru is not only a bird, to be exactly a kind of stork of Central- and South-America, it is also a small village in Kakadu NP with approximately 1100 citizen.
Plenty of water flooded area beside the road.
The Kakadu National Park is a World Heritage Site of UNESCO and scales from North to South nearly 200 kilometers and from West to East about 100 kilometers. It's approximately half the size of Switzerland.
This National Park is home of more than 1700 different species of flora, mostly they are endemic, like Eucalyptus koolpinensis and 60 species of mammals, including 6 species of wallabies.
Of course, this buffel is not endemic and they are limited on 250 now. ;)
The name Kakadu results from a wrong translation of the word "Gagudju". This is the name of the language - spoken by the Aborigines - living in the northern part of the Park.
The first Road Train I passed on the highway.
Finally I reached the entrance of Kakadu National Park. When I dropped of the car, I was shocked by the humidity and temperature, which was much higher than in Darwin.
After passing the non existing gate of the Park, I continued because there were another 100 k's till Jabiru left.
Plan a break! Foresightful driving ;)
I made a break at the Mamukala Wetlands in hope to view first wildlife in Australia. It's a popular spot for bird watching, but of course not at late afternoon, but rather in the early morning.
Mamukala Wetlands. You can see here, how animals and plants adapt to seasonal conditions of the year.
The Aboriginies having six seasons.
Wow, well prpared ways. Here is for sure no crocodile.
....and on this way? Hm.......it sounds like being in a jungle. birds are singing, cicadas making noise and other unknown sounds. I took this natural way into the area, but it was already late afternoon., so I walked further to the platform.
And I saw the first wallabies, alive. :) still very far away.
Dark clouds at the sky over the Mamukala Wetlands.
That seems, the water level is sometimes two meters higher than now.
...more Wallabies. This spoting makes me hungry for more wildlife.
.....the Wetlands, view from the plattform.
Nice posing - unfortunately so far away.
After a short walk I went back to the car and continued my way.
After another half an hour, I reached a camping ground with patrol station and restaurant, the "Aurora South Alligator Bowali ParkVisitor Centre" and bought my pass there too. It was 25$ for a 14 day Park Pass (12/2011).
Aurora Kakadu South Alligator Bowali Park Visitor Centre
"Aurora Kakadu South Alligator Bowali Park Visitor Centre". Wow.....amazing this Australian guys and their creativity and tendency for boastfull names for a location.........lol........I like it!
This South Alligator Area. Click CTRL + to zoom.
I asked for a map and informations about some worth seeing spots. The guy was very friendly and offered me plenty of informations for free......ok, not exactly for free. I refuelled patrol at the all-in-one-place and payed more than 2,20 AU-$ per litre fuel. :( It reminds me at Germany.
The patrol station was more like an gasoline dispenser on a piece of land with soil. No tar, no cement, the bottom was not sealed at all.......strange, I thought this in a National Park?
The small shop offers a big variety of foods and it looked like a small super market in the middle of nowhere. The prices were much higher than in Darwin, but in case I need food, it was not hopeless to get something.
Ubirr should be my next destination.
I continued my way to a recommended place for a fantastic sunset at Ubirr, and so I turned left at the next junction and hoped to reach the spot in time for sunset.
Ubirr Art Site and I wasted no time reading the sentence at the bottom.
Along the way were plenty of new traffic-signs and so I got used to and after the fith time of the same sign "Be aware of flooded roads" and similar writings, I didn't notice them anymore.
Water indicator, unbelieveable, one or two meters here?But, the whole area of Kakadu NP is only between 3 and 78 meters above sea level.
Plenty of causeways.
Warnings and informations along the road.
And so it comes, that my ride was stopped unexpectly by a flooded road.
Road closed at Magela Creek.
No way with my car.
The other side looks unreachable for me.
The indicator shows the water depth: Almost 1 meter deep......
There was no chance to pass this water stream with my car.
I turned and went further to Jabiru, the small village in Kakakdu National Park.
It is not only the biggest city, it is also home of the world's most reachest Uran-mine.
Uran-mine, 8 km east of Jabiru.
After a short look around in Jabiru I found plenty of well scaled streets there. They were totally overdimensioned. But may be they need more space for their truck trailers with boats. Jabiru Town Lake offers a good possibility for water activieties. Here is also an interesting looking hotel located:
Hotel in shape of a Crocodile
© Tourism NT http://www.travelnt.com
After a cruise through Jabiru's labyrinth of streets, I looked for the nearby information center and hoped to get informations about open roads in the Park.
They built this center a bit outside of Jabiru, it looks like in the middle of nowhere at the Kakadu Highway. The open architecure looks nice and they have a very big parking area for more busy seasons than this time. Best time for visiting is May till October.
And indeed, I found there plenty of informations about the NP, the road conditions and background informations. Unfortunately it was after 5pm and the visitor-centre was lonely. But I was able to get inside and got the information I needed:
The road conditions are depressing, Nearly every road is closed.
The guy from the patrol station recommended plenty of spots, but I wasn't able to get there.
Overview on Kakadu National Park.
Area of Northern Territory.
The twilight was getting up and if you rent a car in Autralia, you have to sign, that you don't drive at night time. Otherwise you loose your insurance and you are persoanlly reliable in case of an accident. This could easily happen at night. Wallabies are more active in dawn and at night. It was so disappointing and sad to see the overran wallabies beside the highway.
I decided to stay here at the parking place and to spend the night in the car. But first I was happy to eat a very tasty baguette since a long time. The baguettes in South-East-Asia aren't really good and so I enjoyed an amazing sunset during dinner.
The most annoying thing was, I couldnt open the window of the car, because of too much mosquitos. The repellant wasn't effective.
Great colored sky for sunset.
What an interesting day. I spotted not as much wildlife, only a few kakadoos and some wallabies, but an impressing landscape and culture.
to be continued........