CJ - With one more day to kill before my next trip, I decide to see what else Darwin had to offer. After chilling out around town in the morning, I then set off to 'Aquascene' in the afternoon. This attraction started about 50 years ago when an old lady started feeding bread to the fish, and they have been fed ever since! Everyday at high tide, hundreds of fish come in to shore - mullets, catfish and milkfish, all waiting to be fed before the tide takes them out again. Most just eat bread but there are also some meat eaters which eat Pilchards. The public are invited to take their shoes off and to step into the water and to hand feed the fish if they want. It was a very strange sensation having hundreds of fish swimming around between your legs, although we were assured that none of them would bite us, maybe just a nibble on the toes (which I got!). After fish feeding I decided to have an easy night as I had an early start the next day, so I headed off to the outdoor Deckchair Cinema with a couple of friends, and what a nice way to watch a film, under the stars!
Early the next day I was picked up by Wilderness 4WD Adventures for a 3 day trip through Kakadu National Park. Kakadu is 2 billion years old, 20,000 sq km in size, Aboriginal owned, and is leased to the government as a jointly-managed national park. It also has a World Heritage Listing. You could spend days driving around the park and still not see all of it, so on this trip we tried to pack in as much as possible and that we certainly did. On the first day, after a bit of a drive to Kakadu, we walked around Nourlangie rock which is a Kakadu's best known Rock Art Site with paintings that range from 20,000 years old to the 1960's. This was followed by a gentle walk to the bottom of Jim Jim Falls which is where we got our first insight into the dangers of the waters within the park, and how you had to be so careful where you swim because of the crocodiles (the last casualty was only 2 years ago when a lady was taken in one of the swimming holes!). Both Saltwater and Freshwater crocs live in most of the waterholes, and each year regular traps are set up around a few to ensure that there are some 'croc' free places to swim. It still took a bit of convincing though from our guide to get us into the water at the bottom of Jim Jim Waterfall!! We then stopped off at a Cultural Centre to learn about the history of Kakadu and the Aboriginal people that live there before setting up camp for the night.
Day 2 after an early start, we set off for what we were told was going to be quite a tough hike to the top of Jim Jim Falls, and boy was it tough! 2hrs over rocks and boulders was not easy! The view was pretty amazing when you finally get to the top even if the waterfall wasn't! Well with over a 200m drop to the bottom, it had to be! Unfortunately at this time of year, when it is the 'dry' season, most of the waterfalls are not that impressive and some are just trickles. But the dry season is the best time to come to Kakadu because the weather is supposed to be cooler and the majority of the park is open to the public. Whereas in the 'wet' season, the majority of the park is underwater and completely inaccessible. The weather at the moment is not behaving as it should (just like everywhere else, global warming etc), it is very hot for this time of year, and all the trees and plants have even got a bit confused and have started to bear fruit and flowers a few months too early!
That afternoon we had a slightly easier trip up to Twin Falls, by boat up through a gorge. Apparently only a few years ago you used to have to swim up the gorge in order to reach Twin Falls, but regulations have slightly changed now and you have to take a boat up the gorge as a few crocs have now been found in this gorge! On the last day we took a hike up to the top of Barramundi Gorge, and a much easier hike than the previous day! And boy was this gorge inviting when we got there, having not had a shower for 2 days, as we had been roughing it out in the bush! Then the last part of the tour took us to Corroboree Billabong which boasts the highest concentration of Saltwater and Freshwater Crocodiles in Australia, along with the largest known one in existence at the moment which is 8m long! We weren't told this information until we were all safely on the boat and making our way across the Billabong. Let's just say after we were told this information, everybody stayed well away from the sides of the boat! The Billabong is a sea of lush wetlands teaming with birds and waterlilies, and lots of crocs!
The tour was great fun, but I must say I was glad to get back to civilisation again and get cleaned up! And now having done almost 3 weeks of camping I am a bit 'camped' out so am looking forward to the last part of my trip which is the Cook Islands and Fiji!