Day 53 – Kakadu (Nourlangie and Cahill’s Crossing)

Woke up to a luxurious breakfast of rockmelon and yoghurt (in sachets! Everything in sachets as we can’t fit tubs and square things in our moderately small icebox) and left camp to go see another rock art site, Nourlangie.

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The art was totally different here to what it was at Ubirr – lots of figures and spirits and dreamtime stories with morals and lessons for the children. The shelters were lovely and cool so we took our time wandering around the many sites and reading the information on the signs about each area.

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After checking out the great view from the lookout past the art sites we decided to troop back up north to Cahill’s Crossing near Ubirr to try catch the changing of the tides at the river crossing, when the saltwater crocodiles sit at the edge of the water and try catch themselves some dinner as the fish swim back over the inland side of the river. Amazing that these rivers are tidal given the distance to the ocean, but I guess that’s because the land is so flat and expansive over the flood plains and these rivers are so wide even though it’s the tail end of the dry season!

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We settled in at the viewing platform and croc spotted with a few other tourists. These crocs were huge – much bigger than what we expected, and according to one of the blokes there these weren’t even the biggest ones in this stretch of the river, let alone Kakadu, let alone the Northern Territory!

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The water was quite murky so you’d see the head of one floating around in one section of the river, and it would quietly disappear under the surface for anything between 2 minutes and half an hour before reappearing somewhere completely different, or not reappearing at all. Not much action with the catching of fish though – they might have just been warming up to it. A very brave (or foolish?) woman was fishing off the concrete crossing but not having much luck either, though we were impressed with how nonplussed she was about the 3-4 metre long salt water crocodile sitting a few metres away from her spot. The cars came and went across the water (the road led to the start of Arnhem Land, the large section of NT that is Aboriginal land and requires a permit and or permission/a guide to enter in to) and we whiled away the afternoon in the shade watching salties and fish (Barra? saratogas? We can’t really tell yet..) move about the crossing.

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A fellow explained that one of the regular crocs had a tracker on his neck that the rangers had put there (some sort of semi permanent putty with a GPS unit in it) because they were concerned about his size and ferocity – so they like to keep tabs on his movements. Still no dramatic fish catches from the lady fishing or the crocs so we drove back to camp and tried to stay cool, which proved to be difficult.. So we drove a few minutes down the road to Cooinda Lodge at Yellow Water to get a drink from their bar and restaurant, and ended up loitering around there for a while in their luxurious pool and bar area before heading back to camp to lounge in the hammock until it was sort of cool enough to get some sleep. We’d booked a boat cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong and it left from Cooinda Lodge at 6.30am, so we needed some rest to get an early start in the morning.

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