Posted by: travelrat | September 17, 2012

The Road to Kakadu … Finally!

Kakadu: 15th April 2012.

A wise military gentleman … it may have been Napoleon; it sounds like the kind of thing he might have said … once stated: ‘The best of plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy’

At 6.15, we were waiting for the coach to the Kakadu National Park. We’d got up really early, and by 6.30, we started to get rather concerned, and phoned the tour company … to be told they’d never heard of us.

After some discussion, we quoted names and booking references, they finally found our details, and told us the coach hadn’t left yet … it was supposed to pick us up on the way INTO Darwin, and would now collect us on the way out. Only trouble was, it was too big to get down the dead-end street where our accommodation was … could we possibly get to the Stuart Highway, and meet him there?

Yes, we could … it was only about 500 yards away, and we didn’t have to glare at too many passing buses before ours arrived.

The explanation was that the company we’d originally booked with had been taken over by another company, and our booking had fallen down a crack somehow. However, to be fair to the company concerned, they did do everything in their power to make it right … but we could have done without the hassle.

So, after a long, bum-numbing ‘Are we there yet, Dad?’ coach ride, we finally got to the wetlands of Kakadu, having gleaned a useful fact on the journey. We would be able to tell a wallaby from a kangaroo, because there are no kangaroos hereabouts.

Therefore, when we stopped for a coffee and a ‘pit-stop’ at the remote Bark Hut Inn, we definitely knew that the creatures grazing unconcernedly in the paddock on the far side of the road were wallabies.

When we called at Nourlangie Rock, I had a strong feeling of déja vu. It looked extremely familiar, and I’m sure I’d seen it before somewhere. Then, it dawned. I believe it featured in the film ‘Crocodile Dundee II’; indeed, much of the Crocodile Dundee series was filmed in the Park.

Although Kakadu is famous for its wetlands (and crocodiles!), Nourlangie is high and dry, far above the water, and is home to a gallery of Aboriginal paintings beneath a cave-like overhang on the cliff face; some ancient; some done fairly recently … certainly, within the lifetime of us older folks.

I’m not going to even start to explain Aboriginal art. It would take much serious study, and even then, you wouldn’t learn all about it, for some of it, and some of the stories behind it, may not be divulged to anyone outside the tribe. Also, there’s a certain amount of stuff that isn’t really the real deal; it’s received knowledge, gleaned from European anthropologists’ ideas about the paintings and the tales.

‘How do you tell the difference?’ I asked an elderly Aboriginal gentleman in Queensland a couple of years ago. ‘You can’t!’ he said … then added ‘I can, though!’


  1. LOL. Good one. I love that shot of the rock peeking through the leaves. You really do a lot to promote Australian tourism. Your enthusiasm makes me want to travel around here a bit more!

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