Around the World in 40 Days, Kakadu National Park
Our last destination in Australia as part of our around the world trip was Kakadu National Park. We transferred from the ship to the airport where we had a car waiting and drove the 300 plus kilometers out to Kakadu, more than 20,000 sq kilometers in size and famous for both its natural beauty and cultural importance.
The next morning we awoke early to witness the sunrise at Nourlangie Rock. The rock and its surrounding landscape boast an incredibly rich culture and history, dating back thousands and thousands of years. Climbing up an escarpment, we witnessed the dawn over the rock and the stark beauty of the Arnhem land.
Taking advantage of the still early morning, we headed to the Anbangbang Billabong. The park had just opened for the season, and the road was still technically ‘closed’ due to the wet season flooding still subsiding, so we parked the car and walked in, ignoring the crocodile danger signs. The billabong was a great treat of beauty, sitting next to the hill we had just climbed to see the sunrise, and full of birds. Then off to the rock.
Nourlangie Rock is best known for its stunning collection of aboriginal rock art that spans back centuries. The walls of the rock have been used as a shelter and a canvas for millennia, marking the spot where local tribes communicated with each other and drew out their stories and memories.
We hiked the one and a half kilometer walk to visit the shelters and art formations, pausing for a Wallaby in our path. The art was amazing, and in a different style than in the Kimberleys. Many of the pictures portrayed the lightning god and legends about him.
At the end of the trail, we went on to climb to the Gunwarddehwardde Lookout, where there was a mesmerizing view across the sprawling escarpment and Nourlangie Rock.
For the afternoon, we planned to visit the other famous rock art formations at Ubirr and the famous Cahill crossing of the Crocodile River. We drove to the road to Ubirr, discovering the river crossing was called impassable. Living in Costa Rica where we forged rivers all the time, we just kept going to see if we could cross. The rivers were not that bad, and we plowed through them, arriving at Ubirr.
Ubirr is one of the most famous and important rock art galleries in all of Australia. It is known for its X-ray painting of animals and people, and depictions of wildlife from long ago, including a Tasmanian tiger, and the rainbow serpent. We then headed to Cahills Crossing which was truly still underwater, so we could not cross, so we headed back through the many rock formations that lined the way back to Coolinda
Our final morning was a sunrise boat trip on Yellow Water. It is one of the highlights of a Kakadu trip, and the morning sun on the billabong was enchanting. We saw crocodiles, and many new birds were added to our list for Australia. Our next stop: New Zealand.