Having little sleep despite the overly peaceful surroundings (my fault entirely for not allowing the engine to cool down appropriately before shutting myself in, this resulting in a rather overheated me) I have a baby wipe shower before breakfast then hit the road. Today’s goal – the sights and sounds of Kakadu. Having camped up at Malabqnjanjdju, it was only a short drive to the obvious first port of call – Bowali Visitor Centre.
Having spent most of my time in Australia in Melbourne, my contact with Aboriginal culture had been minimal and I was excited to see what Kakadu could offer. The centre itself was more than a little impressive. A contemporary building with a charming café, it hosts a small but very informative museum that covers all aspects of Aboriginal life throughout history to the present day.
After a mooch, which served not only to inform but invigorate me for the day ahead, I decided to make a petrol pit-stop at the nearby town of Jabiru before setting out to see the sites. Jabiru exceeded all expectations. Unsure how to explain what I had envisaged, I was surprised to find a fully functional and extremely cute centre. After topping up on petrol, I popped into the local supermarket and bought a much needed torch and other forgotten essentials, alongside treating myself to a big bar of Lindt chocolate that cost just $2 – bargain!
Fully refuelled, in ever sense of the word, it was time to make my way to my first major sightseeing stop of the day – Ubirr. Having been rather slack on the research front, I was fairly unprepared in terms of expectation. However, as I drove between Jabiru and Ubirr, I found myself in constant need of stops to just take in the natural beauty that surrounded me on all sides. Thus, my short drive between the two stops, became rather time consuming and the SD card in my camera became increasingly full.
Finally arriving at my first major destination of the day, I set about a slow walk through the Aboriginal artwork that Ubirr hosts. With the imagery synonymous with Aboriginal culture, it was fascinating to see the pictures in their proper place. Despite the awe-inducing artwork, Ubirr became breath taking upon mounting the rock centre piece. With the terrain far from a treated path, the ascent is far from easy but the trek is beyond worthwhile. With a real sense of overblown accomplishment, standing atop Ubirr and taking in the diverse views is more than magical. No camera can ever do justice to the sense of proportion an expanse of
nothingness gives you.
With my sense of existence completely turned on its head, I allowed myself to get lost in the moment before making my unsteady descent. Returning to the car and barely able to clarify the experience’s impact, I studied the map and realised that my campervan would sadly only allow me access to a couple more sights. Realising that I would not be able to take in the Jim Jim Creek, I determined that the next stop would be Yellow Water Wetlands. With my mind still blown by Ubirr, Yellow Creek came close to stealing my heart with its sheer serenity. With a wealth of wildlife thriving in the area, Yellow Water is a picture perfect
representation of balanced calm.
With the Wetlands restoring my sense of calm focus, I lunched on a bowl of cereal before studying the map and realising that if I were to make to my intended stopping point just short of Mataranka then I would have to hit the road running.
With Nourlangie Creek on the way, it would hopefully provide and crocodile spotting moment. With a plenitude of photostops along the way, time seemed to fly out of the window. With the threat of darkness looming, a self-enforced restriction was placed on photography and a focus on reaching the next destination.
After breaking the ban briefly to take some of images of the impressively sized termite mounds, Nourlangie Creek rolled by soon enough. Though not as sensually stimulating as either Ubirr or Yellow Water, perhaps the disappointment was fuelled by the lack of crocodile sighting. Opting instead to photograph the warning sign, it was with a sigh that I once again hit the road.
With the journey seemingly endless as I made my way to the camp site via Katherine (of which I only saw the high street from the comfort of my camper), I decided it was time to have my own personal Priscilla moment. With the window wound down, Abba ‘Gold’ was inserted into the stereo and the volume jolted up as I started to sing my heart out.
With the darkness slowing dawning, my goal destination of Kings River was finally in reach. With the turning sign just passed, I saw a powerfully massive eagle tucking into a roadkill treat and my jaw dropped.
Concentrating on the road I powered on through and pulled up to stop with just a whisper of light left. With the campsite surrounded by broken branches, the first task was the collection of fire wood for my first campfire. With the collection complete, I set about trying to make fire, with little luck before the realisation that paper burns easier than wood. With my new device at hand, the fire caught and I cooked as darkness took hold. With my hunger satisfied, the stars in sky caught my attention. Before long I was lieing on the rooftop aghast at yet another proportion probing sight.
With time flying by, I headed into the fully cooled down camper for some shut eye ahead of the morning’s dawn departure.