This morning is our Yellow Water Sunrise Cruise and we have to be up at 5.45am.
We managed that quite easily because somehow my phone and Tablet decided to change time. Earlier, on arrival at Darwin airport I had changed my phone and recorded a time of one and half hours behind Sydney.
My alarm went off and when I came out of the shower Rachel quietly told me that it was 4.15 on her watch. To add insult to injury a large cockroach was by my bed wall. Rachel suggested I belt it accurately with my shoe. I wimped out . It may be under my bed. Ah well- No Worries as they say here.
Two kind of cheesed off bunnies we were and Rachel was forced to wander round to a closed reception to check what on earth time it was: very confusing and as this is supposed to be the high point of our trip we really didn’t want to cock it up.
Enough now. So I’m writing this at 5am in morning while Rachel is snatching her extra hour’s sleep!
We don’t have wifi here so………Postings of this experience will be a little late.
Yellow Water Sunrise Cruise.
The trip sets off from where we are staying: Coolinda. Others staying up territory need to journey at least half an hour to get to the boat. Our Guide and Shipmaster was an Aboriginee/Kiwi New Zealander and he gave us our safety instructions. He was matter of fact and simply told us that the Salt Water or Estuarine Croc is top of the foodchain here. Take no chances. Observe the signs. If you are foolish -you die. (He spoke his words as an Aboriginee and shared many of the Aboriginee words with us).
I’m not sure if it is easy to take on that reality. You listen and do what you’re told at basic level. The concept of being eaten alive by one of the world’s most dangerous creatures e.g. by standing at the edge of a billabong, out of your car on the edge of the road between swamp land or in a supposedly deemed safe water swimming hole, is fairly hard to comprehend.
We set off and witnessed the dawn and the billabong coming to life. To be honest I didn’t really know what a billabong truly was so here’s a quote from Wikipedia; a billabong. It fills up during the Wet Season. It is stunningly beautiful. Birds, beautiful lilies and lotus flowers, thousands of snakes of which we saw none, and crocs.
We eased through the billabong, marvelled at its beauty and into Yellow Water where we witnesssed Nature at its best.
Crocodiles were fairly scarce. The Dry Season seems to offer many more crocs and birds as they seem to come and assemble together to get to water. Fighting dwindles as they merge together; in survival mode I expect.
One passenger found our first lazy croc. Quite a big boy lying under a tree. Our boat bounced forward over tree roots to get a better look. It stayed put; we had a good viewing.
Five minutes later another boat captain told us that the prize croc, I think called Maxie, was over by some trees. Indeed he was.
He came out to see us.
He slowly came out from his camouflaged spot and came towards us. He came right up to the boat and, hugging the boat, he swam past. He seemed to be the length of the boat, but was actually about four metres+. No aggression. Our Guide told us that Maxiethe croc, was comfortable with us being in his territory. He knew we were not a threat and he probably wasn’t hungry. That was why he sidled by us languidly. These creatures are prehistoric, here since dinosaur time. How incredible is that? For those interested there is a gruesome video of Maxi killing another crocodile on YouTube. For most of you- Pass!
They can rear up only needing a small amount of body kept on the ground (catching birds from trees); they can burst with speed not giving a human any chance if standing by a river or canal. They can appear from nowhere.
Care and observation is advised when driving on the road. The roads we drove along basically has Wetland on either side which is inhabited by snakes and crocodiles. If you break down, go out for a look, walk back to God knows where for help, chances are high that nature will cause you big grief.
You must respect the animals in the territory.
Our Guide told us that most crocodile killings are 90% due to stupidity, 10% bad luck. He told us a story of a local boy’s encounter.
Last year a boy was celebrating his 21st with friends. They were out in the open by the river. After much drink the boys bet birthday boy to swim across the river.
This is foolish.
Birthday boy had a go. He got to the other side. He was relieved and buoyed by his success he plunged in to do the return. He got half way and was grabbed by a crocodile. Killed.
I can’t stand stupidity. I must check out this story. I don’t believe it was a good story for the tourists.
Seeing our big croc was the highlight of course. As said there seem to be many, many more crocodiles and birds to see during The Dry Season. Drawback: many more tourists. Good point : weather is a bit kinder. I can’t say too much about the birds but enjoyed watching them. The facts about the birds were interesting and it was lovely seeing them flying around or sitting in the trees.
The trip was a great experience and afterwards the passengers all had breakfast at our Resort.
Rachel and I retired to our bed and I had the best hours sleep ever.
Midday we set off to have an adventure which I was a touch nervous about, however we popped into the Aboriginal Cultural Centre a mile down the road before our drive through floods.
We watched a great long video detailing a huge amount of information about Kakunda. I finally bought some place mats and coasters. That’s what I wanted.
We always knew this trip was in the balance. Many, very many of the off-road roads are still closed due to flooding. Our road had only opened the day before. We’d had rain last night so chances were high it would be closed. It wasn’t. It was just at the acceptable height- 0.4+ metres. 0.5 is the decision point I think.
To be honest although our car was an All Wheel Drive I was not convinced it would do the job. We had been warned about what to do, how to drive through the substantial waters, and what not to do.
I told Rachel that we must roll the windows down a bit because if we ballsed it up (Rachel was driving) and got stuck we needed air (38°). You cannot escape out of the window because the crocodiles will get you. (as I’m writing I’m wondering if they would -50 -50 maybe?); we were suitably fearful and it was difficult to fully comprehend that death lurked close by.
Rachel managed beautifully. We watched the two cars in front sit and wait and then JFDI. We did the same. Rach said that the water pressure seemed to try to raise her driving foot up so she had to add more pressure to keep the speed. There were two floods and the 2nd was a bit more testing. No room for wimping. You commit and go.
Ubirr: Our Walk to what looked like Lion King Savannah.
Again I wasn’t that keen to do a 1.5 km walk with climb. Very bloody hot. But we started it, observed Aboriginal Art on rocks and started the climb. I rebelled quickly and sat with some Germans who were discussing the -quote- the marvellous Cronulla beach!!.
Rachel popped back down and informed me that it was only two more minutes and well worth my while. So come on Mum!
She was right. The view was like a view Simba from the Lion King had. Quite magnificent. My photo won’t do it justice I expect.
You are recommended to go to Ubirr to see a sunset which you won’t forget. Due to the heat, lack of cover, full exposure and imminent rain we missed the sunset. Those arriving on tours an hour later would miss it too because the rain did come.
We knew or were fearful that the rain would make the road back to Coolinda impassable.
We were safe, crossed the flood and drove home in daylight. Again I was nervous of driving back to the hotel in the dark because you are warned of buffalo, donkey and kangaroo which can certainly cause accidents. Animals rule!
Showered and choose Starters for dinner which appealed more than main courses.
What a wonderful two days.