Thursday, August 17, 2017

DAY 42 & 43 – COOINDA IN KAKADU



Kakadu here we come….

It was quite sad this morning when we had to farewell John and Barb, they are heading further west whilst we head northeast to Kakadu.  Barb’s daughter Jess is flying across to Broome from Hobart in Tasmania to spend 10 days with them, so Barb was pretty excited about seeing her daughter again…  We will miss them, their wonderful sense of humour and John’s amazing cooking skills.

Still, we will catch up with them again in a month or so.  They are going to wait on the west coast for us to re-join them, so that we can all discover the beautiful coastland of Western Australia, and so that we can also admire all the wonderful wildflowers….

We were to go to Edith Falls today but we were all feeling very tired and sore from our big day yesterday doing the walks and tours of Katherine Gorge, so we decided to head straight through to Cooinda in Kakadu and drop in to visit Edith Falls on our way back to Katherine
Barb and John on the other hand had decided to stay in Katherine one more night to give Barb’s body a chance to recover from her ordeal the previous day.

We didn’t get away until closer to 10am.  Steve had decided to drive back into Katherine to fill up with fuel, before hitching up with the van.  Whilst he was in town, he also picked up a couple of postcards for me to send to our Grandchildren.  He visited the camping shop and bought a small collapsible table so that we can put the Weber on it when we are cooking meals, and then dropped into Barra Jack’s to get some more swivels for his fishing…
Meanwhile back at the Caravan Park, I made sure that the van was completely packed up and ready to hitch up to the car the moment Steve got back…

We only had about 250 kms to go today so it was not a big drive…  We stopped for a morning tea break at Pine Creek, a nice little village as such, with a hotel that was made from Railway carriages.

We probably spent 45minutes in the park here before taking off to complete the rest of our journey to Cooinda Lodge in Kakadu.  We arrived there a little after 2pm.

The caravan park here is huge, and our van sites were right down the end.  Unfortunately, the amenities are miles away from the powered camping sites, and we even had to cut through an area that housed the flash tents to get to the toilets.  You wouldn’t want to leave going until the last minute and be busting, because I doubt that you would make it.  

The park was expensive at $46 a night, although it did have a wonderful pool area, and the showers were all relatively new and tiled, with plenty of hot water.

Once we were all set up we went for a walk over to reception to book ourselves onto the sunrise Yellow Water Cruise for the following morning.  We had heard some really good reports about this cruise, and how the bird life was pretty spectacular first thing in the morning.   There were several tours throughout the day but this one was the most expensive at $99 each but this included a buffet breakfast on your return.  

We did toss up whether to do the sunrise tour or the 9am tour which was $9 per person cheaper but did not include any meal, but in the end we decided to stick with the sunrise tour, as it was really the bird life that we wanted to see and it would be more prevalent first thing in the morning. 

We had to set the alarm to make sure we woke long before sunset on Saturday.  We had to be out the front of the resort by 6.10am to catch the bus to take us to the Yellow Water Cruise, which really wasn’t that far away.  I was surprised at the number of people already there.  We were the first bus to leave the resort and by per chance, Steve and I were directed onto a new boat when we got down to the water.   
Front row seats...
Yellow Water sunrise boat cruise -  wonderful wonderful day.
This meant we had front seats and we were asked to save the side behind us for the other guests on our ticket (Ian and Kathy). The people just kept pouring down onto the pontoon, and soon there were four boatloads of us that were going to be meandering down the Alligator River.  

Sunrise on the Alligator River in Kakadu
Stunning sunrise in Kakadu

Unbelievably beautiful sunsets in Kakadu
It was a beautiful morning, with the sun just starting to peek above the horizontal, lots of fire in the sky, and a mist or fog hanging over the water.  Pictures cannot do justice to it’s beauty. 
Stunning scenery
We had a young Aboriginal man as our guide and he was brilliant.  He knew so much about each of the birds and he was obviously passionate about his job.  He also made sure that when there was anything to see, he drew the boat up on each side of it, so that people on both sides of the boat got a good chance to have a look or take a photo.  
 
Rufous Night Heron
Egrets
Whistling ducks
Burdekin ducks
Beautiful whistling ducks
Love this photo of the egret
Snake neck Dart
the male comb crested Jacana with his babies


The wetlands are just teaming with life,  we got to see, Snake Neck Dart, Comb-crested Jacana, Egrets, Rufous Night Herons, Magpie Geese, Plumbed whistling ducks, Night Heron, Brolgas, Spoonbills, Black Necked Storks, Sea Eagles, Whistling Kites,  Wandering whistling ducks (these ones are smaller than the plumbed whistling ducks, and unlike the other whistling ducks, these guys are smaller and are water goers.)

                 We were also fortunate enough to see the big 5m male crocodile and several other crocs just swimming around the waterhole.  We saw a couple of others up on the bank sunning themselves also, and these made for great photo opportunities…   

Golden Belly Tree Snake
Our guide also spotted a golden belly tree snake sitting up in the tree and took us right in to have a look.  It was just above our heads and was a perfect position to take photos.  My only concern was that if it fell out of the tree, it would land on our heads…  We also saw buffalo and wild pigs.

Wild Buffalo
There were a couple of babies in this Sea Eagles Nest
totally enjoyed our morning out on the water.

 We really enjoyed the cruise and found out from another guest on the cruise, that once you have been on the cruise once, you can buy a second ticket to come do it again for only $25.  This prompted us to go and book the sunset cruise to do it all over again when we got back to the resort.  
Ian and Kathy at Breakfast
Steve and I at breakfast
It was a very hearty breakfast
Totally filling breakfast
 
We weren’t expecting much for breakfast as it was only $9 extra to have that included on the end of our cruise, but were we in for a surprise when we got back,  it was a huge cooked breakfast of bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, fried tomato, cooked mushrooms, and hash browns.  They also had cereal, fresh and tinned fruit, yoghurt, toast, croissants, and fresh juice, plus tea and coffee.  We were very impressed.


As we had booked now to do the sunset Yellow Water Cruise again for the afternoon, it meant that we needed to hurry up and head out to Nourlangie Rock before it got to hot in the day, because this was the other place we had down to visit whilst we were at Cooinda Lodge.

there really was some amazing art here...
Kathy enjoying some of the art
This cave was the most impressive
Some of the very clear artwork on this cave face - all art tells a story
Ian and Steve
Steve and I at Nourlangie Rock
 It was mid-morning before we got to Nourlangie Rock.  This was not a long walk, only about 1.5kms return and the track was well maintained with most of it being wheelchair friendly.  The aboriginal art in the caves here were the best that we had seen so far.
Heading on the walk up to the lookout...
It was mid-morning before we got to Nourlangie Rock.  This was not a long walk, only about 1.5kms return and the track was well maintained with most of it being wheelchair friendly.  The aboriginal art in the caves here were the best that we had seen so far.  It was really hot, and edging towards midday, so whilst the others chose to walk the extra 550mts out to the lookout, I chose to sit in the shade of the last art gallery cave and wait for them to return…
 
It was closer to 1pm by the time we got back t the vans, so we all had a quick bite to eat.  Steve was worried about the heat in the car with the fridge, so decided to set up a tart over the back of the car to try and keep the car fridge cool.  He then had a bit of a nanna nap, whilst the rest of us went for the swim in the resort pool.  



It was a little cool when we first ventured into it, but once you had your body fully submerged; it was lovely, so cool and refreshing after the heat of the day. 

We could have stayed in a lot longer, except that we needed to  head back and have a shower and get ready to go on our sunset cruise.  We chose this tour because we had heard from other guests back at the park about just how active the crocs sere supposed to be this time in the afternoon.
Taking off on the sunset cruise..
Steve and I on the sunset cruise
 I have to say we were a little disappointed in the afternoon sunset cruise, the sunrise cruise was by far the better of the two cruises to go on, maybe our guide was older and less enthusiastic, and he did not seem to want to stop and show everyone the crocs. 

 In fact, the reason we came again was that we had heard that the crocs were more active in the afternoon.  We definitely saw more of them on our sunrise cruise. 
Little Kingfisher
Rainbow Bee Eater
Baby Jacana
They have huge feet to help them walk on the foliage in the water
Check out the size of the Male Jacana's feet.

 We did see a few smaller birds that we hadn’t seen on our morning cruise including a little kingfisher, and we saw wallabies this evening that we didn’t see earlier. 
Wallabies wandering the wetlands
Wild pigs in the distance
 The pigs were a lot closer also… but we couldn’t find the big 5 metre male croc this afternoon.  The cruise was still enjoyable, but I am so glad that we got to do the morning cruise because it was so much better…..
 The sunset was really quite spectacular, and we got to just sit on the boat out on the water until the sun went completely down.  Quite special actually.
We arrived home just after 7pm, and as we were all a little tired, we just heated up the left over mince from last nights dinner and had it with vegetables.  At least we didn’t have to get up too early in the morning.  We were leaving to go to Jabiru, which was only 60kms away, so we will be able to manage a bit of a sleep in.

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