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Crocodiles and Culture in the NT

Northern Territory, Australia
May 10 2010 Written by: Marg O'Connor

“Water, water everywhere and all the boards did shrink…….” The words of the famous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge could quite easily be used to describe the Northern Territories amazing “Top End.”

I have just returned from a truly authentic Australian adventure to the World Heritage Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land that has left me in awe of the stunning landscape, rich abundance of wildlife, ancient culture of the Australian Aborigines and the truly genuine Aussie hospitality of the Territorians.

My travel companions and I were collected from our very luxurious Balinese-themed villas situated near the Darwin Botanic Gardens by our very passionate and knowledgeable guide, Sab. Sab has spent his life in the Northern Territory. He grew up on a remote cattle and buffalo station in what is now Kakadu National Park. He has lived intimately with the local aborigines his entire life, has been initiated into their clan and as a result brings an unparalleled level of experience and knowledge to his touring.

We spent our first day travelling through Kakadu visiting the Adelaide River Jumping Crocodiles. To travel in the safety and comfort of a vessel down the Adelaide River where some of the densest populations of the deadly saltwater crocodile reside was not only a nail-biting but exhilarating experience. To witness the sheer power of these ancient monsters was certainly eye-opening. Watching crocodiles launch themselves vertically two-thirds of their body length out of the water to grab a piece of meat from the end of a pole was a very timely reminder to be extremely cautious around every waterway or billabong in the Northern Territory.

We travelled from Adelaide River to the Bark Hut Inn for a delicious barramundi burger and then on to Cooinda where we enjoyed a very relaxing Yellow Waters sunset cruise. Gliding quietly along the waterways spotting birds, and even more crocodiles, we watched the sun set on a truly magnificent first day in the Territory.

While we were on the sunset cruise Sab had miraculously transformed a piece of Aussie bush into a very comfortable camp, complete with tablecloth, candles and red wine. There is nothing more enjoyable for me in life than to sit around a campfire beneath the magnificent Milky Way and Southern Cross, gazing into the flames and swapping stories.

Day two was spent travelling to several sites to marvel at ancient rock art. Once again Sab was able to provide an insight into the art that made the paintings come to life. The traditional landowners are very welcoming of visitors to their “country” to help foster a better understanding of their culture and deep relationship with the land. Our final stop for the day was at Bamurru Plains, a tented safari-style camp on the floodplains of the Mary River. To call this “wild bush luxury” is an understatement. As we sipped our drinks and snacked on delicious canapés we watched the sun set over the floodplains.

Day three saw us have an early start as we were about to experience the ride of a lifetime – an airboat ride over the floodplains to view the plethora of birdlife that reside here. The Mary River floodplains offer four distinct and very diverse habitats ranging from open reed/grasslands, melaleuca groves, carpets of waterlilies and lotus flowers to water pandanus environments teeming (and I mean teeming) with birdlife, buffaloes and, of course, crocodiles.

Morning tea was enjoyed in a fairytale melaleuca grove that was carpeted with a multitude of colourful waterlilies. A more picturesque setting could not be found. To sit quietly and take in the sounds of the birdcalls and the smell of the bush is a memory that will stay with me for a very long time.

As I sit and reflect on my adventure I take home with me a deep sense of pride that I am fortunate, not only to live in such a wonderful country, but to have been privileged to have experienced the very best on offer in the “Top End”.

If you would also like to enjoy a similar adventure, please contact us and let us arrange your next holiday in Australia.