Vacation 2001, Day 17
Monday, August 6
Darwin - Kakadu National Park, Australia

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Expectations for Today

Today I go from Darwin to Kakadu National Park. Today concentrates on birdlife and wildlife viewing in various locations. There is a cruise on the Mary River to view close up the ecostructure of a rainforest. Look out for crocodiles. Tonights hotel, called the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, looks like a giant crocodile.

Created July 14th, 2001

What actually happened this day.

On the map below, todays journey follows the Arnhem Highway mostly east out of Darwin to Jabiru. It actually shows the distance of 253 kilometres at about the centre of the road. I haven't used coloured lines on this one because it's not too hard to follow the routes on this map.

We left Darwin just after 8:00 am. First stop was called the Fogg Dam. It was an earth dam supposedly to provide enough water to grow cotton. That didn't work too well so now it's an ecologically protected area.

The Top End is an area approximately 500K wide along the north coast that gets monsoon rains every year. The climate really only has 2 seasons, the Wet Season and the Dry Season. When it's wet, it's really wet, something like 2250mm of rain and when it's dry there is no rain for about 7 months which occurs during this time of year. November to March are the wet months. What lives and grows here must be able to survive the dry period. One of the most important things that happens in the dry time are grass fires that burn off the dry vegetation and when some water comes it grows back using the ash as fertilizer. The fires are set usually by the aboriginal people whose folk lore tells them when to do this. Because this is so frequent the trees have built up protection around their bases and don't burn. You will see a few references to these fires over the next few days.

The next stop was at a visitor centre called Windows on the Wetlands where a lot of this is explained. We then cross the Marrakai Plains.

The next stop was at the Mary River and its billabongs. For the record the definition of a billabong is a marsh area that stays wet year round. There aren't too many places in the Northern Territory of Australia that do this. As shown below there is lots of wildlife especially crocodiles.

And finally around 5:30 PM we arrive at the very crocodile like Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn in Jabiru on the eastern side of Kakadu National Park.

Fogg dam wildlife.

An Australian native at Fogg dam.

Although not too visible here there is abundant
wildlife in the Fog dam area.
The digging is caused by wild pigs. It was never
really made clear what they were digging for.

This image, take from the Wetlands Visitor
Centre shows one of the fires in the distance.
This was one of many that were visible.
One of the fires near the highway. Unfortunately
it was on the other side of the bus.

We get closer to the fire.

The fire now right next to the road. This is a still
video frame from the bus while it was moving.

Crocodile #1 on the Mary River.

Croc #1's head.

Croc #2
There are 2 types of crocs here. The Fresh
water and the salt water. If I've got this correct,
the fresh water croc has a short snout and not
too many ridges on its back. Fresh above I think.

Croc #3
The Salt water croc has a longer snout and
larger ridges on its back like the one above. It is
possible I've got this backwards but I don't think
so. Their also a lighter colour brown when dry.

Croc #4

Croc #5. You will notice that in these last 2
pictures the crocs mouth is open. They need to
do this too cool off their brains.

Croc #6

Look hard and you will see Croc #7.
(Clue: look for a tail)

Croc #8.
Mmmmm those whistling ducks look yummy!!!
Actually the guide said the croc was just
sunning himself and could'nt care less about the
ducks. Black & white bird is an egret.

Croc #9.
Another hot brain. The open mouth allows moisture
to evaporate allowing the brain which is just above
the mouth to cool. A croc does not have a tongue
which in many animals helps the cooling process.

A white bellied Sea Eagle. This bird is the 2nd
largest bird of prey in Australia. Can have a
wing span of up to 1.8-1.9 metres.
The boat, the gangway, the dock???, and
Thelma, the Australian Pacific Tour director.

The entrance to Kakadu National park.

What some of the scenery is like in Kakadu.

This is the hotel I spent 2 nights in located in Jabiru on the eastern side of Kakadu National Park.

These 2 images are taken from postcards bought in the hotels souvenir shop. You enter through
the mouth. The eyes are air conditioning and ventilation equipment. The 4 bumps behind the
head are the dining room/bar etc area. Each of the 4 legs are the stairs to the second level. The
guest rooms are on either side of what would be the stomach. Mine was about 8 down on the
far side of the open area on the 2nd floor (in the upper picture). In the middle of the stomach is
the swimming pool (under the white canopy) and an outside recreation area. The tail contains the
workers housing and mechanical repair shops and the like. The parking lots are the round areas
and are designed to look like crocodile eggs. It was designed by a Darwin architect who won a
design competition.
The hotel is owned by the aboriginal council of the area and currently operated by Holiday Inn.

[ On to Day 18]

Last updated September 23rd, 2001

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