Fogg Dam – Kakadu National Park

When you visit Kakadu NP in the Northern Territory, there is a lot of choice and many kilometres. We were staying in Darwin, so decided to visit one of the ‘outer’ locations, known for its birdlife.

This year-round wetland is an hour’s drive from Darwin, on sealed roads. There are a couple of parking areas and maps from there to help you decide which walk(s) you’ll take. We started with the Woodlands to Waterlilies Walk, as it was the shortest and we’d thought to measure our pace against the recommended time.

The path begins as a firm dirt track through paperbark trees,

to swamp

and finally on to the boardwalk and out to the 3 viewing platforms. From these you cast your eyes over lilies, through fine, closely woven brush, or up in the air as flocks fly past.

We met a couple of avid birdwatchers, one of whom let me use their binoculars to look at an azure kingfisher, and then pointed out the other ‘good’ finds. We also saw some intriguing insects.

We’d set out pretty early in the morning and was only about 32C but we mistakenly thought that the woodland walk would be covered and cool and hadn’t applied sunscreen. On the open boardwalk we were feeling it and almost as soon as we entered the woodland we were beset by mosquitoes, so be warned.

Making good time, we set off on the Monsoon Forest Walk, which was surprisingly very different. The tropical north has 15 000 small patches of monsoon forest and some of the plants grown there are rare. This is a saltwater crocodile area, so warnings about staying on the path are frequent.

Another firm, but undulating path, decorated by butterflies

and more golden orb spiders. They like making their webs across the path.

The boardwalk begins quite early and the thin, green palms reach straight up beside, above and ahead of you.

Shorter, stunted palms are close to the muddy swamp surface and roots and bark twist in their competition for light. The forest is alive with sounds and smells.

The wetlands increase and I peer through the trees to grasslands further afield, seeing all manner of beak, head, body shape and behaviour. It is a wonderland that at one moment bids me stop and the next urges me on.

Magical reflections are formed in the swamp.

Corellas, black-necked storks, ducks, swans, egrets, cormorants and masked lapwings, along with a whole lot more that were too far or too fast for me to identify. Just stunning and peaceful all in one.

Take a hat, water, camera, binoculars, sunscreen and insect repellant (might as well take a packed lunch). And it’s free!

Kakadu National Park

 

In early October, with the temperature in the shade reaching 39.2C (approx 103F), we arrived in world heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, in the Northern Territory of Australia. The road in was unremarkable (and very long) due to being near the end of the dry season.

Taking advice from other travellers, we camped at Cooinda Camping Ground and Caravan Park.

The Yellow River Cruise is world-renowned and if you are a bird lover you will be spoilt. You would also get your lens-full of crocodile pictures and some worthy screen savers. Many people do the sunrise and sunset cruise to get the benefit or the varying wildlife and colours. I was surprised at the buffalo and other animals on the banks and watching the interplay of creatures on or near the water was captivating.

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We also completed a walk at Nourlangie Rock that has two tracks from which to choose and saw interesting sandstone rock formations and well-preserved rock art. Apparently it is a part of the Arnhem Land escarpment.  The track is good and well-marked.

Ubirr Rock is a site that has an easy walking track and many examples of Aboriginal rock painting. Tours in other languages are available. If you can climb the steep sides (about 30 degree slope) to the top you can see an amazing 360 degree view of that region of Kakadu. Sunset walks are possible. I won’t include pictures of art, as I haven’t checked if that is permitted. Most rock art is sacred and Aboriginal people do not like it shown on media, without consent.

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Near Cooinda, Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre is very informative and has artifacts and art you can buy. Bowali Visitor Centre was also impressive.

The facilities were very good, with a choice of pools and the visitor information centre had a great range of maps and options. There are good-sized campsites, outdoor BBQ areas, camp kitchens and restaurants. For those wanting more luxury, there are cabins and Cooinda Lodge. There is a wealth of information and they offer tours, transport and advice. There are many other motels and campsites in the National park. We spent 3 nights here.

Safe travels. Don’t swim alone and check with rangers before visiting water holes. Take water, your hat and good walking shoes.