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South Alligator River and Jim Jim Billabong

blog-0773988001398860823.jpgThere is a little bit of everything in Kakadu National Park but the heart of the park is the South Alligator River. The entire drainage basin of the South Alligator River is within Kakadu National Park. About the name, it was incorrectly named when the person who named it mistook the crocodiles for alligators. Once named I guess there is no way to correct the mistake. So there are no alligators in the Alligator River, only crocodiles. This goes along with a standing joke Louise and I have. If we see a feature named for some animal we seldom if ever see that animal in that feature. Swan Lake for instance would likely have no swans (at least when we see it). We’ve never seen a snake in the Snake River. Bear Meadow seems to never have a bear. You get the idea. If we cross Turtle Creek one of us will ask the other if there were any turtles in Turtle Creek.

We are visiting the park at the end of the Wet. The rivers are running strong from rains received over the last three or four months. Much of the park is closed because roads are flooded. The park is one huge wetlands and they are at their prime right now. We took an early morning cruise on Sunday morning. Driving to the cruise the bus drove through roads that were covered with standing water, maybe 6 inches deep. We started out on the Jim Jim Billabong also known as the Yellow Water. Much of what we cruised on today will be dry ground in August at the end of the Dry. The park is a World Heritage Site which reflects the value of these extensive wetlands.

On this boat trip we saw several crocodiles and a number of birds including the spectacular Black Necked Stork which was gathering nesting materials and then taking them back to its nest. We were able to watch it fly to its nest where it greeted the female by tapping their long beaks together. We also saw a number of Magpie Geese which are quite common here. Several White Bellied Sea Eagles were also in the trees and we had close up looks at several of them. All this and we were able to view a beautiful sunrise over the water. Breakfast was included in the cruise and they came through with a full buffet breakfast.

After breakfast we returned to the campervan. We had an hour to get ready to check out. First on our list was to shower and get the insect repellant off and remove a layer of sweat. The tropics are being truly tropical, temperatures overnight in the 80’s and quickly into the 90’s during the day with humidity that approaches 90% constantly. It is quite a change from the first three months of this trip which have been quite cool weather at least at night if not all day. We were in the tropics in Cairns but the humidity was not nearly as high as it is here.

We got off the site right on time and stopped at the fuel station here to top off the tank with diesel. The price was just 4 cents higher per liter than it was at the Lazy Lizzard in Pine Creek. This fuel will be enough to take us into Darwin on Monday. Today we headed east, further into the park. The visitors center is located deep within the park and that was our next stop. We pulled off at a viewpoint which involved a 1.3 kilometer hike to get to the viewpoint. Given our new rule, no hike starts after noon, we bypassed that hike and continued on to the visitors center. We spent about 30 minutes viewing the exhibits there before continuing on to our planned campground at Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park in Jabiru, NT.

Jabiru is a small town that supports several mining operations which have mining leases to some of the land within the National Park. Their claims date back to before WW II so the mining continues today. One of the resources that is mined here is uranium. The area which has the uranium was known to the Aborigine people as a land of sickness. They must have experienced health problems when living there and the land became a kind of forbidden territory.

The campground here is one of the better places we’ve found to stay in Australia. There is plenty of room, good shade and nice restrooms and showers. We arrived before 2:00 p.m. which is the usual check-in time but we were welcomed without hesitation. It was a relief to be plugged in again and have the air conditioning to keep us comfortable.


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