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Retirement Travels

Darwin to Jabiru

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 16 July 2016 | Views [332]

View looking north over the wetlands from Ubirr Rock in North East Kakadu

View looking north over the wetlands from Ubirr Rock in North East Kakadu

A 9:00am departure from Darwin saw us heading out on the Arnhem Highway with the plan to take the Old Jim Jim Road past the Mount Bundy Military Training Area and across through the heart of Kakadu then on to the Kakadu Highway for a short run up to the Mardugal Camp Ground in the National Park. The Old Jim Jim Road was listed as ‘high clearance 4WD only’ in the Kakadu Road Reports each day so we were prepared for some rough track on the way. As it turned out the track was good enough  to travel it’s full distance without the need to deflate the tyres, the only water crossing where there was water present was the South Alligator River and it was barely hub deep.

As we passed the Mount Bundy Military Training Area it was evident that there were exercises taking place with signs prohibiting entry and also warning of live firing – we figured that we didn’t need to have to dodge mortars and grenades so we obeyed the signs! Whilst we were in Darwin there was obvious presence of US troops and equipment moving around as well as the sounds of military aircraft at night – so something was going on!

We arrived in Mardugal for a late lunch and then set up camp. The Campsite Manager arrived pretty quickly to collect the camp fees – he wasn’t going to miss out! In the afternoon we took advantage of the pool and bar at the Cooinda Resort just a few kilometres up the road, a cooling swim and a cold beer or wine at the bar rounded the day out nicely.

The next day we headed out to Jim Jim Falls, this consisted of a 52km stretch of road that was again listed as 4WD Only – this time they meant it. The road was very heavily corrugated, to the point where if you attempted it in an ordinary sedan it would be shaken to pieces! Even then it would only get you as far as the camp ground with still about 7 to 8km to go, that was definitely 4WD only, to get to the falls. Once at the falls car park we had about an 800m return walk to a pool and platform where the actual falls could be seen, this walk was easy to moderate but to get to the falls and the plunge pool at the base it was a further 1.5km that proved to be quite difficult. This involved a quite torturous path scrambling over very large boulders that were at times slippery, something you probably shouldn’t attempt with a dodgy knee – but what the heck, I might not be back here again so along with Ken, Elke and Schuey I went all the way – and back! It was difficult and tiring but boy was it worth it, the view of the plunge pool at the bottom of this huge amphitheatre that seemed to be almost a 270 degree arc and very high was spectacular and spellbinding. The water in the pool was very cold, as it only gets a little sunlight late in the afternoon, so with the exception of Ken we declined a swim. There was only a little water coming over the falls but this left me with an ambition to one day see the falls in their full glory in the middle of a wet season, the tricky part about fulfilling this ambition is that access is only possible by helicopter in the wet.

The next day Garry and Elke took the sunrise cruise on Yellow Waters and Ken and Schuey took a drive out to Red Lilly Lagoon and Alligator Lagoon while Jenny and I took a drive out to Jim Jim Billabong. Following the visit to Jim Jim Billabong we met up with Garry and Elke for lunch at the resort where feasts of local Barramundi were enjoyed. Following lunch we spent most of the afternoon lounging around the pool and having a swim. Later in the day Allan, Helen, Ken and Schuey took the sunset cruise on Yellow Waters . Jenny and I had done the cruise not that long ago so we opted out this time around.

We had a late start the next day as we were simply travelling to Jabiru to position ourselves for an earlier start on the way up to the Cobourg Peninsular. We arrived at Jabiru and were set up in time for a run out to Nourlangie Rock to view the ancient rock art, the rock art is quite extensive but some of it certainly looks like it has been touched up in recent years as it stands out much more prominently than the rest. One of the more spectacular aspects of this location is the view from the lookout – it is stunning. We were back in Jabiru for lunch and had a relaxing afternoon around the pool and our campsite before heading out to Ubiir Rock to view more rock art and to also view the sunset from Ubirr Rock out over the wetlands – this is a must if you are ever in the area! Whilst there we checked out Cahill’s Crossing for the water level and any crocs – we spotted a few crocs swimming around just above the crossing and one of them was a monster!

More very soon ......

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