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Top End’s tropical vegetation

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 5 August 2007 | Views [1290]

Nourlangie Rock

Nourlangie Rock

Before visiting a place, I love to read about it. It helps me understand what I see when I’ve got it under my nose. Well, at least a little bit. I had read in the Lonely Planet that this part of Australia, being so close to the equator, enjoyed tropical vegetation. From what I’ve seen so far, the images that popped up in my mind where thick and humid jungles that I had already seen all over south-east Asia for example.

When I got out of the city, I kept on looking for that deep, impenetrable kind of forest with the sounds of monkeys and cicadas. But what I could see looked a lot more like any National Geographic TV show on Africa. Actually, lionesses chasing antelopes or giraffes eating the top leaves of the high trees wouldn’t have seemed out of place at all. It really is a savannah out there, with tall yellow and dry grass, eucalypt trees, funny looking palm trees and small bushes here and there. Of course this is also tropical vegetation, but it was all new to me.

During the Dry, savannah is by far the most important landform in the area, but there are also 5 others: monsoon forests, thicker and bushier kind of forest occurring in small, isolated patches, hills and ridges which can be found in the southern part of Kakadu, stone country, where the National Park touches the plateau of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust, tidal flats and coast, which I haven’t seen, but are mostly mangrove forests, and last but not least, floodplains and billabongs. The last name I already knew. For years, I’ve been wearing clothes from the eponym company. I’ve always liked it. I don’t really know why. Is it the name? The style? Or the fact that this company was also born in 1973? Probably a bit of all. But as far as I was concerned, Billabong was a brand of clothes, period. But in reality, a billabong is the trapped water left behind once the water from the floodplains recedes during the Dry. It looks pretty much like a pond, covered with water lilies, where all the animals gather to drink, eat, or hunt. Many of them in Kakadu NP have a track going around them, offering beautiful ballads. Of all the different landscapes I have discovered so far in Australia, the billabongs are by far my favorite. But all of them disappear when the rain comes back, during the Wet, becoming parts of the big flood plains. The land becomes then all green and it’s a totally different country. The kind of places you have to see at least twice…

Tags: ambassador van, the great outdoors

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