Friday, May 17, 2013

Kakadu - Yellow River Billabong NT

Today we had an early morning call to catch the bus outside the caravan park which took us to our boat for our Yellow River Billabong cruise and breakfast - cost $99 each for two hours. The boat wasn't quite full so we had some opportunity to move about to get a better photo, if we wanted. It was still pre-dawn when we left so I couldn't take photos very well with my ancient digital camera, but it soon got light enough, but it was overcast after a few showers during the night.

Of course, everyone wanted to see a crocodile, so all eyes were on the water and banks. We had an excellent guide/boat driver (an young aboriginal man), who spoke well and was full of local knowledge. I said to Ruth - down south the unions would demand that three people do his job - one to cast on and off, one to steer and drive the boat and one to be the tour guide - he did it all.

It wasn't long before he caught sight of the first croc. and from then on we saw several more - the first one we saw was a big old male and he actually seemed to relish the attention he was getting with flashes flashing at him and people hanging out to get at good photo - until - the guide said "I'm not joking folks, but don't hang over the side, this croc could jump two thirds of his body length out of the water if he wanted to!" That made us all pull our heads in - the croc was four metres long and the side of the boat was only about a metre and a half.

Our first croc sighting
Croc at Yellow River Billabong
One of the mama crocs.
Searching for a croc.
 We think the tour group must have been paying this croc because he just lazily followed alongside the boat for quite a way until the guide decided we needed to see some of the 200 species of bird life that come to the billabong in the dry season - however the dry season is late this year so we didn't get to see near that many, but we did see quite a lot - many too small for my 3X optical lens to catch. 

Birdlife everywhere
A Jabiru
Yellow River Billabong
It was a very pleasant and enjoyable cruise, maybe overpriced (as is everything here), but that's what you have to pay, probably won't ever come back. Although, I did suggest to Ruth that the only way to see the water falls in their full glory was to fly to Darwin in the wet season and take a guided flight over the falls, which she thought would be a good idea (for later, much later).

They then took us back to the Lodge (attached to the caravan park - or visa versa) for a full English breakfast with eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, fruit juice, fruit, cereal and tea or coffee. We had a plate full each and that filled us and kept us going all day until tea time, but some of the other people there (esp. the backpackers) just loaded their plates with everything and then went back for seconds and one guy had thirds (I'm sure a lot of it went into their backpacks).

We were told that during the wet season, where our caravan was, can be flooded and that even in the dry season that crocs have been seen up in the caravan park - and there are signs in the park advising that crocs may be about. We didn't, thankfully see any there - seeing them in the water was fine by us (we did see a small one up on the bank).

After we packed up we decided we had seen enough plunge ponds and water falls, so we went to a site that had Aboriginal Paintings on the rock face - but I'll leave that for my next update, it's getting late - Ruth is already in bed - we are so thankful for our car and van AC's, it is so hot and humid, we sleep all night with it on. We have decided that after spending an uncomfortable night at Edith Falls (no power) that we would try and make sure we always stopped at a caravan park with power until we started heading south again.