Once a Jolly Swagman…

Yes, as I write we are camped by a billabong. And no, I haven’t written for a while. I could write a list of excuses, but instead will just fill you in on the last few weeks.

Once the CSR was finished the journey took on different tone and became more of a holiday. We got our new leaf springs fitted at great expense and hung around Kununurra for a week waiting for this, having checked out every café, pub and steak sandwich.

Hidden Valley
Hidden Valley – Kununurra
Five Rivers Lookout – Wyndham

We met my dear friend Sandie and her brother Ross and his wife Liz in Kununurra to start the 60th birthday bash.


First stop – Keep River National Park. We did a brilliant walk in this park, reminiscent of the beehive domes of the Bungle Bungle.

Keep River
Keep River National Park

Next stop Katherine and her famous gorge. We did the obligatory boat cruise, the only way to see it properly – especially in the unseasonal hot and humid weather and my newly acquired dodgy knee. As expected it was stunning and awe inspiring.

Katherine Gorge
Katherine Gorge

From there we headed to Edith Falls for Sandie’s 60th and this was the show-stopper spot for us. The weather was bloody hot and humid but we had a wonderful swimming hole and waterfall 5 mins walk away – it was bliss. I made a damper for a birthday cake for breakfast and Sandie supplied champagne – great start. For dinner, a porcini and red wine risotto and more champagne of course.

Reluctantly we left Edith Falls behind for Litchfield and finally found a camping spot that was not heaving with school holiday-makers. Sandy Creek was on a 4WD only track, putting off the caravaners and the faint hearted. We had a lovely swimming hole that appeared to be croc-free. We explored the whole lovely region but the busload upon busload of tour groups kinda spoiled it.

Florence Falls – Litchfield National Park

Next stop Darwin. We loved this small city (only 89,000) with its great bars and cafes, wonderful and free museum, and brilliant military museum. I now understand so much more about Darwin’s involvement in WWII. We also went down to Mindil beach for the beer-can regatta. It was all a bit of a fizzog really. There didn’t appear to be any rules and no-one had any idea what was going on. Only 6 craft.

Darwin Sailing Club for sundowners

We waved goodbye to Sandie and Co, and met up with John, our next travelling companion. Fist stop Coroborree Billabong (how Australian can you get!). We did a brilliant sunset boat cruise for some bird-watching, seeing Jabiru up close, Sea Eagle, Kingfishers, Rainbow Bea-eaters, 4 metre crocodiles (yikes!) and loads more.

What a croc!! This one was over 4 metres…
Gunlom Falls – Kakadu

And then on to the world-heritage Kakadu. The South Alligator River is the pulsating heart of Kakadu, creating the waterfalls and swimming holes, billabongs and wetlands that provide a home to the amazing birdlife, crocodiles and fish. I think we’ve seen all there is to see here, waterfalls, swimming holes (croc-free they tell me), cave paintings, boat tours (brilliant again). But our favourite thing is a secret location we found, camped by the billabong at the beginning of this missive. We camped there twice, and both night the beautiful Rainbow Bee-eaters came in to roost, snuggling up to each and squabbling about who was going to sit where, like naughty school girls.

Bee Eater Billa
Secret Billabong (now named Bee-eater Billabong)

So, now we are in Jabiru and about to embark on the next stage of our most excellent adventure – Arnhem Land. The getting of permits has been a real juggling act. So many required, and so many different agencies, traditional owners and offices. We are almost there. Tomorrow we head to Injalak for a guided outdoor gallery tour and then to to Maningrida and Coburgh Peninsular. John has wangled some invitations to places not often open to Balanda (whitefellas).

But first we must cross the mighty East Alligator river. If you don’t hear from us again, you’ll know we got the tide wrong.




3 thoughts on “Once a Jolly Swagman…

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