aboriginal history

The Natural Wonderland of the Scenic Rim

Do you like shopping, casinos the glitz and glamour of the Gold Coast? If so I will leave you with the Icons of the Gold Coast.  https://pommepal.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/gold-coast-icons/

But if you love the beauty of nature, rainforests, rivers and stunning scenery, come with me today. I am going south, over the border into New South Wales.

Millions of years ago this was an area of volcanic activity. The ground shook and volcanoes spewed forth the molten lava from the bowels of the earth. Mountains were formed and rivers of lava flowed through the valleys leaving behind a layer of rich volcanic ash. The earth cooled and rivers flowed were once the lava created the valleys. Mighty rainforest trees thrived in this rich soil and vines and creepers twisted and tangled into every spare gap. It was a land of abundance. For thousands of years the Aborigine Bundjalung people cherished this land, it gave them all they needed for survival. Their name for the mountain is “Wollumbin”; meaning, “cloud-catcher”. 

 Captain Cook passed by in 1770 and called this mighty mountain “Mt Warning”. A mere 200 years ago pioneers (and convicts) arrived looking for a better place. In awe they looked at this land of abundance and settled here. The mighty Red Cedar trees were cut down and used to build their houses, make furniture and send overseas to an insatiable market. The land was cleared to plant crops and create farms. Slowly the mighty rainforests were raped and plundered and the Aborigines were denied access to their ancestral home land.

Fortunately the park was reserved for public recreation in 1928 and dedicated as a national park in 1966. The Park is part of the Shield Volcano Group of the World Heritage Site Gondwana Rainforests of Australia inscribed in 1986 and added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2007.

Mt Warning-4

Now the mighty “Wollumbin” slumbers on the horizon. Its work has been done. At times shrouded in mist.

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At the foot of the range the Tweed River winds through the fertile farm land.

Today I will take you to Tumbulgum, a small historic village nestled on the banks of the Tweed River.

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Looking across to Wollumbin/Mt Warning from the junction of the Tweed and Rous Rivers, Tumbulgum was one of the first villages established in northern NSW in around 1840. For many years, it was the Tweed Valley’s main hub of activity, with shops and services springing up to cater to the timber trade and cedar cutters. At one stage it vied with nearby Murwillumbah for commercial supremacy – until Murwillumbah scored the railway in 1897 and a bridge in 1901, guaranteeing its status as the Tweed Valley’s economic centre. In Tumbulgum today it is the tourists who generate the buzz, coming to enjoy the picturesque setting and admire the historic buildings which now house a range of art galleries, gift shops and cafés. murwillumbah-4 One of the most popular reminders of the past is undoubtedly the old Tumbulgum Tavern. Established in 1887, it was the region’s first unlicensed pub (otherwise known as a ‘grog shanty’) and over 120 years later, it is still going strong. The food here is excellent – as are the sunsets that illuminate the river and Wollumbin/Mt Warning. It is too early for lunch. I think I will make a note to come here for dinner one evening. A boat cruises from nearby Tweed along the river and after dinner will take you back again.

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As we drive away this interesting old tree calls to my camera. As we reach Murwillumbah another old tree “talks” to me.

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Jack has an interesting post about the museum and art gallery in Murwillumbah. Go to this link.  https://jacksjottings.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/tranquil-trip/

To see more artists impressions of this beautiful area this is the link to the art gallery http://calderaart.org.au/

Now it is lunchtime and we drive out-of-town and toward the Mt Warning Road. To the Rainforest Café that has been recommended by the lady in the tourist information centre.

Mt Warning-2

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We are not disappointed it is set in an idyllic setting on the banks of a small meandering creek. The tables are well spread out and you can choose to sit in the sun or the shade from the large, mature trees and palms. We choose to sit on the veranda. Can you see Jack?

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The food is delicious.

There is so much to see in this area. Next time I will take you for a walk in the rainforest.

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, New South Wales, Tumbulgum, Wollumbin/Mt Warning | Tags: , , , , | 50 Comments

Brutalist Architecture : Australia High Court

The High Court of Australia is a monumental, fortress-like building. Love it or hate it, this style of architecture cannot be ignored.

High Court of Australia

High Court of Australia

I had not heard the term “brutalist architecture” before and found this huge building intimidating but, with the high wall of glass windows and glimpses of art work inside, strangely appealing and made me want to take a look inside. I wondered could the public just wander around?

So hesitantly I pushed through the revolving doors.

Entering the foyer

Entering the foyer

Being Sunday no courts were in session but a very helpful Court Guide welcomed us in and told us of the points of interest, and yes we could take photos. The first thing to see was the 10 minute video explaining the history of the building and this is when I found out about “brutalist architecture”

“The High Court building is an outstanding example of late modern Brutalist architecture. It has light-filled, bold geometric shapes and spaces, raw massed concrete, dynamic internal movement, and strong links with neighbouring buildings and landscape. It is monumental and asymmetrical, but also functional.
A national design competition for the building announced in May 1972 was won by the architectural firm of Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs (EMTB).

                      It was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 26 May 1980″  (information from high court website)

Looking down on the foyer from the 3rd floor

Looking down on the foyer from the 3rd floor

Looking up at the bold, geometric shapes

Looking up at the bold, geometric shapes

I thought it was an imposing interior space, huge and majestic, yet inviting.

Comfortable leather lounges invite you to sit and enjoy the view

Comfortable leather lounges invite you to sit and enjoy the view

Ramps and lifts take you up to the next levels

Ramps and lifts take you up to the next levels

Did you notice the art work on the wall as you went up the ramp?

Did you notice the art work on the wall as you went up the ramp?

Information about the art work

Information about the art work

This is a painting by an Aboriginal woman. Reading the caption you can hear her talking and it is a very significant statement about the change from Aboriginal cultural laws to todays justice system.

All the art work through out the building, from the portraits of Chief Justices to State emblems are significant and symbolic.

“The High Court will be a powerful and dominating structure, and must be considered one of the most important buildings in Canberra from all points of view. It is equally important that the art works which contribute towards the visual realisation of what this building means to the people of Australia, should also be of the highest calibre.”
As intended, many of the artworks in the High Court’s collection represent aspects of the economic, social and cultural development of the nation. Some engage with the history, workings and aspirations of the Court.

Images showing regional economic activities

Images showing regional economic activities

Tapestry of the emblems of the States on the wall in the main court room

Tapestry of the emblems of the States on the wall in the main court room

The main court room were the final decisions of points of law are made

The main court room were the final decisions of points of law are made

The public are allowed to sit in and observe the court in action, but, of course, no photos could be taken then.

The Australian coat of arms is prominent on the front glass windows

The Australian coat of arms is prominent on the front glass windows

Sunday was a good day to look through the building but I now want to go back during the week when the courts are in session to see law being enacted. Also on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month a free concert is performed in the foyer and with the towering ceilings I imagine the acoustics will be spectacular.

This is the next concert on August 3rd.  

Canberra Recorder & Early Music Society (CREMS), founded in 1974 is a friendly, non-auditioned group of recorder players from Canberra and the surrounding region. Enjoying playing early and modern music in ensembles and recorder orchestra,

CREMS is led by Barbara Jerjen. In this concert you will hear music of the Renaissance as well as contemporary music arranged for recorder orchestra and played on seven different-sized recorders from the tiny sopranino to the very large contra-bass.

Now that sounds interesting…

 

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, Australian High Court, Canberra, photos | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Infinite

In the Australian Outback the road appears to stretch to infinity. The traffic approaches as if rising from a mirage as it floats across the endless Mitchel grass plains.

In 2012 we travelled through the outback to the Northern Territory. After years of drought two good seasons of rain had produced lush pasture, hay making was in progress, we saw the outback at its best. Now a year later it is once more in the grip of drought with no rain for almost a year since we travelled through.

The Matilda Highway

The Matilda Highway

Vehicles floating towards us in a mirage

Vehicles floating towards us in a mirage

That winter we travelled to the Northern Territory to explore Kakadu National Park. Kakadu is considered a living cultural landscape. The Bininj  Mungguy Aboriginal people have lived on and cared for this country for more than 50,000 years. Their deep spiritual connection to the land dates back to  the Creation and has always been an important part of the Kakadu story.

The Aboriginals are the oldest living culture still in existence and their dream time stories say they stretch back to the beginning of creation, into the mists of infinity.

I felt privileged to have the opportunity to explore Kakadu. I felt it had an aura of the ancient Traditional Owners still lingering in the rock art and the tracks and bill-a-bongs that so many years ago the tribes had followed.  Aboriginal people were traditionally hunter-gatherers and moved regularly to   places where resources were plentiful. There were no permanent settlements, but   favoured camping areas were used for many, many generations. Among the temporary   dwellings the people used were stringy-bark and paperbark shelters near   billabongs, wet-season huts built on stilts on the floodplains, and rock   shelters in the stone country.

Arnhem Land, going back into the mists of time

In the distance, looming over Kakadu, Arnhem Land is a place the present day Aboriginal calls his traditional home, a permit is needed for non-aboriginal people to visit here, it is like going back into the mists of time.

We walk along the tracks that the tribes have walked along for thousands of years

We walk along the tracks that the tribes have walked along for thousands of years

We rest near a bill-a-bong and appreciate the beauty and reflections in the fresh water

We rest near a bill-a-bong and appreciate the beauty and reflections in the fresh water

Be ever watchful as the crocodile is also a predator that has been around for thousands of years and will be waiting for the unwary

Be ever watchful as the crocodile is also a predator that has been around for thousands of years and will be waiting for the unwary

The track winds through the rocks formed when the world was young

The track winds through the rocks formed when the world was young

The roots of an ancient gum tree have slowly over many years worked through the rock and clung to life in the surrounding rock

The roots of an ancient gum tree have slowly, over many years, worked through the rock and clung to life in the surrounding rock

When the storms rage and the lightening flashes across the sky and the violent tropical rain falls we can shelter under the ancient rock outcrops, safe and secure till the storm passes

When the storms rage and the lightning flashes across the sky and the violent tropical rain falls the tribes can shelter under the ancient rock outcrops, safe and secure till the storm passes. Stories can be told of the culture passed down from generation to generation. Drawings immortalise the creatures the ancestors saw and hunted

The lightening man, a spirit to be feared

The lightening man, a spirit to be feared

The rainbow serpent who created all things

The rainbow serpent who created all things

Kakadu

Then the sun shines once more and the tribe moves on

Then the sun shines once more and the tribe moves on

Kakadu

Yes Kakadu is a very special place, a spiritual country of beauty. I feel privileged to have spent 6 days discovering it and learning more about the Traditional Owners that have lived here for so long. I hope that their culture and stories can remain into infinity and not forgotten.

Categories: aboriginal history, Aboriginal rock art, Australia, infinity, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, out back, photos, post-a-week, travel, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Out and About Budget Style

Another perfect day, the sun was shining the air was crisp and clear. I felt like exploring, but with no car the alternative was to use the local buses.

So armed with information from the Metro Shop, timetables and of course my camera I sallied forth.

Seven Mile Beach sounds interesting. It is a half hour drive, out through the suburbs and into the country. I am the only passenger on the bus and enjoy the front seat view and chatting to the driver/chauffeur. As a child he lived in this area and told me some interesting details.

The bus would be back in an hour, excellent time for a walk along the beach.

7 Mile Beach

7 Mile Beach

 

Beautiful reflections

Beautiful reflections

Ripples in the sand

Ripples in the sand

It was a beautiful beach to walk along and I found some interesting shells. Notice how dry the hills look. Tasmania is the second driest capital city and at the moment they need rain, but I am pleased it isn’t raining today.

At the end of the beach is an all in one shop/take away/ garage and I stopped for a coffee. Sitting in the sun I watched the locals walking by with their dogs.

Then it was back to Hobart.

Next place I planned to find was Risdon Cove.

This is the historical site of the first landing of Europeans in Tasmania in 1803. It was quite difficult to find out any details about it. Being so important to the settling of Australia I was expecting to find interesting artefacts, monuments and information boards.

I had 45 minutes before the bus left, time for another coffee and a muffin.

This bus was full, I was surprised. Not really sure where the destination was I thought I would stay on till I either saw a monument or arrived at the end of the bus route, assuming a cove would be a dead-end.

Wrong….

When every one else had got off the bus I asked the driver about Risdon Cove.

“Oh I don’t actually go right past, but I can put you off at the round-about and you can walk approximately a kilometre to the site. It’s owned by the Aboriginals now” he said.

Well he put me off at the round-about which was in the middle of no-where and pointed out which road to walk along. I had to hurry to get across 2 lanes of heavy traffic and walked along the side of the road wondering what the drivers rushing by in their insulated world on wheels would make of this old lady wandering along. No one stopped to ask.

The road wound around a valley with bush clad slopes on either side. I couldn’t see very far ahead. Should I keep going or turn back? Would I see anything when I got there? I almost gave up, then I spotted a sign with a very prominent Aboriginal flag displayed. YES, I had arrived, but arrived at what? A building with children at play, another building that looked like a meeting hall. No sign of a museum and information centre I had read about in an old Lonely Planet book. Then I noticed the signs, they all told of the Aboriginal side of the “invasion” of the white man. There is two sides to every story and the Aboriginals were massacred in Tasmania and deserve recognition. But also the settlers should have acknowledgment at such a historical site.

I followed the track past a beautiful stream, the herons and ducks stalked the fish and the reflections created a tranquil atmosphere. Over a bridge. the monument to John Bowen who landed here with a group of convicts and soldiers in 1803 is surrounded by posters of Aboriginal protests and the handing over of the land in 1995The historic landing-place is covered in weeds and deteriorating. I walked up the hill to the place the first house was built and could only see a portion of the foundations and a few bricks strewn around.

It was an interesting experience. I was on my own in this historic place and I could feel and visualize the past. The strangeness for both cultures of the other parties. Even today with the sound of the traffic roaring by on the road below it has a feeling of remoteness. The views across the Derwent river where Hobart now stands, in 1803 would be bush and gum trees.

Destination around the back of the hill

Destination around the back of the hill

 

 Risdon cove

Can you see the white herons?

Can you see the white herons?

Dinner time for the herons

Dinner time for the herons

 

Monument to John Bowen

Monument to John Bowen surrounded by Aboriginal posters

 

Historic landing stage, very neglected, as a statement by the Aboriginals

Historic landing stage, very neglected, as a statement by the Aboriginals

 

Risdon Cove

The place were Restdown, the name given to the first house built on this site 1812

The place were Restdown, the name given to the first house built on this site 1833

 

These foundations are all that is left of the original first building

These foundations are all that is left of the original first building

 

Imagine what this would look like 200 years ago

Imagine what this would look like 200 years ago before Hobart was built

 

Risdon Cove

Poster of the hand over of the land 1995

Poster of the hand over of the land 1995

Risdon Cove

 

This is a controversial place and I walked back along the road to catch the bus with very mixed feelings. To me this place even with all its neglect and desolation was beautiful, it had a spiritual aura. The large number of water birds in the unpolluted stream, the reflections of the trees giving a feeling of peace. It touched me more than the pristine museums with the exhibits laid out under glass and carefully labelled.

It was an interesting day and the best part? It only cost me $3-20 for my concession day pass and the price of 2 coffees and a muffin. That is budget travelling.

I checked it out on Google, the history is certainly controversial. You can read a version of it here 

 

 

 

Categories: aboriginal history, Aboriginal history, Australia, Hobart, photos, Risdon Cove, Tasmania | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

The best till last…Ubbir…

Late afternoon and the light is beautiful

This is our last day in Kakadu National Park. we have taken a week slowly absorbing the diversity and culture of this unique place. This morning had been spent cruising along the East Alligator River now it is late afternoon and we are walking up to view more rock art in the Ubbir site. The light is at that magical golden time that surrounds the landscape in an aura of magic.

Sandstone rock outliers, the art is on the top corner behind the tree

Rock art high up. How did they do it?

This rock art is attributed to the “Mimi’s” or spirits of Aboriginal Dreamtime as it is so high it would be impossible to reach for normal beings.

The outliers are cool and would be a special place in the heat of summer. Many of the drawings around here are of food and animals. Drawings are often layered on top of older drawings and show the archeologists the changing nature and culture over the years.

Photos cannot capture the magnificence of these places

High on top of the rock out crops looking toward Arnhem land escarpment

Finally we reach the top and can lookout over to Arnhem land where we had been on the morning cruise. It had been a rocky climb, at times on hands and knees, and as it was getting close to sunset we decided we would not stay for the evening show of the sunset as it would be a difficult climb down for us.

It was now we realized why we had been almost on our own as we climbed to the top, because, as we went down, we were passed by hundreds of people on the way up to watch the sunset. This is one of the major highlights of kakadu and all the bus tours organize to have their customers there at that time.

Here are a few of the thoughts from Aboriginal elders that were on boards around the park. It nicely sums up what is “Kakadu”…..

This is a very good reason why National Parks and World Heritage sites are needed

Categories: aboriginal history, Aboriginal rock art, australian travel, Kakadu National Park, National Parks, Northern Territory, photos | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Cruising in crocodile infested waters

Crocodile on the East Alligator river

The East Alligator river is the boundary between Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land. Kakadu is about 20,000 square kilometres and Arnhem Land is approx 150,000 square kilometres. We have been slowly travelling around Kakadu for 5 days and now we are going to join a 2 hour Aboriginal cultural cruise along this crocodile infested waterway.

Arnhem Land is Aboriginal traditional tribal country and to enter it is necessary to have a permit. This area is shrouded in mystery for me and the stories and accounts I have heard is that the Aboriginal communities that live here are in limbo between their ancient, traditional, tribal lifestyle of hunting and gathering and modern-day society supported by benefits and living in houses supplied by the government. The standards of health,  education, living standards and job opportunities are well below the rest of Australia.

One community, the Gulumyambi people have created an opportunity for themselves by taking tourists for a cruise along the East Alligator River and inviting them onto Arnhem Land.

East Alligator River

Spear throwing demo

The Aboriginal guides told us stories of their culture and pointed out trees and plants that could be eaten or used for medicinal purposes. Of course they took us close up and personal to any crocodiles that were basking on the banks. There are hundreds more that we couldn’t see lurking around in the muddy coloured murky waters of the river.

That boat is smaller than most of the crocs

We passed a couple of “tinnies” with brave blokes fishing. The size of the boats are smaller than some of the crocodiles and notices warn fishermen to always use nets with long handles to bring their catch into the boat. The barramundi is the prize fish in these waters and I have heard it will put up a good fight. If I was that man in the boat I don’t think I would sit with my bottom hanging over the side….

Approaching Arnhem Land

The boat we are in is a good solid size and we keep all parts of our bodies well inside.

Embarking onto Arnhem Land

We embarked and were welcomed onto their home-land. One of the guides was a traditional owner of this part of Arnhem Land. They had a collection of stone tools that were used in the past and they demonstrated the art of spear throwing using a “woomera”, a holder that gives more distance to the throw. We had a short walk to a billabong before it was time to go back along the river.

 

Categories: aboriginal history, australian travel, Kakadu National Park, National Parks, Northern Territory, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Amazing Aboriginal rock art

Bird watchers paradise in the wetlands

Now we are in the cultural heart of Kakadu heading for Nourlangie, the home of Aboriginal tribes for thousands of years.

On the way we stop at a couple of the billabongs and also Yellow Waters. This huge area is flooded in the wet season and never dries right out so it is a haven for birds and all animals. Many migrating birds stop over and in the wet season it is a prime breeding area. During the wet season Kakadu is closed as the roads and all areas are impassable due to the flooding.

The Aborigines recognize 6 distinct seasons in this tropical part of Australia

6 seasons of the Top End

Most people just think 2 seasons up here, hot and dry or hot and wet; but it is far more complex than that. This is now August and is hot and dry. Being the end of August the temperatures are approx 33 to 34 degrees and the humidity is building. The locals tell me the build up is starting early this year. I do not think it would be very comfortable living in Matilda in a few weeks time so we are heading south again.

Talking to tourists in van parks many of them are very disappointed with the Kakadu experience. I’ve heard it said ” Kakdu, Kakadon’t…” But many only whizz through in 2 days just looking out of the car or 4 WD window and staying at the very expensive, all mod-con, commercial camping grounds or cabins. To experience the beauty, history and uniqueness that is Kakadu’s it is necessary to slow down, walk down the tracks to the billabong, take time to look around, walk in the tracks of the ancient tribes and picture the incredible way that these people survived in this very savage and daunting landscape. Sit in the ancient rock shelters and study the art…

Being older has its advantages. We have to pace ourselves, walking up slopes we stop to catch our breath and look around. We cannot fit too much into one day so savour each experience, take lots of photos, we need them to remember what we have seen…

Rock shelters

 

Nourlangie rock shelters and art sites protected by board walks

 

Nourlangie rock shelters

 

These rock shelters are high above the floodplains and as you walk into them the breeze cools you down and it would be a welcome place to sit with the family and wait out the heat of the day. In the storm season a safe refuge to watch the lightning playing across the sky. I could imagine family life, the laws and culture of the aborigines created a very strong family structure. In the above photo you can see traces of where a fire would be lit to cook food or keep warm in the cold nights, maybe the smoke would help to keep away the mosquitoes, I’m sure they would’ve been around then.

Rock art information

 

Information taken from Darwin Museum. Aboriginal rock art is acknowledged as the oldest surviving art in the world

Reasons for painting

 

Rock art

 

Rock art

 

Rock art information

 

The information boards scattered around are very interesting and give an insight into life of the Aborigines before the Europeans arrived. There are more than 500 recorded art sites throughout Kakadu and creating a world heritage site has saved these important relics of another life and culture.

 

 

 

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Categories: aboriginal history, Aboriginal rock art, Australia, australian travel, Kakadu National Park, National Parks, Northern Territory, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Journey back in time and culture.

For nearly 2 weeks we have “been bush”, immersed in the diverse vegetation and the amazing journey back into the cultural past of the Australian Aboriginal people of this Northern Territory area of Kakadu. No internet connection for that time.

We are now in a camp ground for a few days R. and R from travel. Time to reflect on what we have seen and experienced, sort out photos, and catch up with my blog and e-mails

Kakadu stone country

Walk through the rocks

After spending 3-4 days in the savanna woodlands  and the floodplains this stone area was a complete change. The escarpments had been a hazy smudge on the horizon. A constant backdrop to the flat floodplains. As we drove closer they loomed large and forbidding.

These amazing formations were the sea bed of a huge inland sea 1500 million years ago. Hard to comprehend that time frame or believe that this ancient, dry country was once under water. We wandered around in awe. To the Aborigines this whole area is a sacred site and I could feel the spiritual atmosphere. We were on our own. This area is not one of the top tourist must see areas. We followed a small sign down a side road

Almost like a hidden city

This was just the start of a journey back in imagination into the culture of these amazing indigenous people of Australia.

For more than 40,000 years the Aborigine has lived with the land. Their culture and laws have been passed down from their Dreamtime in song and dance and stories. Their story of creation is captured in the rock drawings. They are one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world and they are a truly remarkable people. During this trip we have learnt a great deal about their culture.

It came as a surprise to me to find out that the communities had very definite boundaries, and each of these communities had their own language. Over 200 distinct languages in this area of Northern Territory. That is now down to 12. They had strong laws about marriage and trade and every other part of community life. When the European arrived the Aboriginal person was classed as part of the flora and fauna of the country and given no identity as a person. This was a tragic part of Australian history, and it is only very recently that the uniqueness and living skills have been acknowledged.

Next area we visited was the world-famous Nouralangie rock art sites. More of that later…

 

 

Categories: aboriginal history, Aboriginal rock art, australian travel, Kakadu National Park, National Parks, Northern Territory, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Kakadu Heritage listed National Park

I am covered in mosquito bites, despite smothering myself with repellent. I wonder was it worth it? Was it what I expected?

No it wasn’t the wilderness I expected. It is interesting. I can see the diversity and appreciate the cultural significance for the indigenous people, but it seems subdued. The fire management policy of patchwork burning has created a landscape of alternating scorched earth and blackened trees to other areas of fresh, green growth. In my mind’s eye I could imagine the new growth in a few years would be thick, rampant and jungle-like, but it is not allowed to run wild and unfettered, it is now controlled into submission. I know this has to be done and it is following the way the Aboriginal people have managed their environment for tens of thousands of years. 80% of Kakadu is Savanna Woodlands and the grass grows thick and lush in the wet season. If left it would become a serious fire hazard in the dry and wild, uncontrollable fires would rage through the country.

The unburnt areas are beautiful…

Evening light filtering through the gum trees

 

Kakadu Savanna Woodlands

We came in from the Southern end and this is mostly Savanna Woodlands. We camped at the basic bush camps, toilet and solar heated showers. Being the dry season it was quite dusty but only $10 per person so for budget travellers it had every thing we needed. We have a portable solar panel to supply our own power, and it is always sunny with not a cloud in the sky. One thing we did miss and that was the internet connection…

We can even have a camp fire as fire grates are provided and there is plenty of dead wood around. This was the first time this trip that “one match Jack” had been in action…

One match Jack strikes again

 

Camp fire meditation

By day 3 we had moved further into Kakadu. This is one of the largest parks in Australia and covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres. Within this vast landscape there are 6 main landforms and the habitats in each is distinctively different and quite unique. We passed through the floodplains and billabongs and the bird life is amazing.

By now I had become used to the patchwork burning and accepted it as part of the Kakadu scenery. As we crossed bridges across the mighty South Alligator River and it’s tributaries, we would stop to marvel at the beauty of the waterways and the reflections and, of course, the birds. The South Alligator River is one of the only rivers in the world that is totally enclosed, and therefore protected, in a National Park. The other creäture it is famous for is the huge salt water crocodile. We have not spotted any as yet, but when you walk close to a river, stream or billabong you are on high alert watching for any signs and of course not getting too close to any swampy areas…

White Heron waiting for breakfast

 

White Heron

 

South Alligator river

 

Monsoon forest area reflections on the South Alligator river

 

The park is very well maintained and plenty of walks and tracks that can be followed. They cater for all levels of fitness and age.

20 years ago we had visited Kakadu and the most outstanding memory from that trip was going to Gunlom Falls. We walked the very steep one kilometre track to the top of the waterfall and swam and floated in the pristine mountain stream and connecting pools leading to the edge of the falls. I remember being watched by a large water dragon basking on the rocks. We sat and dried off on the smooth, sun-warmed rocks right on the edge of the drop down to the plunge pool many metres below. Later we swam in that plunge pool and small, iridescent blue bee-eater kingfishers darted and dived above us flashing like jewels in a crown. It was a magic moment.

A large goanna, the size of a fox terrier dog, ambled around the camp as we ate dinner. The ranger said he was called Charlie and not to feed him. That night, as we sat under the stars, the ranger gave a slide show about the flora and fauna of kakadu. As we lay in the hire van we could hear dingoes howling in the distance. Hearing a rustle we looked out the van window to see 2 dingoes checking around the BBQ areas. It was a surreal experience.

( when I get back home I will post some old-fashioned prints from that trip, on my memories blog, to compare them with this time…)

Back to the present: I was looking forward to Gunlom, but it wasn’t to be, the 36 kilometre track was only recommended for 4WD vehicles as it had not been graded this year and was very corrugated. Some said “you can do it, just go slow”. Matilda is at 14 years old, a middle-aged lady and has to last us many more miles as wheels, accommodation and travel companion, so, reluctantly, we missed Gunlom this time.

Now we are up to day 5 and have come in to the small township of Jabiru. We are staying in Kakadu Lodge caravan Park and it is very civilised. Power, shady grass sites, internet, swimming pool, even a bar/bistro with entertainment tonight. So we are going to have a meal over there and chill out for a couple of days before the next part of Kakadu which will be moving into the stone country and exploring the Aboriginal art work sites and culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, australian travel, camping australia, caravan park, Kakadu National Park, National Parks, Northern Territory | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

The warm, balmy tropical winter weather of Northern Territory, we love it…

The climate is now tropical, a warm 30-32 degrees during the day and only drops to approx 16-17 at night. The sun shines from a clear blue sky. I have stowed away the oil heater and brought out the fan. Jack has discarded his thermals and wooly socks and I have dug out the summer shorts and tops from the bottom box, putting away the jackets, track pants and sweaters. It is now summer on the road and what we have travelled north to find.

I decided that now we do not need power to run a heater, an absolute necessity through the central desert areas when night-time temperatures can drop to 3-4 degrees, we can stay on unpowered campgrounds. So 3 days ago, when we left Katherine, we did a 20 kilometre side trip to Edith Falls National Park.

We arrived at midday and, oh dear, the swarms of people, the car park was crammed, the swimming hole was full of high-spirited, i.e. rowdy, children. We looked at each other, not our scene. So we decided to have lunch and a cuppa, then move on. Then I realised it was a public holiday; picnic day.(not sure what the significance of this holiday is). Feeling more relaxed after a sandwich and coffee we rationalized they will all be back at work and school tomorrow.So we decided we are here now we may as well walk up to the top pool and waterfall and stay the night.

Looks easy on the map…

There are a series of pools joined by cascading waterfalls. The bottom pool, where all the children are playing, is just behind the campground. A 2.6 kilometre round walk takes you up the escarpment to the top pool. a further 8 kilometre trek takes you to the headwaters. We opt for the 2.6 round walk to the top pool

What goes up must come down…

Our fitness levels are not as good as previous years so it is a leisurely, ie slow amble, to the top pool. Lots of steps and rough ground and lots of photo stops!!!! The destination was well worth the journey.

Looking down to the bottom pool from the top pool

Edith falls

After slowly lowering the hot body into the clear, fresh plunge pool below the waterfall and the accompanying gasp, it was blissfully refreshing. Not many people in this pool and only a couple of children.

Jack jumps in I take the photo then follow him

We arrive back at camp as the sun sets, turning the rocks of the escarpment to a molten gold colour.

With glass of wine in hand, feeling so relaxed,we watch the stars appear and the sky turn to velvet. The car park is now empty, all the day-trippers have gone home. It is so quiet we can just hear the distant murmur of the waterfalls.

Next morning we almost have the campground to ourselves. So for the first time this trip we set up the solar panel and decide to stay another day.

Evening reflections in the river

Escarpment reflections

Kapok flowers dance like butterflies in the bush

Grevillea native flower

Beautiful arial perspective

Smoke haze at sunset

The next day we walked part way up the escarpment to watch the sunset. It had an ethereal, mystic look as this time of the year, winter, is “cold burn” time. It is a method of management and control in the bush lands. It has been used for thousands of years by the Aboriginal traditional owners to keep undergrowth down and help prevent summer bush fires and also creates new growth which brought the wild life into their areas for food. Many of the native Australian plants actually need fire to open seed cases and start new plants growing. A very complex system. It is known as patch work burning and the air has a hazy smokey atmosphere most of the time. It is now used by National Park management too.

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, australian travel, camping australia, Northern Territory, out back, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

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