Month: September 2015


Sunday, September 27, 2015

DSC_0238St. Paul’s Anglican Church is where Anglicans and Lutherans (!) worship together here so I felt right at home though I couldn’t recognize much about the service that came from either denomination other than the Prayer for Purity. The Warratah Girls Choir that travels internationally (Midland maybe???) offered an extraordinary quality of music.

Yvonne introduced herself as a former CMS missionary who worked in an aboriginal community and has retired to Katherine. Marie, an aboriginal woman told me that she moved into Katherine to be near her son who needs medical treatment but is planning on going back to the country because she misses “bush tucker.”

Laundry is done and we are off to the pool. This evening will include dessert at The Big Fig café, perhaps with a glass of wine. Who knows when we’ll find food this fine again.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

DSC_0231We chose the half day canoe – really a kayak, paddle up to the first gorge on the Katherine River. Perhaps we are becoming a bit jaded by the rocks and scenery but it proved a disappointment. The full sun and heat has something to do with it too.

DSC_0234High cliffs lined the river interspersed with sandy banks that had signs to keep off as these are the nesting grounds for crocodiles.

This afternoon is lounging by the campground pool and groceries in town.

Dinner was Australian prawns in butter with garlic, ginger and onions with local mangoes and thick Greek yoghurt. To die for!

Gunlom Campground to Katherine

Friday, September 25, 2015

DSC_0228An early start had us on the walk to the upper pools at Gunlom before most of the rest of the campground. 70 metres of clambering up rocks brought us to 3 pools fed by a trickle down the waterfall. It was glorious after the moderately strenuous, for me, hike.

DSC_0229Imagine 3 rock pools varying in size with the largest 15’ x 30’ green and cool enough to be refreshing. The pools are separated by rock that you can slide over on your belly. The lip of the pool farthest from the water-trickle looks out into – nothing but sky. This is nature’s perfect infinity pool.

By the time the place was becoming full (maybe 25 people) we were on our way down and on the road to Katherine. Geoff drives the corrugated dirt roads as if he’s done it all his life. Highlight of the trip back? Two small termite mounds one dressed in a t-shirt, the other in underpants!

We dropped Celia at the bus which will get her to Darwin for her flight home to Sydney tonight. She has been a wonderful travelling companion and helped us find our way throughout Kakadu. We discovered an unexpected gem right in the campground – The Big Fig Bistro operated by two foodies from Melbourne. It was a magical evening with outdoors tables and lights, white tablecloths, local barramundi with mango salsa from mangoes grown right here in the park, a fine hot lamb curry for Geoff all washed down with sauvignon blanc from South Australia – and a 2 minute walk to our tent. Very special!

Cooinda to Gunlom

Thursday, September 24, 2015

DSC_0208Morning swim by pool and saw on the TV screen of the Volkswagon emissions scandal and the positive news that Mohammed Fahmy has been granted a presidential pardon in Egypt.

On the road just before noon, we DSC_0212saw what appeared to be a column of smoke rising not far from the road. Instead it was a willy willy, circular winds that draw up leaves, twigs and debris into the air. In the southern U. S. they call them dust devils.

Kilometre after kilometre of dry, often burnt or freshly recovering gums, rocky outcrops then 40 km along an unpaved corrugated road to the Gunlom campground and plunge pools

The ranger said that there are no saltwater crocs which are the aggressive ones and that the freshwater crocs in the plunge pool stay away from people. Though we didn’t see any crocs while swimming, I thought I could mischievously title today, “Swimming with Crocs!”

Wild horses graze on the edge of the campground. Like the feral buffalo and pigs they are a menace to the environment with their hard hooves.

Grey clouds and strong evening winds in the evening made me want to get everything under cover. In Canada they would signal rain; here the rain isn’t expected until mid-October. The few drops that fell did nothing to quell the dust or even dampen the tent.

Jabiru to Cooinda via Nourlangie

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DSC_0138Did you know that aboriginal culture has one of the most complex set of laws governing kinship relationships in the world? We didn’t until our guide this morning Christian gave us a quick introduction. Grandmothers, not mothers, teach granddaughters and aunts, not mothers, teach DSC_0144nieces. Same for grandfathers/ grandsons and uncles/nephews. This is just the beginning. While who you can and can’t marry and who you can/can’t talk to seem strange to us, these laws have helped aboriginals avoid the results of marriage within small clans. Other DSC_0163laws enable them to live in what we would consider an inhospitable land for 40,000+ years. Obviously it worked.

Anything with a name has a song, story and law – rock formations, lizards, kookaburras, eucalyptus and DSC_0183rivers. When you know the name, and follow the song, story and law there will be abundance – familiar Old Testament language. Law is a gift that leads to life, not a set of onerous duties.

When archaeologists usually excavate sites they try to determine what the items were. Imagine finding a skipping rope 15,000 years from now and trying to figure out what it was used for. At Nourlangie the aboriginals explained to the scholars exactly how each grinding rock, spear thrower, and ax was made and used. They are a living culture.

Christian and his aboriginal counterpart were planning where and when to light the managed fires in Kakadu Park after the wet season. The aboriginal said that we usually light them from this gully to this rocky outcrop just about now. Christian consulted his meteorological forecast on his phone and said that a strong wind was forecast that afternoon and suggested they wait a day. This is how Kakadu Park works at its best under joint management – the first park in the world to do so.

In the evening we saw more birds, and yet more crocodiles on the Yellow Water Cruise. Celia spotted a rare kind of bee-eater bird. Smoke from fires along the river created a haze over the red sunset.

To top off a remarkable day, Geoff had the best IPA he’s had on the trip so far!