We walked to Britz from our hotel (about a half hour hot walk) to pick up our campervan around 10am. After much debate, we decided to take their expensive insurance for piece of mind and rather than to leave with them a $7500 bond (that they would actually debit from our card). The ladies there at the Britz rental company were helpful even though we were disappointed our van looked quite old and showing a lot of wear and tear. The inside was also very cramped, not much bigger than our Toyota minivan at home. We wrapped up some last minute grocery shopping and by 2:30pm we were finally on our way. First stop Kakadu National Park, a 3 hour ride from Darwin.
Kakadu National Park is the pride of Australia and the Northern territory. Encompassing almost 20000 sq km it holds a spectacular ecosystem and boasts over 280 species of birds and diverse wildlife. It also holds a high concentration of ancient rock art. Above and below: black red-tailed cuckatoo Above: dingoe, below: wallabieWe were there at the beginning of the dry season so the weather was still hot and humid and a lot of roads flooded and inaccessible.That evening, we were tired so we pulled pretty much in the first campground we saw. The campgrounds here in Australia (or at least so far that we have seen in the Northern territory) are definitely not very well managed and organized as in the US National parks, which can be good and bad.Above: getting our campervan organized
Our first night was very hot, muggy with lots of mosquitoes and other bugs managing to getting in through the screens. A heavy rain storm came through and we thought “great, it’s going to cool down”, but as it started raining, the water was getting in the van and we had to close the windows! We were then in a real sauna with mosquitoes buzzing all around. The fan that Britz had offered us for a $16 rental fee and that we had turned down started to look really good about now! We spent the night taking turns fanning ourselves with a wooden hand fan we had bought in Cambodia and counting our mosquito kills, most of them came with a bloody splat (the damage was already done).We got up the next morning sticky, itchy and tired from the very few hours of sleep we got but decided to go explore anyway. We were also determined to go find and buy a fan.We started the day with a short 3kms hike at Mamukala wetland, a nice birdwatching spot. Above and below: sulphur-crested white cuckatooWe then stopped at the visitor center and got advice on the park and where to buy a fan. Hallelujah, the store in the small town of Jabiru inside the park had a desk fan….granted for $35, but at this point we did not care!!
We wrapped up our day with a visit to scenic Nourlangie to see the indigenous rock art. The next day we got up super early to catch a sunrise cruise on the yellow river. Yellow water is one of Kakadu National Park’s best known landmark and home to crocodiles, birds and other wildlife. Paperbark forests, pandanus, and freshwater mangroves line the banks, and the water is dotted with beautiful pink and white waterlilies. We caught a hefty breakfast buffet afterwards that was included in our cruise, so we stuffed ourselves.Above: one of the salties! Below: sea eagle