Sunday, March 23, 2008

Australia Log Part 4

[Posted for my brother, who is on vacation in Australia]
Last day with kakadu and in darwin. Flight tomorrow is 6am. We get back in town at 6pm.

Ouch. Next time, I must plan a little better, but its tough.....more time spent leisurely means less time spent looking. But the alternative is a crazy packed schedule. Yucks.

Anyway!!!! Woke up at 6:30am......spent a few minutes mucking around and then woke up proper. Checked my camera, hey! It worked!

Splotch on the lcd, doubt it affects PQ, but will worry about that later.

We had breakfast after the usual morning duties....found out brinny had to sleep in the tenthouse due to someone stealing her bed! Grrrrr!

Still, she was in good spirits. We went off after breakfast to see the rock arts. As one of the more accessible spots, it was filled with tourists and even had a tour bus.

The last few days felt more like a regular camping trip with lots of leisure times spent around swims and whatnots.....today was the cultural and enrichment days....(Link to rock art stuff) for those interested.

The rock arts were interesting....some of them were 10k years old, some as recent as 40 or 50 years ago.......far more interesting was that most aboriginie arts is now on other mediums as they don't really have an attachment to the medium, but just the arts.

After an hour or so, we went to jajidu airport where jules caught a plane to see the jimjim falls. One hour of sightseeing by air, I thought about it but decided I'd rather save my money for other stuff.

She looked tired after her flight but said the flight was worth it. :)

We lunched in the meantime (same as yesterdays, sandwiches + leftovers)....and watched the videos they had in the visitors center.

Our next stop was at the bowali national park HQ. Another touristy stop and I picked up a ton of fliers and sent off my first postcards....heehee

Later on, about an hours drive, we stopped at a couple of termite mounds. These giants were really impressive and the biggest one easily stood at 4m tall. We stood around and took some pictures. Des later explained that termite science isn't as popular as other areas of etymology....hence not too much was understood as the other insects (I think its BS....), but did explain that one theory why they build up so high is so that in case of fire or drought, they have a vast food supply.

One of the mounds was also dead from attack of the ants....

And then that was it. One last pit stop and we were off back to darwin.

Last thoughts

1) The trip probably could be done cheaper if you were willing to drive a 4x4 and pre plan a lot. You could probably stay a little bit more comfortably as well with aircon lodges every night. The tour didn't do anything that you really couldn't do yourself.
2) A lot of how much fun you have on tours like these is expectations, group, and guide. We had a good guide, a GREAT group, and lots of good non-raining weather.
3) A bit too much swimming. I'd have liked to visit more sights than to swim as much as we did. That said, the swims were very very relaxing and I enjoyed it extremely so. The falls were beautiful if not majestic, and I really only missed the JimJim falls and the two tower falls (closed due to road conditions).
4) Great group. It really stands to reason, but we got very lucky we weren't in a larger group. With 9 of us and all of us willing to help with every task, all meals became fun, and everyone was in great spirits. In the larger groups that we saw, I saw a lot of splintered groups, and even with two guides, probably didn't get the care and attention that we got from our guides.

Also the seating arrangement of our LandCruiser was great. We sat facing each other and everyone had a view....also lots of conversation and fun was had due to us actually seeing each other. That wouldn't happen in a bus configuration where mostly you'd see the back of the person in front of you.
5) Also, 3 days is about right. Two days would have been rushed, 5 days might feel stretched (plus you'd get sick of your fellow tourists), so for my money, I recommend the 3 day tours.

My recommendation? If traveling in a group of 3 or more, self tour is a good alternative, otherwise for a good time, lots of in-car nap time, and quite a bit of adventure, get on a tour! :)

Also.....dry season, April to October is good as more sights are open. I was constrained by my schedule, but still had a great time. April would be best because the waterfalls are still full, but you get all sights. Temps are still high.....high of 30s and low of 17s in the evening......humidity is also lower, but honestly, you'd be hard pressed to say that's really comfy unless you compare to 33s in the day and 25s at night. :)

Do be prepared to spend about two to three hours on the road no matter what you do though. That's just how far darwin is from kakadu.

That's all for day four. Later in the evening.....brewskis with all my tour mates and some errands (towel!) And chores (laundry!). :)

Tomorrow, 4am wake up. Bleagh.
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