Billabongs, buffalo, wallabies, giant termite mounds, crocodiles, all against a backdrop of immense craggy outcrops, lotus-clad floodplains and lofty eucalypts and paperbark trees – all quite a change from the sweet summer green of Blighty. Here it`s raw and primeval – bleached by the sun, and I love it.
I am in the remote Wildman Wilderness Lodge on the edge of Kakadu National Park, in the just categorised national park of Mary River. Read more about the actual lodge in my other post here.
By chance, the name of Mary River hit the world headlines a few days ago thanks to someone getting munched by a salty – aka a saltwater crocodile. “Stupid drunk” is the defunct young man`s epithet around here – as there`s little sympathy for anyone diving into a croc-infested river. Salty itself is a misnomer as in fact these crocs thrive happily in fresh water to reach gigantic lengths – in this case the culprit was thought to be about 5 metres long.
Yesterday I crossed the same river (safely ensconced in a van with a bunch of other visitors) en route to Arnhemland. On our long trek back, our driver carefully steered past no fewer than six salties (a couple just visible in pic below) blithely swimming across the flooded road. As tidal rivers bring huge rises & drops in water level, you never know what awaits you. Living on the edge alright.
Then, in total contrast, came the peaceful expanse of waterlilies on a boat-trip across the floodplains early this morning – plus flocks of birds winging above us – whistling ducks, egrets, magpie geese, jabiru – you name it, they flew past us, some 700 species I was told. Water-buffalo were there too, wallowing happily ever since they’d been dropped off a couple of centuries ago as useful fodder for passing ships.
Then, back at the Wildman Wilderness lodge (where incidentally London`s gregarious mayor Boris stayed with his family last week, wowing the staff with his prowess on a bike), I sat outside on my deck counting wallabies. Hop hop hop they bounced past cheerfully – what a way to start the day.