Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

8-Jun-2005
   
We have left Kakadu to travel northwest to Darwin, the most northerly point on our trip around Oz. We based ourselves in a nice little caravan park about 20kms from the city, which was a good choice as we bumped into the people from Perth who we had met at Daly Waters several days previous. Darwin was totally wrecked by Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory had an interesting display describing the events that took place that Christmas. As the cyclone arrived it tore off sheets of corrugated iron used for roofs and walls of a lot of houses. Then it all died down as the eye of the cyclone passed directly over the city. Then the winds built up again but from the other direction and much stronger throwing the shattered sheets all over the place in winds in excess of 225km/hr. Pretty scary stuff! Cyclone Tracey was a Category 4 cyclone but in December 1998, a Category 5 cyclone named Thelma threatened the city. With winds gusting up to 300km/hr people were getting a bit anxious but fortunately the cyclone stayed offshore and the city escaped the worst of it. Prior to the cyclones, Darwin was bombed fairly heavily during WWII and there are several monuments and sites relating to wartime activities. So with all this destruction going on, apart from a handful of old buildings, Darwin is a modern looking city with trendy new marinas and sprawling suburbs.

After a day looking around the city, we spent the next doing the housework, getting the car serviced, topping up the groceries and charging the batteries. The following day we took a day tour with Hunter Safaris up the nearby Adelaide River in a small flat-bottomed boat. This was a great day out and would highly recommend it if you are passing this way, they take a maximum of 8 people so you get personal attention and they go to places where no other tour boats go. The river is tidal and the level changes by several metres each day. Although the water is fresh where we visited, it looked like brown soup. Not very inviting if you wanted to go for a swim. In fact its probably one of the worst places you could think of for swimming as its full of thousands of crocodiles and to back them up, bull sharks. Here are some of the creatures we spotted. This is a Jabiru, a tall stork like bird with a strong beak, red legs and blue feathers on its neck. They grow to about 1.3mtrs tall. The females have yellow eyes.

Jabiru - the females have yellow eyes

JabiruJabiru
White Breasted Sea Eagle

A White Breasted Sea Eagle put on a display for us flying close to the boat to allow us to get some snaps of its 2mtr wingspan.

White Breasted Sea Eagle

This bird had a nest and we saw a couple of immature youngsters flying around. Here is the same bird coming in for the kill.

White Breasted Sea Eagle coming in for the kill Just look at those claws!

White Breasted Sea Eagle
Raven We had a BBQ lunch in the bush alongside the river closely watched by a Raven.
Goannas were also on the lookout for scraps of food. Goanna
Salty
Salty

And of course there were the Salty's or Estuarine Crocodiles who will eat just about anything they can get hold of.

Estuarine Crocodile - Salty

The guide advised us to keep our arms inside the boat as these crocs can jump up to 3mts out of the water. The sides of the boat were only about 60cm above the water! The crocs pictured above were 4 or 5mtrs long but even this 70cm youngster would make a meal out of a finger or two given half a chance! Its about 12 months old.

One year old salt water croc

Baby croc
We also spotted quite a few other birds, frogs and in the distance some enormous buffalos.