Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kakadu magic

It was a week ago today that I woke to the last full day of our World Expeditions Kakadu Walking Adventure. The previous night had been so bright with the almost-full supermoon flooding my tent with light - it was so warm that we all removed the outer canvas of our dome tents and slept under the mesh lining - that I had to use an eyemask. Even then, I was woken by dingos howling and the shriek of curlews, which sound like someone being strangled. (They're not alone in this: to me most Australian birds sound like either attack victims or as if they're gurgling their last. They don't, as a rule, do tuneful.)
It was another hot day, and our walk through the strawy speargrass to Kurundie Falls was a sweaty business - and that was before Dan, our guide, took us off-track for a bit of "bush-bashing". We followed him through burn-outs and along a creek, scrambling over rocks and working our way up to what turned out to be a pretty decent waterhole, filled by falls from the overflowing upper pool and surrounded by smooth, shiny polished rocks 4.5 billion years old. Personally, I could have done with less age and more traction, but then rock-hopping isn't, I discovered on this trip, my forte. Nor is rock-climbing, and I couldn't make it up to the top pool, so I was glad when, after more sweaty work along tracks less travelled, we reached Motorcar Falls.
This was so worth the effort: a big, clear plunge pool beneath ancient orange cliffs down which a dainty waterfall drifted (it would be a very different scene in the Wet - the sign warns of 'turbulent water'). The temperature was perfect, and beside the bottom of the falls was a crevice in the rock that went about 15 metres into the dark. When I reached the far end and turned around, the light shining through the water from outside was the most glorious, and spectacular, green.
Though all this was just gorgeous, what made this waterhole perfect was the huge slab of flat rock beside it - perfect for our picnic lunch, and for sitting on the edge of watching a small drama between a presumptuous yabbie (freshwater lobster) and a turtle. Nobody wanted to leave.
But better was to come: perfect reflections in the plunge pool back at the campsite as the sunset turned the rock an even more vibrant orange, and then an amazing dinner of roast lamb with gravy, and roast vegetables with melted Brie, wine of course, and then chocolate, eaten sitting around the open fire it was all cooked on. And no mozzies! Magic.

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