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Written by Peter Smith   
Thursday, 23 April 2009 12:39
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Day 73: Monday 3rd December - Darwin to Kakadu Nature Reserve


Not so much a new day but the continuation of the night before. Made a perfect landing at Darwin at 1.30am fulfilling a forty year ambition. At last I was about to know whether my decission not to emmigrate in 1967 for the love of the UK folk scene was good or bad one. As I walked up the tunnel to customs a female airport worker coming down looked up at me and said 'g'day'. The perfect welcome to Oz.

We had heard so many bad stories about trying to get into Oz so even as we stood waiting to be processed we weren't sure of actually being allowed in. As the customs officer looked at both of our passports and the screen she leaned over to the officer next to her and said 'why does it keep saying this?' For a split second I was convinced that Visas4Oz had botched our ETAs. The other officer looked over and said 'it's ok'. We were in!

The Youth Shack Hostel was closed and in darkness when we arrived and as we stood waiting for someone to come and open up the humidity engulfed everything and within a few minutes my body had gone into meltdown. The temperature was a cool 30 degrees and I later found out it was the second hottest night in over thirty years. The humidity which is the real killer was a staggering 89%. Things only got worse when we entered the hostel and our room. I was sharing with three others and no one had thought to switch the air con on. The room must have been in the 100s. Lucky for me the others allocated me the top bunk just under the air con unit which blasted out cold air for the few remaining hours in Darwin.

Out the four of us one went and slept outside by the pool, one lay reading by the light of his torch and John and myself slept and missed breakfast which we were assured by Anne was one of the best ever. Before boarding the bus went with John to get new simcards for our phones and had my first experience of Oz sarcasm. While setting up the account Craig made polite conversation.

'Where ya from mate?'


'Pity about the cricket team'

I replied 'The gov'ts not much better'.

'Better than the one which sent convicts out here to the sand and sun'.

I should have replied pity about your rugby team or words to that effect and given him a run for his money but he caught me off guard, melting still and tired. A g'day and a dig at the English within a couple of hours of landing. I could get to like this place if it ever cools down to just boiling.

When we arrived back at the hostel our new bus with driver and guide Rick was waiting. Although he didn't start having a go at the English he had the same indifference and sense of humour as Craig. Within twenty minutes he'd given us the itinerary for the next couple of days and did it in a way that convinced everyone it would happen. No bullshit! His presentation ended to general applause and I think he was surprised by it.

Within an hour or so we were fulfilling the first event watching crocodiles jumping for food. No sooner had the boat left the river quay than the first croc made for it. As the lump of meat dangled over its head it carefully and slowly positioned itself and then lifted a good third of its body out of the water snapping at the bait. After a couple more attempts he was allowed to grab the meat and our attention was drawn to croc two on the other side of the boat.

Our attention was being drawn to each new croc by the none stop Ben Elton type talking captain.

'Who they're mean ladies and gentlemen.

Pure killing machine ladies and gentlemen'.

And they'll eat you ladies and gentlemen if you given em the chance.

'And when it's hot and sticky like today and your by a welcoming cool looking pool of water you'll given em the chance'.

'There everywhere ladies .... and so on and so on'.

Intermindled with all this showmanship blurb he also gave us the statistics how crocs were hunted to extinction, before being protected for the past 30 years. They will only eat something smaller than its' own body size and are only now again reaching the size of mankillers. Every year more people are being attacked and this will increase as the crocs getter bigger. They live a similar age to humans and grow at the same rate. Most of the specimens we encountered were, according to the voice, about 3 metres long and would kill given the chance when hungry. Much of his comments were intended as a serious warning to people not to swim if the sign says not to.

'Hoo and you will ladies ...' and so on etc. Why would anyone be stupid enough to swim with crocodiles?

After the hour feeding the crocs we were entertained by two beautiful three to four foot long water pythons who didn't seem to mind being wrapped round people's necks etc. We were told to go and wash our hands, arms etc if we had sun tan lotion on.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2009 13:24