Australia July 2006, Part 3
After Litchfield we headed east to Kakadu National Park. The winter rains create huge wetlands here that support an amazing amount of wildlife. As we were visiting during the dry season the waters were receding and the wetlands-based wildlife was concentrated into a relatively small area. We took a sunrise cruise on the Yellow Waters area and saw a number or large Crocs and amazing numbers and types of bird life.
The Aboriginal people have been living in the Kakadu area for many thousands of years and have adapted well to the cycle of wet and dry seasons. Rock art sites are located throughout the park. We visited the Nourlangie area which features some terrific panels, some thought to be more than 20,000 years old. This painting depicts Nabulwinjwulbinj, who eats females after striking them with a yam.
Not only is the rainforest beautiful here, but it also comes right down to some stunning tropical beaches - this one is Cape Tribulation Beach.
We spent the better part of a day at Emmagen Beach, a few km north of Cape Tribulation. There was what appeared to be a large swimming hole in the middle of the road so we walked the last part of the way. Perhaps this explains why we only saw two other people there. Zane made himself busy opening coconuts which turned out to be very tasty.
Even more amazing is that right offshore from all of this is the Great Barrier Reef itself. This is the only place in the world that 2 World Heritage Areas (the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef) adjoin each other. We took a boat out to Undine Cay and Reef, about 12km offshore. Tana dove, Glenn snorkeled, and Zane relaxed on the boat. It really was as beautiful as you hear about. We'd like to go back when the water is a bit warmer.
After Kakadu it was back through Darwin before flying to Northern Queensland - finally the tropics! The bird life in Australia is quite amazing. One thing we could not get used to is the fact that wherever we went (desert, rainforest, whatever) there were parrots, and often several kinds of parrots. In Port Douglas we visited the Rainforest Habitat and had "Breakfast With The Birds" inside one of the aviaries. As you can see the Lorikeets were happy to join us.
In Queensland we spent most of our time around Cape Tribulation, so named by Captain Cook as this was where his ship got stuck in the Great Barrier Reef and nearly sank. The rainforest in this area is one of the oldest in the world and incredibly diverse. It is also home to the Southern Cassowary, Australias largest native land animal, now endangered. We saw several during our visit, definitely the strangest bird I have ever seen!
It was tough to top all of that, but we tried anyway. On our way back to Cairns we took a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway which runs about 7.5km from a Cairns suburb to the town of Kuranda. Being on top of the trees really gives you a different perspective on the forest but we all agreed we would prefer to walk around in it down on the ground.