Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

Attraction : Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Imagine a place where you can walk amongst the animals, climb above the treetops and feel on top of the world before floating back to earth.  You can experience all of these things at one place – Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome.

 

You won’t believe it until you see it for yourself, but that ornate dome atop the Reef Casino in Cairns is home to an open wildlife exhibit with various rope courses, zip lines and the opportunity to get the best view in town.

 

Wildlife Dome

Animal lovers don’t need to travel far from Cairns to get their fix.  The Cairns Wildlife Dome is essentially a small tropical zoo within a 20 metre high glass dome that showcases native Australian animals.  Built within the surroundings is Cairns ZOOm, an elaborate rope course with zip lines, a spiral staircase and a platform at the top to soak in the views of the region.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

There are various talks throughout the day so that you can learn and interact with animals such as crocodiles, snakes, koalas and various birds.  The animals are all fairly used to the presence of people so you can get up close without startling them.  One of the best presentations is the crocodile feeding, where you can see and hear Goliath the saltwater crocodile snap at morsels of meat.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

While many of the animals have their own separate enclosures, birds and small marsupials roam free in the rainforest environment.  Kookaburras, frogmouths, curlews and cockatoos are easily spotted from the ground while parrots, herons and doves fly above and can be accessed from a circular boardwalk.  There are over 400 animals within the dome, including an albino kookaburra that can turn the day into a game of hide and seek.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

While many of the animals are visible during the day, such as the turtles, crocodiles and lizards, if you stick around after sunset, the nocturnal animals come out to play.  Bettongs can be seen visiting the feeding stations, the mahogany gliders leave their cosy log for breakfast and curious pademelons are ready to meet the visitors.  While we were in the pademelon section, they were so friendly, one even hopped into Dave’s lap for a kiss.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

ZOOm Courses & Ziplines

When you enter the Wildlife Dome, the overhead ZOOm course is not hard to miss.  It is the world’s first rope course set up in a wildlife exhibit and has over 65 different crossings, including ziplines, ladders, tyre bridges, rope webs and small platforms.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

There are two ZOOm levels – the mid level course is great for beginners, kids and those who may be afraid of heights.  Once you’ve completed the Mid-ZOOm, you’re ready for the Hi-ZOOm.  This course is twice as long, with more crossings and climbs to nearly 10 metres above the floor of the dome.  The view is amazing and dizzying at the very top.  On the way down, there are three ziplines, with one that goes directly over Goliath’s pond.  Don’t worry – there’s no chance he can jump high enough to get you, and there’s even a camera set up so you can take a cool photo souvenir home.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

We were excited about getting up in the air, and the harnessing and safety processes by the friendly staff was nice and quick.  The Mid-ZOOm course was a great introduction into what we were in for with the Hi-ZOOm, and we certainly worked up a sweat.  It’s a great workout for your arms and core, trying to stay stable on wobbly bridges and holding onto ropes and rails.  For the Hi-ZOOm course, we opted for a GoPro helmet for Dave.  We are so happy to have video of the experience, especially the narrow beams at the top of the course that provide nothing to hold on to.  They reminded Juz of the photos from the 1930s of the Rockefeller building construction workers sitting on beams up in the sky.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Dome Climb

After the Zoom courses, we ducked out for lunch before returning just before sunset for the Dome Climb.  We ascended the spiral staircase that takes you up to the top of the dome and were connected to a belay system before stepping through an opening to get outside.  A tour guide was with us and she gave us a great run down on the history and geography of Cairns.

 

Needless to say, this is THE BEST VIEW OF CAIRNS, and it was even more magical at sunset.  We dangled ourselves off the edge, walked all the way around the Dome and took heaps of pictures before climbing back inside.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Power Jump

After soaking in the great views of Cairns from the Dome Climb, we had no intention of walking back down the spiral staircase, so we chose to jump down… or POWERJUMP down! The PowerJump involves stepping off a platform 13 metres high and falling at a speed of about 30km/h to land safely at the bottom.  The descent is controlled by a special fan that dissipates the potential energy and allows for a fast fall and soft landing.

 

Dave suggested Juz go first so he could film her with the GoPro.  He probably could’ve filmed from the bottom, but then you wouldn’t be able to see the expression of her face at the edge of the platform before she jumped – or to be more accurate, crumbled – and let out a nice scream on her way down.  HAHAHA!  After she landed, she promptly curled up into the foetal position.  Dave went next and owned it.  He didn’t even make a noise.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

After de-harnessing, the Dome was dark so we did another lap to meet some of the critters that come out at night.

 

We had an incredible time at Cairns ZOOm and Wildlife Dome.  The open plan of the zoo provides the opportunity to interact with some the animals, while the rope courses above are a great way to get an active thrill.  If the physical aspect of the rope course is not your cup of tea, then the Dome Climb is certainly a must do activity because those views are absolutely magnificent.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

Cooktown

Town Profile : Cooktown

Cooktown

 

We were expecting to linger around Cooktown for two nights before heading to Cairns for work, but just as we were making plans, a fantastic opportunity presented itself.  The owner of a local farm needed some help for the week, and it was just the kind of experience we were looking for.  Now that we were locked in to stay in Cooktown for a week, we had a little more time to get to know the town and the locals.

 

Fast Facts

  • Cooktown is the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia
  • It sits at the mouth of the Endeavour River, named by Captain James Cook after his ship
  • There are two seasons – the wet during December to April, and the dry from May to November.
  • The region is very rich in biodiversity because it covers three major ecozones, and therefore is a place of interest for botanists.

 

History

The traditional owners call the region Gan gaar, which means place of the rock crystals because of all the quartz crystals.

 

In 1770, Captain James Cook arrived and moored the Endeavour at the mouth of the Endeavour River for shelter and repairs after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef.  As the repairs were underway, botanist Joseph Banks and naturalist Daniel Solander explored the area and collected over 200 species of plants for documentation, and they also learnt words from the local people, like ganguru (kangaroo).  There was an artist on board, Sydney Parkinson, who was the first British person to draw Aboriginal people from direct observation.

 

Cooktown

 

In 1872, gold was discovered on the Palmer River southwest of Cooktown and the site was populated by many diggers from all over the world.  Cooktown was selected as the port through which the gold was exported and supplies were imported.  Two years later, Cooktown’s population grew to approximately 4,000 people and it was established as a town.

 

These days, Cooktown’s population is less than 2,000.  It has reached the status of a tourist destination because of its relaxed atmosphere and proximity to Cape York, the Great Barrier Reef, Lakefield National Park and the rainforest.

 

Cooktown

 

Points of Interest

The James Cook Museum

Whether you’re interested in the landing of James Cook in 1770 or not, a stroll through this fantastic museum is a must.  See the original anchor of the Endeavour, learn about Cooktown’s Chinese history and local aboriginal culture, and discover the original use of the museum building.  Fascinating stuff…

 

Cooktown

 

Nature’s Powerhouse & Botanic Gardens

Essentially, Nature’s Powerhouse is Cooktown’s Visitor Information Centre.  Get a map, stroll through the neighbouring Botanic Gardens or have a toasted sanga and a coffee on the deck.

 

The gallery and museum are also worth checking out if you’re interested in flora and fauna.  The Charles Tanner Gallery is a great exhibit of local animals such as snakes, bats, lizards and butterflies.  The displays were both interesting and educational.  The Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery pays tribute to an artist and botanist.  While we were there, they were showing the ‘Botanical Endeavour’ – Sir Joseph Banks’ Florilegium Exhibition from 1770.

 

 

Grassy Hill

OMG – one of the best lookouts we have come across on our journey.  Stunning views of the surrounding mountains, the Endeavour River and Cooktown.  Amazing.

 

Finch Bay

Follow Finch Bay Road all the way to the end, past the Botanic Gardens, and you’ll arrive at Finch Bay.  It’s is a great little beach with an estuary.  We saw a big crab in the shallows and wished that we’d had a net with us to scoop him up!

 

Copy of Cooktown 2014-09-28 083 Cooktown 2014-09-28 080water

 

Black Mountain

About 25km south of Cooktown is Black Mountain National Park.  It is a massive pile of granite rocks that has developed over the last 260 million years.  Due to an unusual joining patter in the granite, fracturing and exposure to water has caused erosion and weathering of the boulders, but while the surface is just a mess of boulders, the solid granite core is underneath.  There are three animals that are completely unique to the park – the Black Mountain boulderfrog, skink and gecko – making Black Mountain one of the most restricted habitats in Australia.

 

The early settlers and local indigenous folks both have stories and rumours about quite a few people (often criminals) venturing into the caves among the giant black boulders and getting lost.  Whilst the people have never been seen again, the locals reckon you sometimes still hear them…

 

Cooktown

 

Food & Drink

Cooktown Hotel

This was the first pub we visited, and for a Saturday afternoon, it was fairly busy.  Then we remembered – AFL Grand Final weekend.  We sat outside in the beer garden and had a lovely lunch of pizza and parma before getting on with the rest of the day.

 

Cooktown 2014-09-27 048

 

Cooktown Café

More like cranky-pants café!  The owner of the store had a serious attitude problem, but the coffee was good, which is why people keep coming back.  We found out later that the owner had had a tiff with his partner the night before and was therefore in a particularly cranky-pants mood that day.

 

The Italian (aka De Wogs)

Opposite the road from the Top Pub is a popular Cooktown institution that dishes out mountains of risotto and pasta, tasty pizzas made with fresh ingredients, as well as Chinese food at a dearer than average price.  While Juz’s soggy but yummy parma lacked ham and chips, Dave’s capricciosa pizza was perfection, but to be perfectly honest, neither seemed to justify the price.

 

Cooktown

 

The Lions Den Hotel

About 30km south of Cooktown is an old pub called the Lions Den.  It’s named after a mine in the area, which got its name when a stowaway named Daniel was working at the mines and while standing at the entrance of one of the tunnels, the mine’s owner said, “Daniel in the Lions Den”.

 

The pub has plenty of character, with scribbles, business cards and stickers all over the walls, as well as old hats, thongs, license plates and stubbie holders.

 

Cooktown

 

Information & Accommodation

Nature’s Powerhouse is on Finch Bay Road and is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm.  Contact them for information about Cooktown by emailing info@naturespowerhouse.com.au

 

Pam’s Place YHA – on the corner of Boundary and Charlotte Street.  To make a reservation, call 4069 5166 or email cooktown@yha.com.au http://www.yha.com.au/Hostels/QLD/Cairns-and-Far-North-Queensland/Cooktown/

 

Archer Point

About 15km south of Cooktown is the turnoff for Archer Point.  Continue along the dirt road until you get to the end. It’s a great place to camp provided you don’t set up right on a headland.  The wind is strong and constant, but the views at sunset are breathtaking.

 

Cooktown

 

Mount Isa

City Profile : Mount Isa

Mount Isa
We rolled into Mount Isa quite early in the morning, so there wasn’t much open other than a coffee shop offering free Wi-Fi.  After a coffee, we strolled around town to get our bearings before heading to the information centre to get the lowdown on the town.

 

Fuel was fairly cheap in Mount Isa, with diesel sitting at around $1.57 when we were there.  As mentioned earlier, there are places around town that offer free Wi-Fi, including the library, which is a great place to hang out to escape the heat of the day.  Coles and Woolworths offer relatively cheap groceries, a dump point with access to drinking water is located by Buchanan Park and both Optus and Telstra reception are available.

 

After checking out a few points of interest, we visited several op shops and went to the post office to collect a package that our friend in Melbourne sent us for our birthdays.  Thanks for the gifts, Chris!  Juz did some work in the library while Dave replaced the front shocker rubbers on the Troopy, and we were on our way to camp by around 4pm.

 

History

As the usual story goes, someone found lead ore while in the Mount Isa region in 1923.  A lease was pegged on the area as soon as possible, which was also named after Mount Ida – a WA gold field.  As the news spread, there were 118 new leases by the end of 1923.

 

With the establishment of Mount Isa Mines in 1924, a town was required to service the workers of the mine.  It started off as a camp and slowly more accommodation and a pub was installed.  Then a hospital, courthouse and school were built before the State Government moved in to turn it into a real town.

 

In 1943, the mine started to mine for copper to cater for WW2, and in 1946, both lead and copper were mined.  By 1955, Mount Isa Mines was the largest mining company in Australia, which meant that Mount Isa was growing and so Lake Moondarra was constructed in 1958. The population boom was so great, that in 1968, Mount Isa town was declared a city.

 

Mount Isa

 

Fast Facts

  • Mount Isa’s population is around 23,000 people.
  • The main industry is mining, which is made obvious by the enormous mine in the centre of town. It is in the top two of the largest copper mining and smelting operations in Australia.  Mining of silver-lead-zinc is also done at the mine.
  • According to the locals, there are two sides of the city, the Mineside and the Townside.

 

Points of Interest

City Lookout

This spot provided great 360° views of the city, including the mine and the information centre.  A signpost gave the distance and direction of various capital cities, and there are picnic tables nearby for those who are looking for a picturesque location for lunch.

 

Mount Isa  

 

Riversleigh Fossil Centre

Located at the Outback In Isa Information Centre, the Riversleigh Fossil Centre displays various mammalian bones collected from the Riversleigh Fossil Fields, as well as dioramas of what life and the environment would have been like tens of thousands of years ago.  The displays include diprotodonts, the largest marsupial ever to have lived in Australia, as well as the skull of a fangaroo!  The entry fee is $12 for adults, or if you’re a member of YHA Australia, you get backpacker rates.

 

Mount Isa  

 

Clonclurry

Located about 120km south east from Mount Isa, Cloncurry is a small town with a big history.  It was the home of John Flynn, the guy who established the Royal Flying Doctors Service and earned the honour of having his face put on the Aussie $20 note.  There is a museum in town that commemorates his work.

 

Mary Kathleen Memorial Park includes the Information Centre and a shaded picnic area with free BBQs, as well as a great outdoor display.  Stroll through the various historical machinery that was used for farming and mining, and learn about Australia’s first rail ambulance, a unique 1941 Ford V8 converted to a rail ambulance that operated until 1971.  There is also a rock collection next to the Information Centre to peruse.  Mary Kathleen was a nearby mine, named after someone’s wife of course.

 

Cloncurry

 

Information & Accommodation

Outback In Isa Information Centre is a great place to start to get information about the surrounding area.  Visit the Riversleigh Fossil Centre and Historical Museum, or book a tour through the Hard Times Mine.  There’s a café, gift shop and art gallery as well.

 

Mount Isa

 

Fountain Springs Rest Area – 60km E from Mt Isa. This rest area is about halfway between Cloncurry and Mount Isa and includes flushing toilets, fire pits and bins.  If you’re lucky, you can get some Telstra reception but make sure you get there early as the rest area can get a little crowded.

 

WW2 Airfield Rest Area – about 50kms W from Mt Isa, this spacious rest area offers overnight stays with toilets, bins, picnic benches and plenty of space.

 

Mount Isa

Tennant Creek

Town Profile : Tennant Creek

Tennant Creek 2014-05-28 007

 

We had just spent about three weeks in the bush.  A poorly planned shopping trip in Katherine meant we were running low on food, and the Troopy needed some desperate work on its brakes.  We rolled into town early and got to work.  Dave dropped Juz off at the library so she could keep the interwebs side of the operation up to date while he went into town to get the parts he needed to tend to Troopy.

 

Fast Facts

  • Tennant Creek is the fifth largest town in the NT, with a population of just over 3000 people.
  • It’s about 1000km south of Darwin and 500km north of Alice Springs.
  • The creek nearby was named after John Tennant, the financer for John McDouall Stuart’s unsuccessful expedition to cross the continent in 1860.
  • An Overland Telegraph Station was erected near the creek in 1872
  • In the 1930s, Tennant Creek was the site of Australia’s last gold rush.

 

These days, Tennant Creek is a fairly mellow town.  There are a few pubs and service stations, a Red Rooster and Foodland, and there are heaps of murals.  You’ll see them everywhere – on bins, buildings, bus depots, motels!  If you go to the Visitor Centre, they’ll even give you a map that indicates where all the murals are.

 

 

Lunchtime rolled around fast and we were both STARVING!  We both had fantasies of sneaking off for a small pizza at one of the establishments on the main street, but Dave collected Juz from the library at about 1pm and we headed to Mary Ann Recreation Dam to use the free gas BBQs.  We cooked up some delicious steak sandwiches before having a cold shower in the toilet block by the dam.

 

Back in town, we stocked up on food and petrol.  Petrol at the BP just on the edge of town was priced at $1.79, and Dave used the 2c discount voucher in the Central Australia brochure.  The price of fresh vegetables at Foodland was surprisingly reasonable while the price of crackers was nearly double!

 

It was 4:30pm before we left Tennant Creek, and with the intention of getting to Devils Marbles for sunset, we had to fang it south down the Stuart Highway for 108km.  Dave put his foot to the floor and managed to coax the Troopy all the way up to a rattly 120kp/h!!  We made it to the Devils Marbles just in time to see the rocks to glow red.

 

Devils Marbles

 

POINTS OF INTEREST

The Pebbles – located about 17km north of town, it’s a cosy spot for a quick, overnight camp.  While you can’t climb on the pebbles out of cultural respect, the sunset casts an orange glow over the rocks that is just wonderful.

 

 

Billy Allen Lookout – this lookout provides 360° views of town and surrounds.  Definitely worth a look.

 

Tennant Creek 2014-05-29 037

 

Devils Marbles – about 108km south of Tennant Creek, the Devils Marbles are a MUST SEE destination. Camping is available right amongst the Marbles but don’t expect any privacy because it’s a popular spot.  Also, if you want to catch the sunset, make sure you get there by 5:30pm.

 

Devils Marbles

 

INFORMATION

Visitor information is available at the Battery Hill Mining Centre.  It’sopen from 9am to 5.30pm daily and offers an underground mine tour, a museum and great views of town and the surrounding ranges.

 

Battery Hill, Peko Road, Tennant Creek
Free Call: 1800 500 879
Emailinfo@barklytourism.com.au

 

Tennant Creek 2014-05-29 040

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 2

Continued from Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 1

 

DAY 4

Bukbukluk Lookout

We got up early to check out Bukbukluk Lookout at sunrise.  It was a nice little lookout, and we later found out that bukbuk means pheasant coucal – a bird that we saw many times over the previous days.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Yurmikmik

Yurmikmik is within the Jawoyn people’s country and there are a few walking trails available.  We tried to do as much as we could but we were really tired from the day before.  We aimed to complete three walks – Motor Car Falls, Boulder Creek and the Lookout, which provided amazing 360° views of the surrounding sandstone cliffs.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

The 3.8km walk to Motor Car Falls started with a bouncy rope bridge that allowed only one person at a time.  It was the most entertaining part of the journey – the rest of the way was hot, rocky and dry.  Luckily, bush passionfruit was available along the way to fuel the long hike through grass and woodland.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Once we arrived at Motor Car Falls, we had refreshing dip in the pool before looking around.  We found some huge Golden Orb Spiders in massive webs that the butterflies skilfully dodged, and there were turtles and freshwater yabbies in the water.

 

 

On the way back, we went to Boulder Creek and it proved to be the best way to end the day.  We climbed the cascading falls and cooled off in the pretty pools.  We only went as far as the first tier, but two girls we met along the way went up even further.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Kambolgie

Because we were so exhausted from the last two days, we made our way to camp early.  When we arrived, there was smoke everywhere and fires surrounding the camp site.  As it turned out, the rangers were patch burning the area to clear the dry fodder, increase biodiversity of plants and create a firebreak to protect the campers from unexpected wildfires.  It was great to meet the rangers and watch the yellow grass burn and crackle as the flames grew.  We noticed hundreds of grasshoppers jumping around, doing their best to get away from the flames and asked the rangers about how the lizards and other critters deal with the controlled burning.  They advised us that they factor that into the path of the fire and ensure pockets of unburnt land for animals to flee to.  Before they left, the rangers also hosed down the toilets so we had clean utilities for our stay – WIN!

 

 

Kambolgie was the best camp spot, in our opinion.  There was heaps of space, drop toilets, picnic benches and fire places and while it only costs $5 per person per nights, they were not accepting payment.  Recycling bins were available at the entrance and there were NO MOSQUITOES after the sun went down.  This could have been from the back burning but it was lovely to sit by the fire and enjoy a nice glass of wine.

 

DAY 5

Ikoymarrwa

While this location isn’t marked on the map, we were given the heads up at the information centre a few days earlier.  We were unsure where the turn off was because it’s also unsigned but once we found the place, it’s just a short walk to waterfalls and swimming hole.  As you explore further down the creek, you’ll find plenty of St Andrews Cross spiders waiting for a meal.

 

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

 

Picnic facilities and a fireplace are also available – with the possibility of camping too.

 

 

We knew we had completed our Kakadu experience when we got to the Mary River Roadhouse.  Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Kakadu and our only regret is that we didn’t go in June, when all of the attractions are open.  While we only spent five days in Kakadu, but it’s so big that you could easily spend two weeks exploring the park.

 

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

Kakadu National Park

Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 1

Kakadu National Park

 

We said goodbye to Darwin after an 11 month stay and headed to our first destination – Kakadu National Park.  We were really excited to see the waterfalls and billabongs and couldn’t wait to get our boots dirty on a few hikes.

 

The name Kakadu comes from the Aboriginal floodplain language of Gagadju.  The Rainbow Serpent, a very important creation being for the Bininj Mungguy people, created most of the landscape, forming habitats and controlling the life cycles of plants and animals.

 

Kakadu was internationally recognised as a World Heritage area in 1981 for its rock art galleries and archaeological sites, and at nearly 20,000 hectares, it is the largest national park in Australia and second largest park in the world.  The traditional owners, the Bininj Mungguy, have been living in Kakadu for more than 50,000 years and are possibly the oldest living culture on earth.  The rock within the park could also be the world’s oldest rock, dating back 2,500 million years!

 

There are approximately 280 species of birds residing in the national park, which is around a third of all bird species in Australia, as well as 2,000 varieties of plants that have been used by the local aboriginals for food and medicine.  Crocodiles, or ginga, live within the park and while they are trying to increase the population since the hunting days in the 1960s, Crocodile Management Zones focus on relocating crocodiles so that the area is safe for visitors.

 

DAY 1

Bark Hut Inn

After a long drive along the highway, we stopped at the Bark Hut Inn for a beer.  Lucky for us, they had NT Draught on tap and they were particularly proud of the fact.  The Bark Hut Inn is essentially a historical pub that offers accommodation, food and fuel before hitting the national park.  It’s also the last stop for alcohol before Kakadu.

 

The place looks fairly ancient with all the dusty wood and animal heads mounted on the walls but it was erected in the 1970s.  There are some old Toyota wrecks dotted around the establishment with plaques providing information on what they were used for.  One of them had a specially designed bulbar with a platform for a person to stand on while they tried to lasso wild buffalo!  Outside, you can check out the enclosed emus and buffalo while inside, they have a pet snake and turtle.

 

 

After a schooner and a wander around the place, we continued to the Kakadu Information Bay at the entrance of the park.  We planned to sleep at Two Mile Creek but the gates were closed so we returned to the information bay for the night.

 

DAY 2

Mamukala

Our first stop for the morning was the Mamukala wetlands.  There were beautiful pink lilies, a few ducks on the water and the sound of magpie geese in the distance.  The water seemed to go on forever and the view was really lovely.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Visitor Centre

The lady at the information centre was friendly and informative but it wasn’t all good news for us – a lot of the attractions were closed due to impassable river crossings or they hadn’t been cleared of crocodiles.  Apparently, the start of the Dry Season is not the best time of the year to come.  Even though the weather is great, you still have to wait until June for evething to open.  What this meant for us is that we missed out on Ubirr, Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls and Gunlom.  Poopy…

 

Jabiru - Kakadu National Park

 

Jabiru

Jabiru is a small and simple town with a small shopping complex that consists of a supermarket that sells everything, a Westpac branch, post office, newsagency, a café and council offices.  The Kakadu Bakery is around the corner and sells pies stuffed with buffalo, roo or croc, and there is a lake at the edge of town with a playground and BBQs.

 

The Crocodile Hotel is also in Jabiru – an enormous building shaped like a crocodile, and phone reception is available with all networks.

 

Crocodile Hotel - Kakadu National Park

 

Malabanjbanjdju

Our first camp spot in Kakadu, and we were inundated with mozzies.  We shouldn’t have been surprised considering that the site is next to a lagoon, but at least it was quiet and the birdlife was lovely.

 

The Malabanjbanjdju camping area has heaps of space, drop toilets, picnic benches and fire places and is $5 per person per night.

 

DAY 3

Gubara

We had a bit of a rusty start – forgetting our hats, and being completely disorganised for our first hike in a long time.  We completed a lovely 3km walk through grassland and great scenery to cross a bridge and arrive at a fork in the road.  One clearly leads to the pools, which were clear and cool and more than welcome for a quick refreshing wash.  Tiny frogs and St Andrews Cross spiders were clearly visible in the area but we were conscious that there could be freshwater crocodiles as well.  As we rested by the waterhole, a monitor lizard sunned himself on a rock.

 

We returned to the fork in the road and followed the unmarked path to shaded waterfall.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Nawurlandja

This lookout took us up a long rocky ramp to a beautiful view of the escarpment.  This is one of our favourite lookouts and reminded us of Cave Hill in Western Australia.

 

 

Nourlangie (Burrunggui)

The Anbangbang gallery is a popular location that exhibits Aboriginal rock art. It’s an easy 1.5km loop with wheelchair access in some parts and includes a lookout.  The Nourlangie region consists of two areas.  Burrunggui is the name for the higher parts and Anbangbang is the name of the lower areas. The rock shelters in the Nourlangie area have been used by Aboriginal people for the last 20,000 years.

 

At the lookout, there’s a fork in the path to begin the Barrk walking trail.  Barrk means male black wallaroo and the walking track is a 12km circular loop that includes walking through bushland, gullies, and climbing rocky ridges to see various galleries along the way.  It’s an area that Ludwig Leichhardt passed through in 1845 and this history is reflected in the artwork.  We did a short stint of the Barrk walk to a small creek to refresh ourselves.

 

 

Mirrai Lookout

This was a very steep 2km climb to a lookout structure that was partially obscured by trees.  Signs at the top pointed out landmarks in the distance.  We stayed long enough to catch our breath before returning to the Troopy.

 

Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre

This was a quick stop to check out what was on offer.  There was an interesting exhibition inside about the aboriginals who live in this country, as well as a souvenir shop, kiosk and toilets.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

We learnt how they cooked wallaroos, and that they thought flying foxes apparently taste good.  We also learnt about the buffalo farming industry, message sticks and different types of spears.

 

As we continued south west along the highway, we crossed Jim Jim Creek and saw a crocodile in the water below!

 

Gungurul

We camped at Gungurul and did the lookout walk at sunset.  It’s a fair climb to the top with great views all the way around.  Juz’s keen eye spotted a cute little legless lizard catching the last few rays of sunlight on a rock.

 

 

The Gungurul camping area has limited spaces, with drop toilets, picnic chairs and fire places and is $5 per person per night.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 2

Echidna Chasm - The Bungle Bungles

Experience : The Bungle Bungles

The Bungle Bungles are located within Purnululu National Park, which is about 300km south of Kununurra.  The national park covers about 239,000 hectares of land and is relatively new.  The Bungle Bungles was known only by the local aboriginals and cattle farmers until 1982 and in 2003 the area was recognised as a World Heritage area because of its geological value and natural beauty.

 

The Bungle Bungles

 

The Bungle Bungles are made up of domes made from sandstone deposits from about 360 million years ago.   Over thousands of years, the sandstone has been eroded by creeks, rivers and general weathering to create the domes and chasms.  The domes at the southern end of the park are banded with orange oxidised iron compounds and grey cyanobacteria that protect the sandstone from erosion.  The Bungle Bungles is the world’s most exceptional examples of cone karst formations, meaning land that is formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks like limestone, dolomite and gypsum.  In other words, flimsy, crumbly rock has been dissolved by mildly acidic water to create a kooky shaped landscape.

 

The road into the park is about 50km of rocky, corrugated road that rises and falls over the landscape like a rollercoaster.  It’s slow going and there are also a few river crossings so it’s best to have a 4WD and allow around 2 hours to get to the Visitor Centre from the highway, and vice versa.

 

Entry fees apply to the park, but if you have a WA Parks Pass, you’re all sorted.  Camping is about $11 per adult per night, and while campfires are only allowed in designated fireplaces, make sure you bring firewood with you because you’re not allowed to collect firewood in a national park.

 

The Southern End

We started exploring the Bungle Bungles from the south.  All the walking trails were connected in some way so we managed to get all of it done in one go.

 

The Domes

A quick 1km loop to introduce you to the beehive domes of the Bungles. Check out the orange and black layering but don’t climb the domes – these layers are what protect the sandstone from erosion!

 

Cathedral Gorge

An easy walk into the gorge ends at a cavernous amphitheatre with a still pool.  The acoustics are wonderful and if you’re brave enough – SING!  The echo is magnificent and you will be awe-struck at the enormity of this place.

 

 

We also had a go of skimming some stones along the still water – our French mate Boris was by far the best at it, but Dave didn’t do too bad either.  On our way out, we encountered some bush passionfruit.  Check out our post on this bush tucker here.

 

Piccaninny Gorge Lookout

An 800m diversion from the track back to the car park will bring you to a platform that overlooks the Piccaninny Creek and surrounding domes.  The view would be absolutely spectacular at sunset.

 

We finished all the walks in two hours with a total distance of around 4.5km.  This gave us just enough time to get to the Northern End before midday.  If you’re an experienced hiker, you can register at the Visitor Centre to do the Piccaninny Gorge Walk, a 2-7 day hike into the remote areas of the gorge.  You have to bring all your gear – tents, food, water – and some of the track can be fairly difficult, so make sure you’re well prepared.

 

 

The Northern End

We made our way back to the Visitor Centre for a snack, a toilet break and a look at their book exchange before jumping back into the Troopy and heading for the northern end of the Bungle Bungles.  The landscape was very different to the south – the rocky outcrops lacked the bands of black and were smoother and more vegetated.

 

The Bungle Bungles

 

Echidna Chasm

We were given an insider tip that the best time to explore Echidna Chasm was at midday when the sun’s rays can stream down into the narrow corridor.  We were glad that we took the advice!  This unique experience takes you about 300 metres into the chasm and the way the light reflects and illuminates the path is beautiful.

 

 

Osmand Lookout & Kungkalanayi Lookout

On the way back to the car park is a track to the Osmand Lookout.  It provides great views of the Bungle Bungle Range and the Osmand Range in the distance.

 

We also checked out the Kungkalanayi Lookout on the way back to the Visitor Centre.  This lookout provided fantastic panoramic views of the Bungle Bungle Ranges on one side and the Osmand Range on the other.

 

The Bungle Bungles

 

We would have loved to do the Mini Palms Gorge walk or stick around at Kungkalanayi Lookout to watch the sun set but it was time for us to head to camp.  We were exhausted, the day was getting really hot, and we had a long drive back to the Spring Creek Rest Area.  This is a great spot to stay if you plan on exploring the Bungle Bungles.  It’s located right next to a little creek with picnic benches and fire places, there are heaps of places to set up camp and there are lots of people to chat with.  You might even have a bull graze through your campsite or find some buried treasure (hint hint)…

 

Wyndham 2013-06-02 047

Big Things : The Big Crocodile, Wyndham WA

The Big Crocodile

 

The Big Crocodile in Wyndham was built in 1987 by the kids of the community to remind locals and visitors to be aware of crocodiles in the surrounding waters.  The crocodile is 20 metres long and is made from 5.5km of steel rod, 50kg of welding rods, 10 rolls of chicken wire and 5 cubic metres of concrete.

 

The Big Crocodile

 

About Wyndham

This small, sleepy place is the oldest town in the area, and is considered to be the Top Town of the West.  It used to be a little port that was used to export cattle to Perth and overseas, but with the state’s first gold rush in 1886, Wyndham became an established town.  The meatworks became the major industry but has since closed down, so these days Wyndham survives mainly on tourism.

 

Our day in Wyndham started at Maggie Creek, a rest area about 30km out of town.  We woke up before dawn and hooned up the highway to get to the Five Rivers Lookout on top of the Bastion before sunrise.  We made it in time, and watched the sky turn pink, the fishing boats leave the wharf and the smoke rise from controlled fires scattered across the countryside.

 

 

At about 9am, we rolled back down the mountain into town and sussed out the supermarket and petrol station.  While the prices inside the supermarket were a bit steep, diesel was a bargain so we took on just enough to get us down to the Bungle Bungles and back to Kununurra.

 

We headed north to the wharf and walked along Anthon’s Landing with the hope that we’d see a croc but we didn’t.  Back in town, we visited the eerie Dreamtime Statues, which are larger than life sculptures made of bronze.  Sadly, they were vandalised with red spray paint, but Juz let herself be cradled by the scary blood-face Dreamtime statue.

 

 

Triplet Falls

Top 5 things on the Great Ocean Road

We checked out most, if not all of the tourist attractions along the Great Ocean Road and these five things stood out the most and have found themselves in the Awesome Bucket.

 

Triplet Falls, Great Otway National Park

We got lost trying to find the Triplet Falls.

 

After taking a few wrong turns, we ended up in the middle of the Otways with no reception, no sense of direction and less than a quarter of a tank of petrol.  While we didn’t end up finding the falls, there was a happy ending – we spotted a pair of deer, leaping and bounding into the forest.

 

Our second attempt was far more successful and after a brisk walk through lush green forest, the roar of the Triplet Falls was upon us.

 

 

Lorne

Of all the towns along the Great Ocean Road, we think Lorne was the best.  Relaxed and youthful atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and a foreshore park with playground and facilities.

 

 

Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne

Just outside of Lorne is a visual treasure – Teddy’s Lookout.

 

It’s a quick drive outside of town and there are two lookouts to choose from.  The upper lookout is the first one you’ll arrive at and it provides spectacular views of the George River mouth and the Bass Strait.  The lower lookout has a more southerly view and is a better viewpoint to the river and picturesque valley to the west.

 

 

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge is named after the ship of the same name, which got caught by the strong winds and current along the coast in 1878.  Knowing they were in trouble, the Captain ordered the sails to be lowered and the anchor to be dropped.  Unfortunately, the anchor didn’t catch on anything along the seabed and ended up being dragged along the sand.

 

In a final attempt, they cut the anchor and raised the sails again but to no avail, and the Loch Ard became shipwrecked against the cliffs.  There were only two survivors, Tom and Eva, who were swept to shore into the gorge.

 

Star jumps at Loch Ard Gorge

 

 

The Grotto

This stunning geological formation was formed when sinkholes in the limestone met with the receding cliffs along the coast.