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Jabirou - Escarpment flight - Bowali - boat trip - Darwin

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

semi-overcast 41 °C
View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I must have needed the sleep, I dozed for 12 hours! I do feel better for it this morning, so that makes it all worthwhile. Breakfast is not included today, but we end up eating in the hotel as there is nothing else in the vicinity. The food is very average and overpriced. Typical Holiday Inn.


Our first activity today is an optional flight over the escarpment. Barry initially assumes that no-one wants to participate, there is only us and another couple (Helen and Bob) left on his trip, but we soon put him right. We always want to take any pleasure flight available. We like flying. This flight is moderately spectacular, with varied scenery of wetlands, escarpment, a rock bridge, and an ugly Uranium mine.










The pilot suggests leaving the windows open in the plane to keep the temperature down, but it makes it exceedingly windy in the back seat where I am. The pen on a string around my neck flies off as does the note book out of my pocket. My face tingles for a very long time afterwards, a most peculiar sensation.



Our stop at the Bowali Cultural Centre is somewhat forgettable. The discomfort of the heat, the aggravation of the flies, the pain in my chest and the inconvenience of my tummy upset all add to increase my disinterest. There are stuffed animals and stories of aboriginal culture but it all goes in one ear and out the other.

Of greater interest is Ubirr Rock where we climb the escarpment to see many ancient rock paintings. The setting is dramatic and we are impressed by the knowledge of the local aborigine ranger.







The attitude of the Australian aborigines fluctuates from one extreme to the other. Some, like the ones we encounter here, are very proud of their heritage and spend their time showing it off to travellers, whereas others squander their lives and valuable legacy by spending their days in a drunken stupor. There is something in their bodily make-up that means they cannot tolerate large amounts of alcohol, hence the number of drunken aborigines seen around the area and the growing problem of alcoholism amongst these people. It’s such a shame.

Lunch is a traditional Australian Barbecue. There is a choice of buffalo burgers, chicken satay or barramundi. David and I are the only ones who choose the chicken, and I must say it does not taste right. The texture is all wrong and it feels very greasy. The salad is nice though. With another dose of diarrhoea, I try out the long drop ‘dunny’ across the road. Not a pleasant experience!

Today’s cruise is more cultural than a wildlife experience, with two aboriginal guides explaining about the local traditions including fishing and hunting.





The only exiting wildlife spotting is a few crocodiles and a white cockatoo. While we go ashore a very large croc is spotted in the water nearby, and when we notice its previous track on land between us and the boat, a general unease develops. Helen rushes back to the boat and the rest of us are not far behind. Bob left his glasses on the jetty and lost his head net on the boat. He would get on my nerves after a while – just as well we are only with them for two days.





In Jabirou we pick up eight more people who have been out on a day trip and head back to Darwin along the straight and boring highway. A great opportunity to sleep. I wake up for the giant termite mounds; they are very imposing at 20 ft high.


The last stop is for a view of the sunset at Window on the Wetlands Visitors Centre. The building is very modern with a well laid out display and a pleasant veranda for drinks and nibbles. What a civilised way to end the day, although the sunset is rather an anticlimax.



It transpires that other people on the coach were going to Bali too and had to rearrange their travel schedules following the terrorist bomb there the week before we left the UK.

Back in Darwin, we check into the Mirambeena Resort again before venturing out on town for dinner.




Walking a couple of blocks we recognise a couple from the coach in a restaurant window, but we carry on to a particular road David had read contains many good restaurants. He is right. We choose a bar / restaurant called Rorke’s Drift where there are available seats outside on the pavement. To David’s delight they serve cider on tap and we enjoy a couple of pints while perusing the menu. We order another cider and some food - steak for David and a Caesar Salad for me. David thoroughly enjoys watching the young girls walking past on their way to a night out, dressed to the nines in next to nothing. Young men are cruising the streets in their high performance cars looking for the aforementioned babes. Unfortunately an inebriated aboriginal woman becomes very raucous and is shouting and swearing while swaying to the music outside the restaurant. Sitting outside is lovely, it’s hot but there is a slight breeze making it bearable. That is until the rain appears. We swiftly move to a table under the awning while we enjoy another couple of pints of cider. The shower intensifies, it’s absolutely torrential for a while, but luckily it has ceased by the time we walk back to the hotel.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:54 Archived in Australia

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