May 2013: I had long dreamed of visiting the Northern Territories outback of Australia that inspired the movie Crocodile Dundee and even though i lived in Australia for a few months when I was 20, I never made it out this way. Since I was in the neighborhood in Timor-Leste, I decided to fly to Darwin, rent a car and explore Kakadu national park for 4 days. To keep costs down I camped every night in my tent. Northern Territories didn’t disappoint. I was worried it would be an overcrowded national park because of its notoriety but it wasn’t crowded and most hiking trails I had to myself. I am a huge fan of reptiles too and the crocs of the Northern Territories and there was no shortage of sightings of them on this trip. Especially the Adalaide Rive are the biggest in the world and the population is the largest in the world at 100,000.

 

Kakadu National Park

Aborigines

The only native Australians are the aborigines, and they are credited for being the oldest living culture on Earth. They have developed a close connection with their land and feel completely comfortable living off of it and are known to just go on a ‘walk about” or long multi-day or week walks into the wilderness to forage and hunt and to become better-connected with nature. They have sadly like many native peoples around the world who have had their land taken from them and their way of life completely altered, become prone to depression and substance abuse. In my time in Australia, I commonly encountered intoxicated aborigines that walked through the cities in a complete lifeless stupor. When I arrived in Darwin, Northern Territories where many aborigines live, it was no different. As soon as I left immigration and exited the airport, there were barefoot aborigines at the airport that were wildly intoxicated and wearing ragged clothes. They appeared to be wandering aimlessly through the airport. I would also learn that alcohol was banned in their communities in the Kakadu area, tourists were exempt and even the gasoline at petrol stations in their communities had a kind of fuel that was modified so that it was more difficult to sniff. Every year aborigine kids were dying from sniffing gasoline to get high, and it was killing their brain cells and in some cases the kids. It was sad to see such an amazing culture collapsing. Although I did see one glimpse for their culture when I was in Kakadu national park. When driving in a remote stretch of the road far from any infrastructure, I saw an aborigine man walking along the inside of the forest on the side of the road. When I asked an Australian what he was doing, he responded that he was on a walk about. Where I really wanted to go but didn’t have time is to the vast Aborigine reserve called Arnhem Land just across from Kakadu. It is one of the last places in Australia where aborigines still carry out many of their traditions and are able to still live off the land. For a price, it is possible to live on a village in Arnhem Land and hunt and explore their land with them. This is something I will return to do someday.

 

Kakadu National Park

On the way to Kakadu, I had to take a boa trip up the Adaleide River, famous for its giant crocodiles that are among the largest wild ones I have ever seen. The Adaleide River isa wild muddy river where crocs have never been hunted and as a result they have grown to enormous sizes. Boat operators feed the crocodiles chickens from the side of the boat and the crocs seem to be accustomed to their boats and appear out of nowhere as soon as we arrived at certain parts of the river. The experience was very Jurassic Park like.

 

Wild Crocs of Adaleide River

Wild Crocs of Adaleide River

Wild Crocs of Adaleide River

Wild Crocs of Adaleide River

The highway to Kakadu was lonely and passed monsoonal forest wilderness and there were few if any towns along the way. My only company was the large truck trains carrying up to three huge trailers each. Once in Kakadu, I camped in a wilderness campsite for one night infested with mosquitos and warning signs everywhere about wandering crocodiles at night on land. For the remaining nights I camped in a different campsite with more amenities and a pool with a bar, where I would unwind after hiking all day in the humid forests. I hiked some incredible trails with abundant wildlife and aborigine rock art, I swam in Jim Jim Falls, maybe the most beautiful waterfall I have ever been to, and I took another crocodile boat trip.

 

Typical rock formation in kakadu

Kakadu Forest

Small paddymelon, kakadu

Aborigine Rock Art

Cockatoos 

Kangeroo mouse who hopped

When I saw this massive 12′ black headed boa on the side of the road I raced out to see him but giving him distance until I could determine he wasn’t a brown snake- a highly venemous snake. 

Vast wetlands of Kakadu

Swimming in a pool of a waterfall that I was told only had the freshwater alligators that were not mean like crocodiles. 

Me swimming in Jim Jim Falls

Jim Jim Falls

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