After the very early mornings on our Red Center camping trip we were happy to be able to sleep in until 8 am. We ate some breakfast in our room then caught the shuttle to the airport for our 11:20 flight to Darwin. It was a two hour flight and we arrived in cloudy, steamy conditions. The Top End, as the Darwin area is called, was still in the wet season. The rain should have been slackening off as it was near the end of the wet, but 2011 was an exceptionally wet wet season. The area had already received 2735 mm (over 107 inches) of rain that season with no end in sight. By the end of the wet season the Darwin area had received 2918.4 mm (114.75″) of rain over 147 rain days, the third highest rainfall ever recorded. Records were broken all over the state, especially during February when they received over 100 mm (almost 4″) beyond the previous all-time record. Several communities had to record underestimates of rain because their rain gauges filled to overflowing.
Our 4 WD rental car was a brand new Toyota Prada with under 70 kilometers on the odometer. The hotel was quickly found, breakfast groceries purchased, dinner restaurant located and laundry done. That, and photo sorting, was the activity for the day.The next day we drove 260 km (161.5 miles) to Jabiru in Kakadu National Park. Kakadu is a huge park in the Top End. It encompasses wet lands, plateaus, forests and very impressive rock escarpments. On the way to Jabiru we stopped at a wetlands overlook. The Adelaide River is home to numerous species of waterfowl. It wasn’t breeding season so there were not nearly as many birds as there can be but we still did see some in ponds. We had specifically rented a 4 wheel-drive vehicle so we could navigate the rough unpaved roads in Kakadu that went to the places we wanted to go. However with the excessive rainfall most of the roads we had planned to travel were closed to traffic due to flooding. We found out at the Wetland Interpretive Center that only 2 of the 9 places we wanted to go were open, and they were both on the paved main road. All of the dirt roads were flooded and still closed. Termite mounds.
A dingo, Australia’s wild dog.We stayed at the Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru (looking down from above, the $16 million building is shaped like a crocodile – the world’s largest) and as we were getting ready for bed that night it began to rain. I have never experienced rain like that before. There were no drops. Water came down in a sheet; it was like looking through a window. I don’t know how much rain fell but it lasted over an hour. (The day before they had received 29mm – almost an inch and a half – of rain in 24 hours.) It was amazing! I was very glad we were inside when it started. Wet would not even begin to describe your condition if you had been caught outside. Since we would be unable to drive to see the main sights, when we arrived in Jabiru we booked a one-hour airplane flight for the next day that would cover much of the park and take us over the two main waterfalls that were inaccessible by road.