2011 March 28 – Day 82 – Jabiru (Kakadu National Park), Australia

The camping trip had taken its toll and we slept like logs our first night in Jabiru.  We had our $28 per person buffet breakfast and rested at the hotel until time to go to the airport. The one-hour flight over Kakadu Park was scheduled to leave at noon.  It was a small seven seat plane.  The pilot had a trainee in the other front seat and there was a couple from Adelaide as well as John and I.

Not far from the airport is the Ranger Uranium Mine, one of the world’s most productive unranium mines.  It is completely surrounded by Kakadu National Park.  We passed the mine on the way out, and again on the way back.Nick, our pilot, flew out to the escarpment and along the way we got a good look at the vast size of Kakadu, which is 200 km from north to south and 100 km from east to west – about half the size of Switzerland, as well as a bird’s-eye view of all the overflowing rivers and water pools.Dense foliage and huge rock formations are all over the place.We flew over Jim Jim Falls (in a normal year we could have driven out to Jim Jim).  We got a bit of a look at the semi-flooded road from the plane and really understood why the roads were closed. The escarpment is many kilometers long and extremely high.  All the waterfalls, of which there were many due to all the rain, drop straight down the rock face for hundreds of feet.  Nick was great.  He would fly past each of the waterfalls twice  in each direction so everyone could get a good look and photos.                                   More rain falling in the park.                                                    Jim Jim Falls The next big waterfall was Twin Falls.                                    Flying over the crest of the falls.

And then we saw Double Falls.

We continued over the interior of the park, much of which is inaccessible to vehicles,  4WD or otherwise. Kakadu has a 40,000-year continuous history with the aboriginal people.  There are over 5,000 recorded art sites and the entire park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural and cultural significance.

Then it was past the Ranger Mine again and back to the airport. Back on the ground, we had some lunch and then drove to the only two places that were open to traffic that were on our list of places to see.  First was a steep climb to the Nawurlandja (Now-oo-larn-ja) Lookout at the top of an escarpment.

A short distance further down the road was Nourlangie, a rock art site, where we received a lesson in place names. When we drove back into the hotel parking lot a dingo was watching from the edge of the grass.

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