Day 13, our last day in Kakadu, started out a little later than the previous three, and we were glad for the rest. We met our bus and started the drive to Ubirr Rock, where we waited for the indigenous guides to open the site and then set out on our guided tour. As we walked to the first rock art gallery, our guide pointed out two rock wallabies on a close rock. We saw lots of birds and crocs on this trip, but these wallabies were the only marsupials we saw other than from the bus. The one on the top of the rock was skittish and soon ran off when he heard us. The other one came down and stood there for several minutes, long enough for me to change camera lenses, and even looked straight at me - I thanked him for posing for the picture before we continued on to the rock art.
|Starting the day out, before we got all hot and sweaty|
|Skittish little rock wallaby|
|Isn't he cute? He looked straight at me!|
The rock art at Ubirr was more impressive to me than what we saw at Nourlangie the other day. There was one wall with a lot of different paintings - the guide said it was a menu of the types of animals that could be found in the area for food. Other paintings told moral lessons for the aboriginal people. One painting of a Tasmanian tiger is apparently proof that they were once found on the mainland, though now they are extinct except in Tasmania.
|Stephanie is an art lover - she really enjoyed the rock art.|
After exploring the rock art galleries, we set out for the 250 meter climb up to the lookout on Ubirr Rock. Even though this time we were actually climbing UP the rock, this was nowhere near as difficult as the walk to Jim Jim the day before. It was quite fun, and we soon made it to the summit of the lookout, where we were greeted with 360-degree spectacular views of Kakadu and even Arnhem Land, which we would visit later that morning.
|Borrowed from the internet to show the size of Ubirr Rock|
|Pausing on the climb - so glad to experience this with my BFF!|
|I made it to the summit, the highest point of Ubirr Rock!|
|A panoramic view from the top of Ubirr|
|Tools of the trade - backpack, water bottle, camera, and cap|
|Hiking back down the rock|
After making our way back to the car park, we made our way to our last big adventure in Kakadu, a Guluyambi boat cruise on the East Alligator River. We boarded a smaller boat than on our billabong cruise, and made our way out on the water. What was neat is that we could very clearly see where the salt water flowed into the fresh water river. The Guluyambi cruise was different from the billabong tour. It was not so much about the wildlife, though of course we still saw a lot of birds and crocodiles. Instead it was more about the aboriginal culture, their mythology, their bush survival skills, and how they use the plants and animals to live off the land. It was really informative and interesting. Our aboriginal guide, Robert, was quite funny and knowledgeable.
|Say hello to Robert|
|Resting on the bank, just waiting for a snack|
|Look at that eye, and those teeth!|
|These crazy corellas were so noisy! |
But I love how they look against that brilliant blue sky.
Part of the cruise was chance to dock and get off the boat in Arnhem Land, which is protected by the indigenous people. Non-aborigines cannot enter Arnhem Land without a permit, so that was an incredible opportunity. We were warned to watch for snakes (which made me nervous!), and then we hopped off the boat and climbed up a rock for some more spectacular views. Back at the bottom, Robert demonstrated how his people throw the spears by tossing three spears into the river - he sent the guide of the other boat to retrieve them!
|This is Two-Face Rock - the left looks like ET, the right like Terminator|
|Welcome to Arnhem Land!|
|Robert throwing the spear|
|What an amazing adventure!|
We didn't have long in Arnhem Land before we had to get back on our boat for the return trip upstream. We were all quite hungry by then. Surprisingly, our lunch that day was in the restaurant at the Crocodile Hotel where we'd been staying the past two nights. After lunch, we experienced the most disappointing part of our Kakadu trip - we basically sat on a bus while the driver drove very slowly around the town of Jabiru (there is NOTHING to see there) and then out past the Uranium mine (again, nothing exciting there). We finally ended up at the Bowali Visitor's Centre for about 20 minutes of souvenir shopping before starting the 3-hour bus ride back to Darwin.
|This picture screams "Outback" to me|
On the long bus-ride back to Darwin we were treated to an amazing sunset that I tried, unsuccessfully, to photograph through the moving bus window. It was about this point that Stephanie looked over at me from across the aisle and said, "Barb, did we empty the safe?... Did you get your passport?" I think my shocked gasp could be heard throughout the entire bus. But Stephanie was great - she said "Don't panic!" It's times like these that it's really handy to have your best friend be a consulate officer. She knew exactly what to do. As soon as we go back to cell reception, she contacted her coworker at the consulate and made arrangements for me to go in for an emergency passport as soon as we landed in Sydney the next morning. This was Monday night - we were getting ready for a 1:45 a.m. red-eye flight back to Sydney, landing at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and my flight back to the USA left Wednesday at 11 a.m. What a time to lose the passport! Stephanie also contacted the hotel and arranged for them to send my passport (and her headphones that were also left in the safe) to her in Sydney. It was quite the ending to a really exciting adventure in the Australian Northern Territory!