Leaving Mataranka, we were excited, at last we were on our way to Kakadu. On the road to Cooinda we saw our first Termite Mounds, this one was actually the biggest one we saw while in Kakadu.
We arrived at the Cooinda Caravan Park in the Kakadu National Park and settled in for the next 4 nights.
The next day we booked into the Yellow Water Billabong Cruise on a tributary of the South Alligator River. Weird isn't it, there are no Alligators in Australia, only Crocodiles, yet, the main rivers in Kakadu are named the South, East and West Alligator Rivers !!
Before going on the cruise we visited the Aboriginal Cultural Centre near the caravan park. I met a lady who was teaching people to make bracelets out of Pandanus leaves, so, I joined the group. Lily, the name of the Aboriginal lady who was teaching us, would go out each day to pick the leaves, then bring them back to the Cultural Centre in preparation for the class of the day; which could be making bracelets or weaving baskets. There are three main colours used , yellow from the Kapok Tree root, brown from the bark of a tree, and cream, which is the colour the pandanus leaves go once they are boiled and dried in the sun. The leaves are stripped of the serrated edge, then separated in two parts, so the whole leaf ends up in two whole parts; the parts are duplicates of each other. Small strips are made out of separated leaves. The leaves are then placed into a pot of boiling water, which had had the required colouring agent (bark or tree root) added to it and left to simmer. Once the leaves have reached the desired colour, they are removed from the pot and hung until the water has stopped dripping out of them. It is to easier to weave the leaves if they are still moist, so they are then placed in a plastic bag to keep them supple; if they start to dry out, a spray of water is all the is needed to restore the suppleness. My bracelet was ok, but, nowhere near as good as Lily's.
The cruise is actually on the Yellow Water Billabong,which is at the end of Jim Jim Creek, a tributary of the South Alligator River. The river system, which is the largest in Kakadu, contains extensive wetlands that include river channels, floodplains and backwater swamps. About one third of Australia's bird species are represented in Kakadu National Park, with at least 60 species found in the wetlands. Crocodiles and wetland birds were out in force when we went on the cruises; the morning (9am) and Sunset cruise, and as there was a special on the cost of cruises; "take a sunrise or sunset cruise, and it will cost only $10 extra, in lieu of the normal $82." Both cruises were wonderful, and although there was plenty of water, birds ad crocodiles to see, both of us would like to return to Kakadu just after the Wet Season to see the park in it's real glory. I have attached a few of the many photos that we took while on the cruise. - Enjoy.