“You’re going to the North? What for? There’s nothing there but crocs and stinking heat.”
This was the encouraging conversation I had with someone from Queensland, Australia, when I mentioned that our next destination was the Northern Territory. Given that Queensland itself has no shortage of either crocs or heat, his opinion of the north was worth noting.
Recognized as a World Heritage Site for both its natural environment and its cultural significance (thanks to over 20,000 years of Aboriginal occupation), it’s one of those places that you don’t get to by accident. You’re not toodling along a pleasant country lane when you notice a sign “This way to Kakadu” and you decide on the spur of the moment—because you have nothing to do between lunch and teatime—to pop in for a bit of a look-see.
From the west coast of North America, we flew 17-plus hours to Cairns (in Queensland) and then a further 2.5 hours to Darwin, the closest town. We then drove 3 hours to get to the centre of the park, the little village of Jabiru, where we rented a tiny cabin for four days.
Yes, it was stinking hot. And yes, we saw lots of crocs. But we also saw thousands of birds, remote and unforgiving landscapes, peaceful billabongs, and awe-inspiring rock paintings.