Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hold It, Now Hit It

Right, so, this whole blog about me and Jackie's adventures in the merry old land of Oz is gonna have to go on holiday for a while. I'm leaving for India in a week and I won't have my laptop or my photo archives with me while I'm away. Also, my free trial version of Adobe Lightroom, the software behind the blog, is expiring in 2 days, so no more photos after that until I can afford the full version. I imagine once I'm back and settled in the home of apple pie and football with pads, sometime around the middle of May, I'll have plenty of time to go back and post all the rest of our photos from the NT (there are some really cool ones still to go) and our last weeks in Melbourne. In the meantime, I've started my own blog to record my solo adventures here in Brissy and in India and Germany over the next couple of months. It's mostly just so I can remember, but y'all are welcome to look, too:

OK, bye for now. Thanks for following our adventures and I'll see you all in a couple of months. Lots of Love,


Friday, February 09, 2007

NT Part 3: Rock Art Sites

One of the cool things about Kakadu is the Aboriginal rock art you can see at various sites around the park. Me and Jackie went to two of them.

Our first afternoon in the park took us to Nourlangie Rock. That's it at the top of the photo on the left.

Here's Jackie driving our rental car into the park. Her first ever driving on the wrong side of the road. She did a great job driving, but could never remember to wave to the other drivers (standard NT road etiquette)

Driving into the park we stopped for lunch and these guys greeted us outside the little cafe where we ate. Oh, and the cafe was cool 'cuz it had a huge tank in the middle with big barramundi - a big yummy fish, sort of like the bass of the NT.

But anyway, back to the rock art. This is at Nourlangie Rock, as I said, on our first day. Coming from the scorching daytime sun into these shaded, breezy rock overhangs certainly makes you feel like they'd be a good place to hang out back before there were swimming pools and A/C.

Here's Jackie's outfit for the hike. Classic. Notice the shirt in her right hand for keeping the flies away. And we were drenched in insect repellent.

This is one of the most famous bits of Aboriginal art around. You see it all over the place here, on postcards, in ads, etc.

Here's another view of Nourlangie:
A couple of days later, after the yellow water tour, we went to another place called Ubirr. As we were waiting for the gates to open (the only way not to die of heat exhaustion is to get up and do stuff at the bum crack of dawn) we went down to check out this crossing of the East Alligator River, which is the boarder between Kakadu and Arnhem Land, a huge chunk of country controlled by traditional aboriginal owners and where white fellas can only go with special permission. Stick that in your peace pipe. We also met a lovely local who told us you can often see crocks sun-baking on the concrete here.
Ok, but enough blah blah from me: On to some photos from Ubirr itself...

That's it for now. More soon.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

NT Part 2: Yellow Water

After Litchfield, we spent another night in Darwin, then drove into Kakadu National Park, a world heritage site owned by traditional Aboriginal people. The park is an amazing combination of landscapes - most of it is a sort of scrubby tropical bush, but there are also massive rock escarpments, wetlands, coastal mangroves and beaches (unfortunately not accessible to our car).

This is a bit out of order, but on our second day in Kakadu we took an early morning boat cruise of the Yellow Water wetland. It was a highlight among highlights and yielded some of my favorite shots from the trip. Enjoy.

I see you, you sneaky croc!

Sea Eagles are way cool. There were heaps of them.

They call this a Jesus Bird 'cuz it looks like it can walk on water.

These Cormorants don't have as much oil in their feathers as ducks and a lot of other water birds, so after they dive to get a fishy, they have to stand with their wings out to let them dry in the sun before they can fly. Now think about this - you have to stand on a log in croc infested water for 15 minutes and not move every time you want a meal. Talk about a stressful existence.

Cute green duckies.

This is back at the resort where we stayed for 2 of our 3 nights in Kakadu. That's our door on the bottom left there.

Jackie is happiest in the pool.

We wanted big pink drinks with umbrellas for this shot, but they were kinda expensive, so we went with cans of VB. Worse things have happened. Cheers from the Top End, ya'll.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

NT Part 1: Litchfield

My Christmas present to Jackie this year was to take her on a trip to the Northern Territory. She hadn't seen nearly enough of the iconic Australian landscape and I wanted her to have at least a couple of desert/croc type stories, not just cappuccino and envi. policy. The NT is a big chunk of Australia that covers the north-central coast and down into the Red Centre so it has a bit of everything. We flew into Darwin, went to sleep and got up very early the next morning to go on our tour of Litchfield National Park.

This is the wetland we crossed to get to the first bit of our tour:
We started out with something terribly touristy, but great fun - the Jumping Crocs tour! They take you out on a river in a boat and dangle bits of meat over the side and...yeah:
These guys weren't huge - maybe 6 or 7 feet from nose to tail, but big enough. And look at that vertical! They were also throwing little chunks of meat for the birds of prey in the area. Not a great photo, but you get the idea:

This one's for you, Jack.

What? I need a reason
to take a photo of a
cute dog in a truck?

Next we stopped off to look at some termite mounds. This one is a called a cathedral mound and is about 50 years old. They look sort of crumbly and sandy, and they are made of sand, but the termites use their spit to hold the thing together, so it's actually hard as rock and not crumbly at all.

The other kind of termite mounds are these magnetic ones. They're basically 2 dimensional and every single one of them points directly to magnetic north. If they're off by a single degree, the whole colony dies. In the morning, when the sun shines on one side, they all work on the other, then switch in the afternoon. Clever bloody termites.

After a bit of lunch and a chat with an extremely boisterous Kansas frat-boy on holiday with his grandma, we stopped at this loverly waterfall for a bit of a swim. There were fruit-bats in the trees and fishies swimming around us in the water.

These pretty green ants are common in the Top End (the local name for the tropical noth of the NT). They build nests by using web-like stuff to stick leaves together. You can tell how bad the wet season flooding is going to be by how high up the ants build theirs nets. I also wanted to show off my ultra cool new close-up lens (this guy is about half an inch long).

Next we went for a swim at this really cool system of rock pools leading up to a big waterfall. Some people said they saw goannas (really big lizards) but we missed them.

OK, so maybe my outfit for the Cup was nice, but Jackie still looks better in a bathing suit.

Our last stop was at a funky little store for afternoon tea. That big tree isn't covered in vines - that's it's roots. Cool huh? They were selling mangoes at inflated tourist prices, but they were still pretty.

To be continued... (ooo, dramatic!)