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Modeling at Litchfield and Kakadu

Move over Giselle and Tom, Elizabeth and Dave are on the rise!

sunny 100 °F
View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.

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I'm scared, how about you?

We arrived in Darwin, on the northern central coast of Australia, at the end of the wet season. During this time of year the weather is very hot and humid, and several areas are closed to the public due to flooding. Thankfully we missed most of the torrential downpours and were allowed to visit nearby national parks, including Kakadu and Litchfield, which are both on aboriginal lands.

However, given the potential for flooding, the extreme weather, and the danger of aggressive estuarine crocodiles (a.k.a. saltwater crocs or salties), we joined a small guided adventure tour. Our guide Hamish came highly recommended, but little did we know the tour company was on a maiden voyage, breaking away from one of the bigger operators in town.

We quickly became models for Territory Expedition's first brochure and website. Along with two women from Singapore, we were also joined by a photographer, Wade, and his wife Fae. Let's just say 96 degrees and 90% humidity aren't the best conditions to launch into your modeling career!

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Wade taking action pictures of our Land Cruiser for the Territory Expeditions brochure and website.

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Cruisin' around in the Land Cruiser. Dave, Grace, and Jo.

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Elizabeth strutting her stuff for a picture on a suspension bridge crossing. Too sexy!

In the parks we did several hikes while also learning about the area's flora, fauna and aboriginal rock art. The highlight though, was definitely ending up at watering holes at the end of a long hikes to cool off. Hamish assured us there were no crocodiles where we were swimming because we were sticking to parts of rivers above waterfalls, and salties who migrate up the rivers from the ocean can only crawl up to the first waterfall it reaches. This information, plus stories about crocodile attacks didn't make Elizabeth, who gets creeped out swimming in unknown waters to begin with, feel much safer, but dripping in sweat she was one of the first to jump in ... I don't think a crocodile could have gotten in her way!

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Elizabeth about to brave the unknown. Look out crocs!

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Elizabeth and I swimming at Motor Car Falls. Ahhhh, an escape from the humidity.

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Motor Car Falls.

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Some of the aboriginal rock art in Kakadu NP. This is the most famous site. This form of art was popular amongst the aboriginal people to communicate their social, cultural and natural history. The oldest sites are thousands of years old.

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[i]Our guide Hamish next to a magnetic termite hill. The hills always face north and south within a few degrees for warming and ventilation purposes.

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Baby wallaby with his mother.

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Tolmer Falls in Litchfield NP.

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Old buffalo hunting vehicle. The animals are so strong they need serious protection for the side of the car!

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We saw lots of lizards throughout the trip. This was a guana crossing the road. We saw some really big Monitor lizards as well.

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Jabirus. This bird is endangered worldwide. It looks like a prehistoric creature when it flies!

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Water lillies at Fogg Dam Conservation.

The trip ended with a 'Jumping Croc' cruise along the Adelaide River to see estuarine crocodiles (they also have freshwater crocs that are smaller and not aggressive), as well as birds of prey in their natural habitat. This river is the second most crocodile infested river in Australia (not sure what #1 is, but I think I'll keep my distance.) Our boat captain told us to keep all arms and heads within the walls of the boat since the salties can surprise you and jump out of the water without much warning! He also mentioned that the life jackets on the boat wouldn't do us much good if we went overboard due to the aggressive nature of the salties ... comforting!

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Our guide feeding the raptors.

As we moseyed up the river we began to see croc eyes lurking near the shore. All the captain had to do was put some meat on the end of a stick, splash it in the water, and then the croc was on the prowl. These are incredible and scary creatures. The oldest known reptile has been around for 200 million years, surviving several extinction periods, and believed to have changed little in all that time. They're extremely aggressive, typically grow up to five or six meters (the size of the largest salty is controversial, but was measured around seven meters long with some claims of a nine meter croc), can live up to 100 years, and can jump out of the water using the power of their tail.

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Typical crocodile warning sign found throughout northern Australia.

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Saltwater crocodile approaching our boat.

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I'm scared.

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Woah.

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Yikes.

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Another salty we saw in the wild. Don't worry, it's not eating the birds! It's just cooling itself.

Feeding the wildlife goes against everything we've been told throughout our travels. It's bad for wildlife and people as the wildlife starts to expect food from humans causing more of a safety concern. So while we were surprised and a little disappointed to see the boat operator feed the crocs, the resulting jumping crocs definitely gave us an appreciation for their strength and it certainly scared us away from hiking in any croc infested areas. We also heard about four fatal crocodile attacks in Australia just this year.

We returned to Darwin to spend a few more days exploring the town. Darwin is definitely a city catered for backpackers. We used the time to mainly relax in air conditioning, use the library for free email, explore a market, and take advantage of a free backpacker dinner at a local bar.

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Dave emailing and blogging at the Library

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Darwin's Library/Parliament Building

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Emblem of the Northern Territory, of which Darwin is the capital.

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Elizabeth ordering crepes at the Parap Market.

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Eating our free, healthy meal. Lasagna and french fries. Yum!

We also experienced one of the sad sides to Australia. Darwin is home to many aborigines who have a rich, yet humble culture. As the first known people in Australia, they believe they were put on earth to be caretakers of the land and animals, and in most cases they do a good job of it. The government has even adopted some of their traditions for land "cleanup".

However, many aborigines have issues with alcoholism and psychological disorders. Quite possibly their problems are a result of being a part of the "Stolen Generation". This is a long period, from around 1869 to 1969, where aboriginal children were taken from their families for "reeducation" and assimilation into European style society (see the movie Rabbit Proof Fence if you haven't). This process caused a lot of emotional wounds that many aborigines are still recovering from today.

For us, it was difficult to witness these challenges up close, but it is a reality in Australia and we're told the government is finally taking steps to correct it. (google Stolen Generation apology by Kevin Rudd and aboriginal land rights acts).

Hopefully some care given back to the aborigines will help lead them to a better future.

- Dave

Posted by daveliz 21:57 Archived in Australia

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