Alligator Billabong, Kakadu National Park June 12 - 14 2021
  We take the long way round. To get from Mardukal to Red Lily Billabong.

North to Jabiru then west then a few km south.

The alternative was south, back along Jim Jim road then north.

We noticed, and have a report, that the southern track entrance may be like a tunnel through trees for the first 50m.

This is the turnoff to Oenpelli, exactly where the map says it should be, a little west of Jabiru. Our route to Cobourg Peninsula next week.

  Heading west we pass through pandanus forest and descend into the south alligator river valley.
  Even wider than further south.
  Our best attempts at finding out what the un-named track to Red Lily, Bucket, and Alligator Billabongs is like were "much like Wildman's Track".

It is, to us, nothing like it. Its wider, more distinct, and no overhanging trees - though it may change towards the south.

  A bit of water. We've seen a few rangers, presumably working on the track.
  Red Lily Billabong is still closed. We reach a sign "seasonal closure" a couple of km short.

Lots of space before that.

  The "are we open" web page for the park describes 600mm of water over the track.

A little muddy at the exit but not an obstacle to us.

  Similarly the next creek crossing, we've passed Bucket Billabong, which didn't spark our interest.
  And stop at Alligator (Gurdurunguranjdju) Billabong.

We hear something largish moving round the campsite and the water's edge during the night, with some disturbed bird sounds. Find no tracks across our tyre marks in the morning and look under the truck for intruders before anything else.

  A walk along the bank and a few crocodiles. Definitely no alligators.

No fish caught by us .... yet.

The water is so calm we can see the wake of "submerged things" (crocs and cormorants).

  Our campsite from round the bend in the billabong.

We are 10km from Cooinda, and the mobile phone tower, after a drive of about 100km.

Same as Mardukal, we have a mobile phone signal, but this time only with modem on top of our pole. The network is congested during the day, ok for intermittent email. Browsing and blog uploading have to wait until the middle of the night or very early morning.

The wildlife hasn't quite accepted our presence yet, it usually takes a couple of days. We see glimpses of flycatchers and we think a wren - we haven't seen wrens for quite a while.

  The sunset before the mosquitoes attack.

Looks like Ibis. They are much less disciplined at keeping formation than geese. And they have curved beaks!

  A walk up the edge of the billabong.

We ponder the many hollows close to the water.

  And the dried up hollows on higher ground.
  As we head north west, following the line of a creek flowing into the billabong the ground becomes more and more boggy.

From map and satellite views we thought we might reach the edge of a swampy wetland.

Alas no. The combination of faintly sloping land and water prevented us.

The pigs, piglets, and horses ignored us. Carry on eating .... they know they are safe.

We beat a retreat to higher ground and headed south.

  We saw a few brumbies. These two zig-zagged across our path several times until eventually choosing to remain on our right.
  Local knowledge knows about "banana billabong".

This is not it. Its a creek feeding the billabong. Had we backtracked about 100m we could have followed the edge to the billabong.

Since we only recognised that once we were home and could study satellite and map we decided to cut our losses and walk home.

The circuit was about 8km.

  Before we left we watched another lemon-bellied flycatcher.
  And a flycatcher. Not a wagtail. And not a shining flycatcher. We'll have to look at the bird book.
  Once away from the billabongs we are on open plain.

It is flooded during the wet, we can see, and feel, the buffalo hoof prints, but now its dry.

A meter of height makes an enormous difference to vegetation and wildlife.

We are beginning to sense the various layers of vegetation.

  We walked north east from banana billabong until we met the main track that our campsite is off.

About 200m.

Then trudged the one km or so to camp.

Not our most successful outing, we didn't reach either of the two points we intended. But nevertheless enjoyable.

Sandy Billabong (Djirrilba), Kakadu National Park June 15 2021

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