Kambolgie and Yurmikmik Walks, Kakadu National Park July 9 - 11 2021
  The evening at Maguk campground. Discussion about banksias and bottlebrushes and calistemons.
  And fly catchers.
  And honey eaters.

These birds are so small, camouflaged, and fast we see only silhouettes. Until we use the camera or binoculars.

  We leave for Kambolgie campground and the Yurmikmik Walks.
  A busy day on the road. This was a convoy of 5 that passed us while we drained our grey water.

There is only one dump point in the park. At Jabiru.

  Bukbuk is the local name for pheasant coucal.

The lookout is Bukbukluk.

Which reminds me of "far lookers", a central African (Chikabanga) name for binoculars.

  They lie.

The south alligator river crossing is a raised bridge, well clear of the water, and no gates.


  $6.5m buys a couple of bridges and a stretch of sealed road across Kambolgie Creek. Campsite entry on the right. We briefly enter to lay claim to our spot for the night.

Otherwise the road is gravel, which steadily deteriorates the further we travel.

Patently someone somewhere has a master plan, but something eludes us.

The km or so of seal, completed in 2020, is already showing signs of breaking up, necessitating a "hazard" sign at the far end.

  We head further along the road towards Gunlom and Gimbat.

Watched by a small herd of donkeys.

  Gunlom is closed.

An argument over some stairs and sacred site.

We have seen a mixture of comments on whether the bottom of the falls may be open, and whether the caravan park at the bottom may be open.

Beyond this sign is a locked gate.

  Past Coronation Hill (or is it Saddle Ridge) mine.

We think asbestos, but then again its seems to be underground, and have no way of checking. Later, walking past Motor Car Falls we picked up some greenish stone at an outcrop. And finally we found on internet where someone had described it as Uranium.

A substantial operation, the weighbridge is overgrown along with many other buildings.

  Koolpin Gorge gate.

Its open. If we had permits we would have picked up a key at Mary River Ranger Station. But, no permits, we decided not to enter.

  Gimbat picnic area.

The table is a little overgrown. As is the sign.

  Gimbat is actually on the other side of the South Alligator River.

A substantial looking bit of bridge / crossing has long ago been washed out, its now a ford.

A tree across the exit track, and someone drove down the river towards another exit.

A moments lack of concentration.

Tyres to 4psi was not sufficient to free it. Maxtracks wouldn't locate under the wheels and were spat out.

  Oka lined up across the top of the entry track. Soft sand a bit awkward to manouvre in.

Winch at the ready.

  The going rate is $200 donation to Flying Doctor. The tin is ready.

The winch worked. About 60m of rope and webbing straps.

The Landcruiser popped out onto solid ground.

  Tyres pumped up. But too early.

Let some air out again to get up the soft sand.

All's well that ends well.

No other traffic.

  Back at the Kambolgie Campsite.

Next to the new bridge, some oversize droppings. Reminiscent of wombat, but too large, and wrong place.

  Alongside the creek, downstream (true left) from the bridge, a bower.

No bird visible, but it looks fresh and active.

Perhaps I'll pay another visit with more time - don't be late for dinner .....

  A couple of black cockatoos to keep us entertained.

Eating seeds from the gum tree. The old trick of balance on one leg and hold seed with other.

  We heard what we thought was a barking owl. As well as a dingo.

There was barely sufficient light for the camera to focus. A fleeting glimpse of the owl arriving on the edge of the rainforest along the creek. Just enough to remember vaguely where it was and find it with camera and binoculars.

  Today we embark on the 75th Anniversary trip to Motor Car Falls (not really, just a happy coincidence).

In 1946 someone drove a Cheverolet Car to the falls.

75 years later, today, we will walk nearly 4km to the falls.

"Progress" is an interesting term.

We look at the old sign.


  And the new.

Its continued the practice of north being every which way but up  .... we mentally turn the maps to match reality.

We think we prefer the old sign as having more useful information.

The waterfalls are south of us. Falling off the Marrawal Plateau - perhaps separated from, but part of, the Arnhem Land Plateau, by Katherine and South Alligator Rivers, with a narrow ridge connecting, extending towards Nitmiluk National Park.

If, yesterday, we had continued east past Coronation Hill, instead of turning into Gimblat, we would have followed the South Alligator River almost to its source, then along a ridge to the abandoned Seisbeck and the Katherine River, a long way above the gorge.

If Bukbukluk is where to look for BukBuks, what is a Nitmi?

We chose poorly. We should have parked at the other car park and saved ourselves 2km of walking.

The Boulder Creek Car Park is signposted from the road, the Yurmikmik Lookout car park is not.

  Initially the track is single person wide, and easy going.
  We walk up a slight rise, which gives us a view of the surrounding hills.

We left the campsite at 07:30, the sun is still young.

We are in a series of valleys that extend into the Arnhem Land / Marrawal plateaus. The main north south escarpment is to our west. As well as mining (our track is described as "prospecting") there has also been agriculture.

  We join the old 4wd track that left the main road at the other car park.
  Then turn south towards Motor Car Falls.

A bit of boulder hopping through patches of rainforest.

  A large plunge pool that we have all to ourselves.

Another couple arrived as we turned to leave.

  We are confused by the rock. We can't fathom which way its tilted. The layers are thick and all much the same. Difficult for me to tell which are faults and which bedding. All very "blocky".
  We decide to continue to Kurrundie Falls. Another couple of km, but described as unmarked tracks.

Crossing Motor Car Creek gives us a view of Motor Car Falls.

  At some time in the past a substantial bridge was built over the creek.

Almost failed, washed away in some long ago wet season, someone has laid poles and steel grids over what looks like old steel girders.

This was a bit more than a simple prospecting track.

  The sign has been removed, leaving two posts. Someone has added a branch horizontally, laid on the remaining screws.

We figure we should turn south off the old 4wd track.

We saw a couple of small tracks leading south earlier but were unsure. On the return journey we took the short cuts.

  Admire some ti trees along the way.
  And boulder hop into the gorge.

A bit strenuous.

  At last. The stones included in the conglomerate are sufficient to inform us the rock has been tilted upwards to the north, away from the falls.

With lots of faults.

The creeks seem to flow uphill, to then cascade down the steep part of the sawtooth. One wonders if the creeks existed before the land tilted or simply found their way through faults.

The opposite, northerly, side of the valley is gently sloping, the tilt is reasonably consistent.

  The brightly coloured grevilleas stand out.

Which some may recall was an indication a picture should be taken.

  A glimpse of a bird flying straight and horizontal - after it landed.
  We have to return the same way we arrived. But take a detour up Yurmikmik Lookout.

Looking north west.

  And looking south east, into the valley we walked through.

The waterfalls are in those hills.

  Back at camp by lunchtime. A bit tired. A tad over 14km.

The first time we've drunk all our water during a walk.

It seems the temperatures here are a little higher, and the days warm more quickly, than further north in the park.

  A small forest kingfisher.

After many pictures, and a couple of moves between trees interspersed with insect catching, it finally poses in a ray of sunshine. We can marvel at all its colour.

A fitting end to another fine day.

  On a forage into the fringes of the creek there is plenty of leaf litter for Rainbow Pitas, but none of them seem to avail themselves of the large number of skinks in residence.

We will have to leave Kakadu without seeing a Pita.

  Beautiful as they are, the doves that have become more bold over three days are no substitute.
  It took a little while to identify this tawny frogmouth. An unusual posture. Well hidden, high in the trees, lucky the camera focused enough. Its beak partly obscured.
  And the pterodactyl like head of an orange legged scrub fowl.

Birds seem very good at moving just enough to make pictures difficult.

  Our favourite barking owl visited. Closer this time. But still dusk. From here it swooped on some prey next to our truck. Hung around in another tree, silhouetted against the sunset, then departed.

Tomorrow we will leave Kakadu. Two of us will head west to Keep River and Gregory River National Parks. A detour of about 1,000km and a couple of weeks. The others will begin the journey back to Queensland, hoping to avoid quarantine, pick up parts in Yandina, the avoid quarantine on the way to South Australia.

New South Wales Covid cases are increasing and it seems there is worse to come. With resulting border closures.

Kakadu has been interesting. Although we have visited most of the mapped attractions, we seem to have successfully glimpsed different areas (from wetlands to plateau and stone, from north to south and west to east) in three weeks, we feel there is more. And we have only seen it fleetingly in one season. So much to do, so little time.... Perhaps another time.

We have a few whinges about how the park is organised, managed, and administered. For example, the scattered and incomplete information and two week turn around on "trial and error" permits is tedious and unnecessary in this age. A sense of dumbing down the available information. A general sense of a park in decline. But that is separate, and didn't detract from, our enjoyment of nature in the park. A beautiful place.

Giwining (Flora River) Nature Park July 12 - 15 2021

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