We spent our time in Kakadu near Cooinda and only stopped in Jabiru as we left the park. We stopped at the Bowali Visitor Centre our last morning in Kakadu. Thankfully this visitor centre allows photography, so I did manage to get a few pictures. We had debated not stopping here so we could get going to Darwin but I’m so glad we stopped in for just a quick visit. This visitor centre was more about the land, the regions, the wildlife, while the one in Cooinda was about the aboriginal culture. The two are very different from each other. Kakadu is a world heritage site, one of only 25 listed for both its environment and its cultural values. It’s the largest national park in Australia. It’s one-third the size of Tasmania. It’s huge! There are many different regions to the park and we really only visited a couple of them during our stay. To get a better feel for Kakadu you need to spend more than a few nights here to take it all in. A 4WD is optimal to be able to see all the different regions, and be prepared to do some cruises or tours too. It would be so neat to see this place during different seasons. The wet season transforms Kakadu completely. In the visitor centre there was information on local wildlife with some great displays. The kids all exclaimed over these flying foxes. When I was a kid I remember being afraid of bats though any I remember seeing were tiny compared to these! They also loved the giant snake. Of course. What kid wouldn’t love a giant snake? :) We followed a school group in and I was hoping we’d get to listen to the ranger talking with them but they ran through here pretty quick and then disappeared. Cane toads were introduced to Australia at one point in the hopes they’d reduce the cane beetle population. Instead they’ve turned out to be a terror to local wildlife (anything that eats a cane toad will die from the ingested poison) and they are about impossible to get rid of. The kids are always on the lookout for one, we’ve seen some large toads, not quite as big as this one, but I have no idea if they were actually cane toads or not. We’ve seen many of these termite nests in the leaves as we’ve travelled around Australia, but this caught our eye because of the picture of the ants holding the leaves together. We’d read they do this, but it was neat to see such a good picture of it (on the top right). Some of the ants stretch their bodies and hold the leaves together while the others transfer larvae and glue the nest together. We were lucky to see this in action not long after this, but I don’t remember where, I took a picture of it so hopefully I’ll come across it later. I didn’t know until we got to Kakadu and I saw pictures of the town of Jabiru that it is also the name of a bird, it’s on the signs going into town. I’ve been hoping to see a Jabiru, they are rather large and elegant looking. (I didn’t know it then but we would see one up close and personal once we got to WA.) Off in one corner was this kids fishing activity, this kept the kids occupied for some time. They all had turns and helped TurboBug catch some things too. Any visitor centre that has a truck to climb into is going to be a hit with the kids. 🙂 This was an example of a cheeky yam, it’s huge! We’d heard about these I think at the rock art talk we went to. If the juice runs clear it’s safe to eat, if it has white specks in it then it’s too cheeky (poisonous) to eat! The yam is the root of a foul-smelling flower, how somebody ever decided to dig one up and eat the root would be an interesting story. There’s a large uranium mine in Kakadu (not part of the national park but surrounded by it) and it was interesting to learn that aboriginals have long labelled the land ‘sickness country’. These areas contain high levels of uranium. We were interested in visiting the mine but were told there wasn’t much out there to see and it would have been a long drive. About ten days later there was a bush fire in Kakadu and I heard on the radio of some controversy with the operators of the mine, some felt their mismanagement of the land was to blame. I imagine there is lots of ongoing controversy having a uranium mine in the middle of a world heritage site! This room was closed off for maintenance but doesn’t it look lovely? We didn’t get the chance to see any water or marine life while at Kakadu. This crocodile skeleton is begging to be climbed on and played with, I wasn’t sure if that was allowed and had quite the time convincing a 2yo to leave it be. I was afraid he’d make off with some of those bones! Look at that head, it’s huge! There are more than 10,000 crocs in Kakadu, can you imagine meeting one of these? I had to tear TurboBug (2) away from the air-conditioned library with the kid-sized table and chairs. Before we left we ducked into the theatre where they were showing the ABC documentary Kakadu: Where Man Meets Wild and Nature Calls the Shots. How lovely it would have been to watch the whole series. We sat enraptured and watched an aboriginal woman shooting magpie geese out of the sky, JitterBug (8) mentions bush tucker all the time after seeing that! The lovely painting in the picture below was near the toilets. We see these lovely whirly-winds quite regularly on our drives. This one was after we left Kakadu that day. Sometimes we’ll see leaves swirling on the road in front of us and suddenly realise we are about to drive right into one of these! We can really feel it when we are towing but there’s no way to avoid them. I have more pictures of Kakadu from some other walks we did but they are on another computer at the moment, I’ll have to post them later. We spent three or four nights there and then we were on our way to Darwin. I was really looking forward to Darwin, to being in a ‘big’ city again and having a good rest after all the driving we’ve done since leaving the east coast.