Tuesday, August 2, 2016

31.July-2.August.2016 (Day 57-59)

Kakadu



I finished all my data collection on time, accomplishing what I set out to do over eight weeks in Australia.


The plan with my remaining days was to start on some data analysis. 

I wasn’t planning on working the whole time; I still wanted to go out a bit to see some of the NT before heading home.







The best-laid plans of mice and men

go aft awry.






First the pump that feeds the station water went out.
Okay, we’ll be stinky for a bit, no worries.


Then the internet goes south.
No distractions, time to get to work.


Bring on a power-outage.
Err, I can always read by candlelight.



And the straw that broke the camel’s back? 

It was a long-weekend in the NT so we’d probably need to wait 2-3 days to get everything back and running (If you’re wondering what the holiday was…’picnic day’...don't ask, who knows).



The universe was clearly pointing me away from the office for my last few days in Australia. 


A colleague and I took this chance to go camping for a few days in a local national park, Kakadu.



Thanks Universe, good on ya’.



I showed you some pictures earlier from Litchfield Park, which is nice. But most of it can be driven through in a day. 

Comparatively, Litchfield is a blip, Kakadu is huge!




There are aboriginal rock drawings that were drawn around 1,000 years ago when Europeans were, literally, still living in the dark age.



gunbim, Aboriginal word for rock art






Drawings were all over certain sites in Kakadu. My favorite (and coincidentally the oddest by far) was of Nabulwinjbulwinj (Nar-bull-win-bull-win) who is a dangerous spirit who eats women after throwing yams at them.





Nabulwinjbulwinj




Besides beautiful scenery, rock art, and animals. We were also on the hunt for some good swimming holes/waterfalls.



Jim jim falls did not disappoint for swimming (although the water flow this time of year wasn’t too substantial). Tucked deep into a canyon with walls hundreds of feet tall the cool waters were a breath of fresh air in the hot outback.




Jim jim falls, Kakadu, NT






Gunlam falls was just as impressive, the view from up top was, err, a little nerve-racking.



Gunlam falls, Kakadu, NT 







From up on high the view of Kakadu is enough to take your breath away.




Bury my heart in the NT






The scenery was incredible.



The animals?



Hands down one of the best spots I’ve been the whole trip!



Freshwater whipray (Himantura dalyensis)



Yes, you’re seeing that correctly. Australia has stingrays in the freshwater and much like the park they inhabit, these bad boys are humongous. At about 1m (3.3ft) across, there isn’t a lot known about them. I did find out that they eat fish and shrimps and much them down with over 40 rows of tiny teeth.




Red-collared lorikeet (Trichoglossus rubritorquis)



Aside from being beautiful, some of these birds were also acting a little weird. Not flying very well, and about half of them seemed to barely be holding onto their perches. I thought maybe there was some kind of disease in the population, but after a good ol’ google search it turns out this ‘drunken’ behavior is observed in wild populations every year in the dry season. No one really knows why, but I’m guessing they eat some type of over-ripe fruit that has started to turn boozey.

Drunken birds.

Only in the NT.




There were cool birds all over the place in Kakadu. Not all of them were hammered though, and most were concentrated around the limited left-over water and were easy to get some good pics.



There were stoic birds…


Channel –billed cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae)






Beautiful birds…




Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor)







Goofy birds…


Partridge pigeon (Geophaps smithii)






What can only be described as menacingly ugly birds…



Bar shouldered dove (Geopelia humeralis)






And pretty much the most adorable birds ever!



Radjah shelduck (Tadorna radjah)







I can’t pretend that all we saw were birds and water holes though, the herps were out in full force too.






Yellow-faced turtle (Emydura tanybaraga)






Not to mention a wonderfully cute pair of goannas, looking out over their swimming hole.




Martens’ water monitor (Varanus mertensi)







Some were, ummm, a little less inviting into their swimming waters.


Freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni)







We even had the chance to see some new snake species while out and about at night.


Black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus)





Macleay’s water snake (Pseudoferania polylepis)







And the biggie. 


One of the animals I had to see in Australia. 

Completing my trifecta, and the perfect punctuation to the last eight weeks (not to mention one of the coolest snakes ever)…



Death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus)




These snakes will lay buried in leaves, sitting for days and waiting for food to scurry by. They use their stubby little, grub-shaped tail to lure in prey. They possess the longest fangs of any Australian snake and are also the fastest strik. Unlike most of the other Australian nasties, they’re pretty mellow (and photogenic) and a force to be respected.





This has been an amazing experience and the last eight weeks have, mostly, flown by. I can’t stress enough how excited I am to go home though.

I’ve been away from my girls for waaaay too long and I’m bursting with joy at the thought of seeing them soon. After, ugh, ~26hrs of travel.

So close.







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