Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Parking Gagudju Lodge, Cooinda, NT, Australia, Monday, 13 June 2011 8:00pm

First real day on the road. I'm starting to get a feel for the van. It clearly needs a bit more attention than the other vehicles I've recently put serious mileage on. Both my motorcycle and the Subaru were rock solid in all of the conditions I threw at them. This van definitely starts feeling a bit wobbly with a crosswind. The engine can definitely get it going pretty fast, bit the aerodynamics don't quite keep up, with the handling getting progressively more jumpy past a certain speed. I'm definitely going to be a passee, rather than passer for this trip. Probably a good thing, since it means more time to enjoy the scencery.

I drove into Kakadu National Park today. A lot of the trip was through savannah. Tall grasses, low trees, large termite mounds, some burn scars from recent fires. There were some wetlands thrown in for variety. After stopping in Jabiru to pick up some forgotten supplies (sugar for my tea, oatmeal, dish soap) and to make my first fuel stop, I did a short hike to look at rock paintings and visit a viewpoint. The paintings were interesting. It's hard to believe that they're as old as the signs claim, because they look so fresh. There was an eerie feeling to some of the more weathered ones. The landscape is gorgeous. Dramatic rock formations over a sea of trees.

I tried to do a couple of billabong walks, but they were closed due to "seasonal conditions", which I take to mean flooding. It's early enough in the dry season that I guess that's still to be expected. With high water levels comes increased risk of crocodiles near the trails, so you don't want to hike in the area even if you don't mind the mud.

They seem to delight in serving up the local wildlife here. Dinner consisted of crocodile spring rolls, barramundi (a local fish) pies, buffalo sausages, and kangaroo kebabs. And I delight in eating it.†It was the first meal of the day that wasn't "self-catered", as the guidebook likes to call it. It's nice to have a fridge and cooking equipment on this trip because I just can't bring myself to pay the prices quoted for the food around here. $15 for a continental breakfast? $25 for pasta? I'm happy to pay quite a bit for something unusually good, or something that I can't get at home, but for normal food, it just doesn't seem worth it.