We wanted to see Kakadu and Arnhem Land. It's a part of Australia we've seen on doco's and featured in films but we came with fresh eyes, not really knowing what to expect. Once again a part of this country has been forged in our hearts as a treasured place.
We pulled in to Merl campground at Ubirr late in the day which is never a good sign of things to come. It was too hot to cook in the van (high thirties) and mozzies were already starting to take their place against the fly screens so we bunkered in for a mezze platter.
The kids are still adjusting to the 1.5hr time difference with Western Australia and getting them to bed early is proving difficult. The heat coupled with hundreds of mozzies getting in somewhere wasn't a good combination for getting to bed early or having a good night. And we didn't. I think we had four hours sleep that first night between smashing the little blood-filled blighters and tending to hot thirsty kids.
We were easily distracted from our mozzie bites and the elements once we looked out of the van at Merl. It is a stunning place to wake up set amongst the pandanus palms. We pre-booked our permit in to Arnhem Land and tour to Injalak Hill and it was an early, hazy start to cross the East Alligator River by 8:30 in the morning.
Roland was our guide up Injalak Hill. It was a privilege to see artworks on the walls of the rocks dating back 20,000 years. Here lies evidence of the longest continuous culture on the planet. Our short time on Earth and contribution to the world pales in to insignificance.
The artworks here depict foods and other plants and animals endemic to the area including long-necked turtle, barramundi, mullet. Legends told and retold over thousands of years are also painted here.
Here you can see the palette and the canvas. These grind holes, used to grind rock in to ocre paints (from about 50km from this site) are literally thousands of years old.
There are three brothers - making up Injalak (Long Tom Fish) Hill, Leech Hill and Magpie Goose Hill. These places are sacred sites for the locals.
Our tour finished at the Arts Centre which houses a large number of artworks by local artists and sales are used to fund the running of the centre and community workshops for tourists. We bought a beautiful painting of a barramundi by
who uses only ocres in his paintings. It has its place in our caravan now.