Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Muirella Park Camp Site to Merl Campsite Via Jabiru

Misty morning. Up and away as soon as possible. Jibaru for supplies, ice and fuel. Weird place reminded me of Woomera. Then on to Merl camp site, where we once again claim a camp site, drop our gear and head on down to the East Alligator river to wait out the heat of the day. The plan is to head for Ubirr in the late afternoon to visit the rock art and take in the views when it is cooler.

We set up a temporary camp in the shade next to the East Alligator river. Close to the famous 'Border Store' where we have access to cool drinks and ice cream. Right next door to a noisy colony of flying foxes.

After lunch, a short stroll upstream to Cahills crossing, where the road crosses the East Alligator river to enter Arnhem Land. After watching some vehicles cross over and cooling my feet in the river, someone points out that just 20 metres upstream of where I'm standing there is a rather large croc lazing on the river bank. At last – our first croc sighting. Within seconds I've spotted another (slightly smaller) croc even closer to where I was standing!

Back at our shady riverside spot, we pass the time reading, swatting flies and trying to identify the multitude of different birds that flit about the place. Lots of honeyeaters – including the superb Blue-faced honeyeater.

As the afternoon shadows lengthen, we saddle up, and make the short ride to Ubirr.

Truly astonishing art sites in an amazing setting. We are on the edge of the 'Stone Country' that extends eastwards from here into Arnhem Land. Amazing sandstone rock formations. The art is amazing, including a spectacular depiction of what appears to be a Thylacine – high up on a cliff.

We climb up past gallery after gallery of art to a lookout that provides 360 degree views across flood plains and stone country. Amazing contrasting colours. The emerald green of the flood plains and the red sandstone rock.

By the time the sun is setting we are joined by at least 50 others as we silently (for the most part) sit and stand and are entranced by the unfolding light show.

As the dusk gathers, we ride back to our camp site, endure the mosquitoes and have a simple meal before retiring for the night. The ice we purchased in Jabiru earlier is a godsend as we enjoy a cool drink.

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