Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday, 9 December 2019

Walking on country - Kakadu - Northern Territory - Half lap - Part 9

I can walk on your country, I can listen and hear your stories, I can learn about plants and see the trees, birds, flowers, animals, I can study your ancient rock art, I can walk along your paths, I can sit under a tree and be still and feel the breeze on me, but I cannot really know your deep connection to your country, your cultural heritage, and what it means to you. But I, as a non-aboriginal "Balanda" can try. 

For aboriginal people "country" is not only the landscape, but the rich interconnection between the land and the people - they are inseparable.

 Hi everyone, and welcome back to my half lap of Australia, part 9. This week we leave Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, and travel via the Arnhem Highway to Kakadu National Park - about 150kms to the entrance of the park from Darwin.  

  As the sign says, this is Aboriginal land, so please be respectful of their culture.  Australian law recognises traditional Aboriginal ownership.

Here is a couple of maps to orientate yourself.

Kakadu is a jointly managed Commonwealth Reserve, covering 20,000 square kilometres in area, and listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in recognition of its natural and living cultural landscape. Aboriginal people have inhabited the Kakadu area continuously for more than 65,000 years. The name "Kakadu" comes from the Gagudju aboriginal language. 

We arrived at the park entrance at about 10am, and stopped to read the very interesting interpretive signage at the information bay.  A parks pass is required to visit Kakadu, but this can be purchased on-line or at the Jabiru information centre and other places. 

Our land has a big story. Sometimes we tell a little bit at a time. Come and hear our stories, see our land. A little bit might stay in your hearts.  Jacob Nayinggul, Manilakarr clan. 

I hope through my pictures I can share some of what Kakadu is. 
 But first a warning! 

We arrived at our first destination, the small township of Jabiru, just before 12 noon and booked into the Kakadu Lodge Caravan Park. We were able to select our own site, under a big shady tree, which we hoped would give us afternoon shade.  The caravan park has a swimming pool, which we took advantage of several times during our stay. We realised later in the day that we needed to protect ourselves from mosquitoes in the evening! 

After lunch we drove to the Information Centre where there are some very interesting displays particularly about "country" and the indigenous people. Also wildflower identical panels and resource books. We also collected information about things to do in the area, and the free ranger guided walks that we can join. There is a great range of ranger talks at various times and it is really worth joining at least one of them. 

The township of Jabiru was originally built in 1982 as a closed town to house the community involved in the Ranger Uranium Mine eight kilometers away. Ranger's owners Energy Resources of Australia stopped mining more than six yeas ago and have been processing uranium stockpiles since, due to finish in 2021.

Since the mine's closure Jabiru has been able to be sustained as a tourism township for Kakadu, but has been under threat of closure. They were recently given a lifeline with a promise of funding from the Federal Government to help them transition into a tourism and regional service centre for the West Arnhem region.

The next morning we joined the Burrungkuy rock art walk and talk with Ranger Lauren. She was very knowledgeable about the country, dream-time stories, plants and rock art, having learnt from traditional owners. She says white man looks at things more scientifically. 

  Burrungkuy (also known as Nourlangie) is the Kundjeyhmi name for the upper section of Burrunkuy. A 1.5km circular walk takes you past several rock art sites.  There are several walks of varying lengths in the area. Make sure you follow the usual recommendations for remote walking. (eg telling someone where you are going, wear a hat and good walking boots, and plenty of water).

The local kapok trees are natural indicators - when flowering the crocodiles are mating, when they have green fruit the crocodiles are laying their eggs, and hatching when the dried fruit split open.   

You can see the kapok in the bottom right hand corner of this collage. Top left is one of the Acacia wattles.

We also stopped to look at rock art. I am not sure about photographing rock art, as I was told years ago that it is not permitted due to cultural reasons. I asked if it was permitted and I was told it was ok, but I am really not sure if I am comfortable about sharing it.  However I have a small share below. 

There are many rock art sites in Kakadu. With paintings up to 20,000 years old, this is one of the longest historical records of any group of people in the world.

The galleries are often protected under rock overhangs as you can see below. It was interesting to learn that repainting images is a traditional practise, and some of the galleries were repainted in 1964.

The walk wasn't long or difficult, but there were some steep sections. 

After this we visited the Anbangbany Billabong. My son likes to visit places that have been used in movies, and this billabong was used for a scene in Crocodile Dundee. There is a two and a half kilometre walking path around the billabong, but we only went a short way. Unfortunately the water levels were low, due to a poor summer wet season, but there were a number of water birds, including the Jabiru. And of course the usual croc awareness signs!

With thanks to my husband for the bird photos. At the top are a pair of bee-eaters and a jabiru.  With a closer view of the bee-eaters and jabiru below. The female bee-eater is the one on the right with a shorter tail feather.

Later in the afternoon we joined the Ubirr ranger walk and talk. 
On the way we stopped at Cahills crossing over the East Alligator River. This crossing is the access into Arnhem Land (permits required from Northern Land Council).
There was quite a line up of vehicles waiting for the tide in the river to go down so they could cross, along with many crocodiles hoping for a quick meal perhaps? Definitely no swimming!  

Can you see where I have circled in this picture? - no it is not a log - that is a crocodile laying in wait at the crossing!  

We then continued to Ubirr where the ranger walk and talk was leaving from at 4.10pm. I am glad it wasn't any earlier as it was still hot. The ranger, Luke, was very knowledgeable and took us through woodlands, into rock art sites, and finally to the Ubirr lookout overlooking the flood plains, where a scene from Crocodile Dundee, part 1, was filmed.  
This collage gives you a bit of an idea - not quite lined up - sorry.

 And some more views, in the center our guide, a native hibiscus, and a rock wallaby.
 We waited for the sunset, but didn't stay too long as I didn't want to walk down the rocky path in the dark. 
A couple of images from one of the rock art sites. The top painting is of a Thylacine, which declined in population on the mainland over 4,000 years ago when dingoes came to Australia. They believe this painting is therefore over 4,000 years old. 
The other painting you see below it is a painting of a fish, part of a larger painting showing a larder of fish, turtle, kangaroos and other animals.
Other things we learned included -
The stalk of Manyirrk grasses can be used to make paint brushes. 
Pandanas leaves are used to make baskets. 
Ironwood is a very hard wood used for tool making, digging sticks, and womeras (throwing stick). Leaves used for smoking ceremonies. But the wood is noxious when burnt. 
Woolly-butt tree - when it flowers is is time to burn the land, it is a good tree for making didgeridoos.  
The indigenous people had a complicated clan system that they follow strictly to keep the blood lines strong. 

It was here at the Ubirr lookout that Luke introduced us to the book, writing and aboriginal philosophy and law about looking after country, sustainability and conserving resources, Gagudju Man by Kakadu elder Bill Neidjie. Later I was able to buy a copy. 

When I opened it, it fell open to this page:

I feel it with my body,
with my blood,
Feeling all these trees,
all this country.
When this wind blow you feel it.
Same for country,
You feel it.
You can look.
But feeling...
that make you.  

It is a powerful book.

I hope you have enjoyed today's post - the first of two about Kakadu. Next time we move to Yellow Waters and go on another boat cruise on a Billabong. 
More information:
Australian Government: Kakadu Rock Art
Parks Australia - Kakadu Rock Art 
Creative Spirits - Aboriginal Rock Art 
 Aiatsis-Gagadju Man
Parks Australia - Anbangbang
Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Hello there! I love reading your comments. If you scroll down to the bottom you can comment too! I would love to hear from you.


  1. I so enjoy seeing your country and its animals, insects, birds and landscapes through your eyes!

  2. A wonderful interesting country, thanks for this review and photos!!!

  3. Jill, Love the bird photos. Thanks for sharing and have a great week. Sylvia D.

  4. Thank you for sharing your tour story and pictures. That crossing looked very challenging if not dangerous. - Margy

    1. yes, people have to wait till the water goes down before they cross. You certainly wouldn't want to get stuck in the middle.

  5. Hello, wonderful tour of the Kakadu Natinal Park. Gorgeous views! I enjoyed seeing the birds, animals and the rock art. The Bee-eaters are so pretty. I hope people are careful crossing with the crocodile laying in wait. Thanks for sharing your visit. I wish you a happy day and a great week ahead!

  6. This is such an interesting part of the world that is signaling important news about climate change. Feeling part of nature is typical for many original people of a land. They seem to understand more than most that separation from the natural world is but an illusion.

    1. I think we have a lot to learn from them, if we would only listen.

  7. Jill - I was just reflecting yesterday, while looking out the window, that I have not been walking around our land nearly as much as I used to, and I miss it. Usually there was no goal in mind, just to be one with nature. That is what I felt in this post - wonderful in every way. Except maybe the crocodile! (and I was surprised to learn they re-paint some of the rock art, but how else would you preserve something that old?) Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

    1. I have been sadly restricted since I broke my ankle, and now it is way too HOT to go out walking. I need to try and get up early and do it while it is cool.

  8. Love how you have done this series, Jill! So much of it is with an acknowledgment of who the land belongs to, and getting a sense from their perspective. Even as a non-aboriginal you have managed to experience of many creatures (the bee eaters, crocodiles, etc.) frequenting the areas you traveled to. You have the flair of an anthropologist (it was my minor in college)! Many thanks for sharing all this incredible information with All Seasons! So happy you are linking with us:)

  9. What a fun trek through your photos again this week. Love your sharings of travel as I don't get to so I can through your travels. :)

  10. I'm glad you shared your adventure with us today! What gorgeous scenery, except for the crocs!

    Thanks for taking the time to link up at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

    My Corner of the World

  11. A most interesting and wonderful place to visit, even if I would fear the crocodils! The bee-eaters are so sweet :)

  12. I enjoyed your adventure with us today! Love the photos.

  13. What an amazing place to visit! That croc was close!!!

    1. stay tuned next time for an even closer croc!

  14. Fascinating p hotos! Thanks you so much for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/12/mums-word-at-longwood-gardens.html


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.