Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Darwin - Day 4 - Yellow Waters Sunrise cruise, Maguk Falls, Kakadu scenic flight & Signs

Joining Tom for the SIGNS meme.

At 6am a shuttle bus picked up our group at the entry to Cooinda Lodge, and ferried us down the road to Yellow Waters Billabong for the sunrise cruise.

Panoramic view of the river and one of the boats while we were waiting to depart

The moon was still shining just before we departed on the cruise

Kakadu was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in  1992,  in recognition of its cultural and natural value. It is home to an incredible 2,000 plant species, 280 types of birds (around one-third of all Australian bird species) and about one-fifth of all Australian mammals.

The landlocked Yellow Water Billabong flows into the South Alligator River, which is made up of swamps, floodplains and river channels. Yellow Water Cruises, is an Indigenous owned Company with exclusive use of the billabong and they run 6 cruises a day from sunrise to sunset, all year long.

Once passengers filled the 2 boats we departed. Soon we spotted the first salt-water crocodile in the water. During 2 hours, we drifted slowly along the still waters, while our very humorous half-Aboriginal tour guide pointed out crocs, various birds, wild animals and local flora.  I have never been into bird spotting, but I really enjoyed seeing so many different species in their habitat

Hope I got their names right!

Crocs in and out of the water

Buffalo, Plumed Whistling-duck, Egret, Cormorant


Nakeen Night Heron, Comb-crested Jacana?, Great blue heron?,  Brolga

Black necked stork (jabiru), White bellied Sea Eagle, Azure kingfisher, Magpie goose

Dozens of ducks everywhere on river or land

The sun rising and the golden hues and spectacular reflections on the water were just breathtaking!
The Yellow Water Billabong was certainly the highlight of my trip.

On or return to Cooinda Lodge we had our Continental breakfast.

This cute Jabiru was a regular in the breakfast area, jumping onto tables to pick on leftovers as soon as guests departed - they usually eat fish, molluscs and amphibians, so not sure what appealed to him in eggs, toast, pancakes?

At around 9am the group got on the tour bus on the way to Maguk or Barramundi Gorge Falls, 14km away.

The road includes 12km of unsealed corrugated road, more suitable for 4wd.  To reach the beautiful crystal clear pool fed by a waterfall and surrounded by steep gorge walls, you have to walk 1km through monsoon forest, a low river, small sandy beaches and jagged rocks marked with arrows to show you the way.  The older couple in our group decided to stay at the Lodge, as the walk and climbs of the day would be too strenuous for them, and one other lady with bad knees stayed at one of the small "beaches" just before we started our rock climb.

The pool surrounded by vegatation, the rocks and boulders on our 1km walk/climb to the pool and one of the small "beaches" along the way

But it was all worthwhile, as when you reached the pool, the scenery was breathtaking. We had our bathers under our shorts and t-shirts and were given about 1 hour to enjoy the cool waters. Swimming along the rocks on the right I managed to almost reach the hole in the rock just before the waterfall, but decided to get back to base and just enjoy sitting on a rock with my feet in the water.

Panorama view of Maguk

The falls and huge hole in the  rocks

Before departing to Nourlangie Rock, about 1h away, we used the toilets to change into dry clothes and had a snack.

About 36km from the town of Jabiru (where we stopped the day before), Nourlangie Rock (Burrungguy)  was a place known for providing shelter to the Aboriginal people during the wet season. The rock paintings document life in the region from 20,000 years ago to the first contact with European explorers.  There is a 1,5km circuit walk to see rock art.

Nourlangie Rock from the car park

Our next stop was at the Bowali Visitor Centre in the town of Jabiru. With a  library, small theatre and interpretative displays, this visitor centre wil tell you everything about Kakadu. Park passes can also be bought here if you haven't got one online or haven't bought one in one of the 10 other venues that sell them (our tour guide had arranged these before our trip).

After our tour, came our last adventure for the day! A sunset flight over Kakadu.At the Jabiru Aerodrome we joined a couple of people already there, we were weighed, given a short talk about our flight over Kakadu and distributed between 2 small Cessna planes. 

The Mercure Crocodile Hotel, Jabiru town, the Uranium mine and me and travelling companions 
Rocks and Rivers of Kakadu

As would be expected the sunset seen from the plane was beautiful...

Our tour guide Paul was waiting for us on the ground when we landed, and we were driven to Cooinda Lodge where we arrived about 40min later at around 7,30pm. 

After a shower I put laundry in the washing machine in the communal laundry (a free guest perk). Joined the others, ordered dinner and while waiting for dinner  popped back into the laundry to change the clothes from the washer to the drier and I went back a while later to collect the clothes after they dried. All ready to be packed up later on!

I ordered fish and chips for dinner, and the group sat around the table with the older couple who hadn't gone with us, relaying our adventures of the day.

We were leaving Cooinda Lodge the following day to go to Katherine, so before going to bed I called Jose from the free phone cabin, to tell him about our very exciting day! 

Map of our itinerary from Coinda Lodge and back:
We covered about 366km from 6am to 7,30pm.


  1. Os cenários são de cortar a respiração.

  2. My goodness. That was ONE incredibly long day. You certainly got to pack a LOT into that day, from the boat ride to the swimming, to the hiking, to more hiking, to the plane ride. And you ended it with fish and chips. Certainly a day to remember.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, it was a very full and long day but really exciting and amazing!

  3. A wonderful and exciting day tour for you and your group. I would love to join such day tours.

    1. Thanks Nancy, it was a fabulous tour indeed :)

  4. We took a similar tour that covered Yellow River but without the swimming and plane flight. Your photos look great but I wish they were larger. We noticed a bird, I forget what kind, sitting in the water. There was plopping sound and the bird had gone, no doubt into a set of jaws. Did you have the feeding the crocs and the sea eagles in flight while cruising?

    1. Thanks Andrew. Sorry there were so many photos I decided to put them into collages, but I realize you can't really see them well.
      We didn't have croc or sea eagles feeding in our tour.

  5. You are a tad generous with you statement that there are 2,000 bird species in Kakadu, Sami. Try 280 and you will be much closer. The whole of Australia has about 900 species. There are a couple of errors in your ID and I can correct them if you wish. They don't detract from your narrative though, and I suspect that most readers won't notice. GREAT TRIP!

    1. Sorry David, it was meant to be 2000 plant species...somehow when I transcribed the info I didn't do it well :(
      You are welcome to correct the bird info David, I have no idea about birds.

  6. Replies
    1. Obrigada Francisco, foi um passeio fabuloso.

  7. This is so impressive with all that wildlife. What a wonderful spot to be. I'm so glad you are sharing this with us, Sami. I'm sure I"ll never see it in person but your photos are the next best thing.

    1. Thank you Jeanie, glad you are enjoying the virtual trip :)

  8. Fun trip and the dinner looks fabulous. I would have loved to tag along.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Sami. ♥

    1. Thank you Sandee, always fun to travel :) Enjoy the rest of the week.

  9. Ohhhh, you had some adventure there, beautiful and exciting!
    Great it´s Indigenous owned - that is a good "sign"!
    And awww, wonderful pictures.

    The Jabiru!!!
    But, yes. I saw roos taking white bread from stupid tourists, getting belly-pain and next... went to take the next white bread!

    Sad when you have to miss out due to age.

    Ohhhh, the swim, wonderful!

    See... "Use the right names please" - my T just helped me out with cam and mike and said, "huhh, there are cuppas in your background, you should remove them (I did) and.... the toy Lions. No. Use my right name and you get a lion, or two... (I updated the post)

    Signs this will go good?
    I´m so nervous about the job interviews...

    No idea if we missed or it wasn´t there, the Bowali Visitor Centre - it´s great!!!
    I likely skipped the flight. My Mum once talked me into a helicopter flight, ohhhh.... horror!

    A laundry like that, cool! And your meal looks great, too.

    Please keep it all coming! I´ll tell Ingo to pay a visit. Or two, three.... ;-)

    1. Thanks Iris. One of the ladies felt a bit sick on the flight, but I was ok, it was actually my second flight on a tiny plane.
      Yes, holiday while you can when you are young, when your knees give you pain it all becomes harder.
      Good luck on the interview Iris, and I agree keep the background professional :)

  10. ...Sami, this looks like a fabulous destination. Thanks for taking me along.

    1. Thanks Tom, glad you are enjoying the trip :)

  11. Dearest Sami,
    That was indeed an adventurous day and only meant for the fit at heart; literally! Would be way too strenuous for my Pieter's heart condition.
    Long days but otherwise you can't cover it all.

    1. Thanks Mariette, a fantastic day, but I agree you have to be fit to manage the pace.

  12. Fantastic shots. I want to go to Kakadu.


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