Our whirlwind tour of Australia was a success, except for one round of getting sick. Fortunately, our first stop was a long one in an apartment so my husband could recover. Unfortunately he missed six days of socializing with our friends.
However the episode made us even more grateful to be able to do the tours we had lined up because it was touch-and-go we would have to cancel.
Kakadu is a national park in the Northern Territory and next to Arnhem Land, both of which are owned and managed by the indigenous people.
We took a cruise on the Yellow River where we saw several saltwater crocodiles. They are magnificent animals giving a sense of what it would be like to live in the days of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Not all Australians are thrilled that they have been brought back from the brink of extinction, for good reason. They do hunt people, sometimes successfully.
When humans are killed by crocodiles, Australians say they were “taken.” I like that; it’s respectful.
After the tour I started researching crocodile attacks on humans and ran across an article by a woman who survived one, Val Plumwood, Being Prey, Utne Reader. It’s a little abstract, she’s a philosopher, but a few things resonated with me. They are not monsters. They are animals. And yes, we are prey, though we don’t like to think of ourselves that way.
I try to avoid putting myself in a position to be eaten by a predator, which may be hard to believe, given these photos, but we were on a steel boat with rails, high off the water…and I have a powerful zoom.
The way these birds hung around, I thought they must not be prey, but later at the museum in Darwin, I found indeed they are. On display was a stuffed crocodile (huge) inside of which, after they accidentally killed it, they found a heron. That’s pretty much a smoking gun, crocodile style!
Plumed whistling duck
The fish-hunting birds hang around because the crocs stir up fish when they’re hunting under water.
I don’t want mountain lions, for example, roaming suburban neighborhoods. And that’s a little bit what it’s like in the Northern Territory for people. The fact is, you better not go swimming except in a swimming pool, or down to river banks, or walk along the shoreline, and fishing is hazardous. The croc will watch you for days and if you have the same habit, it can get you. One fisherman was taken when cleaning fish over the side of his tinny (small boat). So, I get that not all Aussies really want these creatures around, and yet they are protected somewhat, which is good for tourism and the ecosystem. And also just for, you know, the wonder of nature and prehistoric animals living among us today.
What an amazing experience to venture out into the wild on a mini safari and visit these animals in their natural habitat.
I love the birds too. Kakadu is a huge wetlands area. The guide said that as many as 280 bird species, a third of the world’s bird species, migrate through here or live here.
Snake-Necked Darter, female
Snake-necked Darter, male, drying wings
Pygmy Geese (actually ducks, these are misnamed)
These cave paintings are thousands of years old. Here are my hubby and me in front of Nourlangie, a site of the paintings that was on our tour.
To be continued…