Category Archives: Australia

Western Australia, part 3

I looked for books while I was there and found one in a used bookstore in Fremantle, near Perth. It’s called Tracks by Robyn Davidson. She crossed a massive amount of Australia alone with three camels and her dog. It’s great, a tough non-romanticized view. Parts of it are sad, but I like the knowledge in the book. Our guide also recommended a couple books about the land, animals, and plants that I want to read as well. On this trip, the tours we took made me feel like I’d visited the Australia I imagine from reading my friend’s books about the outback. Australia will be in a book of mine soon, one co-authored with my friend John Holland who provides all the Australiana.

Some of the places we went.






What do San Diego and Kakadu have in common?

It was amazing to see animals in the wild after having been so recently to the San Diego Zoo.

Here is is the Plumed Whistling Duck we saw in the Kakadu park in Australia. Not a perfect photo, they were far away and suffered camera jiggle, but this is one of my favorite photos anyway. It was just the feeling I had being there among so much bird life. I wasn’t sure if the amazing displays of birds would be present during the dry season, but I wasn’t disappointed.


Here is the photo of the whistling duck from my San Diego Zoo, May 6th post ( clearly a different species, but related.


There was enough water in the Kakadu to see wildlife without being overwhelmed by monsoons (and thrown overboard to swim with crocs). I don’t think they do tours in the wet season, or “The Wet,” as locals call it. Here are some shots showing the environment in The Dry.



As you can see, it’s still not so dry! These are fantastic wetlands. Let’s hope they continue to be because they are vital habitat for almost 300 species of birds.

I hope you have a good Monday, or a good Monday evening for my Australian friends and a good week ahead. I will be continuing to share photos from our mad dash around Australia, so stay tuned!

Australia’s top end: Kakadu National Park

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!



Bird tableau


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.


Whistling Kite


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…