Re: RFI - Kakadu Accommodations

To: Andrew Taylor <>
Subject: Re: RFI - Kakadu Accommodations
From: Alexandra Appleman <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 08:50:01 +1000
Thanks Andrew - I was wondering how you got access to Nourlangie when I was
confronted by a locked gate!  I suppose my response was pretty negative:
Kakadu was the place that triggered my interest in birds back in 1987 and
my 1995 trip to find endemics was fairly mixed. 

I agree that the bush around Nourlangie was pretty productive and note that
you made the trip in May (?) I went in October hoping to bird shortly after
dawn when the birds were the most active and before the heat of the day;
the locked gate meant I was hanging around at a not very productive part of
the area; when it  opened I headed for the walking track circumventing the
art galleries. I probably managed 1.5 km only as it was getting too hot.  I
was amazed at the number of European tourists walking around without hats
and water canteens.

Obi Rock had no barriers and I walked the circuit there, later in the
afternoon.  Not as good birding as at Nourlangie.

Also an error: I mentioned 'East Alligator' in my last posting; I meant
'South Alligator'.


Alex Appleman

At 06:06 PM 6/16/98 +1000, you wrote:
>On Tue, 16 Jun 1998, Alexandra Appleman wrote:
>> ... however I managed to see the white
>> lined honeyeater and chestnut quilled rock pigeon in the vicinity of
>> Nourlangie, despite the constant chatter of tour groups and dust from
>> ... does anyone else lament the changing of Kakadu from outback gem of
the 1980's
>> into an  environmental theme park of the 1990's?
>Alexandra asked for direct replies but this is mainly a trip report so
>I've sent it to birding-aus.  People from the NT will tell you tourists
>see the worst of Kakadu.  No doubt there is more than a little truth
>in this, but it is easy even without local knowledge to get away from
>the crowds.
>I was in Kakadu a few weeks ago and had a morning to myself and decided to
>try the Barrk Sandstone Walk over Nourlangie Rock. The pre-dawn drive from
>Jabiru gave me good views of Brush-tailed Phascogale, Spotted Nightjar,
>Bush-Stone-Curlew and a Diamond Dove dozing on the road.
>At dawn the Nourlangie Rock car park was empty.  Distant White-Lined
>Honeyeaters called in the fragments of monsoon forest at the base of
>the rock.  I didn't linger near the galleries of rock art.  I moved
>quietly up the trail hoping to catch a lingering Black Wallaroo unawares.
>These shy and elusive Kakadu endemics are little known because they
>inhabit the rugged sandstone of the escarpments.  Occasionally they
>are seen in the early morning here.
>The Barrk trail leaves the well-worn tourist walk at the rock base for
>a scramble up a wet-season creek.  Atop the first waterfall, you have
>views sweeping from the escarpment, over the Nourlangie creek system
>and the South Alligator floodplains to the massive cliffs which front
>Nourlangie Rock.  An Australian Hobby flew past.
>Rockhole Frogs (Litoria meiriana) skittered around the edges of some
>rock pools.  They are one of 4 frog species endemic to the sandstone of
>the Top End, all found at Nourlangie Rock.  Unlike most frogs they are
>active through the day and through the dry season.
>Near the top of the creek a Banded Fruit Dove called from a dark cluster
>of fig trees.  The Barrk walk then takes you through the sandstone and
>spinifex.  I searched unsuccessfully for White-throated Grass-wren and
>I've since read they don't occur at Nourlangie.  A Sandstone Shrike-Thrush
>in full voice and in plain view provided some consolation as did several
>interesting grasshopper species amid the spinifex.
>A group of Variegated Fairy-wrens from the beautiful dulcis race welcomed
>me to the creek which takes you back down off the rock.  Nearby a pair of
>White-lined Honeyeaters were feeding in a flowering Northern Grevillea.
>I've heard this species every time I've been at Nourlangie Rock but this
>was the first time I've had good views.
>After crossing the rock, the Barrk walk then follows the base of the
>rock for 8km or so back around to your starting point.  After a few kms
>you come to the less visited Nanguluwurr rock art gallery.  An excellent
>excuse for a rest.  The remaining kms were alive with birds, I suspect
>birds perhaps because its where the woodland meets the sandstone slope.
>A Black-breasted Kite soared past the immense cliffs that front Nourlangie
>Rock as I neared my starting point.  A Chestnut-quilled Rock-pigeon
>loafed in the shade of the toilet block oblivious to the car park now
>full of coaches and tour vehicles.
>Several thousand people visit the Nourlangie Rock rock art galleries
>each day during the dry season.  I'm sure the wonder of these paintings
>is diminished for many because of the press of visitors.  But close by
>you can do a 12km walk littered with endemic species and spectacular
>views and without seeing another person.  I'm sure there are many other
>possibilities in Kakadu a little further off the beaten track.
>Alexandra mentioned Nourlangie Rock being closed until 8am, I haven't
>noticed any sign in quite a few visits including several before 8am so
>either I'm particularly unobservant or its no longer the case.
>One facet of Kakadu that doesn't get mentioned is the fish.  The few
>places you can swim (e.g. Gunlom or Gubarra Pools) are crystal clear
>(in the dry) and rich with fish species.  Next time I hope to remember
>my facemask and a fish book.
>Andrew Taylor

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