Contiki Day 2 - Darwin to Kakadu

Published: October 18th 2009
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Today we had breakfast (fruit/toast/cereal) at the hotel. We then departed Darwin to Kakadu. Prior to leaving Darwin we went on a coach tour of the city. We drove down and around Darwin Harbour and past rich houses. We learn about the Japanese attacks during the war and the cyclones that have destroyed Darwin 4 times in the past.

We went to Darwin museum and were given an hour or two to look around. It was full of Aboriginal Art, other typical Museum stuff, Sweetheart a huge croc that was caught, and the Cyclone Tracy display. The Cyclone Tracy display and story would have to have been the museum highlight.

Ill post some info at the bottom of the blog regarding the story of Cyclone Tracy and also Sweetheart the crocodile if anyone is interested.

Next we traveled to the "Didge" Didgeridoo Hut and art gallery to have a quick look around. Nick our tour guide pulled out Cuddles the Childrens python and people got to have a hold. There were some other Aussie animals at the Didge also. Next to the snake was a baby croc in an aquarium and a blue tounge lizard in another tank. Out the front was a Galah and Black Cockatoo which were happy for a scrath on the head and would jump on you arm for a hold.

After the Didge we continued to travel to Kakadu stopping at a waterhole on the way. There were croc sign up and we were told not to go near the water because crocs were in there. We took a few photos and then jumped on the bus and went to another park of Kakadu National Park. There were Agile Wallabies on the grass and hundreds of birds. Lillies everywhere. Our rooms were changed. This was done all tour which was good because it gave us all a change to meet each other and was good if you didn like a room mate cause you would not be stuck with them all tour.

The rooms had 2 bunk beds which left a bit more room for bags. Our Darwin rooms had 4 beds in a room so not much floor space. No TVs in the room and bath rooms were communal.

Around 45 mins after check in we hit the road and went to another part of the park. We looked at some historic Aboriginal rock art and climbed up to a look out and watched the sun set.

We had a bbq dinner and hung out at our block of rooms drinking. A good thing with this tour was our guides took us shopping before we left any big city and we were able to stock up on alco and we would buy food for a bbq rather then have to eat at the only one pricey place at each remote location. So we would just hang out and drink and talk.

In Northern Territory you make your own fun. It is a good place to start the tour because you are alone in the middle of no where so you play games, hang out together on site and get to know each other.

Cyclone Tracy Info
Early on Christmas morning 1974 the worst natural disaster ever to affect an Australian city destroyed most of Darwin. For six hours the terrifying winds of tropical cyclone Tracy ripped through the city, reaching up to 217 km an hour before wind gauges broke or were blown away. (Wind speeds were probably about 250km an hour.) Radio transmitters were damaged, so the town lost contact with the outside world for many hours. After the initial winds that had begun at 10pm on Christmas Eve, there was a lull at about 2.30am, and many people came outside, thinking it was all over. But within 30 minutes the wind had built up again and changed direction. People tried hiding under bathtubs or tables, but sometimes this was not enough when buildings collapsed around them. Fifty people died in the city - most killed by flying debris or crushed in their cars or homes. A further 112 people were seriously injured. The wind was so strong that roofs were torn from houses and went spinning through the air; buildings collapsed; and cars, trucks and even railway carriages were sent flying. A further 16 people were lost at sea because of the cyclone. More than two-thirds of the town’s population of 47,000 people were airlifted to emergency accommodation by the defence forces, partly to avoid disease that might be caused by such problems as food rotting in people’s damaged homes. So much of the city was damaged (about 90%) that most of the town had to be rebuilt during the following few years.

Sweetheart the crocodile.
There was a series of attacks, between September 1978 and July 1979, when a large male crocodile called "Sweetheart" started attacking boats. Fact and fiction have become somewhat intertwined with this animal, because the billabong in which it resided contained more than one large crocodile. Although it is 1979, an even larger saltwater crocodile was caught alive in 1984 in a billabong a few kilometres from the site of Sweetheart's attacks. This crocodile is now a tourist attraction in Queensland. It was the right size and it has a damaged snout, consistent with injuries one would expect from biting propellers. However, given that between 1970 and 1984 numerous boats attacked , it seems likely that the new crocodile is an impostor and that the real sweetheart died soon after capture. Where the story of Sweetheart really begins is a little unclear.

Stringer's book The Saga of Sweetheart and Hugh Edward's Crocodile Attack, a number of previous attacks in the same region have been attributed to the same crocodile. It all happened in Sweet's Lookout Billabong; a deep billabong in the Finniss River, about 9 km long and 100m wide at the widest part. Much of it is surrounded by a tall paperbark forest, now totally choked with the introduced thorn bush, Mimosa pigra. Historically, much of the billabong was covered in floating mats of vegetation, but in 1978 these were almost non-existent because of the effects of over grazing by buffalo. The first attack consistent with Sweetheart occurred in 1974. Three people were fishing from a boat at night when the crocodile surfaced, grabbed the cowling of the outboard motor and shook the boat violently. One person was thrown out but clambered back in; when another started the engine, the crocodile attacked the propeller. In 1976, a similar attacked occurred; this time the crocodile damaged the cowling and punctured the aluminium hull. That same year, he slammed into a fishing boat from underneath, turning it around before surfacing beside it. In 1978 he attacked a moored boat, damaging the outboard engine- something that may be quite significant. That same year he sank a fishing boat and continued to attack

BOAT CROC'S BITING DAYS OVER A 5.10 metre crocodile which had terrorised fisherman in the Sweets lookout area is dead. It was caught yesterday by a team from the Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission. The team set out to catch the crocodile after its latest attack on a dinghy on Saturday. It was decided it would have to be caught because it was a menace to people fishing in the area.

HOW HE DIED Sweetheart was finally caught in July 1979, but died soon after capture. Recent studies indicate that prolonged struggling during capture can alter the blood chemistry of very large crocodiles to such a point that they can not recover. And this may have been the cause of Sweetheart's death.

CROCODILE ATTACKS Although saltwater crocodiles rarely interfere with people who are fishing. It is wise to follow a few simple rules of safety.

WHERE HE IS NOW Sweetheart's body and skeleton are now a major display at the Northern Territory Museum and Art Galleries of the N.T.

The movie 'rouge' is based on the story of Sweetheartbut of course as a movie the story of the croc has changed with much more terror and much more killing. I have not seen the movie but found it interesting as I had heard of the movie but never realised it was based on an actual croc.

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