Tuesday, June 03, 2008

DAY 222: Cooinda to Malabanjbanjdju

42 km @ 14.1 km/hr
Mon 2nd June 2008
Sunny, 28 deg C
Elevation of destination 12m
Distance to date 13641 km (8526 miles)

I’m starting to sound like a gramophome record but last night saw further loss of sleep in this crowded caravan park - lemme out! Some juvenile English girls were talking loudly and giggling way after everyone else had gone quiet last night, until someone nearby shouted to them “stfu”; and I added “hear hear!”, which did the trick. Then some young campers were banging around packing up and again talking loudly at 0530. There’s just no restraint with some people.
I had breakfast with Bob, having decided to quit here today - I don’t like the blatant overcharging and general commercialised feel to Cooinda Lodge (this is all there is in Cooinda). For example I was queueing for quite a while to pay my $15 camping fee while the guy behind the desk was trying long and hard to sell a $1200 scenic flight to some caravanners, which needled me.
Enough negative - the day started off positive thankfully with my visit to the Warradjan Aboriginal Centre, which is very interesting and gives good insight into how they lived here for thousands of years before the white man came - essentially taking from the land “...for need, not for greed”....which modern society could well learn from with our wasteful ways. Not only did they (for example) kill animals only when they were hungry, they actually ate the whole animal, throwing very little away. Theyhad respect for the environment which many of us don't. On a different tack, there was stuff about the “stolen generation” where black kids were taken from their families to be brought up fit for the ‘white’ world - an example of how the kids were treated was where a victim claimed that it was common practice for kids who did things wrong were ordered to strip completely before being beaten at the front of the class. What a mess our ancestors made of things.
Oops, that’s negative again! Well, there was also a good film about how the Aboriginals were turned off their land to make way for a uranium mine, the tailings dump of which is apparently leaking into the river system around here during the wet season. Ooops...... sorry!
I eventually got riding around 1100 into a headwind and gradual drag upwards for about 11km, but then things got easier for the last part. I decided to stay at a free NP camping area at Malabanjbanjdju (there’s nothing else there) which seemed quiet, and there was a bush walk by the billabongs too. After setting up I took a stroll there and spotted a few birds - lots of small and large Egrets, a Little Eagle or similar, and a small brown Kingfisher-like bird that isn’t in the Simpson and Day guide. The walk went close to the water and signs warned of crocodiles, which are pretty common here it seems, including the more dangerous Saltwater variety.
A few other campers are staying here too but it all seems quiet enough at the moment, lets hope it stays that way! Tomorrow I will ride into Jabiru which is less than 20km away, and I may look for a tour to try and see a bit more of Kakadu NP - unfortunately a lot of the more interesting stuff is too far off the main road for me, and only accessed on 4WD gravel roads. Then on to Darwin by next weekend probably.

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