Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DAY 225: Merl (Ubirr) to Aurora Kakadu

Thurs 5th June 2008

85 km @ 17.3 km/hr

Sunny, 32 deg C

Elevation of destination xxx m

Distance to date 13790 km (8619 miles)

Just as I was settling down to sleep, after 11 last night, a van drove in and parked right at the side of me, radio playing, and I had to ask the guy to turn it off please - the site was utterly silent before this. So that kind of woke me up again, and my run of bad luck with camping and noise continues! He could have chosen anywhere....Anyway I slept OK once I realised all was quiet again; I think I’m getting hyper-sensitive to this issue.

I only had a little muesli left for breakfast but when I tipped it in the bowl a few hundred ants came out with it, so I had to dump it. These ants are so tiny they can get in anywhere -a few were even in the peanut butter, which I can probably still use having removed them - some people eat ants regularly, well, the Green Ants at least, as a reputedly good source of vitamin C when in the bush, so they can’t be harmful eh?

I was away for 0815 on a very quiet road in very warm conditions. It has been pretty warm at night lately, and it has been a dilemma whether to keep covered up to keep the mozzies away from my skin or uncover for coolness. I’ve taken to sleeping just in the silk sleeping bag liner as a compromise. My left foot / leg was ‘lame’ again so I took it very easy, with the wind on my left so of little advantage for a change.

I could have turned right directly for Darwin when after 37km I came to the Arnhem Highway, but as it was only 4km away and I had plenty of time I turned left and rode back up to the Bowali Centre (Kakadu NP Visitor Centre) where I watched the films 2 days ago. It was more the food and drink that I was after today, and I had another decent sandwich, and iced coffee. I did pop in and watch some more film about Kakadu too, and also met the German man from the cruise yesterday and chatted for a while. I also rang Kingsley to let him know when I would be arriving - probably Saturday - and that’s OK. I’m looking forward to some more ‘home comfort’ with a Warmshowers host again; it’s been a while.

Thus fortified I returned to the Arnhem Highway and headed for Darwin, well, initially to the Mamukala wetland viewing area. The road was a bit busier but fine despite no shoulder, though it felt hotter today than it has been. The flies were a pain and I had to don the net the whole time.

Mamaluka is a large wetland some 30km west of Jabiru, approximately 2 km square, completely filled with water lillies, so it was hard to see many birds, and in fact there were few around anyway at this middling hour. I spotted a few Jacana walking on the lillies, as they do, and the usual Corellas (so common recently) and Terns swooping around for flies. It was lovely and peaceful though, and I got the billy on for a coffee to enhance the enjoyment. A man came into the hide and saw my Caithness CC shirt, and it turned out he was from Wick originally - he told me his name but I forgot it, but it was a Caithness name allright.

After a pleasant hour I cycled on, scaring some Jabiru paddling around in a little billabong by the road in the process, and just another 12km west arrived at Aurora Kakadu Resort, wher I paid my $12 and set up in a huge empty camping area - this will surely be a very quiet night lol? However I could smell burning rubbish, and the source was a hole in the ground behind the camping area where their rubbish - paper, plastic and cans - were smouldering away. There was charred rubbish for some 200m radius of the ‘pit’. 2 dingos were in attendance, presumably looking for scraps, but they loped away lazily when they saw me. After setting up I went and got a little shopping at the expensive site shop and went to see the manager or whatever the guy on the desk was. I told him nicely that there was blue smelly smoke blowing over the campers, and he rudely snapped back that there was nothing he could do about it “what am I supposed to do” I think his words were. He advised me to move somewhere else - which is a fiddle to do when you’ve erected the tent and put everything in it. Burning this kind of waste is outlawed in Europe - it is not good for ones health - and I may ring the EPA here up to see if they are interested.

I was low on food so decided to eat at the resort bar, and my spicy chicken pie and chips was very good indeed, and I said so - I don’t JUST complain, see! I also managed to squeeze in 2 schooners of XXXX Gold at $3 each during happy hour. By the time I got back ‘home’ I could no longer smell the burning waste, but the dingoes were howling mournfully again.

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