Saturday, 12 August 1995

Bardedjilidji Walk & Visitor's Centre

Catfish Creek (Mawoenewoene)
The third of the walks in the Ubirr locality had evaded us yesterday and it was with fresh resolve andnew vigour, we set out in the morning to knock this last walk over. Set along the wet season flood plain of both the East Alligator River and its tributary, Mawoenewoene (Catfish Creek), the Bardedjilidji Walk was an easy 2.5 km stroll through layered sandstone stacks which resembled so many pancakes awaiting lemon and sugar.

The stacks varied in height from the little two metre mounds to the taller and connected thirty metre cliffs. Because of the proximity to the water courses and the effect of falling rain along the jointed nature of this sandstone, we also discovered many caves which had previously been used as shelters. An amazing aspect of this walk, was the viewing of some exquisite rock art which was both unheralded and unprotected from either waterflow or the public. This amazed and concerned us and despite reference to the ranger in the Visitor's Centre later in the day, there seemed no explanation.

The walk takes you through very narrow canyons of tumbled sandstone, all of which has fallen in large, flat slabs. It was in this section poor old Sam copped a large dose of Green Ant infestation. He had been standing quietly, waiting for me to complete taping some of the topography and in the process, had stood too close to a tree containing several Green Ant nests. The nests are made from the leaves of the paperbark tree whilst they still hang in place on the young trees. They bind them together in a ball shape, using some sort of web they extract from their bodies.

After setting out again - following the cessation of my taping - he suddenly started gyrating and screaming that he was under attack. He was stripped where he stood and the poor kid was covered with the small, scrambling ants with the bright green abdomen, which are so prevalent in the Top End. We brushed and flicked and removed the little beggars before too many of them were able to bite him, but even so, he picked up a few bites. Consoled, he was able to continue, but it was a salient reminder to him, that there was more than crocodiles to be worried about in this wild territory.

About two thirds of the way through this walk, we branched off onto the board walk which leads to the longer Rock Holes Walk. This 200 metre section took us across a narrow section of Catfish Creek and some beautiful water lilies. With a watchful eye on any large creatures which might be hungry, we took some nice visual records of these pretty plants.

We completed the the walk and bundled ourselves into the car for the drive to Jabiru and a tour of the
Visitor's Centre, which had come highly recommended. The design was excellent, moulding into the bush in true Frank Lloyd Wright style. The entire building was elevated and gave the impression of being part of a board walk. There were excellent displays which gave a record of the various histories of the park, including geological, animal and cultural. Current information about the state of park roads, attractions and water courses is displayed and is valuable in aiding tourists in their effective planning of good park use. We watched two excellent audio-visual displays of a different nature.

The first, was a video called "The Big Wet": an example of an unusually wet season and the affect it has on the animal inhabitants of the park. It was one of five videos running almost continuously throughout the day in a comfortable theatrete. Along from this is a slide presentation with a difference. There are seven screens in a 360 degree panorama surrounding the viewer. Although there are ample places to lean in this smallish theatrete, there are no seats and the slide presentation of 25 minutes was just the right length. The introduction was given by a traditional owner of the park and the topic of the slides was the changing face of the park as the cycle of each year rotates. The quality of the slides was of the highest imaginable standard and you found yourself enthralled by each change in each screen and, ultimately, your ability to keep up with them. The soundtrack was equally impressive, as the surround-sound audio conveyed the calls of the bird life, the threat of an oncoming storm and the background sound clutter that is inevitable in such a rich natural environment. We were immersed in images and sounds, emerging saturated by beauty and wonder.

We returned to camp, all happy the reputation of the Visitor's Centre was an accurate one.

Our afternoon belonged to school work-finally. Mathematics, Japanese and English were on the menu and after the break our recalcitrance had caused, it was difficult to get started. However, after warming up, the children - if not the parents - were able to endure the necessary work with a smile and even some satisfaction.

Forgoing the sunset at Ubirr, we opted for a rare campfire, jaffles and some family chat. This went well and we slept blissfully.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated before being posted.