Photo Credit: Tourism Australia
Photographer: Ellenor Argyropoulos
I have lived in Kakadu National park for a little over 11 years and attended the local high school for a lot of my schooling life. I love travelling and have traveled to many parts of the world. Although, Kakadu would still be right at the top in my list of favorite places, not only because it is the biggest national park in Australia or even its tranquillity and natural serenity. But because of the number of unique and unforgettable experiences which you can have there. Its fair to say that in my 11 year there I have seen a lot of the park, but no where near all of it. There are many places where anyone can visit, however there are also many that require a permit, one of these such places that require a permit is Sandy Creek which has some of the best fishing in Australia and arguably the world. Anyway, that’s enough about me.
One of my favorite things to do in Kakadu, and one of my most memorable: is watch the sun set out off the summit of Ubirr rock. The hike to the summit takes approximately 1-2 hours, taking into account time needed to look at some of the breathtaking Aboriginal rock art at the site. Which depict the indigenous dream time stories and animals which they hunted in the past, things from barramundi and snapper or tricky as we call them. The elders often told us stories in school about how they used to have to snap the snappers necks to stop them getting away. The rock art also shows many other animals such as turtles, crocodiles (of course) and there is even as Tasmanian tiger! which is shown at the top of the main gallery.
I would often race my siblings to the top of the rocky outlook (I won of course). We have been up to the summit more times than I can count but it never ceases to amaze me, looking across the floodplains with the sun setting in the not so distant horizon. On the hike down, we would often stop to look at the rock art and friends of Mum’s would stop and explain to us the meaning behind all of the art and how it shows many important dream time ancestors such as the Rainbow Serpent and the Namarrgarn Sisters.
Another thing I love about Ubirr is the sentimental value it holds, to not only me, but the indigenous people and who ever visits there. Its is also where I caught my first crocodile (croc). I can still remember it now, it was a 3.8 meter croc (so only a small one) it took 10 of us, comprising of my friends and 2 rangers, which we did through the JPR program at school, which trains kids to become ranger by getting a taste of some of the amazing work they do. It was pretty scary at the time, because we had to hold it down while a ranger taped its mouth. However when I think back it was just awesome!
I would strongly recommend anyone visiting Kakadu to go to Ubirr first. Its an experience you wont be soon to forget, from the moment you enter the car park and look up at the escarpment to the moment your climbing down after sunset, it is truly spectacular. However, of you do go I would suggest going in the dry season, as there is usually not a cloud in the sky and all the roads will be open. There are many options from self guided tours or ranger guided tours, both options are completely free. I would recommend taking the ranger tour the first time around to get a feel for the culture and truly experience the deep meaning behind each piece of art.