Nz Back in the Northern Territory after 15 years! Darwin has changed a lot, I must say. And Kakadu as well. In 2000 we went to twin falls and had to swim up the river to the bottom of the falls. These days, it’s boats only. Probably healthier, too. We picked up our car at the airport after some looking around. Thankfully it had been parked right in the sun without a windscreen shade (or whatever they are called in English) so I couldn’t touch the steering wheel at first because it burnt my hands. Seriously, such a thing costs what, 5 cents? I’m not really that pleased with the rental car companies we encountered in Oz so far. I had booked a car for Brisbane a couple of months ago with a company called alpha car hire. Normal booking process. Then I got an email from them some two weeks before take off where they asked for a scan of my driving license (no problem) and of both sides of my credit card. I replied very politely that I was hereby sending the scan of the license but that scanning and sending the CC is not possible. They insisted and over a few emails established that there was no other way. WHAT THE FUCK? I even tried to meet them halfways by offering to send the cc number, expiry date and name, but they insisted on the cvc code. Yeah, right. So I had no other choice but to cancel the booking and hint that I would report them to the authorities as well as Visa if they charged a cancellation fee. They didn’t and we parted ways. But beware of Alpha Car Hire in Australia, they obviously have no clue what sensitive data is and what potential mess they could be getting themselves into. I placed another booking with Redspot, which is the Aussie brand of Sixt. They were cheaper than Alpha, right in the airport, quick, efficient, very good car, too. In Cairns I had booked with East Coast Car Rentals, good car, but while I had booked pick up /drop off at the airport, and throughout the whole booking process they gave no indication otherwise, we had to call, wait for a shuttle to take us downtown, pick up the car from there and drive back out through heavy traffic, which cost us an hour altogether. Same story for the return. So I’m quite a bit miffed, I consider this cheating. Apart from that, all good. Finally Bargain Rental Cars in Darwin. They charged 30AUD extra for the airport pick up/drop off, upfront. No problem. And then again, only two weeks before take off, I received an email with instructions. All good except for the fact that I had to sign some forms and return them to their downtown office within 24 hours or pay a 250 dollar fine. Fuck you. So instead of heading straight for Kakadu from the airport we had to drive to Mitchell St drop the forms, and the head back out again. Fuck you. Fuck you. Again, I feel cheated, this is rip off. The car was only one quarter full and the driver’s door handle came off each time I looked at it. Apart from that, all good.
So, off to Kakadu we went. We discovered the joy of Connoisseur coconut ice cream along the way and I was pleasantly surprised that a good stretch of the highway was actually 130kph. Feels like home. 😁
We stayed in Jabiru at the Crocodile Hotel. Crazy building, but very friendly staff, good room. The only downside was the restaurant, again punching above their weight. But significantly worse than O’Reilly’s, we ordered garlic bread as a starter on two consecutive days and it was inedible both times. Other clients at tables next to us returned their’s as well. What can you do wrong about garlic bread? Especially if you charge a fortune for it … . For that kind of money they should have a special chef dedicated to garlic bread only. The rest of the food was OK, but overpriced and rather bland. Service was patchy as well. A good alternative and much cheaper as well is the Kakadu bakery just across the road, closes at 3pm though. There is also a supermarket, but beware refrigated wares, we saw quite a number of rather mouldy looking cheese in the store. 😔 They must have problems with the refrigeration chain I suppose.
A lot of the tracks were still closed but we still managed a few beautiful bushwalks and billabongs and a fantastic sunset cruise on the yellow river. Three magnificent days in a magnificent place! And of course, lots of Kakadus. 🐦
But as mentioned previously, I would beat their recommended walking times with both legs tied around my head. Lots of funny birds, giant green ants, snakes, spiders, and of course crocs around. And some cuddly wallabies for the reisebegleitung. ☺
From Kakadu we drove down to Katherine to explore Nitmiluk NP. Beautiful! Unfortunately, the river was too wild so canoeing was not allowed. I’d been looking forward to this for a while, but that’s nature, I guess. If I had known this in advance I wouldn’t have had to be so nice to Miss K in order to gain brownie points for getting her into the kayak. 😜 We spontaneously decided to leave one day earlier since we’d seen pretty much anything in the area an eating options were rather limited. Wise decision, because Litchfield NP on a Monday was pretty and pretty deserted, so very lovely. Stayed at a quirky but charming place called the Batchelor Butterfly Farm, very nice people, with lots of butterflies and some pets. Beautiful, nice, spacious room, too. They also run a restaurant and the food was very good. I ordered garlic bread just because and they got it right for a fraction of the price and without posh pretensions. Btw, the cafe at Wangi Falls in Litchfield NP itself has good TripAdvisor reviews but is really not that great. Stop at the butterfly farm, get a smoothie and a muffin for the road and come back for dinner.