My friend and I had the most tremendous adventure this evening.
We arrived in The Kakadu National Forest very late, and when we arrived, we realized that we were not going to be able to see the upper handprints in the cave of the hands. The road was closed because of the floods and the roads closed yesterday, March 31. It was such a huge disappointment, and I was very sad.
However, an unexpected occurrence happened. We were in the restaurant at the hotel, asking the waitress how we could go visit these pieces of rock art on the only night we had available. She told us that while the Ubirr hand stencils were not available that Nourlangie would definitely be available. She said that we’d have to to get there before dark and that we would have to drive very slow back because of all the wildlife on the road. It was very scary! We were a little concerned about where we were going, but we darted out in the car and drove as fast as we could like bats out of hell to get to the Nourlangie rock.
We arrive just as dusk fell and it was getting darker so fast we could barely put on our shoes before the dusk turned into darkness. Both of us were concerned about following the path in the dark in the Kakadu National Forest, as though we were told that it was way too dangerous for us to hike in the dark. There are all kinds of poisonous snakes and spiders. There are dingoes and dangerous crocodiles, small Komodo dragons, kangaroos and of course the pythons. So, as we were walking back to the car and beginning to drive away because we were afraid to enter, a young man, dressed in professional hiking gear walked out of the forest. We stopped the car as fast as we could and asked him if he knew how far the hike was to see the rock art pieces.
In our short conversation we realized that just by accident we ran into the perfect person to escort us to these famous rock art drawings. He was so gracious. He said he would take us there, and before we knew it, we were all hiking on the path with our flashlights and hiking up the path to see the first of the famous rock art pieces. It was such an amazing adventure. Soon the light of the sunset was gone, and it was becoming pitch black. We were in the forest and it was getting very scary. The guide had a spotlight on his forehead and my friend and I used our phones as flashlights.
The huge spiders were creeping all over, making their monstrous webs to catch their giant bugs, and the dingoes were screaming. There was rustling in the bushes every few seconds with a thought that perhaps that we would run into the grey python in the bush. We were traveling with a photographer who was in the forest to photograph the rare grey python only seen a few times and only found at night. What kind of crazy is that? Totally crazy! We kept walking, and this trained guide took us to the greatest of all rock art in the forest, The Nourlangie X-ray artwork. He was a brave soul with an adventurous spirit. One after another we saw all available rock art paintings there were to see.
Our professional hiking guide was named Brent, a zoologist from Crocodilous Wildlife Park. He was out in the bush, trying to take pictures of the grey python, or also called the rainbow serpent. The rainbow serpent is only found in the Kakadu National Forest. It’s a grey python snake and it is very rare. That was very scary to me. I didn’t want to see a rainbow serpent in the dark in the middle of the forest hanging from a tree and threatening me with his tongue. But Brent felt very comfortable with being in the forest and night, hiking around looking for reptiles to photograph.
He walked us up and down and all around the mountain, revealing some of the oldest rock art pieces that exist in the world today. He must have lead us to 8-10 sights and lit the rock with his head flashlight so we could photograph and discover the wonderful ancient aboriginal art that decorated the cliffs around us. It was tremendously wild and scary, exciting and inspirational to photograph the x-ray paintings of kangaroos, and snakes, people and clans. All was exquisite.
Brent lead us off the mountain after 4.3 miles of hiking the Nourlangie Rock. He lead us safely back to the car and while he went to sleep in his Toyota SUV, we slowly drove down the road to Jabiru to stay at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel (The hotel is shaped like a crocodile with arms and legs, feet and a face). What a tremendous adventure in the Kakadu National Park.
After traveling half-way around the world to see these 20,000 year old rock art pieces I felt completely and full and elated.
Thank you to all the wonderful people that made this awesome adventure possible. We returned to the hotel, had a few shots of tequila and ate kangaroo pizza for dinner as that was all that was available late at night! It was awesome!
Wow! What an experience!
We purchased the rainbow serpent painting from the gallery, and drove back to Darwin at the crack of dawn.
Thank you, Brent, our professional hiker!
Thank you to the staff at the Crocodile Hotel for guiding us to rock art sites that were not closed due to flooding. YOU’RE THE BEST!!!
Thank you to all who made this journey possible.