Engagement Getaway

Kakadu National Park, NT

Dragonfly and water lily at Yellow Waters Billabong
It all started at 4am in the morning when we set off in Dusty for a sunrise fish at Corroboree Billabong. As a surprise from my sister, we were told ‘something’ had been organised for us and we rocked up to find out we were going out on a chartered boat. Being out on the boat on a quiet morning, surrounded by fog and cruising along little offshoot waterways was an experience in itself. The scenery was spectacular…

P1030039Huge water lilies lined the waterway edges, flocks of birds were around and of course the revered crocodiles made their presence known.

Corroboree BillabongI had a crack at fishing and enjoyed working on improving my casting technique. I caught my first fish, which is exciting (even if it was only 20cm!) and Dave enjoyed getting his first glimpse of an NT billabong, which is part of the Mary River wetlands. We both got a few hits but didn’t land the elusive Barra we were secretly hoping for.

We went onto Kakadu National Park and stayed in the Crocodile Hotel, compliments of my sister who had arranged a ‘couple R&R’ time away as a very generous engagement gift. She planned the 4-day getaway as a surprise and made up little envelopes for us to open at the time our next activity was to be revealed. So awesome!!!

Wine in our roomThe hotel treated us like royalty and all of the staff were congratulating us on our engagement. It turns out my sister got the manager on board, who was excited and got all the staff on board which made it really special for us. Our romantic dinner table at the hotel’s restaurant was set apart from the common people, (ha) with flowers, candles, champagne and an enthusiastic supervisor who looked after us so well. Including a complimentary dessert…royalty!

IMG_0850 Crocodile Risotto IMG_0620

Ever wondered what crocodile is like in a risotto? It’s actually really good!

Our envelope that night revealed a flight over Kakadu the next morning. After plenty of wine and champagne we were sure to set two alarms because we were not going to risk missing this!

We rock up to find out that our ride is one of those very small mustering type helicopters – SO exciting! With all doors off and our seat belts definitely buckled, we enjoyed our open aired broad view of the incredible escarpment and wetlands below. There is surely no better way to do a scenic flight!

P1030184 Helicopter ride Helicopter ride

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This flight was INSANELY cool! Words can’t even describe how cool flying around in one of these helicopters was, let alone the mind-blowing views. It’s something I have always wanted to do and this experience seriously blew me away. Dave and I are still raving about the views…huge rock escarpments, rivers, wetlands…it was so damn awesome. We can’t wait to do it again in the wet season once Kakadu has been transformed into massive wetlands full of life and thundering waterfalls.

Cooinda hotelAnother envelope revealed our next night of accommodation was at Cooinda Gagudju Lodge situated right next to Yellow Waters Billabong, famous for its crazy abundance of birds and crocodiles. We chilled for the afternoon and let me tell you on a 40 degree day, a pool has never been more inviting.

A further surprise – we were booked into a sunset cruise along the wetlands and a candle lit dinner afterwards. Yey!

This eye-popping cruise was a photographers dream! On this Oz trip we’ve really gotten into bird watching (don’t laugh), which I think stems from living outdoors and our growing appreciation for Australia’s amazing diversity. Needless to say, we were in bird-spotting heaven! Quietly cruising around the wetlands taking in this unique habitat, with the sunset reflections on the water was just magical. Lucky us, our guide played the didgeridoo while the sun was setting. It was a very cool experience. Loved it!

Yellow Waters wetlands cruise Yellow Waters wetlands cruise Yellow Waters wetlands cruise

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We had another wonderful dinner where we got treated like royalty. They provided table service for us (it was a counter service restaurant), set up a romantic table on its own with candles and a bottle of champagne on arrival. Great food and not bad company. And it was all pre-paid for…royalty!

Cooinda hotel dinner Cooinda hotel dinner

Every wondered what Kangaroo pie tastes like? Amazing!

The next day we went on a wetlands walk and another in the Nourlangie region that took us past ancient Aboriginal shelters, art sites and impressive lookouts with views of Kakadu’s escarpment.

Nourlangie Rock Artwork This is a painting of Nabulwinjbulwinj.

His name is pronounced Nar-bull-win-bull-win.

He is a dangerous spirit who eats females after striking them with a yam.

 

Leichhardt's Grasshopper at Gubara Naturalists will be excited to hear that we found some of the rare Leichhardt Grasshoppers. We walked around in the bush at Gubara where we heard a particular shrub they like can be found and eureka!

We checked out Cahill’s Crossing, where the Arnhem Hwy cuts across the East Alligator River. Quite famous for croc infested waters and spectacular scenes of losing cars to the fast flowing water. A sinking car and crocs is a bad combo! Picture the crossing as a slightly raised concrete road covered with water. The river is tidal and at high tide crocs gather around the crossing to catch the Barra jumping from one side of the road to the other. We saw some spectacular croc catching fish chomping action and thankfully didn’t see any cars get washed downstream…

East Alligator River - Cahills Crossing

Above: Did you spot the croc? If not, look again.
Below: Dave having a fish at Cahill’s Crossing.

We visited Ubirr Rock for its rock art and to watch the sunset over the floodplains. We climbed a rocky outcrop on the edge of the floodplains and admired our 360-degree surrounding view as the sun went down. BTW we were still giggling at calling each other ‘fiancé’.

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After living in a house since getting to Darwin, we loved having the opportunity to camp in Dusty. After a 40-degree and very humid day, with no change after sunset, I did contemplate a hotel room…but bravery won out. It turns out an open van door and two little fans on full pelt were enough to suffice.

First thing in the morning we went on the East Alligator River Cruise and we loved it! There were birds and crocs galore. Seriously croc infested waters because at the end of the dry season there’s less water around and all NT crocs move into what few areas of water are left…so the river was thick with them…scary…but very cool. We learned loads from our indigenous guide who had so much knowledge to share about the land and the local peoples way of life. Loved it!

East Alligator River - Cahills Crossing East Alligator River cruise East Alligator River cruise

These activities are things I’ve always wanted to do and I was super stoked for Dave to be seeing some of the best of what the NT has to offer, and for us to be able to experience it together as part of our Unknown Journey. It made it all the more sensational.

All my sisters doing! Although she doesn’t really want a mention we do have her to thank for our amazing 4 days of Kakadu adventuring and for the personalised touches that made it romantic and special. What a memorable trip!

2 thoughts on “Engagement Getaway

  1. I didnt realise how special this trip was! You sure have a wonderful sister Chelsea! Great photos and loved the video, especially the croc cruising around in the background while you just enjoyed your fishing!

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