Friday, 26 June 2009

Step out of the vehicle please, Sir

You could spend an entire life visiting Aussie National Parks, but Kakadu has the advantage of being near a city, so gets more visitors than most. Like much of Oz, it has long stretches of extreme tedium (straight roads through scrub) linking sites of jaw-dropping beauty and grandeur. I joined a camping tour for this one - many of the roads are not for the faint-hearted, tempting as it is to give 4w driving a go. Weather was kind, perfect for swimming in plunge pools (well, the croc-free ones) at the foot of waterfalls, and the wetlands are gorgeous, especially at sunset. I'm not sure about the common sense of teaching crocs to jump though. They've done fine without evolving for the last 200m years - if they really get the notion for self-improvement we're all in trouble.

And my tentmates were the first Scots I've met on the trip! And they're recent graduates (DMEM Department) of Strathclyde Uni! We're pictured trying to describe current University strategy - only joking, if any Senior Officers are reading this.

Not all plain sailing. Darwin has a reputation for hard drinking and unfortunately this extended to our guide who made the most of the last night at the campsite (your correspondent doesn't recall all the details, and is VERY glad he wasn't doing the driving), and was breathalysed the following morning. He would have passed a conventional test but tour guides are judged by a higher standard and he had to pass the steering wheel to one of the passengers for the rest of the morning. Not sure if this will have implications for his career, we were all too embarrassed for him to enquire at the time, but the tour-group is reconvening this evening at a Darwin hostelry and he plans to attend so we'll perhaps find out then.

I've decided to head back to Sydney in a couple of days. Alice Springs and the attractions thereabouts (well, 500km away which qualifies as local down there) appealed but not enough to justify the time and cost of getting to them and then getting to Sydney in time for my flight to Hawaii. Last time I was in Sydney I thought it was my all-time favourite city, but that was during a World Cup so not exactly normal circumstances. Plus I read a colour supplement article the other day in which a local writer deplored the way the city has gone to the dogs in recent years. Hope not, but we'll see.

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