Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If It's Not A Croc, It's a Boar

Our plans to stay at Jim Jim Billabong were foiled because the isolated camping area was still closed to the public. Instead we pulled into Gagudju Lodge at Cooinda. One quick look at the campground and I knew that there was no way we would be staying the night with the masses. Dozens of Campervans and Caravans were parked one on top of another in a fenced off area. It was like the parking lot of a major mall at Christmas time, but rather than parking and rushing off into the semi-pathetic mini-mart, heaps of of Aussies and Tourists were all lounging about in front of their temporary mobile homes. From my vantage point, outside the massive chain-link fence, the campers resembled caged animals and I wondered if they felt entrapped or protected. 
We quickly filled the RAV4 with petrol and decided to call in to the information center to find about river trips. We had hopes of catching an early morning boat ride before continuing on our way to Darwin. We were in luck; the dawn tour had space. But, of course it did, since it cost $30 more than all the other river tours because it included breakfast. I knew the last thing I wanted was to spend way too much for a meal that would consist of greasy eggs and stinky sausage, but I really wanted to see the river and its wildlife at dawn. So we coughed up the money, and headed down the road to the National Park Campground.
We were unsure of what we would find, but to our relief the large campground was virtually empty. I was also happy that the generator free area was at least a 1/2 mile from the Mardugal Billabong, home to--yep, you guessed it--crocs. We found the perfect spot to pitch our tent and settled into enjoy the evening. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before hell descended upon us as millions of mosquitos came out for a feed. We were able to protect our skin with long sleeves and spray, but there was nothing we could do about the insistent drone--a noise that would stay with us throughout the entire night as the little buggers tried to make their way into the tent. And this cacophony  was interrupted  only by the distant howl of a dingo, and the snort of the wild pig that crashed through our camp in the middle of the night. As we followed the clackety clackety sound of his hooves against the ground through the bush, for a picture that wasn't captured, I began to wonder if perhaps there was a reason to stay within in the perimeter of the shiny silver cage just up the road.

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