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Kakadu Guided Tour Wild Top End - 6 days

6 day environmental journey to Kakadu and Mary River, Australia's Northern Territory

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Wild Top End is a special journey created for curious adventurers who love wild places and wild creatures.

Feel the timeless peace of a landscape full of animals and very few people, wake to the manic calls of flying-foxes and cockatoos, look out across a billabong filled with water-lilies, walk on rocks created 600 million years ago.

Get to know Kakadu and Mary River National Parks including some of the lesser-known walks and rock art sites. Learn about Top End wildlife, and help protect them.

Itinerary

NOTE: this itinerary is an indication only, due to conditions on the day it can change slightly to maximise wildlife viewing opportunities

Day 1 – Darwin to Kakadu/Jabiru via Fogg Dam and Mamukala Wetlands

After an early pick up from your Darwin accommodation we’ll head eastwards into the tropical outback. The road from Darwin to Jabiru is sealed for its entire length and makes for very easy traveling. On the way we’ll stop at a number of beautiful locations including famous Fogg Dam (part of the Adelaide River floodplain) where we’ll take our first walk into a monsoon forest and view some of fantastic birdlife of the Northern Territory. Then we’ll get on our way crossing a number of the huge rivers that drain the tropical wilderness including the mighty Mary River where we’ll stop for lunch and possibly see our first crocodile. We enter Kakadu National Park and stop at Mamukala Wetland and take a walk to get our first taste of the wonders of Kakadu. We’ll end the day in the small town of Jabiru and move into our accommodation. (staying here 3 nights)

Accommodation: Anbinik Jabiru (tonight and 2 more nights = 3 nights total). Our price includes wonderful Double or Twin Share accommodation in Bush Bungalows with external bathrooms (personal use). You can upgrade to a private cabin (en-suite) – contact us for more information.

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Potential wildlife sightings today: Fogg Dam and Mamukala Wetlands are famed myriad species of birdlife which can include - Little Kingfisher, Brolga Crane, Glossy Ibis, Magpie Goose, Black-necked Stork (Jabiru), and many more including finches, herons, raptors, honeyeaters. We may see crocodiles, pythons, lizards, spiders. Vegetation varies from savannah woodlands to monsoon rainforest and wetlands.

Day 2 – Nourlangie Kakadu - Aboriginal Heritage, black kangaroos, red winged parrots, sunset at Nawurlandja

The Nourlangie region will be our first access to the magnificent Arnhem Land escarpment and its unique wildlife. It also helps us to understand the enormous importance of Kakadu to the Aboriginal People. Ancient sandstone ranges rise directly out of the Kakadu floodplains in a landscape that epitomises the Dreamtime in Australia. We’ll visit a number of places in this region including the Nanguluwur Rock Art site, Anbangbang Billabong and Nourlangie Rock Art site – this last site contains some of the most powerful Aboriginal paintings in Australia including a depiction of the Lightning Man. All the names in Kakadu rise from Aboriginal languages. You will begin to feel the incredible power of this landscape.

After a picnic lunch we'll head back Anbinik for a siesta (or a swim in the pool) during the heat of the afternoon before heading back out to the bush to watch the sunset over the Kakadu escarpment from Nawurlandja lookout. Twilight often heralds the flight of tens of thousands of fruit bats winging their way silently through the tropical dusk - an incredible sight. We then return to Jabiru for dinner

Accommodation: Anbinik Jabiru

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Potential wildlife sightings today: our walk to Nanguluwur early this morning can yield an incredible array of bush birds ranging from tiny finches to the large Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. Rare Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeons may come to drink at a small spring near the rock art site and we may see Partridge Pigeons and Red-winged Parrots. At Nourlangie we often see Emerald Doves and sometimes Sandsone Shrike-thrush. A highlight of this locaton may be the sighting of Black Wallaroos, a localised mid-size kangaroo unique to this region. Anbangbang Billabong is host to a myriad of waterbirds, many species of water lilies and Estuarine Crocodiles (in 2014 we watched a crocodile hunt and kill a pelican at this location). The fruit bat fly-out over Nawurlandja in the evening has to be seen to be believed.

Day 3 - Tropical Rivers - Morning at Ubirr – East Alligator River. Afternoon at Iligadjarr Wetlands - South Alligator River

Many who visit Ubirr come away as different people. It is possibly the most beautiful place in Kakadu with some of the most compelling wilderness landscapes on earth. It has a presence that takes humans back to their beginnings. Nearby the tidal (saltwater) section of the East Alligator River bounds the vast Aboriginal lands of Arnhem Land – to go any further requires special permission. But on the Kakadu side there is a wide variety of activities to choose from including gentle walks near the river, views of elaborate Aboriginal Rock Art sites or a climb to the top of Ubirr Rock with its stunning views across Kakadu. We'll also take the Bardedjilidji Sandstone walk which take us deep into some of Kakadu's most remarkable geological formations where we learn how the Kakadu Escarpment was formed millions of years ago. During the heat of the day we’ll return to Jabiru followed by a rest then a refreshing swim in the pool before heading back out in the afternoon to the nearby Iligadjarr Wetlands for a walk in a tropical svannah woodland beside the freshwater floodplain of the South Alligator River.

Accommodation: Anbinik Jabiru (last night here)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Potential wildlife sightings today: The Ubirr region is one of the few places where it is possible to see the dainty Short-eared Rock-wallaby. There are also occasional sightings of the Black Wallaroo. Estuarine Crocodiles are common in the East Alligator River and surrounding billabongs. Some special birds are the Blue-winged Kookaburra, Brolga, Pheasant Coucal and Peaceful Dove amongst many others. The Iligadjarr Wetlands are a total contrast to Ubirr and on a very different river system. We walk through a tropical savannah woodland at the head of the South Alligator River floodplain. Water birds and raptors abound on the surrounding wetlands, Rainbow Bee-eaters hover overhead, Jabiru Storks (Black-necked storks) and Brolga Cranes are often seen with occasional sightings of water monitors, pythons and crocodiles (from a safe distance). This walk can be one of the wildlife highlights of our Kakadu trip.

Optional tour today: Aboriginal guided boat tour out into the wilderness of the East Alligator River. This 2.5 hour tour is remarkable; it follows the river upstream beside brilliantly coloured sandstone escarpments and provides a full commentary by a local Aboriginal guide about the significance of Arnhem Land to Aboriginal People. The highlight of the trip is the opportunity to take a walk on the east side of the river onto Aboriginal land - normally this would require a special permit so this is a very special experience. The tour costs approximately $80 for an adult with discounts for children. For more information please check out Guluyambi Cultural Cruise

Day 4 - Into the vast Mary River Catchment - Jabiru to Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge

Today we backtrack westward out of Kakadu to Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge deep inside Mary River National Park. Our route takes us firstly along the paved Kakadu Highway then onto the dirt roads heading north into Mary River National Park. On route we’ll stop at a number of special little places, visited by few, but very beautiful. We sometimes see Dingoes and the elusive Antilopine Kangaroo. We’ll finish up at Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge, check in, cool off in the pool, then take a peaceful walk through Jimmy Creek rainforest right beside the Lodge. Here you’ll see the huge nesting mounds of Scrub Fowl – a bird the size of a chicken that builds nests up to 3 metres high! The grounds of the Lodge abound with the beautiful little Agile Wallaby. Cockatoos and parrots of various species abound. Overnight at Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge (there is a swimming pool at the lodge and a saloon bar). In the afternoon you will experience some of the ultimate magic of the Top End with a special driving and walking tour beside two magnificent billabongs deep in the bush on the vast Opium Creek private reserve.

Accommodation: Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge (tonight and tomorrow night = 2 nights total)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Potential wildlife sightings today: Agile wallabies abound in the Mary River catchment and this is one of the best places to see the largest kangaroo in the Top End - the Antilopine Kangaroo which moves around in small family groups through the endless savannah woodlands. Dingoes regularly roam the savannah searching out prey and carrion. Opium Creek is a refuge for the Australian Bustard and the Brolga. The Rose-crowned Fruit-dove is often heard and occassionally seen in the monsoon forest and the Pied Imperial-pigeon often bursts out of the forests canopies. Hundreds - and sometimes thousands - of Little Corellas fill the trees during the heat of the day and come down to feed and drink in the evening. One of the most unusual and spectacular birds in this area is Channel-billed cuckoo, a very large cuckoo which is most often see hurtling across the sky at high speed.

Day 5 - Mary River National Park - Crocodiles in the Wild in a wetland wilderness

The Mary River is famous for its abundant wildlife including some of the largest crocodiles in the world. These tough reptiles have outlived the dinosaurs. The Freshwater Crocodile is reclusive and will usually flee from humans. On the other hand the Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocodile can be an unpredictable and dangerous creature. Both are magnificent and regal animal and, if treated with respect, they can be seen at very close quarters. This morning we can see crocodiles in their natural environment as we travel in a specially constructed boat to view them – and lots of other wildlife – on the Mary River. With luck you will see numerous large Saltwater Crocodiles and some smaller Freshwater Crocodiles. You’ll also see an unbelievable variety of birds including White-bellied Sea Eagles - the Mary River is famed for its abundance of this raptor which is often seen nesting beside the waterways. Lunch will be a picnic on high land overlooking the vast Mary River catchment. Late today we head as far north as we can go where the mighty Mary River becomes a vast floodplain 15 kilometres from the sea. In this remote location - surrounded by wildlife of all kinds - we enjoy our final sunset looking out over the waters of the Mary River. Huge Saltwater crocodiles often swim lazily (and safely) nearby. As the night rises we head back to the Lodge for dinner.

Accommodation: Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Potential wildlife sightings today: The Mary River is home to just about every tropical bird in Australia and, as much of the catchment is relatively undisturbed, we often see large numbers of individual species. Some specials are: finches of many types including the increasingly rare Gouldian Finch, numerous raptors including the Black-breasted Buzzard and some very special owls ie. Rufous and Barking Owls, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Falcons (Hobby, Brown, Black and Kestrel). Birds of the waterways include: Little and Azure Kingfisher, Black Bittern, all the egrets, Glossy Ibis, Jabiru Stork, Brolga and much much more. The Mary is one of the prime places on earth to see crocodiles of two species plus we may see turtles, fish and other water species

Day 6 - The wonders of Bird Billabong - Point Stuart to Darwin

Today after an early breakfast breakfast we head out into the bush before sunrise for our last special wildlife walk at Bird Billabong in the Mary River National Park. This large wetland - unlike any others we have visited - is nestled beside Mt Bundy Range, an ancient granite outcrop in the middle of the Mary River catchment. Thousands of birds move to this billabong as the surrounding country dries after the monsoon season. Every conceivable species of bird move across the water is huge multi-species skenes fishing and squabbling. The surrounding savannah is home to hundreds of wallabies that appear at every turn of the walking track. Raptors regularly visit in search of prey, creating havoc as they fly over the wetland. This is one of the wildlife highlights of the Top End. After a relaxing morning walk we’ll depart to Darwin having lunch on en-route. You will be dropped at your accommodation in Darwin OR we can arrange transfers to Darwin Airport if you are flying out today. Accommodation: not included (by others if required in Darwin) Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Potential wildlife sightings today: even if you have only a mild passing or no interest in birds, Bird Billabong is spectacular. You cannot help but be impressed. This wetland often contains huge numbers of whistling ducks (both Plumed and Wandering), Spoonbills, Ibis, Magpie Geese (and Pygmy Geese) amongst may others. Jabiru often appear. Great Bowerbirds build their bowers in the nearby grasslands and are often seen and heard around the billabong. Near the granite range we often see the elusive Black-tailed Treecreeper and have also seen the northern form of the Southern Boobook owl. A variety of finches are also seen in the grasslands

Janine Duffy and Roger Smith founded Echidna Walkabout in 1993, to foster respect for Australia’s wildlife and to ensure its wild and free-living future. Most tours depart Melbourne and travel to carefully chosen wildlife locations in south eastern Australia.

Our fantastic team of Wildlife Guides – Bill, Paul, Joanne, Martin and Janine & Roger – and Koala Researchers – Mary, Donna & Melinda – ensure that every tour is a special, once-only experience. No two tours are ever the same with wild animals!

Our Wildlife Team provides support to our tours. Research conducted on tour is passed on to you and to the National Parks Service, Field Naturalists Clubs and the Atlas of Australian Birds. All wildlife seen on tour is noted, forming a large, valuable repository of data on population densities of native species, including some threatened species. Submission and analysis of this data is a huge job, but enormously valuable, so guests are encouraged to assist with this most important of tasks.

Echidna Walkabout respects our Indigenous Cultures, and is grateful to the Wathaurong and Gunnai communities for their support over many years.

Our tour groups are small (no more than 8 people) allowing for a personal experience and optimal wildlife viewing opportunities.

Echidna Walkabout has tracked and monitored the movements and lives of hundreds of wild koalas. The proceeds of each tour contribute to this important study and our guests are involved while on tour. The results of this study are made available to all our staff, the National Parks Service, Field Naturalists Clubs, wildlife veterinarians and wildlife carers.

For many years Echidna Walkabout and our guests have been improving the natural habitats we visit, through weed and rubbish removal. The removal of the noxious weed Boneseed, in particular, directly improves habitat quality for Koalas.

We are also regenerating an old farming property west of Melbourne as a Wildlife Habitat – for the benefit of native wild birds, Kangaroos, Koalas and Wallabies, plus reptiles, frogs and invertebrates - to restore some lost habitat to these wild creatures that have given us so much.

We have, and have always had, a serious commitment to running sustainable tours.

 

 

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Minimum 2 adults. Departs Melbourne on Tuesdays all year and also on Fridays from Oct - Apr Pick up from 0810 to 0900. Return to Melbourne Day 3 approx 1700

This activity is also available as part of on of our Custom Itineraries or holidays, please visit our home page to learn more about how we can help you with your holiday.

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