Our next adventure was visiting the most striking single piece of rock art in the area: the giant rainbow serpent. The rainbow serpent stories actually originated in Arnhemland, so it’s fitting that I was able to see one of the most vivid representations of it. Unlike in Kakadu, there were no walkways or handrails, just a ride in an ancient Jeep and a walk through the bush.

On safari It was hot that day
Glimpse of the serpent Glimpse of the serpent

We eventually ended up in the overhang, and this is what we saw:

The rainbow serpent

The painted serpent is a mammoth 6 metres long and thousands of years old (up to 10,000 years old some say). It’s quite humbling to sit at the foot of this painted serpent. So old and yet so alive. Completely wondrous.

Garden of Eden

I had little idea of what to expect when I landed at Mount Borradaile, only that I was going to experience something special.

No sooner than I’d put my bags down, I was whisked away down to the billabong in what turned out to be the daily sunset cruise. On the boat were the other 5 guests that were staying that night, plus Max (the camp owner), Charlie (the Aboriginal elder in the area), and Jim (a local Aboriginal guide, and mate of Charlie’s). A far cry from the packed-like-sardines cruise on Yellow Waters.

Small numbers are one thing, but as soon as we were out in the middle of the billabong, I realised that even “special” was an understatement.

Mt Borradaile

Sea Eagle Lilies Spot the croc

Freshwater crocodile Magpie Geese

The wealth of wildlife just on that relatively small strip of waterway, was frankly astonishing. Added to that was one of the most tranquil sunsets I’d ever seen.

Smoky sunset

I really was in heaven. But as astounding as the cruise was, there were more things just as wonderful in store.

Winter Cooking – Part 1

Very chilly in Sydney last weekend, so what better time to make minestrone soup. Bought a soup mix from my local greengrocer. This one had potato, parsnip, turnip, carrot, celery and a couple of sprigs of parsley. Add it a few cloves of chopped garlic, a bit of canned crushed tomatoes, a beef stock cube (yes, I still use those), and lots of black pepper. Oh yes, and this curly rigatoni pasta, which were very cool.

Winter minestrone

I didn’t put any salt in during cooking. In the end, I put in a slug of light soy sauce, which worked really well. Well, that’s my bit of fusion cooking for the day.

Bird’s Eye View

I’m not good with motion sickness. I get seasick within ten minutes of going into rough waters. I can’t read in cars. Plus I’m a little afraid of heights. So I wasn’t really looking forward to my flights in a single engine, six seater plane – the quickest way of getting to Mount Borradaile, a small safari camp on the western edge of Arnhemland, from Jabiru, Kakadu’s only town.

I had a nervous couple of minutes as the plane went airborne. So high in such a small thing! But I can’t deny that the views were good and interesting.

Ranger Uranium Mine Arnhemland escarpment
East Alligator River Burn off

On the way back to Darwin I was fine. A good thing because it was a longer flight, via Croker Island to drop some people off. This time I got a great view of the river systems of Arnhemland and the floodplains that surround them.

Arnhemland from the air Arnhemland from the air
Arnhemland from the air Arnhemland from the air

The Joys of Hainan Chicken Rice

I’ve obviously been watching Poh too much on Masterchef because last week I had a huge craving for Malaysian food. During the week I sought out some murtabak, nasi lemak, and harmee, but what I really wanted was a nice, comforting meal of Hainan Chicken Rice. Yes, this was the dish that Poh made in the finals, and on the weekend I visited a tiny eatery around the corner from me, Satay Inn, that makes it extremely well.

Hainan Chicken Rice

The chicken was perfectly steamed. The rice delicious and very more-rish. The condiments balanced, although it could have had more ginger. The soup flavoursome. Lots of sesame oil all around to make it taste damn good.

Sizzling Satay King Prawns

There was also an order of Sizzling Satay King Prawns on the table, but we were all so full from the chicken rice that we could only pick at the prawns.

A Waterfall or Two

The next day saw us trek down a narrow, windy 4WD track to visit Twin and Jim Jim Falls. It was a bit of an adventure, featuring submerged river crossing, an encounter with a dingo, and a cruise through the canyon.

Beware... Dingo (didn't eat any babies)

… To reach Twin Falls.

Twin Falls Twin Falls

The waterfall was pretty with its white sand beach, but I loved the rock formations even more.

Twin Falls Canyon Twin Falls Canyon Cruising Twin Falls Canyon

I thought Twin Falls was impressive, but I hadn’t seen nothing yet. Jim Jim Falls involved a much harder walk, clambering over giant boulders, and swimming in ice cold water. But floating in the plunge pool with 200 metres of rock above me is an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.

Jim Jim Falls (actually it's a wall)

By the billabong

In the afternoon, we spent a lot of time on or by billabongs. Yellow Waters is cruise central in Kakadu, and even in the space of an hour or so, we saw quite a lot of wildlife.

There were the beautiful birdlife.


And of course, the ubiquitous crocodile (they really were everywhere).

Look at me! Rather big this one

Afterwards, we retired to our camp by a smaller and much quieter, although no less beautiful, billabong.

By the billabong

The Lightning Man

I left Darwin the next day on my Kakadu and Arnhemland adventure. The first 3 days were spent in Kakadu on a 4WD adventure tour.

It was a bit of a haul from Darwin into Kakadu. Our destination for the morning was Nourlangie.


It gave me a taste of the Top End landscape – dry woodland against massive sandstone escarpments.

Nourlangie Nourlangie

It is the home of the Lightning Man, and the locals really did get it right, because this place does get the most lightning strikes in country!

Lightning man and wife Nourlangie

Again, like back at Newnes, the paintings were located under massive overhangs that offer protection during the wet. They are done in the x-ray style that’s typical of the Top End – very different from the dot paintings from the desert areas.