Heading out to the notorious Cahill’s Crossing in a nice comfortable tour bus with our charming barefoot guide we are excited to see what the day will bring. Just as we turn off the Arnhem Land Highway some wild brumbies come into view casually grazing along the side of the road so quiet they even let us draw along side them before they disappear at a leisurely trot into bush. Our first lesson is about protecting Kakadu and how feral animals like horses, pigs, dogs, camels, cane toads, water buffalo and cats cause terrible damage to the very fragile wetland areas, the surrounding tablelands and cause a load of problems for the indigenous fauna. Culling is, unfortunately, an annual event in an effort to keep numbers under control.
We cross two flooded creeks before we get to Cahill’s Crossing and soon we can see why we wont be going across into Arnhem Land today – the East Alligator River is flowing fast and furiously over the fiord. The crossing is notorious because of the deaths by crocodile or drowning and January this year a man disappeared his body found downstream with a 3.5m crocodile nearby. Apparently he was just making his way home. There are plenty of horror stories to be heard of crocodile attacks and yet people continue to stand in the water fishing or walking through to check the depth – just crazy! A car can be seen recently stranded not even half way over the crossing with a family group of 5 adults and 2 children having to be rescued by rangers.
Normally crocodiles are territorial but strange things occur when the mullets travel up stream to breed and these clever predators line up in a rows, sometimes up to 40, upstream of the crossing, jaws snapping on the easy prey.
On a brighter note we do get to try some wild figs growing in a nearby tree, not quite as juicy or as big as the ones I’m used to but quite tasty nonetheless.