You know it’s Yegge (cool weather time) when the locals complain about the cold, get their flannelette shirts out and start rummaging for the moisturiser to treat their cracked heels.
You know it’s the dry season when the NT News runs a story titled
“Rare hypothermia case in NT cold snap” after a Darwin woman took herself to Royal Darwin Hospital to be diagnosed with cold feet…
Overnight temperatures have been dropping below 20 degrees lately.
The nights are starry, clear and pleasant – before it gets chilly, not unexpectedly but rather rapidly, just before sunrise. Anyway, it really is worth getting up early to watch the mist rise over Kakadu’s billabongs and floodplains as the sun warms up the country once again.
And to avoid hypothermia I can thoroughly recommend physical work!
We certainly weren’t feeling the cold last week when we were out and about with the Jim Jim district rangers (although our motivation for getting up early and heading down to the ranger station was a different one).
It’s a very busy time of year for park rangers. With flood waters receding and the country slowly drying up they can finally access those destinations that visitors are coming to see here in Kakadu National Park.
District staff are doing what they can to prepare visitor sites for public access. Among a lot of other ongoing tasks they’re currently cleaning campgrounds and day use areas, re-installing infrastructure, clearing 4WD and walking tracks, conducting crocodile surveys, patch burning to ‘clean the country’ and protect facilities from hot fires later in the year.
This year, for the first time, we have been given the opportunity to do our bit and help out. Traditional Owners and park managers have extended their invitation to tourism operators and guides to volunteer and help park staff with some of the enormous tasks they’re facing.
Last week Jeanne, John and I helped Jim Jim district rangers Anthony, Jason and Dennis with their clean up at Yellow Water.
In the wet season the whole area, including the car park, the boardwalk and viewing platform and a walking track to Home Billabong get flooded. The other day we found the boardwalk completely overgrown by a green mess of native Hymenachne grass.
Armed with buckets, rags and scourers we got stuck into it, always keeping an eye out for Estuarine crocodiles and prepared for other wildlife encounters as well. After a full day’s work only about one third of the boardwalk was freed of the buffalo grass.
But let me tell you, we felt immensely proud of our achievement!
A few days earlier Jeanne and John had already put a few hours in at Garnamarr campground and also on the 4WD track into the Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls area, where the rangers have since placed the crocodile traps and commenced their crocodile surveys. They will have to remove at least three rather large Estuarine crocodiles from the precinct before it will be safe for us to visit.
A big ‘Thank You’ goes to Jessie Alderson and Jeffrey Lee for allowing us to help looking after their country. We would also like to thank Kathy Wilson and all her staff at Jim Jim Ranger Station for making us feel so welcome.
Giving us the chance to gain an insight into the work of park rangers, getting to know the guys we share our workplace with and to experience this stunning environment from a different perspective is much appreciated!
We’ll definitely be back for more in the coming weeks!