Daily Archives: January 21, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #39: Kakadu National Park

Posted by on January 21, 2009

World Heritage Site #29: Kakadu National Park

World Heritage Site #39: Kakadu National Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

This unique archaeological and ethnological reserve, located in the Northern Territory, has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. The cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites record the skills and way of life of the region’s inhabitants, from the hunter-gatherers of prehistoric times to the Aboriginal people still living there. It is a unique example of a complex of ecosystems, including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateau, and provides a habitat for a wide range of rare or endemic species of plants and animals.

Kakadu doesn’t get as much attention as other sites in Australia, but it is arguably the best. Kakadu is home not only to more wildlife than you will find almost anywhere else in Australia, but is also the home to some of the oldest rock paintings on the continent.

Kakadu is a 2-3 hour drive from Darwin in the Northern Territory. In addition to saltwater crocodiles and kangaroos, you can see stunning waterfalls and enormous termite mounds.

Much of what you experience will be determined by the time of year you visit. I visited at the beginning of the dry season, which was a great time to view crocs on the river, but not so great for going to the waterfalls (the roads were closed).

Many of the outback scenes from the movie Crocodile Dundee were shot in Kakadu.

Three Strikes In Nizwa

Posted by on January 21, 2009

My time in Nizwa has been frustrating to say the least. There are three World Heritage Sites I wanted to visit in this area. All three are within easy driving distance, but I’ve had some terrible luck.

I rented a car yesterday and drove about 150km from Nizwa to the village of Bat hoping to visit the archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn. I navigated my way to Bat flawlessly, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. There were no signs. Nothing. I stopped to try and get directions, but no one knew what I was talking about or didn’t understand me. I ended up spending several hours driving around for what amounted to nothing. I never ended up finding it. Strike one.

The second site was the Bahla Fort. That was easy to find as I drove past it on my way to Bat. When I stopped there on my way back, there were no signs or anything to instruct you where to park or where to go. No entrance, no nothing. The fort is under construction so I assume it was closed, without any signs saying it was closed. I took a few photos from the outside, but that was it. Strike two.

The third site I wanted to visit was the Aflaj irrigation systems of Oman. There is no one location, but I knew that one of the irrigation channels was in Nizwa, so I figured I could easily take my rental car and go visit the next morning. I ask for directions and am told that I need a 4-wheel drive to there. Also, there is no water flowing right now. I didn’t see the point in getting a special vehicle to visit an empty irrigation channel.Strike Three

All that being said, the mountains in this part of Oman are dramatic and beautiful. The landscape is very similar to what you can find in the mountainous deserts in Nevada or Arizona. Had I not come to Oman on a whim, this would be a great country to road trip in. I’ve met many travelers who are running about the country by car. All the roads are in great condition and the signs are in Arabic and English. Fuel is dirt cheap at 0.114 Omani Rial per liter (about $1.12 per gallon).

There is a surprising amount of tourism here. I was going to stay at this hotel another day, but it is booked solid tonight, mostly it seems with large tour groups.

I’m off to the Nizwa Fort (which looks much better than the Bahla Fort to be honest) and the souk today. I’ll probably take a bus back to Muscat or get another room for the night. I’m not sure yet. I’m more frustrated than disappointed to be honest. While I didn’t get to my destinations, the drive was worth it for its own sake.