We woke early for our second tour. I would have liked a day of rest but it was not to be - at least we had clean clothes. The Cav provided a nice breakfast and the best coffee I've had since Broome. Adventure Tours picked us up around 6.30am in the same style 4WD bus we had just spent 9 days in. We jumped at the chance to sit up the front and after all the various pickups at several hotels, we ended up with a full bus - 16 passengers in all.
Our guide/ driver Justin was a little dreadlocked dynamo who loved to talk and laughed like a machine gun. He was a font of excellent and interesting information - such a change from Adrian. We drove out along the Old Jim Jim Road - a bumpy corrugated track - to Barramundi Gorge, Justin talking all the way on the microphone so everyone could hear. He told us all about the landscape and the history and the vegetation and the seasons. It made us realise just how information starved we have been for the last week and just how little we knew about the land we had just traveled.
We had lunch at Barramundi Gorge then walked up the valley over quite steep hills and rocks which tested the tenacity of my knees. We reached the top after half an hour and were greeted with the most fabulous rock plunge pool. We scrambled down the rocks and had a very welcome cold dip. We lounged around enjoying the bright sunshine for ages and then Justin dragged out some afternoon tea biscuits - he couldn't quite stretch to hot coffee at the top of a gorge but it was nice to have someone with the foresight to provide munchies. What a contrast - lazy unrushed days.
We ambled back to the carpark - my knees screaming for mercy. My right knee has been weak for many years and when walking over boulders and rough terrain, I tend to lead with my left as I can't trust my weight on my right knee. The boulder hopping we did at Barramundi Gorge left both knees in agony.
We had quite a long drive to Jabiru and a wisp of smoke emanating from the dashboard indicated the loss of the radio, the microphone and in fact all the electrics - and thus ended the fascinating talks from Justin. He tried to shout but his voice soon became hoarse and croaky. The air-conditioning in the front section of the bus also gave up so we moved to the back seat and had to endure endless, tedious boring discussions about English football from the two Richards.
I had visited Ubirr (pronounced oobeer or as the boys liked to say it ooooo..... beer!!!!) 18 years ago and it was very very different. There are now tracks and signs and information boards and a well trodden path to view the old aboriginal rock paintings. One of the rangers was giving a talk under the main gallery so we all stopped to listen. She was a brilliant orator and told the group all about how the paintings were dated, what was used to paint them and the stories they depicted. Just before sunset we all climbed to the top of the lookout - unfortunately it was already occupied by 200 school kids more intent on their own navels than viewing the amazing floodplain. The grasslands around had been slowly burning all day and the horizon was a brilliant red but in the end, the smoke was too thick and the sun didn't actually set - rather it just disappeared.
That night we camped in the Adventure Tours permanent campsite at Jabiru. The "tents" were shadecloth over steel frames with proper beds and real mattresses. For the next 2 weeks all our accommodation will be in these types of permanent campsites - no more pitching tents.
It was a very warm, pleasant evening and we had a BBQ with salad for dinner then hit the showers and hit the sack - I was so tired I slept right through the night, something I haven't done for 6 months.