Kakadu: Guluyambi Cultural Cruise on the East Alligator River

Today we jumped aboard the Guluyambi Cultural Cruise in Kakadu which leaves from the upstream boat ramp in the East Alligator River Region.

East Alligator River

Cultural Tour

We toured up and down the E. Alligator River, moving from the muddy brown /grey estuarine waters into crystal clear blue/green freshwater. Captain Philip Parker King named it Alligator river after spotting what he thought were alligators but were in fact crocodiles. The river divides Arnhem land and Kakadu and our guide on the tour was a local from East Arnhem Land. He gave us an insight into living in his community as well as the history and ecology of the area. It was great to here the name of the native birds and animals in his language during the 1hr 45min tour. There is only one notorious tidal river crossing into Arnhem land, called Cahills crossing after a buffalo hunter. We headed down stream to it and saw an upturned car that hadn’t made it.

During the wet season it’s totally impassible. On the tour we got really close up to both freshwater and saltwater crocs, which were all along the banks and swimming by the side of the boat. The aboriginal people call crocodiles ginga and there are over 1000 in this area. They can see us underwater and smell us from a long way, so we were glad we were safely onboard. 30513264_unknownI loved the ones which sat cooling off with their mouths open. As we motored down the river watching the colour of the water change we saw an abundance of birds. Azure Kingfishers, a Rainbow Bee-eater in flight and the the Comb-crested Jacana (Also known as the Jesus bird as it appears to walk on water). 30512672_unknown-1We even had a mullet jump in the boat which caused a commotion onboard. On the river banks we saw our first ever green tree snake in the wild which was brilliant. These river banks are lined with paperbark trees and our guide explained how they strip the bark and use it to wrap their elders after death. They coat the bones with ocra before they bury them in a cave, or as they do in East Arnhem bury them in a hollow log. There were some really interesting rock structures as well as rock art which has been dated over two thousand years old, painted using animals blood and red ocra.

As part of the tour we landed on Arnhem Land and watch a hunting display. Aboriginal women don’t hunt, but I thought I would give it ago, I was nowhere near as skillful as our guides who impressively shot arrows across the river.

We jumped back in the boat to retrieve these arrows and motored back to the jetty seeing a White Bellied Sea Eagle that had just caught some large pray. It’s a fantastic tour that gave us a really nice insight into this area and its beautiful people.

Sarah x

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