The next morning started with another 5k walk near our campsite. We saw lots of waterfowl and beautiful scenery. The trail was mostly shaded too, so that helped!
In my opinion, the best attraction at Kakatu is a place called Ubirr. Ubirr is a rock art trail that leads to a cliff that overlooks the park. It is a highly recommended sunset viewing area, so the three of us decided to wait around until then to see the site. While we waited we set up camp for the following night. Though it was cloudy, it was super hot and very humid. We sat around our campsite and pretty much watched how sweaty we could get. At one point I was complaining about how sticky my skin was from both sweat and sunscreen. Matthew, of course, took this as a challenge. He threw twigs at me and we all had a good laugh when we realized they actually stuck to me. Soon we were seeing how many sticks we could stick to me. That entertained us for a good fifteen minutes.
By sunset it was cloudy and misty. The locals say it was very unusual weather for this time of year in the tropics. I begged Maggie and Matthew to stop at the convenience store on the way so I could have an ice cream. Thankfully, I got my ice cream, and finished it by the time we arrived at Ubirr. My only problem then was that I didn't have a place to throw away the stick that once held the ice cream. When we walked into the park I looked around but saw no trash cans anywhere. Because it was only a wooden stick and not plastic or anything bad for the environment, I made the conscious decision to throw it off the path, into the bushes. It was only wood and it would decompose before too long anyways.
What I didn't realize, was that Maggie and Matthew saw me do it, and their moral meters went on high alert. Not only did I receive two lectures about respecting national parks, but they also made me walk back and find the stick so I could put it in a rubbish bin at a later time.
I'll admit, I was pretty irritated. I thought they were really overreacting and I didn't care about a stupid stick being in the bushes. Because my attitude had gone south, I also lost my desire to see the rock art. Fortunately, I walked ahead of Matthew and Maggie and found another tour group to sit in on. Matthew and Maggie eventually found me and joined in as well. My mood was instantly lifted when I began to listen.
The tour guide was a local aboriginal who spoke English well. He had long, dreadlocked hair and a cheeky sense of humor. The first thing he taught the group was that the westerners call it “rock art” but the aboriginals call it culture. They didn't paint on the wall to make it pretty, they painted images as a process for teaching younger people the stories and ideals of their culture.
Adding to yesterday's timeline, I learned that western objects such as guns and sailboats, did not appear in aboriginal paintings until 300 years ago. That was around the time the Englishmen were discovering the country. He also explained why the land was sacred. His people had been here for as long as they could remember. Every rock, every tree, every stone had a spirit and a story. The aboriginal people took very good care of the land and continue to do so today. They also take the responsibility of hosting visitors very seriously. If someone gets hurt in the park the aboriginal elders are more upset with the guards than they are with the one who was hurt. The guards are supposed to protect the visitors.
Around this time my heart softened as I realized why Maggie and Matthew had been right earlier. I admitted I was wrong for littering, even if it was a wooden stick that originated in nature.
By this time it was raining and we still needed to see the lookout. The clouds were so thick we couldn't enjoy the sunset, but we agreed the view was more special since we were seeing the view in a different way than is usually advertised.
The view from the top was beautiful. Matthew said this was the only time that if he pushed me off the ledge they'd be more mad at me than at him. We thought this was pretty funny so we had Maggie take our picture posing as such.
After Ubirr the rain got harder and harder. It was coming down solidly so we decided to eat out at a Thai restaurant near our campsite. It was a strange thing, having a restaurant inside a national park and far from everything, but the food was amazing and well worth it to stay out of the rain.
When we left it was raining even harder. We grabbed our things and changed clothes in the restroom before running back to the car. We were outside less than five minutes when we realized what exactly the rain had done. It brought mosquitoes. As bad as they had been the night before, this was thrice as bad. Before you could slap four off your leg, you had five more near your head. The whole thing was miserable. It was only 7pm but we all hurried into our sleeping spaces and tried our best to keep the mosquitoes out. Maggie and I had a net that went around the car so we could roll our windows down. Even with the windows down there wasn't a breath of fresh air. Inside the car I felt sweat roll down my back and my breathe thicken. I tilted my head towards the open window and drifted into a light sleep before raindrops covered my pillow. With the window up I feared suffocation or panic attack, so I left the window cracked and slept with the rain falling on my head. If nothing else it cooled me off a little bit.
When the morning came the three of us quickly admitted to a sleepless night. Before we even opened the door to the car we could see a sheet of mosquitoes covering the net, waiting for us to share our blood. Matthew had spent the night creating air pockets in the tent so he could breathe without mosquitoes getting in. We hollered through the net and tent and agreed the best decision was to pack up camp as quickly as we could and get the heck out of here. Our only escape from the mosquitoes was out on the open road. So in fifteen minutes flat, we rolled the tent, packed our bags and hit the road. Everything was soaked, our electronics were beyond dead and I was out of clean underwear.
Our original plan had been to drive across the highway to Litchfield National Park, spending a few days there before finally pulling into Darwin. But given our present situation, we all three decided it would be much better to go straight to Darwin now, saving Litchfield for another time. After all, we would be living in Darwin and Litchfield was just a day trip from there.