After packing and checking out my first stop was at the travel agent. The Egypt air leg between Cairo and Dar es Salaam hasn't been confirmed, and I'm unwilling to give up the reservation I do have on the around the world ticket until it has been. What's worse is that I'd pretty much convinced myself to do booth the around the world ticket and the convenient Egypt Air legs - but that won't work. If I don't fly on Egypt Air from Australia the faire for the legs I wanted (Cairo - Dar - Cairo) will cost almost as much as the around the world ticket - and more than those two flights plus Sydney - Cairo return!?!? It turns out the the travel agent gets massive discounts on flights leaving Australia and the way the flights were originally booked was as a flight to Dar es Salaam with a layover in Cairo. So looks like I'm back to doing one or the other. Basically if the Egypt Air flight gets confirmed I'll go the simple route (no Sri Lanka or Dubai), otherwise I'll go with the around the world ticket (a little more money and very inconvenient on the Cairo - Dar - Cairo legs, but also more places).
At the turn off for Kakadu National Park I stopped and picked up a couple hitchhiking. They were from Belgium and kept me company for the next couple hours into the national park. They had bought park passes second hand (they're good for two weeks), but got caught by the ranger when they couldn't tell which gate the tickets had been bought at, so they had to buy two more. It was kind of embarrassing, but also kind of amusing. Drove nearly all the way through the park to the visitor center near Jabiru. At the visitor center I figured out what I wanted to do in the couple days I decided to stay here (the Nourlangie Rock area, the Yellow Water area, and Gunlom area). Unfortunately Jim Jim Falls, the park's most famous feature is inaccessible right now. The Belgium couple were going to spend a lot more time in the park, so I dropped them off at Jabiru and continued alone.
I stopped at Nourlangie Rock and spent a couple hours hiking around. This is a large rocks ledge that got left behind when the Arnhem Escarpment eroded back to it's present location. Besides it's dramatic rise from the surrounding forest it's also the site of numerous traditional aboriginal shelters - complete with lots of rock paintings. I purposely decided to skip the Ubirr area of the park which is known for it's rock paintings because I decided I'd seen enough. But these were quite different from most I've seen - the colors are bright and the action lively - they almost made me wish I had gone north to Ubirr. The hike wasn't very long, but in the heat and humidity it wasn't easy and I found it pretty punishing.
I was planning on camping in the Yellow Water area of the park. But the sunny morning had turned to an overcast afternoon which changed to a rainy evening as I approached the camp site. I ended up whimping out and opting for a bunk in a shared trailer (with A/C though!) It turned out to be a good move as it stormed quite heavily for the rest of the evening. I sat under cover and had diner at the small cafe - part of the time with a small frog sitting on my right shoulder! After diner had a beer while listening to a guy play the guitar before heading to bed early. I was in bed shortly after nine - but ended up playing solitaire for an hour and a half. When I came back from brushing my teeth there was a large (three inches long) frog in the middle of the room?! Since my room is, in theory, mosquito proof I can't figure how he got in, but I quickly herded him out.