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Sunday, April 08, 2012

Australia 2011 - Day 8, Part 2 - Kakadu National Park

Australia 2011
Day 8 - 5th August - Kakadu National Park
(Part 2)

We then went to Ubirr to look at rock art. Before we went to look at rock art, we decided to take a walk. There was a 6.5km sandstone and river bushwalk, a 2.5km 'layered sandstone outliers' walk and a 0.6-1.5km monsoon rainforest one. The first, we had no time for and the second sounded like Kings Canyon so we opted for the last.

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Deceptively calm but dangerous river - notice the saltwater crocodiles


Surveying the river

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"Fish Cleaning Bay". Notice where it's not - next to the water

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Sign for Manngarre Walk (the monsoon rainforest trail)

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Bats

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More bats

Here, I noticed my first mosquito bites in this trip. That said it was still the least bad time to go to the Northern Territory, and the humidity was still less oppressive than in Singapore.

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Path

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Riverside

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A less-obscured riverside view

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Freaky tree

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Path

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Then, we came to one point where the path split. An example of institutionalised gender-based violence, one path was only open to women. So given my mission to boldly go where no man has gone before, I performed a transgressive act. Yet, I pondered this riddle: if no one witnesses (and is offended by) a transgressive act, is it truly transgressive? (NB: This is another example of psychic harm that somehow isn't actionable - following pragmatist philosophy, one could say that anything that offends someone is bona fide offensive). I also pondered how transsexuals fit into aboriginal gender segregation.

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Bridge

Sure enough, there were horrifying consequences to the gender-based exclusion: there were many information panels inside that were not present outside, which empowered women at the expense of men (indeed the general trail had NO panels at all).

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Monsoon rainforests

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The Old Lady Sits

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Banyan Tree


Tree view

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Strewn leaves at foot of banyan tree

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Banyan Fig

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Monsoon rainforest plants

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Strange mark on ground as I exited the area

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Living rainforest

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You can get whacked twice for not obeying the rules here - both under criminal and civil law. Hah.

We then went to Ubirr to look at the rock art.

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The rock art is "one of the finest collections... in the world". And no alcohol is to be consumed onsite hurr hurr.

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For some reason alcohol is one of the 3 don'ts here. This is in contrast to the signs at the entrance of archaeological sites in Greece, which demand that visitors refrain from doing many things: playing loud music and dancing IIRC among them.
They're supposed to pass on the stories to future generations: presumably this means they don't keep any of it for aboriginal knowledge only

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Mural

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Another Mural

One ranger explained the aboriginal kinship system to us. It was damn complex. You have "skin names" and they repeat in a 4-generation cycle. The skin names determine not just who you can marry, but from the age of 13-14 you cannot talk, sit or travel in the proximity of your sibling or someone of the opposite sex with the same skin name. You need to interact at a distance, with a chaperone (who must have a skin name - our white ranger had one). So sometimes you'll see 2 aborigines in the Northern Territory shouting at each other across the street - they're not being rude, they just have the same skin name. Some US geneticist who came by concluded that this was the best way to avoid inbreeding (not just incest) in small clan groups (the whole clan takes care of you - not just your parents), and the ranger was supposed to get back to me (and one or two others who were curious), but I never heard from her. Interestingly, there's an avoidance relationship with one's mother-in-law.

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Art from the Creation Time

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The Rainbow Serpent

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