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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Australia 2011 - Day 8, Part 3 - Kakadu National Park: Ubirr

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full." - Henry Kissinger

***

Australia 2011
Day 8 - 5th August - Kakadu National Park: Ubirr
(Part 3)

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"A Clue To The Past" - although the Tasmanian Tiger went extinct 2,000 years ago, there's a drawing of it here

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Close up

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"A Health Warning"
A curse about disturbing an aboriginal sacred site, passed down to visitors in bad faith. Tsk.

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This collection of murals was full of meaning, as a ranger explained to us: food in Ubirr was so abundant that the aborigines had time to make paintings about it. These are X-ray style murals, as if the animals were x-rayed. There're multiple purposes to this art: sorcery, teaching and fun.
Starting from the two red hands whose meaning is unknown on the left, we have barramundi, a long-necked turtle (which would be under 1 foot of mud in the dry season and is full of fat), another barramundi and White Man (with a hat, hands in his pockets and big boots - an example of Contact Act), a catfish with whiskers, and the tail and most of the body of a goanna (an Australian monitor lizard). These animals were only here 2,000 years ago, before the Ice Age. 20,000 years ago it was like a desert here.

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This should be the oldest dated art in the park - from 18,000 years ago

Yellow and white paint disappear easily, whereas red paint penetrates up to 7mm into the sandstone, so most of the oldest paintings are in red.

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More rock art

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Mimi spirits above us
"Although Mimi spirits are invisible to most people, they taught Aboriginal people to paint many of their traditional designs". I wonder if an aborigine would be taken seriously if he mentioned Mimi spirits in a court of law.

We then made out way to Ubirr Lookout to see the sunset.

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Ascent

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"Beware of crocodiles"

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"Laws to live by": "As children, Aboriginal people are taught to respect these laws and the system of punishment which enforces them.

This art reminds Traditional Owners of a story about a young girl who broke traditional food taboos by eating Barramundi at the wrong time of her life. She was punished too severely and a battle betweem clans followed, killing many people"

Forget structural violence - this is real violence!

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"The spirit of the land"
This localised animism where one is supposed to have a mystical connection to the landscape is presented to outsiders as empowering: seeing yourself in the land, getting a culture and identity reflected from it and having a connection with it. In reality, it is really limiting as it shackles you to the land, since you can never leave it for too long - or even permanently.


Panorama from the top of Ubirr Lookout

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Ubirr Lookout view

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Admiring the view


360 degree sunset view

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Sunset

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The ranger taught us a trick: put your finger parallel to the horizon and count the number of fingers there are between the horizon and the sun. Multiply this by 10 to get the number of minutes till sunset.

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One German speaking girl in black was using her SLR to take pictures of the sunset - with her flash firing like crazy. SLRs are too cheap nowadays...

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I prefer sunsets to sunrises. If nothing else, they're warming.

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"Come in we are closed"

For dinner we went back to Kakadu Bakery to takeaway their chicken (recommended by Bunny Boy). I tried asking for a discount since we were ordering 2 half chickens but the counter staff didn't understand me; maybe it was the German girl, so if so I didn't really blame her.

I don't understand Australians buying coffee served in milk cartons, complete with tear-and-fold flaps.

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This bread has "animal and/or vegetable fat" in it. Uhh.

When we got back to our accommodations (6 rooms in a bungalow around a shared kitchen), we found an English-accented couple (who lived in Australia) having Kangaroo. I said I'd found it to be bland and the woman said hers was marinated and offered me some, and it was indeed better than what I'd had at Yulara. There was also a French couple, and the girl agreed that half of France was in Australia.

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The 'Famous' Kakadu Bakery chicken was not bad, though the Fish & Chips were better.

Our room had some Australian UHT milk in the fridge: Paul's. I had a taste and it was a little bit worse-tasting than fresh milk. However it was MUCH better than Dutch Lady UHT milk which, you guessed it, comes from Malaysia. So the Malaysian Kualiti Effect dominates the UHT Effect. Malaysia Boleh!

The room also had a TV, which was unusual given our simple needs (we were originally going for a Bush Bungalow, but I told MR that a snake might slip in while we were away and air-conditioning didn't cost much more). So I got to discover one of the more interesting things about Australia: trashy late night TV programming (i.e. soft porn).

First there was some TV show on homosexuality. It showed a woman with her face in another's lap. Then there was a topless pride parade. Next, there was a show called 'Vroom Vroom Vroom':

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Vroom Vroom Vroom

Wikipedia: "Leroy, a misfit boy, saves an elderly woman with voodoo powers from being run over by a bus, and receives a motorcycle. While riding it at night, the motorcycle transforms into an attractive woman."


Seedy movie: Vroom Vroom Vroom
What you see on late night Australian TV

Next was L'Annulaire (The Ring Finger), but we needed to sleep so I only caught the start.


We saw few Asians in the Alice Springs leg and very few in the Darwin leg of our trip. This was a huge contrast with Melbourne.
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