Dust, open vehicle, binoculars, wildlife-filled floodplain: Africa? No, Australia’s Northern Territory.
I have come to love the African tradition of the Safari Drive. Its not just the wildlife you see – though that is the reason for doing it – its the experience of feeling the sun/wind/dust/cold in an open-sided vehicle; the anticipation of what you might see; the ease of watching animals without lugging your camera and binoculars (they are comfortably on your lap). Its the Gin & Tonic stop part way through, and knowing that at the end of this glorious experience you will sit down to a fabulous dinner and sleep in a comfortable bed.
The big birds of the grassy plains on Opium Creek Cattle Station (special access arranged by the owners of Point Stuart) are Australian Bustards. These huge, elegant birds are similar to the Kori Bustard of southern Africa. Watch:
A Dingo – the Australian wolf – trots by, its golden coat glowing with health.
The predators of the Mary River are not lions, but crocodiles, dingoes, pythons and raptors (birds of prey), and we see many – lots of wildlife means lots of predators. It wouldn’t be a wildlife safari without predators. Read our special blog all about crocodiles here.
On the floodplain, the huge herds of herbivores are birds: Thousands upon thousands of Whistling-ducks of two species (Plumed & Wandering) and Magpie Geese. They share the bllabongs with not-so-vegetarian Great & Intermediate Egrets, Royal Spoonbills, Ibis and a few Jabiru.
Another Dingo trots past.
A 2 metre Water Python cruises by as if its just normal for a big snake to wander around in the open. Watch how she approaches us:
Yet another Dingo circles around us, cautious but opportunistic.
As the sun gets low, we come across a flock of 70 Brolgas, leaping, flying, playing. At this point it feels a bit like a dream – the Australia of movies and children’s stories, the Australia you’d thought had ceased to exist – right here happening to you.
Watch them fly:
It seems like an excellent spot to watch the sun go down, sipping a G&T. Then back through the warm tropical night to the Lodge restaurant and a comfortable bed.
Join us – the Wild Top End 6 day wildlife safari in Northern Territory Australia runs every August.