I thought I would start out with a picture of Hawk Dreaming landscape and aboriginal art because words just fall short here. I have finally seen and experienced the real Kakadu; I have been to the closed-off sacred place called Hawk Dreaming, home of stunning landscapes and the best aboriginal art sites I have ever been to and you experience them up close in their untouched original form. No fences, no signs – and no tourists! Just me and Andy my guide on this tour. How did I manage to get my very own tour? Let’s backtrack a bit…
Andy and Flemmings Aussie Adventures
Friday morning, 7am. Big 4WD truck pulls in front of my hotel. Aussie Adventures is the name of the company, Hawk Dreaming is the name of the tour and the place we are going to visit. I approach the truck.
“Are you Flemming?” asks Andy the tour guide.
“Yeah, that’s me” I reply.
“Great. Hop on board you’re the only one going. I’m Andy by the way”
“Hi, I’m Flemming….ehhhhh what?”
“Yep. One passenger. You”
“My own tour….. Well that’s a first for me!” I say.
“Me too” says Andy. “It’s your tour. Let’s get going!”
That’s how I got my very own tour. It was a bit weird at first. I sit in the front seat and chat with Andy and when we look back in the big 4WD truck there are 16 empty seats! We put our bags on the first row of seats but still, it’s empty (fortunately the cooler broke on the big truck on day 1, so on day 2 Aussie Adventures drove 3 hours and brought to us a Toyota Landcruiser 4WD instead – bit more fitting for two people and a lot more comfortable! I am one passenger but on vehicle number two!) But how cool is it to have my own trip and my own guide! We can do what I want to do, stay as long as I want at places, chase the good light – a photographers dream to have my tour, and my own great guide Andy! On the left is Andy having a ciggy at Barramundi Gorge, Andy and Flemmings excellent outback adventure – they should make a movie!
Hawk Dreaming landscape, art and camp
Hawk Dreaming is a closed-off part of Kakadu, north of Ubirr and accessible by a dirt road through a locked fenced by only the aboriginal community that live here – and the guests of Aussie Adventures permanent Hawk Dreaming bush camp. It is a secret slice of magic is what it is. It is the best landscapes I have seen in Kakadu with spectacular rocks, billabongs and wetlands and the best aboriginal art sites. And we’re the only ones here. No cars, no tourists, no signs, paths or anything. Just pure untouched Hawk Dreaming. No rush. I get to spend all the time I want to take pictures. No people. We can sit at the billabong undisturbed and watch the sunset over cannon rock. No noise. It is so quiet that the shutter on my camera sounds like a gun and I can hear the tiny motors in the lens driving the internal image stabilizer. At camp we have Michael and Alicia, caretakers of the Hawk Dreaming camp to look after us. So now I have 3 Aussie Adventures people looking after little old’ me! The camp is in super shape, heaps better and many classes above your average cabin at a caravan park. Great facilities and some wonderful people taking care of me. We have some beautiful chicken, fish, kangaroo and buffalo sausages for dinner – and potato mash, you would think they knew I was coming (love that stuff!). I must be dreaming! It is indeed a slice of magic – and here’s a slice for ya:
Hawk Dreaming panorama, the smoke from bush fires turns red at sunset
We walk and climb up some rocks and hills to get up to aboriginal art sites and we get to sit right where the aboriginals lived and created their art – no fences or anything. Untouched, just like it was 10, 25 or 50 thousand years ago. We climb maybe 30-40 meters up rocks to get to caves where the rocks display hundreds of drawings. When you have the opportunity to see them like this you really get to appreciate it like never before. This is not simple stick men drawings. This is art. The beautiful lines (drawn on uneven rock), the deliberate design and the stories in all of them tells you this took time, effort and skill and is truly art. When you look at it, you should remember this is not a museum – this is real; this is where they lived. It is a humbling and very special experience and I am very fortunate to not only have experienced this – but to have experienced it on my own tour. I have always been fascinated and very interested in ancient cultures that live with and protect the land, like the aboriginals and native americans, but this tour and a great book by the well known aboriginal Bill Neidji left an everlasting impression on me. I am only now beginning to really understand some things about aboriginal culture and way of life. Makes me very sad as well (we stupid white people have practically erased 60 000 years of culture here), but more on that in another blog post I will write someday about aboriginals.
Photographing Hawk Dreaming
I shot roughly 400 shots in 3 days, the landscapes and art here are a landscape photogs dream – and having all the time I want I could really explore the places and angles! I have uploaded a few but there’s still so many to come, check out my gallery to see more. Here’s me working the landscape:
I’ve told many people how even after 5 visits to Australia I have never seen a venomous snake in the wild, I’ve just seen a carpet python (that I got to hold!). I love snakes and always wanted to find a venomous one and see it – from a distance of course. Well another first on this tour! Below is my shot of the Western Brown Snake we found at Jim Jim Falls. It’s the 6th most venomous land snake in australia and this one about a meter long could certainly do some serious damage. I am standing on some rocks about 1 meter away so I am safe and since we of course did not disturb this most amazing and super fascinating animal it was totally docile and paid us no attention. It was kind to pose on the rocks for great pictures for a while and then just crawled back under the rock to relax. A western brown – woohooo as Steve would say!
My Tour – The Tour of all Tours
How do I go on a tour again? This tour will never be beat I reckon. Even if it wasn’t my own tour, Hawk Dreaming would still rank up there as one of the best places I have ever visited. I will have to go back and spend a week there. My very own tour with Andy in sacred magical Hawk Dreaming. Andy and I are I think in many ways quite similar and we got along really great. At the end of the 3 days it didn’t feel like a tour anymore, it was “Andy and Flemmings Aussie Adventures trip” and I was quite sad to leave.
I have to go back someday.
Simply could not dream it any better!