We spend two and a half hours travelling downstream at full speed from the boat ramp of the South Alligator River in Kakadu, dodging sand bars, and navigating a six metre spring tide, which can be very treacherous.
My GPS coordinates are on the Rookery we set three years ago. Looking at the landmarks we were there, but the GPS still shows seventeen kilometres out – maybe we forgot to punch in the correct time and the satellites put us out by one hour, who knows? With two boats we all feel safer, mainly for the return fuel problem on an outgoing tide.
Tony, George and Rob are in the other boat and had more fuel, so they travelled up to the Rookery via a little river similar to Mullet Creek. We waited at the mouth in the main Alligator River, which is about one kilometre wide at this point. Hearing his engine noise stop after about fifteen minutes we figured he must have found it. A few seconds later Tony says “Silvie, you’ve got to come up and see this, you won’t believe it!”
The creek narrowed at the top near the floodplain just enough to push a boat through with all engines off using paddles. The noise of the thousands and thousands of nesting birds was just mind blowing! Hundreds of varieties, you honestly needed earmuffs, we couldn’t hear ourselves talk. There were birds sitting on eggs, half grown chicks, and ones practicing how to fly. Many of the nests were at eye height, you could pick the birds out of the nest, put them back, and then watch the parents feed them. They had no fear at all.
Just as I said that, Tony’s boat bumped into a tree and a three-quarters grown, black and white shaggy-looking bird dropped into the water. Two flaps of its wings, and a three metre croc grabbed it and started munching it up. George and Rob couldn’t get their cameras out quick enough! Then suddenly George’s overhead rig torpedoed over the side and looked like a submarine going past our boat. “Oh shit” says George “something took my ‘storm’”. We were all in shock for a moment and speechless as the rod was dragged up the creek. “I’m not sticking around till low tide.” George lost his full rig that day – that was his punishment for catching the biggest barra for the trip – an 850.
So if you ever get the chance to go to the Rookery and find a rod and overhead with fifty pound braid, George wants it back, and will give you a large reward!