Australia by Heron Day 5, Cairns to Horn Island to Kakadu National Park

This was a very long flying day. We flew out of Cairns at 6:30 am. The sun was just rising in the sky.

We flew north towards the Torres Strait Islands 157 islands only 18 are inhabited. The flight lasted for almost three hours.

As we got closer I was astounded by the aquamarine color of the water.

We landed at small airport on Horn Island.

It even had a tarred runway. There we caught a ferry to Thursday Island for lunch. I felt a bit queasy from all the motion in the air, a bus then a ferry. I hoped lunch would calm it.

Before lunch we had tea or beer in the Northern most pub in Australia. I had ginger beer to settle my stomach while locals played in a small band.

We only had a little over one hour and then we needed to be back in the air. Gary our pilot asked ” The taxi driver offered to give you guys a tour of the island for $100, would you like that?” Divided by 8 that gave us a reasonable way to explore this Island. We agreed and found ourselves immersed in the history of the Torres Strait Islanders.

Frank told us of the tenacity and strength of his people. His uncle was instrumental in helping the aborigines get citizenship rights in the 1960s and to have the 157 names of Torres Islanders who died fighting for Australia recognized. He also showed us the tombstone a memorial for the man who designed the Torres Strait flag.

In the center of the flag is the Taiga Constellation, the one that guided. We also visited Green Hill Fort which was built in 1891 when the British thought the Russians planned to invade Australia.

Huge cannon like guns overlooked the Torres Strait. After our tour we returned to the pub for a marvelous lunch of fresh caught barramundi fish and chips (French fries). Then it was back on the ferry, then the bus,then the plane again.

We flew two and a half hours to Gove to refuel. Landing and taking off again. It was Sunday but luckily a nurse was on duty and she let us use a rest room.

This time the sky clouded over completely. We flew blind through a sea of white. Even though my mind knew the pilot could see with the instruments on his panel my gut disagreed.

We needed to reach Coorinda before dark as the airstrip did not have lights. I hoped that light would appear through this white before we got to the landing field. We flew on and on through white and then rain. The windshield on the plane did not have wipers but they wouldn’t have wiped away the white outside in any case.

Finally light appeared through the clouds. Then we flew over the escarpment of Kakadu National Park.

We weren’t far from the final landing of the day now.

As the plane turned towards the Coorinda landing strip I could see miles and miles of trees growing in standing water.

Coorinda airstrip

A wild dingo carefully watched our arrival

The bus was waiting for us

We passed brumbies (wild horses) on the way to the resort.

Although we’d just sat on our bums all day we were exhausted. The accumulations were beautifully quiet. And the night sky was black without the glow of city lights.

Tomorrow we were going on a cruise on the South Alligator River. The first explorers thought the crocodiles were alligators.

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