Yurmikmik is the Jawoyn name for the country between the Marrawal Plateau and the South Alligator River in southern Kakadu. Motorcar, Kurrundie and Dinner Creeks are the main creeks draining the plateau. They are very different from each other and provide some of the best bushwalking in the park, especially in the wet season. Kakadu's official Yurmikmik information sheet has some good information about short walks you can do yourself as well as other useful background material.
The marked walk to Motorcar Falls is one of the most popular wet season destinations in Kakadu. It follows an historic vehicle track where, in 1946, the first motorcar entered the region. An impassable creek marked the end of the journey. Ever since, that creek has been called Motorcar.
Yurmikmik may be popular, but very few walk past the main Motorcar Falls. Lower Motorcar Falls, shown at right, is on one of the bushwalks described in Kakadu's official Yurmikmik information sheet. Those notes, however, give no hint that the falls is there so very few people take the time to hike down and enjoy it. To get an idea of the size of the falls, look closely. There are three people in the photo, two on the bank and one in the water. Click here for a close up view.
Few people hike to lower Motorcar Falls; fewer still trek to the top where Motorcar Creek splits into several branches. These offer one of the most concentrated collections of small waterfalls, pools and interesting rock formations in Kakadu. The photos at left show one of our groups walking along different branches of the creek.
On all our Motorcar bushwalks, we gradually work our way up along several of these branches, stopping for a swim any time a pool is just too inviting to resist. On most trips, we spend at least one day exploring without full packs. Russell Willis, owner and founder of Willis's Walkabouts, likes the area so much that he chose to see in the millennium on a six day bushwalk at Motorcar Creek, ending on 1 January 2000. He couldn't think of anywhere else that he'd rather be.
It's hard to believe two creeks can be so different when they are so close. Kurrundie Creek tumbles off the plateau only two kilometres from where Motorcar Creek does the same. Motorcar flows through sandy soils which let the water drain off quickly after the Wet. Kurrundie flows through clay soils which let the water dribble out even after six months without a drop of rain. The three photos below give you a taste of what you might find on a visit.
The first photo was taken just after the wet season. It shows the largest waterfall on upper Kurrundie. The other two were taken at the height of the Wet. The second is a natural spa in lower Kurrundie Gorge. The third is at the main Kurrundie Falls.
50 people might hike in to see Motorcar Falls o any given day in its peak season but it would be unusual for more than half a dozen to trek the extra two kilometres to get to Kurrundie. In over 20 years of bushwalking in this area, only once have we met another group other than at the main falls on Motorcar or Kurrundie. Even there, early in the morning and late in the afternoon, we have the place to ourselves.
Spring fed Dinner Creek is the first major tributary of the upper South Alligator River. It is in the heart of Buladjang, or "Sickness Country". Nearby Coronation Hill (known as Guratba by the local Jawoyn people) was the site of a major environmental battle in the 1980s, finally settled when the federal government decided not to allow mining in the area. The links in this paragraph give more information about these issues.
Traditional Aboriginal beliefs restrict visits to Dinner Creek to the period from April through September. The environmental sensitivity of the area means that no more than two bushwalking groups may visit in any given month and those groups are limited to a maximum of 9 people.
On all of our Dinner Creek bushwalks, we hike to a base camp and spend two full days exploring the surrounding creeks, waterfalls, gorges and one of the most unusual geological features in Kakadu. No one who has been there has been disappointed. No photo can do it justice, so we won't put one on this website. The photos here show the main pool and falls (click to see the large version if you can't see the people) and a small waterfall on a tributary creek.
Willis's Walkabouts, 12 Carrington Street, Millner NT 0810, Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
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