The morning of our helicopter flight to and over the Mitchell Plateau and Mitchell Falls. Despite the fact that it is the dry season, the falls still had water, but it must be a spectacular sight when in full spate during the rainy season.
Very, very old landscape. Rocks around 1.8 billion (yes, really) years old. Pics galore, unsurprisingly.
The flight was around 20 minutes out and back, with an hour up at the falls themselves. The helicopter left from a small bay called Swift Bay, reached by zodiac from the ship.
I was lucky to be able to sit in the front of the helicopter on the way out, but Jean was in the back on one of the outside seats and there were no doors! I was in the same situation on the way back and I have to say it was more than a trifle disconcerting to be tilted towards the earth without a door restraining you. Yes, we were well strapped in, but I was holding onto a bar in front of me, leaving no opportunity to take any photos. Plenty on the way out, however!
Our guide, Steve, went into some detail about how sacred this area is to the local aboriginal peoples, and much of it has been handed back to them. It hides a massive deposit of bauxite, the aluminium ore, but mercifully the likes of Rio Tinto have not yet been able to mine it. Long may that continue……
We also had the good fortune to spot a very rare lizard. Apparently, very little is known about it, and Steve said that he hadn’t seen one for a decade.
An awesome experience.
Back for lunch, then a trip out via the Xplorer to an area of ancient aboriginal art, much of it possibly over 15,000 years old. Jamie provided some very interesting background, and some of the pictures were hard to get as one had to scrabble underneath rock ledges. One does get a sense of how important this area is, or has been, to the local native population.
Then a restful cruise through some truly extensive mangrove trees, interspersed with rainforest vegetation. Not really much to report here, but very pleasant all the same.