Your free what's on guide to the top end

Growing Up Troppo – July

Pack away the iPad and put Pokémon on hold – school holidays are here.

By Libby Larsen.

It's the time of year when Top Enders are itching to get out and about and make the most of the glorious Dry season weather – and you’d have to agree that we are pretty lucky to live in these parts, with some world-famous landscapes to explore right on our doorstep.

If rock art isn’t on your radar, it should be. The rock art galleries of the Arnhem Land Plateau have been likened to the Louvre in Paris in terms of their importance. I've been to both, and think they are equally amazing. 

If you think rock art isn't going to interest your kids, think again. Take a trip to Gunbalyana Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land for a rock art tour with an Aboriginal guide. What better way for kids to learn about ancient rock art than to hear the stories from a local? In my experience it’s a truly unique and special Top End experience for the whole family, and it’s less than 20 kilometres on a dirt road from Cahills Crossing in Kakadu National Park to get to Gunbalayna. The drive is one of my favourites, and as you pass by beautiful wetlands with gorgeous pink water lilies, the views of the Arnhem Land escarpment are simply breathtaking.

The tours are run through Injalak Arts and take around three hours (which includes stops along the way). It does involve some strenuous hiking up the hill – and is probably best for families with slightly older kids – but there’s also some easy paced walking through breezy, shaded and sheltered walkways. 

Don't put the trip to Gunbalayna off till you think your kids can tackle the tour however, as a visit to Injalak Arts where your kids can meet Aboriginal artists and see them painting and weaving is a fabulous thing to do in itself. And, if you are anything like me, the art centre is the perfect place for a bit of ethical retail therapy. I’m a huge fan of the fabrics, weavings, baskets, bags and cushion covers. My top tip is to bring your wallet!  

The drive to Gunbalayna is best done with a 4WD but I know friends who have tackled it with a 2WD. Be sure to ask Injalak Arts about the road conditions before you go, and don’t forget to check the tide times for Cahills Crossing. You’ll need a permit from the Northern Land Council which is a relatively easy process – just don’t leave it till the last minute. 

Thumbnail image: Roland Burrunali, Injalak Hill Tour Guide; image courtesy Richard l'Anson

Header image: by Richard l'Anson

Travel is, and has always been, Libby’s passion and she believes that this shouldn’t stop when you have kids. Libby knows that the best travel advice and tips come from other parents and so she started Growing up Troppo. It has loads of inspiration about hip places to stay, play and eat with kids that importantly parents love too. 

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