Where we fall short

NT News - - NEWS - GREG THOM­SON Opin­ion

IF you haven’t seen Jim Jim Falls at full roar at the height of the Wet Sea­son, you don’t know what you are miss­ing.

The tor­rent of wa­ter and the shower of mist surg­ing from atop the 150m high sand­stone es­carp­ment is eas­ily the North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s best tourism se­cret – and sadly it seems that park of­fi­cials and politi­cians want to keep it that way.

In a world where in­sur­ance risk over­lays ev­ery­thing we do, the salt­wa­ter crocodiles, the tu­mult of flooded roads and now it seems our hot tem­per­a­tures mean Jim Jim Falls and neigh­bour­ing Twin Falls are shut from pub­lic view for all but a few weeks of the year at the end of the Dry.

If you look at the Kakadu Na­tional Park in­fra­struc­ture that ex­ists to show­case th­ese world her­itage-listed water­falls, you have to won­der why any­one would visit.

To ac­cess Jim Jim Falls, it’s a 135km 4WD-only round trip once you leave the bi­tu­men and head east off Kakadu High­way, 43km south of Bowali Vis­i­tors Cen­tre.

If you have a hire car for­get it – they won’t in­sure you.

Once you have tra­versed this rough and at times rocky track, it’s a 2km hike to the base of the falls that can take two hours re­turn.

If time is on your side, you can spend six hours re­turn scram­bling up the es­carp­ment via the Barrk Malam Walk for an out-of-this­world view of the tow­er­ing es­carp­ment and sur­round­ing flood­plains, and a dip in a rock pool at the top.

You can just sense the dis­ap­point­ment of tourists when they ar­rive at the only time of the year that the falls is open, to find it merely drib­bling over the cas­cade, or worse still, not run­ning at all.

The same ex­pe­ri­ence ex­ists at Twin Falls. You can catch a boat ride ap­par­ently, or take the 6km walk to the top if park au­thor­i­ties deem it safe to be open, but what­ever you do, don’t swim – you know the rea­son why.

How ironic when you ar­rive at one of na­ture’s most re­mark­able plunge pools, that the only cas­cade in view is of hu­man per­spi­ra­tion?

I find it ab­surd that in 2018 we have the en­gi­neer­ing so­lu­tions and tech­nol­ogy but lack the po­lit­i­cal for­ti­tude to se­ri­ously open up th­ese falls to vis­i­tors by spend­ing se­ri­ous money.

Safe swim­ming en­clo­sures that can be built in creeks and se­lected rock pools, and wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble vis­i­tor view­ing plat­forms which open up the vista should be in­fra­struc­ture pri­or­i­ties, what­ever the cost.

So too should be a bi­tu­men road to the main car parks, as well as a bridge or weir over Jim Jim Creek.

Jabiru air­port needs up­grad­ing and a tourist lodge lo­cated within cooee of Jim Jim, built high enough to catch the breeze, would com­plete the trans­for­ma­tion.

The Ter­ri­tory econ­omy is be­calmed by a lack of sig­nif­i­cant projects and short-term plan­ning. Restor­ing Kakadu’s crown as the show­piece of Ter­ri­tory tourism would go a long way to pro­vid­ing a longer term stim­u­lus that could last gen­er­a­tions while fill­ing the void NT tourism mar­ket­ing des­per­ately needs.

Mi­rarr tra­di­tional own­ers Nida Man­gar­nbarr, Si­mon Mud­jandi and Yvonne Mar­garula af­ter yes­ter­day’s

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