Brisbane, QLD

Thursday, August 4, 2016

THE RUINED CITY (Savannah Way 15)

On our trip across the top of Australia we stopped in the Aboriginal town of Ngukurr, which used to be a mission in Arnem Land. (see map)   Seven clans have joined together and run the council. They are endeavouring to create jobs and be self sufficient. They value education and there is a 95% attendance rate at the school. They all love sport and football especially. The town has a policy, 'no school, no sport' at any of the clubs. The kids love their sport so it is helping them keep going to school.
They also have an Art Centre. We stayed at the Art Centre while we waited for our turn to go for a helicopter trip to the 'Ruined City'. We watched some of the artists at work and then they cooked us damper and tea for morning tea on a camp fire. There are two sculptures in the background, a water buffalo and a crocodile. Inside the centre were hundreds of beautiful pieces of aboriginal art for sale.

 This time I had the front seat in the helicopter, there were no doors but we had seat belts.

  It was quite scary but fun when the pilot swooped down  closer to the water buffalo.

 We flew for 20 mins over Arnhem Land.

 Then we came to the most unusual rock formations, which resembled a ruined city. It is a special place for the aborigines called Baroonja. Visitors are only allowed to go there if accompanied by a family member of the owners of this area. There were miles and miles of these rocks and I took heaps of photos but too many to put here.

 The helicopter lands on top of one of the bigger rocks. The people, waiting for the return flight, looked so little and in the middle of nowhere.

 The guide loads the people to go back.

We were taken for a short walk around the rock that we were on. The different shapes and colours were amazing. It was also very hot there about 40°C. Our local guide was Walter the son of the elder who owns this area. It was the first time he has done the tour guide work for his family. He enjoyed the helicopter ride so much that he wants to become a pilot. He told us stories about the area.

 After 40 mins the helicopter was back to pick up us.

 Time to say goodbye to the 'Ruined City" or 'Baroonja"

We returned to Ngukurr nestled on top of the ridge not far from the Roper River but a long way from any other civilisation.

 That afternoon we were taken on a cruise on the Roper River with another local guide. We learnt about the interesting history of the river. Paddleboat steamers were a common site in the past originally to bring supplies to those building the overland telegraph system in the 1870's.

We saw many different birds and bats but no crocodiles (they were hiding).


  1. You saw and learned so much and the ruined city sounds really interesting.

  2. that ruined city is just AMAZING... and i love the boat you were in... that reflection is wonderful to.... yikes on no door..

  3. Wow, Diane, what an interesting place to visit! I have never taken a ride in a helicopter--we wanted to do that over the Grand Canyon many years ago but our son, who was only 12 at the time, was too afraid. The unusual rock formations are amazing to see. They remind me of the ones here in Zion NP in Utah. I'd love to see the Aboriginal artwork

  4. The rocks are really amazing

  5. So much to see and to hear. The stories which I assume have been past down from one generation to the next would have added so much to the experience. What a fabulous trip.

  6. The 'ruined city' looks almost like a miniature set of hoodoos as in Bryce Canyon. What fun filming the buffalo from the air. Sounds like great fun. Keep well t'other Diane

  7. Interesting post. Such strange rocks. I'm not surprised they are considered so special.

  8. Hello, the rock formations are cool. What a neat place to visit. I do not do well on helicopters but the boat ride sounds like fun. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

  9. That is a very interesting tour you have made. Those rocks are amazing, such a different country there.

  10. What a trip, every minute something new! (Well, except for the long bus rides maybe.) I think someday you will have explored every mile of your huge and beautiful country, Diane. Thanks for taking us along. :-)

  11. This is such a fascinating trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. Wonderful photos! Thank you, Diane, for sharing your adventure. So interesting and exciting and full of new things to experience and explore. I was very happy to tag along.

  13. You "jest" Diane. I bet their were naughty "croc eyes" watching your progress along
    the Roper River.
    Looks like a cull might be in order to keep down the population of those feral
    water buffaloes.
    Interesting post - well documented and photographed.
    Tourism Australia will be delighted with your blog report.

  14. Crocodile and alligators scare me a bit. Glad to hear Aboriginal is being self sufficient. Our Aboriginal (American Indians) also been mange lot better by opening casinos.

    Came over by Andrew If you fine the time stop in for some coffee.

  15. Great post Diane and learning a little and seeing this part of Australia was fun and interesting.

  16. I am enjoying your journey and am seeing places and things that I have never even imagined before in my Australian and New Zealand travels. Thank you for the vicarious adventures.

  17. We really do live in a remarkable country! Looking forward to my Darwin trip which starts next week.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. What a wonderful and amazing country we live in

  19. Great reflection shot on the Roper River cruise. I do applaud your adventurous spirit Diane!

  20. Wow---what an amazing trip; As I've said in previous posts, I'd LOVE to go there and see that... Those rock formations reminded me of the "Hoodoos" at Bryce Canyon here in the USA....

    Seeing the Water Buffalo made me shiver... So much wildlife out there ---and telling the humans to STAY AWAY...


  21. What an adventure -- especially the front seat of the open helicopter! Wow. I really wondered about the title -- seemed an odd place for a ruined city -- the truth as revealed is both more understandable and more interesting than what I had thought. Amazing rocks (I used to work for a geologist and should know more about colors and layers and stuff, but it was a long time ago and I've forgotten.)