Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km east of Darwin. The name ‘Kakadu’ comes from an aboriginal floodplain language called Gagudju which was one of the languages spoken in the north of the park at the beginning of the twentieth century. Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land spread on more more than 110,000 square kilometres in the north-east corner of the Northern Territory. This is the largest national park in Australia. The park was established in 1981 and is governed by Environment Australia and Parks Australia and Aboriginal traditional land owners. Also, it is a World-Heritage listing.
How to get there
You can access it from Darwin to Jabiru via the Arnhem Highway. The road that is usually open all year round. Access from the south to Jabiru is via the Kakadu Highway, again usually open all year round. You can take a tour inside the Park. This way you can visit all the popular destinations and have a day trip to Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls. For those with a their own vehicle – the main tourist route is east from Darwin to Jaibiru, then south-west to Cooinda, then continuing on as far as Pine Creek, with a possible deviation south to Katherine, before returning north to Darwin.
What to see
The Bowali Visitor Centre situated just outside of Jabiru, has a good of information on the Park’s ecology and Aboriginal culture and has an excellent gallery and souvenir shop.
See The Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre which is located in Cooinda. See the architecture that represents the story of World Heritage-listed Kakadu as told by the traditional owners. The circular design of the centre symbolises a warradjan, the pig-nosed turtle.
Ubirr is one of Kakadu National Park’s two most famous Aboriginal rock art galleries. The galleries can be viewed by following an easy flat one kilometre circular walking track. Enjoying a spectacular tropical sunset from the top of Ubirr is not to be missed. During the tropical summer months access is restricted.
Yellow Water is the lovely “billabong” (which is actually an arm of the South Alligator River) is rich with native flora and fauna. This is one of Kakadu National Park’s best known landmarks. Yellow Water is home to crocodiles, wild horses, buffalo and other wildlife
What to do
Walking is a great way to experience Kakadu and soak in the unique nature. There are many walks throughout the park, including a wide variety of short and easy day walks as well as some longer, more challenging full day walks for those who are fit. Check seasonal access. A permit is required for anyone wishing to do an overnight bushwalk. You can take a small, private cruise on the Corroboree or Yellow Water Billabongs and perhaps this is the best way to get a very close and look at the biggest crocodiles in the world.
You can book your stay in one of the several resorts of the national park (Aurora Kakadu Resort, Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, Lakeview Park etc) or you can camp in the camping grounds near the park (Jabiru, Cooinda and South Alligator all have commercial camping areas and are in proximity to most of the important natural attractions in these areas).
Best season for visits
Bininj/Mungguy recognise six different seasons. This knowledge of nature is fundamental to the culture of Kakadu and its people. Bininj/Mungguy have lived with the changing landscape for tens of thousands of years. There are subtle variations that signpost the transition from one season to another – changes in the weather, which plants are in flower, and which bush foods are abundant. Each season has different attractions, and some areas are closed by flooding during the wet season, so there is not preferred one.