Kakadu National Park is the largest national park in Australia. Found approximately 160 miles east of Darwin, it covers an impressive 4.2 million acres. To put things in perspective, Kakadu National Park is about half the size of Switzerland. In conjunction with the Australian government, Aborigines manage the park as its owners. This only seems appropriate, as Aborigines and their ancestors have had a presence in the area for tens of thousands of years. Also living within the boundaries of Kakadu National Park are scores of animals. The resident bird species alone total more than 200. This is quite simply one of Australia’s richest wildlife habitats, and therein lies much of the allure for visitors. Various natural landscapes only serve to accentuate the overall appeal of Kakadu National Park, and there are multiple ways to take it all in.
Aboriginal People & Exploration
The World Heritage area that is Kakadu National Park has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. Australia’s first remains of human occupation have actually been found there. Giving testament to the land’s long history of human presence are rock carvings, cave paintings, and archaeological sites. Understandably so, the native Aboriginal People have strong ties to the land. It is interesting to note that this is one of the few places in the country where Aborigines are known to adhere to a traditional lifestyle of hunting an living directly off the land. The best way to arguably get in touch with the Aboriginal culture of the park is to visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre and to inspect the park’s internationally recognized rock art sites. The park’s two main rock art sites are Ubirr and Nourlangie. While exploring Kakadu National Park, visitors can hope to arrange a tour with a local Aboriginal guide. Among the things that such tours highlight are Aboriginal rock art and the park’s wildlife.
The diverse environments that can be found at Kakadu National Park support an immense amount of animals. Approximately 70 mammal species have been recorded in the park, for example. These mammals include kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, and bandicoots, to name a few. For those who are hoping to do some birdwatching, the more than 280 species that have been documented account for about one-third of Australia’s bird species. Common bird species include, but certainly aren’t limited to, barking owls, blue-winged kookaburras, white-bellied sea eagles, and red collared lorikeets. Rounding out the wildlife in Kakadu National Park are numerous reptile, amphibian, fish, and insect species. Highlights in these departments include crocodiles and barramundi. The barramundi is what many people hope to snag while enjoying some recreational fishing. The Dry season, which basically runs from April/May to October, is the best time to view wildlife in Kakadu National Park. Park viewers should not approach, disturb, or feed wildlife, and generally speaking, it is best to seek out the park’s resident animals on a wildlife tour. Several tour companies offer such experiences.
Many people who include a Kakadu National Park visit on their Australia vacation itineraries understandably have recreation on their minds. Fishing is among the most popular recreational pursuits, and as mentioned, the prized barramundi is what many anglers seek. Top fishing sites in Kakadu National Park include Yellow Water, the South Alligator River, and the East Alligator River. Fishing tours can be arranged, and if you just want to enjoy a wildlife viewing boat tour, that can be arranged as well. Four-wheel drive tours and scenic flights are two more examples of things that can be arranged at Kakadu National Park, and if you’re up for a walk, you can find plenty of walking and hiking trails to indulge in. Swimming in the pools that form below such renowned waterfalls as Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, and Gunlom Falls is just one more way to spend your time at Kakadu National Park, though it is important to remember that crocodiles call the region home. Basically, while some of the park’s popular swimming sites are often regarded as being croc-free, swimmers always enter the water at their own risk.
Kakadu Hotels and Lodging
Kakadu Lodge Giselleai (flickr)
Some of the tours that target Kakadu National Park include spending the night in rather luxurious safari tents. Visitors can also hope to find a spot at one of the park’s campgrounds. One such campground is found near Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls and has sites for 200 people. The Goymarr Tourist Park is another example of a place to find campsites, not to mention powered van sites, backpacker accommodations, and motel-style rooms. Should a cabin be the accommodation of choice, good places to go include the Kakadu Lodge (pictured) and Lakeview Park Kakadu. These places also offer other accommodations. At the Kakadu Lodge, for example, you can book a room in the lodge. Relatively upscale places to stay at Kakadu National Park include the Bamurru Plains Hotel and the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn. Between the hotels, motels, budget accommodations, and camping areas, there is essentially something for everyone when it comes to Kakadu lodging.