When travelling to Australia, there are particular icons and sites that feature prominently on people’s wish lists and provide many wonderful, lifelong memories. For example, a Great Ocean Road tour exposes travellers to some amazing sites of natural beauty and definite charm, the Great Barrier Reef provides an outstanding display of marine life and colours and Tasmania offers breathtaking scenery that encourages relaxation.
Kakadu National Park features prominently as a ‘must see’ destination for a huge number of travellers and this hardly comes as a surprise. Without question, Kakadu is a national icon, a site of incredible natural beauty and, for many people, a place that showcases the diversity and wonder of Australian flora and fauna.
Here we provide a short guide to this spectacular national park.
Location and size: Kakadu National Park is located some 257 kilometres east of Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory. There is no denying that Kakadu is huge; the park is slightly less than 20,000 square metres in size and is Australia’s biggest terrestrial national park.
Kakadu is renowned as the gateway to Arnhem Land. From Darwin, Kakadu can be reached via sealed roads; the Arnhem Highway from Darwin to Katherine and then the Kakadu Highway from Katherine to Kakadu itself.
Significance: Kakadu National Park is significant and important in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that the park is a World Heritage listed area that is designated as such because of its rich cultural and natural heritage.
Climate: Water is absolutely critical to life in the park. The geographical position of Kakadu National Park means that it experiences a tropical monsoon climate, which includes a wet season of tropical downpours and humidity followed by more mild weather in the dry season.
Species: Kakadu is home to an astounding number of different species. For example, it is estimated that:
- 62 species of mammals
- In excess of 123 species of reptiles
- 280 species of birds
- 51 species of freshwater fish
- 10,000 species of insects
- 25 species of frogs
- 1,275 species of plants
can be found in this amazing national park. It is also important to note that many of these species are rare and are only found in Kakadu.
Staying in the park: It is possible to stay in the park and, if a visitor has the time to do so, it is suggested that two to five days be allowed for exploring the major sites and highlights of the park at their leisure. Standard two-wheel drive cars, four-wheel drives, camper vans and even larger sized motor homes can access the national park. It should be noted, however, that specialised types of vehicle (such as four-wheel drives) are needed to access and negotiate the terrain of particular parts of the national park.
It is estimated that more than 200,000 people visit the park every year, with more visitors during the dry season (June to September) than in the wet season.
One of the most notable features of Kakadu National Park is that it experiences seasons of extremes. The seasons of Kakadu are so varied that the Aboriginal inhabitants of the park, who for generations have lived and understood its environment and surrounds, divide the year into six separate seasons. These are:
- Gunumeleng (pre-monsoon storm season) — Gunumeleng runs from mid-October to late December but can vary in length from a few weeks to a few months
- Gudieweg (monsoon season) — From January to March, Gudieweg is the definite ‘wet’ season
- Banggereng (end of the storm season) — When this season comes, in April, the rain clouds have dispersed and clear skies pervade
- Yegge (cooler season) — From May to mid-June, this season is comparatively cool and characterised by a lower level of humidity
- Wurrgeng (cold weather season) — From mid-June to mid-August, colder weather is experienced. In Wurrgeng, daytime temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius, nighttime temperatures are around 17 degrees Celsius and humidity is low
- Gurrung (hot dry weather) — Spanning mid-August to mid-October, the season of Gurrung is hot and dry.
Just as taking a Melbourne tour when visiting Victoria is essential, a trip to Kakadu National Park is not to be missed when travelling to the Northern Territory. Not only is Kakadu a place of remarkable cultural, historic and heritage significance, it is also place of astounding beauty, life and inspiration.