Kakadu National Park

Posted on 3 January 2013

One of the biggest attractions of northern Australia, especially for lovers of nature and natural history, is the huge Kakadu National Park. It is around 2 hours' drive from Darwin, depending on which part of the park you visit, and it covers 19,804 square kilometres.

Kakadu is a place to hear and see the story of Australia. Naturally, it is very diverse, with many different landscapes from tidal flats and wetlands to hills, woodlands and stone country. These habitats support a wide range of fauna, including birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.There are 33 threatened species for which Kakadu is an important conservation area.

The park has always been and still is home for aboriginal tribes. They are happy to share the wonderful Park and their unique way of life with visitors, but please respect sacred sites, people's homes etc. Some guidelines for interaction can be found here.

The park is open to visitors every day of the year, and there is a park use fee for out-of-state visitors which helps to maintain the park and improve visitor services. The main visitor centre is Bowali Visitor Centre, in the heart of the park along the Kakadu Highway. On land owned by the Mirrar clan, here you can see an audio-visual display about the area and visit the library and habitat display, or refresh yourself at the cafe.  Another centre is the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, on the Murrumber clan lands. Shaped for its namesake, the Warradjan (pig-nosed turtle), the centre holds detailed information about the aboriginal tribes who live and have lived in Kakadu, and their connection with the land.

A lasting legacy from the generations of aboriginal peoples inhabiting the land are the many rock art sites in Kakadu. There are around 5,000 examples of this art throughout the park which tell the story of the people and their lands.

Rock Art
by andrea castelli Flickr Creative Commons

You can get out on the water in Kakadu and boat and fish in the rivers and estuaries, but beware of crocodiles! The use of non-motorised craft is prohibited for this reason. There are many boat and walking tours you can take, day or overnight, and many of these are led by the traditional inhabitants of the land so will give you a great insight into the natural and cultural history. Bushwalks abound also, of varying lengths and degree of difficulty. There is plenty to do and see in Kakadu, so if you can, stay a few days, or even a week.

For the motorhome tripper, there are plenty of options for accommodation at Kakadu. There is the Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park in the town of Jabiru which is right in the middle of the park, and also the Mary River Wilderness Retreat, both of which are good options if you want a little more comfort in your lodgings. For the wild at heart, there are numerous simple campgrounds. The managed campsites have flushing toilets and hot showers, whilst the bush campsites have more primitive facilities. Both attract a small fee, but this is an economic way to travel. Some bus campsites have 4wd access only, and a very few require a camping permit. A guide to camping in the Park can be found here.

Have a look here for your wheels and accommodation to explore Kakadu National Park with Australia campervan hire!

Author: Doug Brown+

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