Kakadu is Australia's largest national park and a bona-fide national treasure.
Story By Mark Muller
Kakadu National Park is breathtaking at any time of year. Its 20,000 square kilometres encompass a diversity of habitats, experiences and cultural connections for the Aboriginal people of the area that are rightly recognised by its World Heritage listing.
The park’s amazing wetlands, stunning escarpment country, rock formations, waterways and billabongs, all complemented by year-round access to the main sites, substantial infrastructure and close proximity to Darwin mean it is one of those places on the ‘must-visit’ list for most Australians.
The bulk of those visiting the park do so during the dry season – roughly April to October. During this time access is virtually guaranteed to the entire park and the hot, humid, steamy conditions of the wet are not experienced. However, it is in the wet that the park truly comes alive – the Top End is a region of contrasts, and none are more distinct than the wet and the dry. During the wet Kakadu is a jungle awash with greenery and water. It is during this time (March to November) that the almost lurid fecundity of the region is most appreciated.
Veteran tour guide John Sinclair has been bringing people into Kakadu since 1984 – just five years after the first stage of the park was proclaimed. “During the wet it is like a different country,” he says. “The birds are teeming and there are flowers and wildlife that you would never see during the dry – it’s a rich time to come here and, in many ways, my favourite time.”
It is at this time of year that a cruise on Yellow Water Billabong affords a very real sense of the stunning wetlands and wildlife. While birds are to some extent dispersed throughout the park’s water holes and waterways, Yellow Waters remains the biggest and most impressive of Kakadu’s aquatic attractions. Yellow Waters is situated in the middle of the park and Yellow Water Cruises depart four times a day during the wet.
This story excerpt is from Issue #67
Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2009