Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is a place that no number of adjectives can sufficiently describe. The landscape changes from wetlands to desert to scrubby savannah to rocky outcrop quicker than you can blink, making Kakadu a veritable treasure chest filled with unimaginable riches just waiting to be explored.
If there were one word that could concisely describe Kakadu National Park it would be ‘enormous’. Some 200 kilometres long and 100 kilometres wide, it is easily Australia’s biggest national park. Only three hours east of Darwin, the park is home to an abundance of wildlife in one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country. Birdlife flocks around the famous Mamulala and Yellow Water wetlands, thousands of plant species cover the terrain and animals from fish to kangaroos inhabit every hospitable space.
The majority of the park still remains the property of Indigenous Australians. They have a long history in the area; some estimate the indigenous populations date back 40,000 years. Their heritage can be viewed in the rock art galleries of Kakadu, some of the most impressive and best-preserved galleries in Australia. Key paintings include the Rainbow Serpent at Ubirr Rock, and the Dreamtime ancestor of the lightning at Anbangang Gallery. Knowledgeable guides will explain how the social and cultural history of the local Indigenous groups can be traced through the stories told on the rocks.
Jabiru, the main township in Kakadu, is typically a traveller’s base, offering most essential services and acting as a gateway to larger Kakadu. From Jabiru, visitors generally opt to head out to South Alligator Creek for bird- and crocodile-spotting, to Yellow Water Wetlands to appreciate the abundance of nature, to the Mary River for bushwalks and spectacular waterfalls, or to Nourlangie for impressive rock art galleries and one stunning view across the Kakadu plain. Visitors can choose between the hundreds of guided tours on offer, or can choose to take their own vehicle to explore at their own pace – however the Australian outback can be as dangerous as it is beautiful, so if you’re exploring unaccompanied make sure you go prepared. There is no end to the wonders Kakadu holds – wether you’ve got a weekend or a month to spend there, it is sure to leave visitors wanting more.