Kakadu is in the Northern Territory of Australia, it is located around 171 kilometres southeast of Darwin.
The name Kakadu comes from the mispronunciation of 'Gagadju' which is the name of an Aboriginal language spoken in the northern part of Kakadu National Park.
Kakadu has a tropical monsoon climate with two seasons: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season is from April/May until September, the wet season is from October until April/May. Between mid June and mid August are the most pleasant day temperatures around 30°C, but also by far the biggest tourist numbers.
Cutting along the south eastern side of Kakadu is the Arnhem Land which is also Aboriginal land, for which you need a permit to enter it. Along the coast you will find several swamps, to the south you will find grassland and rainforest and throughout the rest of the park you will find lilly-filled billabongs, rivers (and lakes during the wet season), as well as plenty of wildlife.
The waterfalls are also fantastic, especially during the wet season. Jim Jim Falls can dry out during the dry season, whereas the Twin Falls are always running with water. However, sometimes both falls are blocked off due to flooding during the wet season.
You also can't miss the Gunlorn Waterfall Creek which was made famous not only by its natural beauty, but also by the film 'Crocodile Dundee'. There are also both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles in the park so be careful around water and swampy areas. Freshies are found in both Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls and salties are found in South Alligator and Yellow Water Rivers, as well as numerous other sites throughout the park. There are also lots of snakes around the park, so be careful of these too.
There are numerous walking trails around the park ranging from 1km - 12km. You can also head off the track, however, the bushwalking in this area is difficult so go prepared and always let the ranger or someone else know where you are heading. You also need a permit to camp anywhere other than in the campsites. There are also numerous tours into and around Kakadu, with most leaving from Darwin. These include walking tours as well as 4WD and other tours.
Water birds are popular in Kakadu, as are many other species of animals. Birds you may see include: Barking Owls, Black Kites, Brolgas, Burdekin Ducks, Bustards, Cormorants, Darters, Egrets, Green Pygmys, Herons, Ibis, Jabiru Storks, Kingfishers, Magpie Geese, Pelicans, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Whistling Kites and White-breasted Sea Eagles. You also shouldn't miss the large Silver Barramundi, which swirl near the surface of the water.
Uranium has also been discovered in Kakadu and has caused much controversy. Much protest has been based around Jabiluka, which has been told by the UN that the mining could degrade Kakadu's prestigious environment.
There is also a huge amount of Aboriginal art around Kakadu National Park, dating back to 3 main time categories - Pre-estuarine from over 6000 years ago, Estuarine between 2000 and 6000 years ago, and Freshwater anything upto 2000 years ago. Not all sites are open for public viewing, with many of the older sites closed.
Although a lot of the artwork that you will get to see will be fairly recent paintings, or older paintings which have been touched up or even completely replaced by new ones, they are definitely worth seeing. It is worth visiting one of the many Aboriginal Cultural Centres around the park to find out more about the history of the area and the fantastic cave paintings.
There are also several places around the park which are worth visiting. Ubirr is to the north of the park and offers some great rock art amongst its caves. Ubirr is fantastic during the wet season, although it is only reachable by 4WD during this time, and occasionally only by boat. There are some great walks around this area and some fabulous landscape views. Jabiru is another small town, just south of Ubirr.
Jabiru used to be a mining town and so its main attraction is a trip around the mine. South again is Nourlangie, where you will come across an amazing sandstone rock and beautiful cliffs rising up above the trees. Towards the cliffs is where you will find some of the best rock art in Kakadu. There are some beautiful lookouts and places to stop on your way to Nourlangie, including Anbangbang Billabong, Anbangbang Rock, Gubara with its beautiful pools and Nawulandja Lookout, looking back over Nourlangie Rock.
The seasons are very distinct in Kakadu. The following is what you should expect:
January - March: Gudjuek (Wet season), with huge thunderstorms, plentiful rain and high humidity.
April: Banggereng (Storms), violent storms 'knock-down' the plantlife.
May - June: Yekke (Mist), water levels are high, but most roads are accessible.
July - August: Wurrgeng and Gurrung (Dry), wildlife and birds are increasing.
September - October: Gunumeleng (Build up to wet season), humidity, temperature and mosquitoes increase.
November - December: Thunderstorms start and continue into the wet season.
The best time to visit would be between May and August. Early on the waterfalls are amazing due to all of the heavy rainfall, although the later dryer season may offer better weather. However, if you want to avoid the tourist rush, then avoid the busy dry season. Once in the park there is a range of accommodation to choose from. If you don't have your own transport you can always hop on the Greyhound Pioneer from Darwin, which leaves early each day.
Destinations within Top End