Make tracks to Australia’s largest national park – the Kakadu

by Stephanie 26/10/2010 14:38:00

Kakadu National Park has some of the most
breathtaking landscapes in Australia. Take a dip! 

Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is Australia’s largest national park: and nothing makes you feel like an adventurer than exploring 20,000 square kilometres. To give you some idea, the Kakadu is the size of Israel, a third the size of Tasmania and nearly half the size of Switzerland  so you’ll need plenty of time to explore it fully.

The place to start is at the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre on Beatrice Hill, approximately 60 kilometres from Darwin. You'll easily see the upswept line of the Visitors Centre roof, and there is plenty of information there to give you some idea of things to do.

The Arnhem Highway takes you across five of the eight rivers as you travel between Darwin and Jabiru, the main township in Kakadu and the gateway to the national park.

The name Kakadu comes from the Gagudju Aboriginal people who once lived here. They left a rich heritage and with more than 50,000 years of heritage, this land has one of the longest historical records of any people in the world. There are more than 5,000 recorded rock art sites along and ancestral trails known as Dreaming Tracks across the landscape.

Kakadu National Park was first inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1981 so it has impeccable environmental creds as well. Around one-third of all Australia’s bird species can be found in the Kakadu!

Jim Jim and Twin Falls are among the most spectacular natural sights in the top end but you’ll need 4WD to get there and it’s only accessible in the dry season.

If seeing a crocodile in the wild is on your ‘to-do’ list – this is probably your best chance, as both ‘salties’ and ‘freshies’ live in here, so take notice of the signs! And you can’t miss the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre - it’s built in the shape of the local pig-nosed turtle.

From Jabiru you could take a scenic flight for a bird’s-eye view; or take a boat trip on the East Alligator River and experience the ever changing palette of nature’s best scenery. See the land through the eyes of the local Bininj people by spending the night at the Kakadu Culture Camp.

The Mary River region is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the Top End and a day should be set aside to explore it fully. Other areas to visit are Yurmikmik in the wet season or Gunlom in the dry. Ubirr, the most famous of Kakadu’s art sites is not to be missed; while Nourlangie Rock, Kakadu’s second greatest art site, has the image of Namarrgon, the lightning man.

The Kakadu has six seasons, not four, with each revealing its own wonder – from torrential rain to mud-cracking drought. That’s just one of the reasons Kakadu is a must-see Australian destination.

- Happy and safe travelling on your Australian working holiday!

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