National Parks of Australia – Kakadu NP – Northern Territory
by Noah Patton
Kakadu is the largest national park in Australia at a size of approximately 20,000 square kilometres, making it about twice the size of Jamaica and about the same size as Israel. Located in the far north of the Northern Territory, Kakadu is home to an immense variety of animal and plant species, ancient rock art and breathtaking scenery.
If you like crocs, Kakadu is for you, with an estimated 10,000 or more of the not-so-gentle giants within the park…
The Yellow Water Wetland within the park is the best place to see them, with a boardwalk and platform available so you can see one of the oldest apex predators from a comfortable distance. Alternatively there are cruises available along the wetland if boating leisure is your style.
If animals with less teeth are more your thing, there are hundreds of unique species of birds that can be spotted throughout the park. As the park is mainly composed of wetlands, there are plenty of waterbirds throughout. Brolgas, jabirus and egrets are the most common – but if you’re lucky you might spot a white-bellied sea eagle hunting fish. Some other species include the Blue-winged Kookaburra, varieties of lorikeets and honeyeaters, cockatoos, pigeons, ducks and more.
Kakadu holds some of Australia’s most ancient rock art, with some paintings estimated to be around 20,000 years old. These paintings depict events as early as European’s first contact with the native Australians. This makes Kakadu’s rock art one of the longest spanning historical records in the entire world. The art was made with pigments crushed on a stone palette, mixed with water to give it the correct consistency. You might notice most of the paintings are red, this is because hematite, the reddish coloured iron oxide, lasts the longest out of the pigments used by the native Australians.
Kakadu contains some of the most stunning waterfalls in the country, of particular note are the Twin Falls gorge, Jim Jim Falls and Gunlom Falls. Depending on the season some of these are inaccessible due to flooding, but most of the time they can be accessed by any means you want. Want to spend a day hiking from your campsite, drive straight there, or just take a guided tour by boat straight to the bottom of the falls? The choice is yours.