Spotlight on Kakadu National Park
Anyone planning a trip to Australia and missing out a trip to the Outback is almost unthinkable! Australia’s Northern Territory is famed for its Outback desert landscapes and is home to Kakadu National Park, the largest of Australia’s national parks. Kakadu is a simply spectacular park, playing host to adventurers and wildlife lovers as well spectacular landscapes, a plethora of animal life and a wealth of Aboriginal culture to learn about. The park is within easy reach of Uluru, so you can combine sightseeing trips and tours to enjoy the best this enchanting part of the Northern Territory has to offer.
Getting to Kakadu National Park
The easiest way to get to Kakadu is to fly into Darwin and then drive. Even this is a treat in itself. Leaving the city and hitting the road, the landscape changes before your eyes until suddenly the remoteness of this park becomes obvious. Rent a car at the airport, or even hop on one of the organised tours on offer. Internal flights operate from many of the big Australian cities, too and it’s also possible to join coach and bus tours – these include visits to Kakadu as part of a more expansive itinerary taking you on a veritable outback safari!
What to Expect When you Get There
It suddenly becomes clear when you arrive that this is a diverse place. History, art and culture mix with dramatic nature with its flora and fauna. Everything is imbued with a dusty, desert feel making this such a unique place. Home to emotive landscapes that have remained virtually untouched for thousands of years, the variety of geography on offer allows travellers to explore in a variety of different ways: swimming under the waterfalls, taking a cruise through the rivers and lakes or taking guided tours to understand the 20,000-year-old Aboriginal rock art on display – some of the oldest evidence of human culture in the world. Bush walks with tour guides are only one way to view the delights on offer, and as the park is home to rock art exhibitions and cultural displays there are numerous ways to relax after your long walks through the Outback. The seasonal change in the park is dramatic, too; from monsoon months to dry weeks, they say six different seasons happen during the year. In the hot dry period, temperatures can soar, whilst lightning and storms are not uncommon and this has a dramatic impact on the park’s wildlife, too, especially the many waterfalls throughout the park – more on them later.
Walking through the Park
Despite the various ways to visit the park, the best way to explore is most definitely on foot. There a vast network of hiking paths and walking routes that take visitors to all of the major beauty spots with stunning vistas at every turn. A walking tour here certainly isn’t your average stroll: even a relatively short trail takes hikers from rock-art galleries and waterfalls to plunge pools and escarpments.
It may not be what you came to Oz for, but fishing in Kakadu is a unique experience. You can try your hand at reeling in a huge variety of fish species in the park’s waterways, including the infamous barramundi – a type of sea bass local to the region. But going fishing in the Outback isn’t so much an opportunity to see if you can land the catch of the day as it is a chance to spot the wildlife that live in the park’s lakes and rivers – including crocodiles!
The waterfalls are a highlight no visitor should miss. The most popular are the ruggedly spectacular Jim Jim Falls and the Twin Falls, but other breathtaking examples include Motor Car Falls and Gunlom Falls. As with so much of this park, the seasonal weather conditions can affect the landscape – the monsoon and dry seasons affect the water levels, giving them a different feel all year round.
The Outback in general is a haven for explorers, adventurers and wildlife lovers, but it’s also a land which has played home to human life for longer than most – if not all – places on earth. The history and heritage of Australia as a country starts in these areas. In Kakadu, the Aboriginal rock art which is found next to to rippling rivers packed with beady-eyed crocs in itself gives a glimpse of what life was like for humans in the Outback for thousands of years. It’s simply a fascinating place that blends culture with stunning landscape and natural life. A must for any traveller to this fascinating and breathtaking country.
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