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Travel guide Central Australia & Alice Springs


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Kakadu National Park
  • Cave Paintings
  • cultural teachings to visitors.
  • Amazing Rock Formations
  • Adventure

Step back in time and experience the beauty that has been a home to Aboriginal people for more than 40,000 years. Australia’s most famous national park spans an enormous 20,000 square kilometers and is one of the few Australian sites listed by UNESCO World Heritage for both its cultural and natural offerings.

More than 1000 species of plants can be found in Kakadu, along with countless different birds and animals, stunning rock formations, ancient cave paintings and cultural offerings. It is impossible to see and experience everything in a single trip.

What to do in Kakadu?

Whether you are in search of a leisurely escape or a vacation packed with adventure, you will find choices to suit your touring style. Budget conscious travelers will find many free guided tours and activities from which to choose, in addition to the more costly (but spectacular) scenic flights and cruises. Check out the Visitor’s Centre when you arrive to decide which tours offering Aboriginal culture, wildlife, flora, and/or adventure you would like to try.

Aboriginal culture

Aboriginal traditional owners and the Director of National Parks jointly manage Kakadu National Park. The region is home to many clans of Aboriginal people, with several different languages. Some locals choose to display their traditional arts and crafts, and to demonstrate these and other cultural teachings to visitors.

Ancient cave paintings and rock carvings depict lifestyles of Kakadu’s ancient inhabitants. In addition, this historical artwork depicts many animals that have been extinct for thousands of years.

Wildlife

The best time to see active wildlife is in the cooler parts of the day (early morning and late evening before dusk). Bring your binoculars and enjoy identifying some of the 280 different species of birds. There are also around 60 species of mammals and 117 species of reptiles including, of course, the crocodiles which enjoyed international fame in Crocodile Dundee. And be sure to check out the giant termite mounds in the Southern end of the park; you’ll marvel that critters so tiny could create something so huge!

Flora

Botany enthusiasts will be thrilled with the range of vegetation to be found throughout the park. With several different regions offering vastly different growing conditions, plants vary widely from the wetlands to the hills and rocky areas. Enjoy quiet bushwalks to discover Kakadu on your own, or join one of the many free tours offered by knowledgeable park rangers.

Adventure

Visitors wanting to add some excitement to their holiday will not be disappointed. Air tours are an excellent way to see the immensity and beauty of the national park. Various boat trips allow visitors to traverse the river and wetlands, and in some cases, fish for the famous Barramundi. Be sure to hop into a 4WD to explore some the many spectacular waterfalls, rocks, and caves.

When to go

June to early October is generally the preferred time to go as more tours are operating, the roads are open and you’re less likely to get wet. From November to May, you risk encountering monsoons, and large areas of the park are closed. However during the wet season, the electrical storms are spectacular and more migratory birds are present. If you visit towards the end of the dry season, you may be treated to the best of everything Kakadu.

How to get there

Darwin is the nearest city to Kakadu and has a major international airport. If you prefer to travel to Darwin by train, you can take the historic Ghan from Adelaide and Alice Springs, as well as travel by train from Melbourne, Perth, or Sydney. You can also choose to drive or take a coach to Darwin.

Kakadu is then a smooth three-hour ride on a well-kept highway. Drive yourself, or take one of the many tours or bus services out of Darwin. Alternatively, Jabiru (central Kakadu) and Cooinda (Western edge of Kakadu) have small airports and you may be able to arrange a charter or tourist flight from Darwin.

Where to stay?

Stay inside a unique crocodile-shaped hotel with everything you need to have a memorable holiday. The Holiday Inn’s Gagudju Crocodile resort is perfectly placed in the heart of Kakadu to offer visitors easy access to all the attractions, and a refreshing swimming pool to enjoy after a day of exploring. Or wake up in the Aurora Kakadau’s lush 10-hectare resort with cozy guest rooms, landscaped gardens and an inviting pool. Check out Take A Break’s accommodation pages for updates on accommodation options in Kakadu.

How long is an ideal visit?

Nature lovers could find plenty of trails to enjoy indefinitely, but most visitors will be limited to days or weeks. The Department of Environment and Water Resources offer some excellent itineraries ranging from one to five days. To enjoy Kakadu at a more leisurely pace, stay at least a week and spread out the suggested itineraries, allowing yourself time to relax by the pool or picnic in the park.

About the author

Kylie-Jane Degeling is a freelance writer who has lived in Adelaide, Yulara (Uluru), Alice Springs and Canberra, as well as five different countries throughout the world. After backpacking around Australia, she worked as a tour guide in Central Australia, before training for her Commercial Pilot License and working as a flight instructor, scenic flight and charter pilot. She later worked as a travelling IT trainer for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which involved spending time In each of their 16 District Offices around the country on a frequent rotating basis. 

Having experienced Australia as a backpacker, tour guide, pilot and business traveler, Kylie now enjoys family holidays with her husband Alex and children Jezzy and Jordan. She says, “I have been lucky to see Australia from a variety of perspectives, and as a travel writer can use this experience to inspire others to find holidays they would enjoy.”

Kylie currently works as a travel writer in addition to being a government writer and columnist for two parenting magazines.

More information

Check out the following websites for information about Kakadu National Park:

Department of the Environment and Water Resources

http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/kakadu/

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List

http://whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=31&id_site=147

Bowali Visitor Centre

PO Box 71

Jabiru NT 0886 Darwin NT

Phone: (08) 8938 1120

Fax: (08) 8938 1123

Email: KakaduNationalPark@environment.gov.au

Website: www.environment.gov.au/parks/kakadu

About the author
Find out more about Kylie at http://bit.ly/h_experts

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