Interesting facts about Kakadu National Park, Australia

By Stef Zisovska
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Aboriginal rock painting of Mimi spirits in the Anbangbang gallery at Nourlangie Rock - Author: Dustin M. Ramsey - CC BY-SA 2.5
 
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The Kakadu National Park is a protected area in Australia that has many weird and wonderful secrets such as strange animals, cave art, and the oldest living human civilization on the Earth, the Aborigines. A trip to Kakadu is the perfect way to meet an ancient culture and to live a modern-time adventure at the same time.

The size of Kakadu

Kakadu National Park covers an area of almost 7730 square miles, which makes it half the size of Switzerland.

National Park’s age

Kakadu became a national park between the years of 1979 and 1991.

Who owns it?

Kakadu wetlands – Author: Tourism NT

More than half of the park’s land belongs to the native Aborigines. The Aboriginal people have lived continuously in Kakadu for more than 40,000 years. There are over 5000 art sites registered in the area that represent their culture.

Do they still live traditionally?

Modern life has an influence even on the members of the oldest of human civilizations. Some of them live in the settlements and towns of Kakadu, but their traditions have remained the same. They still spend plenty of time in the outdoors hunting, fishing, and working on the land, just as their ancestors have done for millennia.

Kakadu rock art

The Ubirr Aboriginal rock art site – Author: Thomas Schoch – CC BY-SA 2.5

Kakadu rock paintings are about 20,000 years old, but there are also newer examples showing sailing ships, which means they were recording the first European settlements.

Bird species

Brolga and magpie geese – Author: Gilian McLaughlin – CC BY 2.0

There are more than 280 registered bird species in Kakadu. Many of them are found only in one particular environment, and in some places their number is bigger than that of the human inhabitants. A huge part of the park is known as the Important Bird Area which protects various endangered species such as gouldian finch, red goshawk, partridge pigeon, chestnut-backed button-quail, hooded parrot, and rainbow pitta. There are also many species of waterbird, including the little black cormorant, Australian pelican, magpie geese, pied herons and many more.

Plant species

Kakadu has more than 1700 different plant species. The park has several distinct geographical zones, and the plants are different in each zone. The area of Kakadu called Stone Country consists of “resurrection” plants that can survive in dry conditions and revive during the occasional rainfalls. In the southern hills of of the park you can see the endemic species of Eucalyptus koolpinensis.  Several varieties of water lily, such as the blue, yellow and white snowflake, are commonly found in the wetlands of Kakadu.

How big do Kakadu’s termite mounds get?

They can be up to 20 feet tall! You can see them from the Maguk Road and in the southern part of Kakadu National Park.

Termite cathedral mounds in an area blackened by the park’s annual winter bushfires – Dustin M. Ramsey – CC BY-SA 2.5

Crocodiles

Kakadu is also home to more than 10,000 crocodiles which is about one tenth of all the crocodiles in the Northern Territory. That is one crocodile to every 0.7 square miles on average.

Salt water crocodile in Kakadu – Author: Mbz1 – CC BY-SA 3.0

Ranger-guided walks

There are organized walks and talks every day, guided by rangers that will give you all the information about the park.

Speargrass height 

By the end of the summer, the speargrass reaches up to 10 feet. Then the storm season comes and flattens it.

Kakadu brumbies – Cgoodwin – CC BY 3.0

Six seasons

The Gudjewg or the monsoon season lasts from December to March, and it’s the time of heavy rain, floods, and thunderstorms. The heat and humidity help the boosting of animal and plant life.

The Banggerreng or knock ’em down storm season is only in April, and it starts with violent, windy storms. In this season the streams start clearing and the trees have fruits.

Yegge is cooler but still humid season. From May to mid-June it’s cooler, and the humidity is low.

Arnhem Land artist at work – Mark Roy – CC BY 2.0

Wurrgeng is the cold weather season. Everything is dry from mid-June to mid-August. The springs stop flowing and the floodplains dry out.

Gurrung starts in mid-August and lasts until mid-October. It’s the hottest season of all six and a time when the Aborigines hunt snakes and long-neck turtles.

Driving near Red Lily Lagoon at Gunbalanya – Author: Tourism NT

Gunumeleng is a pre-monsoon storm season from mid-October to late December. It’s a hot weather period that becomes more and more humid. The dry land becomes green again, the creeks fill with water, and life starts to bloom. Storms appear in the afternoon, and this is the time when Aborigines move from the floodplains to the stone country.

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