The Kakadu National Park lies some 300 kilometres east of Kakadu, and is said by some visitors to be the most beautiful place that they have ever seen. Certainly the escarpment forming the eastern boundary of the park is impressive, and some of the waterfalls, when flowing in the Wet, are awe-inspiring.
Imagine travelling around Ireland. Well that’s the size of Kakadu National Park. It’s arguably the best-known national park in the world. The Crocodile Dundee movies may have promoted Kakadu but they also gave a wrong impression of the landscape much of which is flat with scrubby vegetation. But there are areas of magnificent wetlands teeming with wildlife. The plants, birds, fish and insects are far too many to name. There are nature walks with bird hides, sites with unique aboriginal rock art and tours of a giant uranium mine. There are sacred sites, waterfalls which run dry and boat trips where you can see birds from the other side of the world plus buffalo and crocodiles. Remember there is a dry and wet season and both have their good points. A trip to the NT should include Kakadu.
The route to Kakadu first follows the main road south from Kakadu, and then, after forty kilometres, turns off east, and soon reaches Humpty Doo. Here you can find Graeme Gow’s Reptile World, a display of snakes and reptiles, including 25 of the world’s most venomous snakes. The road crosses the Adelaide River after a further few kilometres. This is the place at which there are cruises on the river to see the jumping crocodiles.
Continuing, the Djukbinj National Park is on your left, and then you will come to the Mary River Crossing, with Mary River Park and, three kilometres on, Bark Hut. A little further on is the entrance to the Mary River Wetlands, less famous than Kakadu, but offering plenty of wildlife observation, bushwalking and fishing. There are tours operating from here, especially bird watching tours, for several rare species are found in the area, attracted by the year-round water supply. There are also crocodile cruises every two hours. The scenery is less spectacular than that of Kakadu, but the area has a less touristic feel to it. Everybody knows about Kakadu, but few know how beautiful the Mary River Wetlands can be too. Budget accommodation and camping are both available here.
Travelling on eastwards, you will soon come to the entrance to Kakadu. It is a vast area, so there are several places to stay and many more which one ought to visit. The aborigines may have lived in this area for some 50,000 years and there are 5,000 sites throughout the park bearing witness to their culture, of which Nourlangie and Ubirr are two of the best known examples. The park covers 19,804 square kilometres and also offers a huge range of wildlife to be observed. Highlights of Kakadu are the art sites of Nourlangie and Ubirr, Bowali Visitor Centre at Jabiru, Warradjan Cultural Centre at Cooinda, Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, Gunlom Falls, Yellow Waters and Mamukala. Except for the waterfalls, most can be reached just by getting on and off the Greyhound bus at the right points.