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Kakadu National Park

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Feb 11, 2022

Kakadu National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km east of Darwin. The national park is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu National Park

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The name ‘Kakadu’ comes from an aboriginal floodplain language called Gagudju which was one of the languages spoken in the north of the park at the beginning of the 20th century. Gagudju is no longer regularly spoken but descendants of this language group are still living in Kakadu.

Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land comprise more than 110,000 km² in the north-east corner of the Northern Territory. The landscapes are diverse and set the scene for outback adventure travel, aboriginal culture and nature activities.

Kakadu National Park is the largest national park in Australia. It contains one of the highest concentrated areas of aboriginal rock art sites in the world; the most famous examples are at Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr.

The secret to discovering Kakadu is taking your time. You’ll find stories, secrets and sights never imagined. It is impossible to appreciate the full breadth and beauty of the park in a fleeting visit – if you can afford the time, spend a week or more.

Nature and wildlife abound in this area, which is known for its level of biodiversity. Wholly aboriginal owned land, Arnhem Land is known for its strong aboriginal culture, towering escarpments, wild coastline, savannah woodlands, lush wetlands and prolific wildlife. Closer to Darwin is the Mary River region, home to millions of birds, saltwater crocodiles and fish, including the mighty barramundi, which makes it a fishing hot spot.

The park was established in 1981. It is governed by Environment Australia/Parks Australia and Aboriginal traditional land owners (the Gun-djeihmi, Kunwinjku, Krakeourtinnie and Jawoyn peoples).

The park contains 1,980,400 hectacres of wetlands and other terrain. It is Australia’s largest National Park and is approximately the size of Israel.

See also: Australasian wildlife

Kakadu is home to 68 mammals (almost one-fifth of Australia’s mammals), more than 120 reptiles, 26 frogs, over 300 tidal and freshwater fish species, more than 2 000 plants and over 10 000 species of insects. It provides habitat for more than 290 bird species (over one-third of Australia’s birds). Its internationally important wetlands are a major staging point for migratory birds. Some of these species are threatened or endangered. Many are found nowhere else in the world and there are still others yet to be discovered. The Creation Ancestors gave Bininj/Mungguy a kinship system linking people to all things and the cultural responsibility to look after them all. They have always understood the biodiversity of country and their traditional ancestral knowledge is a vital part of managing Kakadu’s rich environment.

The Habitats of Kakadu

Within the vast landscapes of Kakadu, there are six main landforms. Each landform and the habitats it contains has a range of plants and animals. As you move through Kakadu, take the time to explore and appreciate the diversity of the areas you visit – each one is truly unique.

Savanna Woodlands making up nearly 80 per cent of Kakadu.

Monsoon forests occur in small, isolated patches.

The Southern Hills appear in the south of Kakadu are the result of millions of years of erosion.

Sandstone escarpment Dominant in the Arnhem Land Plateau.

coastal and estuarine areas take up almost 500 km² of Kakadu

Floodplains undergo dramatic seasonal changes. Following wet season rains, a sea of shallow freshwater spreads over the plains for hundreds of square kilometres. As the floodplains start to dry, waterbirds and crocodiles seek refuge in the remaining wet areas such as Yellow Water.

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