Kakadu National Park History and Culture - Southern Region

The Southern area of Kakadu in the 'Mary River district' as it is currently known, was the third and final stage of Kakadu National Park, declared in June 1987. The first stage was declared in 1979 and the whole park in 1992. The southern area of the park has the head waters of the South Alligator river contained within it as well as the head waters of the Katherine River, so is a very significant area of the park.

This area of Kakadu is spoken for by the Jawoyn people, who believe that powerful Creation Ancestors rest here, and that they should not be disturbed. There are 3 closely related Jawoyn clans that speak for this area of the park and they are the Bolmo, Wurrkbaba and Matjba people. Bula is the creation spirit for this country and the story is that as he travelled he made the features seen today, leaving his image in paintings under rock shelves. At the top of the South Alligator valley he went underground and still remains there today. Another important spirit ‘Bolung’ is said to live in the pool at the base of Gunlom. A life giving spirit that when disturbed can cause lightning and storms.

Jawoyn call the area Buladjang which means sickness country, as people became sick when they disturbed the land. Scientists have since linked these Bula sites to uranium ore pockets.

Its more recent times, usage ranges from pastoral enterprise to mining and exploration - the area having only been added to the National Park in sections during 1987 and 1992.

Southern Kakadu offers fantastic bushwalks, with many leading to sparkling waterfalls discretely hidden by monsoon forest. Main attractions include Gunlom, Maguk and Yurmikmik Walks. Gunlom features a stunning waterfall with large clear plunge pool. The optional steep climb to the top of the waterfall will reward you with breathtaking views.

Kakadu National Park History and Culture - Southern Region

Gunlom - Kakadu National Park

Yurmikmik walks are open all year and can also provide an unforgettable wet season experience with a series of interconnecting tracks, which will guide you to natural treasures such as Boulder Creek, Motor Car Falls, and Kurrundie.

Kakadu National Park History and Culture - Southern Region

Boulder Creek - Kakadu National Park

Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) is one of the secrets of the park and access is strictly controlled via permits through Bowali, the parks visitor centre. A high clearance vehicle is needed for access to the camp ground. Koolpin Creek runs through the gorge and joins the upper waters of the South Alligator river with a number of safe swimming holes in the upper areas of the gorge.

Coronation Hill is further on from Jarrangbarnmi and was named in 1953 when a major ore body was found at Guratba, coinciding with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Uranium mining became a large operation in the area right through until 1964 when mining ceased due to oversupply. The tourist attractions then became the focal point for the area.

Back on the Kakadu Highway at the bottom of Ikoymarrwa Lookout is a small waterfall and pool known simply as Rockhole. Formerly known as Moline Rockhole it is a small swimming hole and although only a short distance off the road, accessible by 4wd only.

Kakadu National Park History and Culture - Southern Region

Rockhole - Kakadu National Park