Kakadu National Park History, Facts and Attractions

170km's south east of Darwin in the Northern Territory's top end, is the 20,000 square kilometre Kakadu National Park. The name Kakadu comes from an interpretation of a local language called Gagudju and was originally recorded by anthropologist Baldwin Spencer in 1911.

Australian Aboriginals are said to have been in the area for more than 50,000 years, and have the oldest living culture on earth. Some of the rock paintings in the park have been dated up to 20,000 years old, and constitute one of the longest historical records of any group of people in the world.

There are over 280 species of birds (one third of Australia's bird species) within the park, 10,000 species of insects, 120 reptile species and more than 2,000 species of plants. The biodiversity is extensive, from the coastal regions of Van Diemen Gulf to the escarpment country in the southern areas of the park.

Kakadu was declared a National Park in 3 stages between 1979 and 1991 and is included on the list of World Heritage sites for both its cultural and natural importance. The initial World Heritage Listing was in 1981, followed by areas being added in 1987 and finally the whole park in 1992. There are also 683,000 hectares of Kakadu wetlands that are listed in the RAMSAR - protected wetlands of international importance.

There are a number of habitats within the park, and broadly categorised they are:

  • Coastal and Tidal Flats, where the estuaries and tidal flats are found in the northern areas of the park.
  • Stone Country where the escarpment of the Arnhem Land Plateau runs along the eastern edge of the park, up to 300 metres high in some places.
  • Outliers like Ubirr which have separated from the main plateau.
  • Savannah woodlands or lowlands which make up 80% of the park.
  • The wetland areas of the park which are important sanctuaries for wildlife during the drier months
  • The southern hills and ridges which are the headwaters for the South Alligator River and lead down to the Katherine region.

Attractions within the park include

South Alligator Region :

  • Gungarre Monsoon Forest Walk
  • South Alligator Floodplain
  • Mamukala Floodplain Walk and Bird Hide

East Alligator Region :

  • Cahill's Crossing
  • Man-garre Monsoon Forest Walk
  • Ubirr Art Site and Nadab Lookout
  • Bardedjilidji Sandstone Walk

Kakadu National Park History, Facts and Attractions

Nadab Lookout, Ubirr - Kakadu National Park

Jabiru Region:

  • Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Jabiru Township

Nourlangie Region

  • Nourlangie Art Site
  • Barrk Sandstone Walk
  • Anbangbang Billabong Walk
  • Nawurlandja Lookout
  • Nanguluwurr Gallery
  • Gubara
  • Muirella Park and Sandy Billabong
  • Bubba Wetlands Walk
  • Mirray Lookout

Kakadu National Park History, Facts and Attractions

Nourlangie and Anbangbang Billabong - Kakadu National Park

Jim Jim Area

  • Jim Jim Falls
  • Budjmi Walk
  • Twin Falls
  • Mardugal Billabong Walk
  • Yellow Water Billabong
  • Jim Jim Billabong
  • Warradjan Cultural Centre
  • Maguk

Mary River Area

  • Gungurul South Alligator River Crossing
  • Bukbukluk Lookout
  • Yurmikmik Walking Trails - Boulder Creek, Motor Car Falls and Kurrundie Falls
  • Gunlom Falls
  • Murrill Billabong
  • Gurtba (Coronation Hill)
  • Koolpin Gorge
  • Rockhole