Kakadu National Park is located within the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory of Australia. It covers an area of 19,804 km2 (7,646 sq mi), extending nearly 200 kilometres from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west. It is the size of Slovenia, about one-third the size of Tasmania, or nearly half the size of Switzerland. The Ranger Uranium Mine, one of the most productive Uranium mines in the world, is contained within the park.
PrologueThe name Kakadu comes from the mispronunciation of ‘Gagadju’ which is the name of an Aboriginal language spoken in the northern part of the Park. Kakadu is ecologically and biologically diverse. The main natural features protected within the National Park include:
- four major river systems:
- the East Alligator River,
- the West Alligator River,
- the Wildman River; and
- the entire South Alligator River;
- six major landforms
- estuaries and tidal flats,
- the stone country,
- the outliers; and
- the southern hills and basins;
- a remarkable variety and concentration of wildlife;
- over 280 bird species
- roughly 60 mammal species
- over 50 freshwater species
- over 10 000 insects species
- over 1600 plant species.
Approximately half of the land in Kakadu is aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and most of the remaining land is currently under claim by Aboriginal people. The areas of the Park that are owned by Aboriginal people are leased by the traditional owners to the Director of National Parks to be managed as a national park. The remaining area is Commonwealth land vested under the Director of National Parks. All of Kakadu is declared a national park under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Aboriginal traditional owners of the Park are descendants of various clan groups from the Kakadu area and have longstanding affiliations with this country. Their lifestyle has changed in recent years, but their traditional customs and beliefs remain very important. About 500 Aboriginal people live in the Park; many of them are traditional owners. All of Kakadu is jointly managed by Aboriginal traditional owners and the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Water Resources through a division known as Parks Australia. Park Management is directed by the Kakadu Board of Management
Kakadu National Park has some of the best examples of Aboriginal rock art in Australia. The sites of Nourlangie and Ubirr are among the most visited locations in the Park. It is possible to view some of Kakadu’s diverse wildlife at places like Yellow Water Billabong, Cooinda on board a wildlife cruise or at Mamukala Wetlands or Anbangbang Billabong. The Kakadu region is one of the world’s best for bird watching as approximately 30 percent of Australia’s bird species can be seen here.
There are several accommodation options in the Park, mostly found in the town of Jabiru, as well as a range of services to cater to visitor’s needs. Visitors can experience Kakadu National Park with a recognised tour operator or they can drive themselves. Many of the Park’s sites are accessible by standard two wheel drive vehicles, but areas like Twin and Jim Jim Falls and Gunlom require four wheel drive vehicles. Visitors can experience Kakadu National Park via the Nature’s Way tourism drive which is a loop from Darwin to Jabiru then onto Katherine and back to Darwin covering approximately 900km.