Every traveller to the Northern Territory should have at least visiting one National Park on their to do list. And without a doubt, Kakadu National Park is one of the most visited. For our visit, we went with Darwin Day Tours.
Kakadu National Park with Darwin Day Tours
Kakadu national park was established in 1975 as a way to try to preserve the traditional Aboriginal way of life, and to protect an ecologically diverse area. It is 19,804 square kilometers, making the park itself bigger than many European countries. Don’t expect to be able to see every inch of the park, but with a good guide, you should be able to see the highlights.
Kakadu national park, is so important in fact, that it has the honour of holding, not one, but two world heritage statuses, for natural and cultural heritage.
Your gateway to Kakadu is Darwin, especially if you plan on only spending a day trip in the park. As I said before, there is so much to discover, that I definitely recommend spending more than one day if possible. I however, did not have much time to spare, and opted instead for a day tour which was provided to me by Darwin Day Tours.
The park is actually quite a drive away from Darwin, so I was picked up from my accommodation at the early hour of 6:30 am. It was an almost 4 hour drive to the park, but our driver was so knowledgeable about the Darwin and Kakadu region, that he pretty much did not stop talking and telling us stories for the entire drive.
Ubirr and Aboriginal Cave Paintings
Our first stop once we reached the park was Ubirr where we went on a short hour long hike. There were two different hiking options, so you could chose which route suited your fitness level best. On the hike we saw Aboriginal cave paintings and learned about the stories behind them. The Aboriginal people from this area have many strict laws regarding how people should interact with each other socially, and many of these cave paintings conveyed a moral message on this subject.
As I walked down the well kept path, I heard a rustling in the bushes. I quickly looked around, and spotted this adorable little rock wallaby, who was not afraid at all by our tour group.
After our hike, the driver warned us extensively about the dangers of dehydrating in this climate. He even admonished me for not drinking enough since I had not taken a water bottle from him. Little did he know that I had brought my own. 🙂 Although it was not misplaced, as I am famously bad at drinking water.
Spotting Crocs and Birds in Kakadu
Our afternoon was a little less active, as we all boarded a boat to go on a river cruise of the yellow river. Our guides were notable for their enthusiasm with the area and it’s wildlife, especially the bird life. Our guide was a young man in his early twenties, who astonished me in his passion for the region. Not only did he know both the English and Aboriginal names for all the wildlife we spotted, but he also told us stories about how the people used to traditionally live off the land.
Of course, as much as I love bird watching, there was nothing more exciting than spotting the wild crocodiles in the billabong. The first few crocs we spotted were nothing more than a pair of eyes and a snout sticking out of the water. It was amazing how well they blended in, and served as a reminder that humans are not masters of this domain.
The best was saved for last though, as we headed back to dock, one of the other guests shouted that they saw a croc. And there he was, sunning himself on the river bank. Usually crocs will keep their mouths open when they sun themselves, in order to keep their brain cool and not to cause over heating. This one however, did not seem too bothered by the heat.
Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre
As we began to make our way back to Darwin, we had one more stop off at the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The centre contains informational displays about how the people used to live, and how they currently live in this region. I learned more in this ethnographic museum about the original inhabitants of this land, than I have in any other Australian museum so far.
The ride home was a quiet one, as we drove back into the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen in my entire life. The sun burned red and the sky smouldered in warm reds and yellows. Even after the sun finally set, the sky continued to burn with bright oranges, reds, and yellows. It was the most breathtaking sight I have ever seen, but unfortunately, I was unable to capture this sight through the bus window.
For someone like myself, who can not self drive, or who does not have the time to spend several days exploring the park, a day tour with Darwin Day Tours is an ideal way to experience some of the best bits of Kakadu. I know that one day I will have to return to this very special place, and next time, I am determined to get that sunset shot!
Until next time Boh Boh (goodbye)
My visit to Kakadu National Park was provided complimentary by Darwin Day Tours, but all opinions are my own