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Kakadu National Park
Australia might be part of the New World, but it is old enough to be timeless. Home to ageless forests and rocks, oceans and rivers, and the varied platform of Darwin’s natural selection which spawned a thousand unique breeds of its own, Australia has an abundance of ecological, biological and anthropological treasures.
Kakadu, currently a World Heritage listed site, boasts of not only biological diversity and ecological significance but is also a place of extraordinary artistic achievements. 25,000 years ago, when all of America and Europe were still vast grazing grounds for the buffalo, the Aborigines Kakadu people had a thriving civilization who knew how to grind grain with grindstones and use ochre paint for artwork in caves.
Today, not many know the local Kakadu tongue, although the descendants of the original Kakadu still linger around the Alligator Rivers in the northern part of the park. And in this ageless ecological spectacle, the tourist is able to meet aspects of diverse beauty.
Situated in the Northern Territory, 170 kilometers east of Darwin, Kakadu probably does not mean anything to the uninitiated. It covers an area greater than 6000 square kilometers, and has five main natural regions: a huge rugged sandstone plateau, the vast eroded lowlands, the floodplains to the north, the tidal flats where mangroves thrive and the southern hills.
The Alligator Rivers have no alligators; the discoverer mistook the local crocodiles for alligators. And Kakadu gained immense publicity ever since the two Crocodile Dundee movies.
Kakadu has an immense biological significance. With more than 1000 species of plants, a quarter of all freshwater fish of Australia, about one-third of all birds species in Australia and thousands of varieties of insects, Kakadu is like a treasure trove for all nature lovers.
There are only two seasons in Kakadu – wet and dry, and access to the park is closed during the former. Many are of the opinion that the best time to visit the park is at the end of the dry season when the birds are forced to congregate around diminishing water bodies.
‘Kakadu’ itself is huge, and within it there are many interesting and charming points. There is the Mamakala Observation Point and Nature Walk located on the Arnhem Highway entrance to the park, which contains a nice little walk and a fabulous observation point for watching birds.
At Ubir, you will find an Aboriginal rock art gallery. Dating back thousands of years, Ubir is said to have some superlative specimens of rock art and the so-called X-ray style.
Capturing myths of the ‘Dreaming’, these arts track the interaction of early humans with their environment. Although the whole of Ubir can be rounded in one hour, you might be tempted to take your time with these unique forms of rock art that you can see only at a few sites around the world.
You can visit the bustling little town of Jabiru, a beneficiary of the activity surrounding Uranium mining and the Kakadu. In fact you can even visit the mine at Ranger Uranium Mine which runs regular tours of the mine for visitors.
The Nourlangie Rock, located south of Jabiru is part of Mt. Brockman Massif with other sacred-dangerous sites (many of them closed to public). This place has many caves which are testimonies of the quarries that the old aborigines dug in the area.
There are drawings of now-extint Tasmanian tiger in the caves, so it is possible that they lived here before disappearing forever. There are many excellent caves near and around the Nourlangie. The Jim Jim falls has its own peccadilloes – in the dry season when approach is possible, there is no water; in the wet season, approach is clogged.
The Yellow Waters billabong is one of the most famous areas within the park with rocks and river rides available. Another popular tourist attraction is to take a river cruise on the South Alligator River. Abounding with wildlife the cruise brings you closer to the jabiru (a large bird after which Jabiru town is named), buffaloes, cockatoos, egrets, magpies and whistler ducks.
Tourists also love to visit the Waterfall Creek Nature Park, and the various camping sites strewn across Kakadu.
A trip to Kakadu is a trip to a different world. One should leave behind all preconceptions before coming here. Face to face with the ageless nature and the testimonials of man’s interaction with it, you are sure to feel moved.
The resplendent seclution of Kakadu is an ideal addition to a holiday at Executive Retreats in far Northern Queensland. Darwin is only a 2-3 hour flight from Cairns.
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