Kakadu National Park Facts
This page of Kakadu National Park facts provides an overview and summary of background information about the park.
You can find Kakadu facts regarding:
- Kakadu National Park is situated in the top part of the Northern Territory. The northern park entrance is roughly 150 km south-east of Darwin, the Bowali Visitor Centre about 250 km. (More info)
- The park is a Commonwealth Reserve, nearly 20'000 square kilometres (3.2 million acres) in size, and includes the traditional lands of several Aboriginal groups.
- The park is jointly managed by its Aboriginal traditional owners and the Northern Territory government (the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage, to be precise).
- The name Kakadu is the result of the European interpretation of a local Aboriginal floodplain language, called Gagudju. (The name Gagudju is also used for the tribe that speaks the language. More on languages below.)
- Kakadu National Park is listed as a World Heritage Area (listed in 1992) and as a UNESCO site. There are only two other sites in the world that hold both awards.
- Kakadu is one of the few World Heritage Areas that are listed for both their natural and cultural heritage.
- 683'000 hectares of Kakadu wetlands are listed as Ramsar protected wetlands of international importance.
- The South Alligator River is the only large river system in the world to be completely within and protected by a national park. And Kakadu is the only national park in the world to contain an entire river system catchment area.
- There are no alligators in Australia, but the man who named the rivers didn't know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator.
- Kakadu's habitats include stone plateaus and escarpments, monsoonal rainforests, flood plains and billabongs, tidal flats, coastal beaches and more, but the vast majority of the area (80%) is covered by open savannah woodlands.
- In Kakadu you can find 10'000 different species of insects, over 280 bird species (that's one third of all of Australia's bird species), 117 reptile species, 60 species of mammals, 53 species of freshwater fish, and more than 1700 different plants.
- Some animal species in the park are rare, endangered or endemic (not found anywhere else in the world). 67 plant species are rare or vulnerable.
- Kakadu is one of the precious few places in Australia where there have been only very limited if any extinctions of plant or animal species.
- It's also considered to be one of the most weed free national parks of the world ("only" 5.7% of the recorded plant species are weeds).
- Most of Kakadu's waterways are inhabited by saltwater crocodiles. Swimming is possible (though officially not recommended), in plunge pools and gorge areas (for example Maguk, Gunlom Falls or the famous Jim Jim Falls).
- Kakadu National Park has a tropical monsoon climate with two seasons: the dry season and the wet season.
- The dry season is from April/May until September, the wet season obviously from October until April/May.
- Most rain falls between January and March (monthly average 300 - 350 mm, but can be much higher), often leading to flooding and closure of parts of the park.
- Between October and December you may experience spectacular tropical thunderstorms, and isolated but often heavy showers.
- The temperatures are highest during the "build up" for the wet season in October/November, with maximum day temperatures often exceeding 40°C and average nightly temperatures around 25°C.
- Between mid June and mid August you get the most pleasant day temperatures (averages around 30°C), but also by far the biggest tourist numbers. Night temperatures during this time can drop below 10°C. Beginning and end of the dry season are warmer. (More info)
- Aborigines have lived in Kakadu for at least 25'000 years. Maybe for as long as 50'000 years...
- What is now known as Kakadu National Park is a culturally diverse region, home to Aboriginals from different clans with different laws and traditions, and speaking different languages.
- The above mentioned language Gagudju that gave Kakadu its name is no longer spoken regularly (but descendants of that language group still live in the park). Same for Limilngan and others. Languages still in use are Kunwinjku, Gun-djeihmi and Jawoyn. That's three left out of twelve...
- Over 5000 rock art sites can be found in Kakadu.
- Ubirr and Nourlangie Rock are the two most famous locations for Aboriginal rock art.
- The paintings are often "layered", meaning they were painted over again and again by several generations, some very recently.
- Today the Aboriginal people in Kakadu rarely paint on rocks. Few of them possess the required knowledge which would allow them to paint at certain sites.
- Contemporary Aboriginal artists paint on materials like bark or paper. Even printing fabric with traditional designs has developed into a popular art form.
- There are also "layers" of meaning and stories associated with the paintings. Every painting has a story, and there are up to 6 levels to the story. It depends on your importance and status as to which story you are allowed to know. Tourist will obviously only ever hear the first level...
- Aboriginal rock art has a variety of subjects and purpose: people painted the animals they hunted (some of them are now extinct), tools they used, things they saw (white people are depicted in some newer paintings). Other themes are stories from the creation time, aspects of religious ceremonies, and they also painted to influence people's lives and the future, a form of sorcery and magic.
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