About Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park is located within the Alligator Rivers Region
of the Northern Territory, 171 km southeast of Darwin. It covers an
area of 1,980,400 ha (4,894,000 acres), extending nearly 200 kilometres
from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west. It is
the size of Israel, 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.
Kakadu National Park was established at a time when the Australian
community was becoming more interested in the declaration of national
parks for conservation and in recognising the land interests of
Aboriginal people. A national park in the Alligator River region was
proposed as early as 1965, but took until 1978 for the Australian
Government to make arrangements to acquire the titles over various
tracts of land that now constitute Kakadu National Park.
Aboriginal rock art sites
The art sites of Ubirr, Nourlangie and Nanguluwur are
internationally recognised as outstanding examples of Aboriginal rock
art. These sites are found in rocky outcrops that have afforded shelter
to Aboriginal inhabitants for thousands of years. Ubirr is a group of
rock outcrops in the north of the Park, on the edge of the Nadab
floodplain. There several large rock overhangs that would have provided
excellent shelter to Aboriginal people over thousands of years.
Nourlangie is located in an outlying formation of the Arnhem Land
Escarpment. There are a number of shelters in amongst this large
outcrop linked by paths and stairways. The shelters contain several
impressive paintings that deal with creation ancestors. The stories
connected to these artworks are known only to certain Aboriginal people
and remain secret.
Anbangbang Billabong lies in the shadow of Nourlangie Rock and is
inhabited by a wide range of wildlife which would have sustained
traditional Aboriginal people well.
Nanguluwur is a small art site, near Nourlangie, which displays
several rock art styles. These include hand stencils, dynamic figures
in large head-dresses carrying spears and boomerangs, representations
of Namandi spirits and mythical figures, including Alkajko, a female
spirit with four arms and horn-like protuberances. There is also an
interesting example of ‘contact art’ depicting a two-masted
sailing ship with anchor chain and a dinghy trailing behind.
Kakadu's flora is among the richest in northern Australia with more
than 1700 plant species recorded which is a result of the Park's
geological, landform and habitat diversity. Kakadu is also considered
to be one of the most weed free national parks in the world. The
distinctly different geographical areas of Kakadu have their own
The diverse environments of Kakadu National Park support an
astonishing array of animals, a number of which have adapted to
particular habitats. Some animals in the Park are rare, endangered,
vulnerable or endemic. Responding to the extreme weather conditions
experienced in the Park, many animals are active only at particular
times of the day or night or at particular times of the year.
About 60 mammal species - marsupials and placental mammals - have
been recorded in the Park. Most of them inhabit the open forest and
woodlands and are nocturnal, making it difficult to see them. Others,
such as wallabies and kangaroos, are active in the cooler parts of the
day and are easier to see. Among the larger more common species are
Dingos, Antilopine Kangaroos, Black Wallaroos, Agile Wallabys, and
Short-eared Rock Wallabys. Smaller common mammals are northern quolls,
brush-tailed phascogales, brown bandicoots, black-footed tree-rats, and
black fruit bats. Dugongs are found in the coastal waters.
Kakadu’s many habitats support more than 280 species of birds,
or about one-third of Australia’s bird species. Some birds range
over a number of habitats, but many are found in only one environment.
Two species of crocodile occur in Kakadu: the Freshwater Crocodile and
the Estuarine, or Saltwater Crocodile. Freshwater Crocodiles are easily
identified by their narrow snout and a single row of four large bony
lumps called ‘scutes’ immediately behind the head.
Estuarine Crocodiles do not have these scutes and their snout is
broader. The maximum size for a ‘freshie’ is 3 metres,
whereas a ‘saltie’ can exceed 6 metres.
Despite the fact that Kakadu supports more than 10,000 species of
insect, these creatures are often overlooked by visitors. The great
variety of insects is a result of the varied habitats and relatively
high temperatures throughout the year.
Perhaps the most striking insect-created features in the Park are
the termite mounds. The mounds in the southern part of the Park are
particularly large and impressive.