If you think of a dream holiday location you may consider things such as stunning landscapes, fantastic wildlife or flora, fascinating culture or iconic landmarks to wonder at… add to this top class accommodation and food facilities, tours operated by knowledgeable locals and a never ending list of things to keep you entertained and mesmerised and you have Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Top End of the Northern Territory.
Twin Falls, Kakadu National Park
Image: Tourism NT
Gunlom Falls, Kakadu National Park
Image: Tourism NT
the ultimate adventure
When I last visited Kakadu, like Uluru, the first thing to hit me was the ‘feel’ of the place. It is such a spiritual heartland for the Aboriginal people. The Bininj / Mungguy people are the traditional caretakers of this amazing land. Their connection to their country and the responsibility of preserving their culture in this region is something that is passed down generation to generation since the beginning of time.
Places like Ubirr and Nourlangie with their beautiful rock art galleries will blow your mind. These paintings helped Kakadu gain its World Heritage status with some dating back 20,000 years and are one of the longest preserved records of any community of people world-wide.
Nourlangie Rock, Kakadu National Park
Image: Tourism NT
The more time, the better.
We spent three days exploring Kakadu. It definitely wasn’t long enough and even though we packed as much in as we could, we barely scratched the surface. We arrived in April which is just after the wet season. Be mindful of when you plan to travel as there may be road closures or attractions such as waterfalls may have dried up. We unfortunately missed seeing Jim Jim falls, Twin falls and Gunlom due to it being so soon after the wet.
We are currently researching our next trip to Kakadu (for 2017) this time with our kids. For my little crocodile – obsessed Charlie, I know this is one place that he will be over-joyed with.
The heat is something you will have to get used to, it’s sticky, sweaty, intense and makes you feel very lethargic at times. One afternoon I decided to have a shower to get over the stickiness and as soon as I turned the tap off in the shower I instantly wanted to turn it back on again as I was back to my sweaty self. I have a massive aversion to sweat. It repulses me like nothing else, so of course when we went for a sunrise hike up to Nawurlandja lookout for an amazing view Trev took great pleasure in giving me a bear hug while being drenched in sweat…Gross! Just remembering it makes my skin crawl. For the record, I usually love his cuddles!
He actually took his shirt off and wrung it out after this photo.. disgusting!
Overwhelming the senses
There is so much to do and see in Kakadu. Don’t let the fear of travelling with little kids in a place notorious for crocs put you off. If you use common-sense, obey signage and listen to what you are being told by people in the know, you will be fine. For example, standing on the water’s edge on twilight for a pretty picture may not be your wisest decision.
There are many suggested itineraries online where you can take in the amazing walks, rock art, waterfalls, giant termite mounds and swimming. There are boat cruises such as Yellow Water Cruise (which I’ve heard is amazing), guided tours that give you a unique and authentic insight into this magical place, and if you are up for it, a scenic flight – how fantastic would that be!
The views in Kakadu are out of this world. Standing on top of Ubirr or any of the other many plateaus and lookouts, especially at sunrise or sunset will guarantee memories for a lifetime. The vistas are spectacular and well worth any effort you may need to make to get to the top. Climbing Ubirr was a little steep in sections but from all reports, easily achieved with kids. Just always keep your children close as there are no barriers interrupting those captivating views.
There are quite a lot of accommodation options in Kakadu for families. There are beautifully presented caravan parks and camping grounds, cabins, lodges and hotels for all tastes and budgets.
Nawurlandja Lookout, Kakadu National Park.
Aboriginal artist at work.
Image: Tourism NT
An unforgettable experience
Kakadu truly is paradise. It is easy to become immersed in your surroundings. As you walk the trails or cruise the waterways you really do feel a link to the land, the wildlife and the people who still live in the region in the traditional way that they always have in generations past.
Not only is Kakadu a fantastic holiday destination, but it is such a wonderful place for your children to experience. They will learn about indigenous culture, our abundant and unique animals and plants, they will learn all about climates and seasons, they will see spectacular scenery like enormous waterfalls, gorges, plateaus and escarpments. Most of all, your children will have the best opportunity to reconnect with you, while they learn these things. They can ask you questions and listen intently to your explanations. No screens, no noise, no distractions … just bonding time. This in itself is priceless. Kakadu is definitely a bucket list essential.