This post is part of a regular series of weekly “Ask Google? Ask Fairlie!” posts. Today I ask Google about Kakadu in the Northern Territory. I type the start of a question into Google and based on the Google auto-completion suggestions, I find out what most people are wanting to know. Then I answer those questions myself. Who needs Google when you can ask Fairlie?
What does Kakadu mean?
The word ‘Kakadu’ was chosen as the name for the National Park located within the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory of Australia about 200 kilometres from Darwin. The park was declared in stages from the 1970s, which was a time when Australians became more interested in recognising the land interests of Aboriginal people. The name Kakadu is an interpretation of the word ‘Gagudju’, which is the name of one of the Aboriginal languages that is spoken in the park area.
According to the Parks Australia website, “More than half the park is Aboriginal land, and all of Kakadu is special to its traditional owners. Kakadu’s traditional owners manage the park in partnership with Parks Australia, playing a key role in everything from Board decisions to hands-on management of weeds and feral animals”.
What does Kakadu look like?
It’s hard to answer this one succinctly, as Kakadu covers an area of over 19,000 square kilometres and within that huge area is everything from rugged rock escarpments, lazy lotus-covered waterholes, expanses of speargrass, spectacular waterfalls, vast wetlands of the Yellow River. And, of course, the scenery changes dramatically with each season. In addition, the place is literally buzzing with wildlife – insects, mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. Then there’s also all the outstanding examples of Aboriginal rock art.
Really, you have to go see for yourself, because if you never never go, you’ll never never know.
What does Kakadu plum taste like?
I can’t say I’m an authority on this one, as I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a Kakadu plum. However, I have seen the trees, which are small deciduous trees that are found growing extensively through out the subtropical woodlands of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Apparently the plum-like fruits of those trees, have a “stewed apple and pear aroma, with cooked citrus and a floral-musk note“. The taste is sour and astrigent. If that description hasn’t put you off, and you find yourself with a bucketload of Kakadu plums to spare, there’s a recipe for Kakadu Plum & Fig Tiramisu at the Native Tastes of Australia website.
When is Kakadu…?
When is Kakadu’s wet season?
Ahhh…do you want the short answer or the long answer? The short answer is that Kakadu has a ‘wet season’ which lasts from November to April. The long answer is that the climate of Kakadu is much more complicated than a simple wet/dry season approach suggests. The local Indigenous people, the Bininj/Mungguy recognise six seasons in the Kakadu region, which are:
- Gunumeleng – pre-monsoon storm season (mid-October to Late-December)
- Gudjewg – monsoon season (late December to March)
- Banggerreng – knock ’em down storm season (April)
- Yegge – cooler but still humid season (May to mid-June)
- Wurrgeng – cold weather season (mid-June to mid-August)
- Gurrung – hot dry weather (mid August to mid-October)
I’ve visited Kakadu towards the end of Gudjewg and during Wurrgeng, and I was struck by how different the experience was each time. Yes, we got quite wet being there at the end of the monsoon season, but it also meant that the wetlands were filled to the brim and teeming with wildlife. We went on a Yellow Waters cruise and sailed right through the carpark where we had parked our car on our previous visit. All we could see of it was the very top of the parking signs.
When is Kakadu open?
Kakadu is a National Park, and is always open. Visit the Kakadu National Park website for all the visitor details. Entry to the park is $25 per person (over 16) for 14 consecutive days and the easiest way to buy park passes is on-line at the Park website (or there are a couple of places en route to the Park).
While the Park is always open, due to the flooding during the wetter months, a number of roads can be closed and some of the sights will be inaccessible. The most popular areas such as Nourlangie and Yellow Water are open all year round. And it is possible to get scenic flights to see areas that are inaccessible from the air whe it is not possible to reach them by road.
We spent a long-weekend in Kakadu in March one year, and the fact that many areas were closed was actually helpful in limiting our itinerary for the two and half days we were there. We were able to concentrate on what we could see, rather than driving long distances to see what we thought we should see.
When is Kakadu on TV?
I’m assuming this googled question refers to the ABC TV series Kakadu. In which case, I’m afraid we’ve missed it on free-to-air. It was a four-part documentary made over twelve months in Kakadu and was filmed through the eyes of the rangers, the scientists and traditional owners who work and live in Kakadu. It last aired on ABC TV in October 2013. There’s some great web extra footage on the website though, and of course, it’s available from the ABC Shop on DVD.
Click here to find all my previous posts about the Northern Territory in one easy-to-access location.