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Kakadu National Park, Australia

August 10th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

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Kakadu National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km east of Darwin.

The name "Kakadu" comes from an aboriginal floodplain language called Kakadu or Gaagudju, which was one of the languages spoken in the north of the park at the beginning of the twentieth century. Gagudju is no longer regularly spoken but descendants of this language group still live in Kakadu.

The park has two seasons, 'wet' and 'dry'. In the wet (October to April) many of the attractions are impossible to get to, so the dry season (May to September) is the peak period for visitors. The local Bininj/Mungguy Aboriginal people recognize six seasons in the Kakadu region:

* Gunumeleng - mid-October to late December, pre-monsoon storm season with hot weather and building thunderstorms building in the afternoons

* Gudjewg - from January to March, monsoon season with thunderstorms, heavy rain, and flooding; the heat and humidity generate an explosion of plant and animal life

* Banggerreng - April, the "knock 'em down storm" season where floodwater recedes but violent, windy storms knock down grasses

* Yegge - from May to mid-June, relatively cool with low humidity, the Aboriginal people historically started burning the woodlands in patches to 'clean the country' and encourage new growth for grazing animals

* Wurrgeng - from mid-June to mid-August, the cold weather season with low humidity; most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out

* Gurrung - from mid-August to mid-October, hot dry weather with ever shrinking billabongs

The attractions include the opportunity to learn about the people, geology, plants and animals which make Kakadu a unique and precious resource, not only for Australians but for all the people in the world. The Bowali Visitor Centre contains a wealth of information about Kakadu. The Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre presents the culture of the local Aboriginal people in an accessible way.

However, the wetlands provide the greatest visual pleasure. The freshwater and estuarine (saltwater) crocodiles sleep on the banks of the Alligator Rivers or the many billabongs for most of the day but can also be seen floating or swimming in the water. Birdlife abounds from the stately Jabiru to the amusing "Jesus" bird (Jacana) as it steps from lily pad to lily pad. At dusk on the Yellow Water billabong (Ngurrungurrudjba), hundred of herons circle overhead landing and taking off from half-submerged trees. Ospreys sit on termite mounds or soar on high looking for prey beneath the still waters. The billabongs of the Kakadu national park are anything but "stagnant pools of water" (see Waltzing Matilda).

Aboriginal paintings can be studied in overhangs in the Nourlangie area and there are waterfalls and plunge pools in various parts of the park.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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