Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land comprise more than 110,000 square kilometres in the north-east corner of the Northern Territory.
The flora and fauna found in Kakadu National Park is diverse, with pockets of rainforest, paperbarks, pandanus and cycads, and wetlands dotted with lotus lilies. Some of Kakadu's amazing wildlife includes crocodiles, barramundi, and birds such as magpie geese, brolgas, jabirus and white-bellied sea eagles. Around 1000 different plant species, a quarter of all Australian freshwater fish species, and over one third of Australian bird species can be found in the Park.
Arnhem Land is made up of 91,000 square kilometres of unspoiled wilderness bounded by Kakadu National Park, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Travellers wanting to explore Arnhem Land must obtain a permit in advance from the Northern Land Council. Alternatively, many organised tours visit Arnhem Land, and in these cases a permit is usually organised by the tour operator.
This diverse landscape is characterised by wild coastlines, towering escarpments, savannah woodlands and flood plains teeming with wildlife. Many of Arnhem Land’s traditional Aboriginal owners live within the region, supporting a rich culture, producing unique art and crafts.
Kakadu National Park is managed jointly by Parks Australia, an Australian government body, and the Park’s traditional Aboriginal owners. A number of Aboriginal clans reside within the Park, and have for some 50,000 years. Kakadu is home to one of the largest concentrations of Aboriginal rock art in the world. Natural galleries of these ancient paintings can be seen at sites like Ubirr and Nourlangie Rock.
Other spectacular landmarks include Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, Maguk/Barramundie Gorge, Jarrangbarnmi/Koolpin Gorge and Gunlom, which means 'waterfall creek'. Kakadu National Park also contains several established walking tracks and camp grounds.
A visit to Kakadu is best started at the Bowali Culural Centre near Jabiru or the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre near Cooinda. From Jabiru you can also explore wetlands of the nearby Mary River National Park, home to millions of birds and plentiful barramundi.
The town of Maningrida, on the north coast of Arnhem Land, is famous for its indigenous art. Oenpelli, one of the first stops east of Kakadu National Park, is an Aboriginal community where indigenous artists gather at the Injalak Art and Craft Centre. Here, travellers can watch as traditional bark paintings, didjeridus, and other crafts are made.
Arnhem Land boasts many excellent fishing destinations. Travellers can enjoy some of the world’s best tropical fishing in the mangroves, wetlands, rivers, and reefs of Arnhem Land, targeting barramundi, mangrove jack, coral trout and other sportfish.
The most direct route to Kakadu National Park from Darwin is along the Arnhem Highway. From Katherine, the Kakadu Highway is also an all weather sealed road. It takes three hours driving from Darwin to arrive at the Kakadu Visitor Centre in the heart of the park.
Greyhound Australia operates buses between Darwin and Cooinda via Jabiru