Kakadu rock paintings are world class and one of the reasons for the park’s World Heritage status

Inhabited continuously by Aboriginal people for more than 40,000 years, Kakadu is home to the oldest living culture on earth. Situated on the top end of the Northern Territory, the National Park is the largest in Australia and one of the world’s largest in the tropics, with some 280 different types of birds and about 2,000 plants species. And crocodiles, around 10,000 of them.

More than half the park is Aboriginal land. Kakadu’s traditional owners manage the park in partnership with Parks Australia. The name Kakadu is derived from Gagudju, an Aboriginal language which used to be spoken here.

Kakadu rock paintings are world class and one of the reasons for the park’s World Heritage status. The oldest paintings date back 20,000 years, and some are fascinating records of more recent events in what is called ‘first contact’ paintings, depicting tall ships and the arrival of the first Europeans in the northern part of the Australian continent.


Guluyambi river cruise – Photo courtesy of Parks Australia
Guluyambi river cruise – Photo courtesy of Parks Australia


Kakadu’s six seasons

According to ancient Aboriginal knowledge there are six seasons in Kakadu with subtle variations that signal the transitions between them. In general, the dry season from May to October is the most popular time to visit, while the wet season from November to April offers spectacular sights of the flooded landscape and there fewer visitors around during this period.

There is a vast array of fun activities available in the park, such as walks, seeing rock art, boat cruises, scenic flights, free ranger talks, fishing and boating, swimming, crocodile spotting and bird-watching.

Kakadu National Park can be reached by coach or hired car from Darwin or Katherine. For more information, see Parks Australia’s page on Kakadu.


Floodplains, Kakadu © Ian Oswald-Jacobs, Parks Australia
Floodplains © Ian Oswald-Jacobs, Parks Australia

Cultural and Natural World Heritage

Inscribed on the World Heritage list as a mixed (cultural and natural) site in 1981, the Kakadu National Park is recognized for its rock art sites, representing a unique artistic achievement within a wide range of creative styles. The rock art and archaeological record provide exceptional sources of evidence for social and ritual activities of the Aboriginal people and their long history. (Cultural Selection Criteria “i” and “vi”).

The Natural Selection Criteria (vii, xi and x) of the justification for inscription of the Kakadu World Heritage site underline the site’s superlative natural phenomena; significant on-going ecological and biological processes; and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.

Kakadu contain a remarkable contrast between the vast expanse of the Kakadu wetlands to the north of the park, extending over tens of kilometres and which provides habitat for millions of waterbirds. The 330 metres high rocky escarpment running in a jagged and unbroken line for hundreds of kilometres span more than two billion years of geological history. (Source: UNESCO)


Kakadu escarpment, Kakadu © Ian Oswald-Jacobs – Parks Australia
Kakadu escarpment, Kakadu © Ian Oswald-Jacobs – Parks Australia

All photos courtesy of Parks Australia/Kakadu National Park Media Centre.
Parks Australia