Nature all around: Australia’s Kakadu National Park
AN exquisite blue kingfisher alights on a paperbark tree and is reflected in the lily-studded water on Yellow Water billabong. Somewhere nearby a four-metre crocodile lurks under the trailing roots of freshwater mangroves.
I’m in Kakadu National Park and the steamy fecundity of nature is everywhere around me. From watching the glorious sunset over Arnhem Land to bathing in limpid waterholes, Kakadu is wildly beautiful.
There are vast flood plains and woodland savannah, broken by the harsh stone country escarpments – great outcrops of red stone.
Over 280 species of birds will hang out here as the water levels drop at the end of the wet season. Noisy Magpie geese; striding Jabiru and Brolgas. A Whistling Kite swings across the still air.
The sound of birdsong rises in the heat. A flight of black cockatoos is overhead, their red tails flashing as they swoop through the trees. Nearby a sulphur crested parrot attacks the brilliant red seed heads of a Pandanus tree.
In the steamy wetlands the Estuarine or Saltwater crocodile is king, prehistoric monsters who are highly effective, opportunistic killers, always looking for food, love or a fight.
In the middle of the day the sun beats down and you head for a cool waterhole. At night the dingoes howl and the brilliant stars fill the sky.
Kakadu is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures – the Bininj people have an intense relationship to the land that is both spiritual and practical.
Rock art galleries at Nourlangie and Ubirr are a fascinating testament to millennia of human life here.
It’s a privilege to be able to visit and share Kakadu with them.