What do you think of when Australia comes into your head? The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are iconic images and then there is the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru (Ayers Rock); two of the most extraordinary and stunning natural landmarks in the world.
As far as memorable places and images go, Australia holds a pretty large spot in our imagination and that’s before we’ve even mentioned any of the unique wildlife.
There is one place, however, that you might not have heard of that truly sums Australia up perhaps better than any of these aforementioned places.
It’s called Kakadu National Park and it’s one of the few places on the planet which is World Heritage listed for both its cultural and natural importance. If any place in Australia can demonstrate what this country is all about, it’s right here.
Where is Kakadu?
You’ll find Kakadu located in the Northern Territories of Australia, within the Alligators Rivers region. Covering an area of nearly 20,000 square kilometres, an area roughly half the size of Switzerland, it’s not exactly small.
So, as you might imagine, there is plenty to see and do. In fact, to truly explore it would take a whole lifetime.
Unique history and culture
One of the main reasons why Kakadu is so important culturally is because of its history as a home for Aboriginal people. Traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers, Australia’s Aboriginal people rarely stayed in one place for very long.
However, here in Kakadu, there are artefacts of their way of life that date back 50,000 years. It’s an incredibly important place and makes these the oldest occupation sites found in Australia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
It is also home to some of the most stunning examples of Aboriginal rock art. Go to see the Lightning Man, the ancestor who still controls the wet season in the region or view the paintings hidden in the crevices at Nourlangie Rock to appreciate the appeal of this.
Taking in the natural beauty
Kakadu was declared a National Park, partly because of these historical and cultural reasons but also because of its outstanding natural beauty: it’s really not hard to see why Aboriginal people ago decided to call this place home as long as fifty millennia. The towering rock formations, flat and lush lowlands, and roaring waterfalls make this an almost fantastical land of beauty, where around every corner you can find something else to look at.
Then, of course, there is the wildlife. Take a boat down the East Alligator River past crocodiles and try and spot some freshwater fish, many of which are only found here in the park’s rivers.
There’s also plenty to look at up in the air too. Jabirus, brolgas and white-bellied sea eagles are all commonly spotted and with over a third of Australian bird species calling the park home, there’s good reason for bird watchers to get excited.
Making the trip sooner rather than later
So, if you’re thinking about going to Australia to see the famous landmarks, there’s a new one to add to your list. Kakadu might not be world famous just yet but once word gets out about this immensely beautiful place, you might not be the only one wanting to visit.
Image courtesy of Razmataz’ from Flickr
Author | Contributed on behalf of Audley Travel – Offering Tailor Made Holidays to Australia and other popular locations around the world.