Kakadu National Park - History and Facts | History Hit

Kakadu National Park

Djirrbiyak, Northern Territory, Australia

Kakadu National Park is home to the famous aboriginal rock art dating back at least 20,000 years and is a World Heritage Site.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park in Northern Australia has been the home of aboriginal tribes for over 50,000 years, in particular the Bininji/Mungguy people. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, over 5,000 historical sites have been found at Kakadu National Park, those most famous aspect of which is its rock art.

Kakadu National Park history

The Aboriginal people who lived in this area were originally hunter-gathers who used temporary dwellings such as stringy-bark and paperbark shelters near billabongs, wet-season huts built on stilts on the floodplains, and rock shelters in the stone country.

When non-Aboriginal people arrived in the Kakadu area, the Aboriginal population decreased markedly. About 2,000 people lived in the Kakadu area before the arrival of non-Aboriginal people. Now there are about 500 Aboriginal people living in 18 outstations dotted throughout the park.

Painted on sandstone blocks by the tribes who have inhabited Kakadu over the centuries, the rock art tells the story of their lives, including hunting imagery and paintings relating to magic and sorcery.

Kakadu covers almost 20,000 square kilometres and is a place of enormous ecological and biological diversity. Kakadu is considered a living cultural landscape. The traditional owners Bininj Mungguy have lived on and cared for the land. Their deep spiritual connection to the land dates back to the Creation and has always been an important part of the Kakadu story.

The extraordinary natural beauty and ancient cultural heritage of this land was recognised internationally in 1981 when it was first inscribed on the World Heritage list.

Kakadu National Park today

Due to the Kakadu National Park’s enormous size, organisation is key when visiting. The park’s website has some suggested itineraries tailored to each season and the amount of time you plan to spend there. There are also ranger guided tours available in the dry season.

There are three main areas of rock art, namely the Ubirr, Nourlangie and Nanguluwur sites, each of which can be reached via walking trails from the car park. The walks take approximately 1-1.5 hours to complete.

The Bowali Visitors Centre is probably the best place to start a visit to Kakadu. Not only does it have all of the information about tours and activities, but it also houses some aboriginal exhibits at the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

Getting to Kakadu National Park

Located 240 kilometres east of Darwin in Australia’s tropical north, Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest terrestrial national park. The easiest way to get to Kakadu is by coach or by car from Darwin or Katherine. You will need a vehicle to get around the park, or you can join a coach or 4WD tour.

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