As an Australian and a travel lover I have been lucky enough to see a lot of our beautiful country, and yet I am also guilty of grabbing my passport and heading overseas when I still have so many incredible places to visit here at home.
Kakadu has been high on that wish list for far too long now. After hearing stories from friends and family who have been there, and staring dreamily at the images from this World Heritage natural wonderland, I’ve felt Kakadu calling and it’s a call I want to answer.
Which is why I was so interested in learning more about Gagudju Dreaming, the indigenous owned Kakadu Tourism group that includes wetland cruises, 4WD tours to waterfalls and swimming holes, cultural experiences and accommodation.
The traditional owners of the land, the Bininj people have lived on and cared for Kakadu for more than 50,000 years. Kakadu Tourism has an Indigenous Employment Program in place that not only creates opportunities for local Bininj people, but also means visitors have more chances to learn from the people who know this land better than anyone.
As well as learning about the local culture, when I think of my dream trip to Kakadu the wetlands, waterfalls and wildlife all come to mind.
When it comes to wetland tours, Gagudju Dreaming’s Yellow Water Cruises are the only ones allowed to operate on Kakadu’s most famous wetland, Yellow Water Billabong.
The billabong is found at the end of Jim Jim Creek, which is part of the largest river system in Kakadu. There are lots of crocodiles to smile at, and buffalo can be spotted on the floodplains.
Kakadu is a twitcher’s paradise with around a third of all Australian birds to be found in the park. Yellow Water Billabong has around 60 species including brolgas and all five kinds of kingfisher.
There are six Yellow Water cruises a day and as the popular sunrise and sunset ones can book out in advance it’s best to plan ahead if you can.
There’s also a Yellow Water Under the Stars option where local guides share aboriginal night mythology tales, and if you love your fishing, the special fishing tours are a chance to try your hand at catching Barramundi in a billabong.
If you want to explore some of the waterfalls and swimming holes, Kakadu Adventure Tours have the 4WDs and the guides to get you there.
Itineraries change throughout the year but their tours can take you to some of the less accessible and beautifully scenic areas, and some include gourmet lunches and sundowners at a private billabong.
Just make sure you ask your guides before you go into the water so they can let you know if it’s a good or a bad idea. You don’t want to tempt fate or those crocodiles.
Kakadu isn’t exactly the sort of place you go for a day trip. At around four hours drive from Darwin you could get a taste for it from the city, but it would be so much better to stay there.
All of Gagudju Dreaming’s accommodation is centrally located within the park, which means more time to explore and less time travelling back and forth.
The crocodile shaped Kakadu Crocodile Hotel offers four-star accommodation with a shaded outdoor pool, landscaped gardens and close proximity to the Bowali Visitors Centre.
Cooinda Lodge is the gateway to the Yellow Water Billabong and a three star option with air conditioned rooms, tempting pools and alfresco dining including crocodile spring rolls and kangaroo skewers at the Barra Bistro and Bar.
Or if you’re travelling in an RV or like to pitch your own tent Yellow Water Camping has powered and unpowered camp sites, shower and toilet facilities, a lagoon pool, kids playing area, general store and fuel station.
The more I think about Kakadu the more I want to go. I want to see it with my own eyes, breathe in that air, hear the guides talk about the animals and their land, and listen to their stories about the stars.
I do believe the time has come to stop dreaming about it and make it a reality.
This post has been brought to you by Gagudju Dreaming but all thoughts and opinions remain my own.
See Annabel’s website – http://adventuresallaround.com/