Kakadu National Park, NT, Australia: Culturally Rich and Biologically Diverse

DSC_0660A coin toss led us to the tropical north and we darted toward Kakadu National Park, the largest NP in Australia. Located in the Northern Territory, Kakadu’s beauty and diversity is beyond belief. Characterized by sandstone bluffs, lowlands, floodplains, huge estuaries and tidal flats. It is home to roughly 280 bird species, 60 mammals, 120 reptiles and over 2,000 species of plants! It is also unique because Aborigines have lived here for more than 50,000 years and some still live traditionally, gathering plants and hunting wildlife, such as file snakes, kangaroos and crocodiles.

Kakadu NP.
Kakadu NP.
Kakadu National Park vista.
Kakadu National Park vista.
Chestnut-Quilled Rock-Pigeon.
Chestnut-Quilled Rock-Pigeon.
Trail marker.
Trail marker.
Things are about to get very herpy (amphibians and reptiles abound)!
Things are about to get very herpy (amphibians and reptiles abound)!
Cute little bat!
Cute little bat!
Very important wetlands! Chalk-a-block full of biodiversity.
Very important wetlands! Chalk-a-block full of biodiversity.

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Croc country!
Croc country! There are over 10,000 crocodiles in the park. We were lucky enough to see freshwater croc and saltwater croc!

And what does one do if sleeping is next to impossible, given the hot humid nights and mozzies? Road cruise for herps (amphibians and reptiles), of coarse! And we had an awesome night!

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Black-headed Python! Beautiful!
Northern Death Adder (Acanthophis praelongus). Check out the way he flattened out his mid-section and veered to one side! Dangerously venomous!
Northern Death Adder (Acanthophis praelongus). Check out the way he flattened out his mid-section and veered to one side! Dangerously venomous!
YES!!! I wanted to find a Water Python (Liasis mackloti) so bad!
YES!!! I wanted to find a Water Python (Liasis mackloti) so bad!
Ryne equally excited and of course he had to catch it! (Python's are very docile and not venomous).
Ryne equally excited and of course he had to catch it! (Python’s are very docile and not venomous). Herping barefoot in his swim shorts!
That iridescent sheen is just beautiful!!
That iridescent sheen is just beautiful!!
Blue-faced Honeyeater (adult).
Blue-faced Honeyeater (adult).
Blue-faced Honeyeater (juvenile which have yellow faces).
Blue-faced Honeyeater (juvenile which have yellow faces).

There are over 5,000 important archaeological sites in the park!

Aboriginal rock art site, usually under an over-hang. I think we hiked 5-6 miles to get here.
Aboriginal rock art site, usually under an over-hang. I think we hiked 5-6 miles to get here.
Kangaroos were a very important food source!
Kangaroos were/are a very important food source!
The arrival of Europeans prompted boat drawings.
The arrival of Europeans prompted boat drawings.
Aboriginal rock art. These paintings represent one of the longest records of any group of people in the world. Some being 20,000 years old!
Aboriginal rock art. These paintings represent one of the longest records of any group of people in the world. Some being 20,000 years old!
Aboriginal rock art.
Aboriginal rock art.
The story
The story

And then, a quick side trip to Katherine Gorge National Park, which was almost totally devoid of people. In fact, the whole top half of the country was lacking tourists. It’s just avoided in summer because of the unrelenting heat and bugs! One benefit is that the campgrounds are free and the one we stayed at was plush with a pool and hot showers! We hiked the Butterfly Garden Trail, 12km through the canyon and then down into monsoon rainforest! There were picturesque waterfalls and fresh blooms. Part of the trail was impassable due to heavy rains the previous day, but we made it most of the way to the river mouth. We stopped to take a dip to cool off and I saw a Red Goshawk soaring through the canyon!! Really cool, rare bird that Ryne was after! Unfortunately, he was looking down at ants! Oh well, at least one of us saw this mysterious raptor! Sometimes your the pigeon and sometimes your the statue!

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The Butterfly Garden Trail at Katherine NP
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Katherine Gorge National Park, river mouth
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Much needed cool off!
Very refreshing swim hole.
Very refreshing swim hole.
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Amazing cryptic-ism! Can you spot the frog?

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