Kakadu National Park

Northern territory
S12 49 60 E132 49 60
Date of Inscription: 1981
Extension: 1987,1992
Minor boundary modification inscribed year: 2011
Property : 1,980,994.92 ha
Ref: 147quater
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This unique archaeological and ethnological reserve, located in the Northern Territory, has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. The cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites record the skills and way of life of the region’s inhabitants, from the hunter-gatherers of prehistoric times to the Aboriginal people still living there. It is a unique example of a complex of ecosystems, including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux, and provides a habitat for a wide range of rare or endemic species of plants and animals.

Kakadu National Park is a living cultural landscape with exceptional natural and cultural values. Kakadu has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, and many of the park’s extensive rock art sites date back thousands of years. Kakadu’s rock art provides a window into human civilisation in the days before the last ice age. Detailed paintings reveal insights into hunting and gathering practices, social structure and ritual ceremonies of Indigenous societies from the Pleistocene Epoch until the present.

The largest national park in Australia and one of the largest in the world’s tropics, Kakadu preserves the greatest variety of ecosystems on the Australian continent including extensive areas of savanna woodlands, open forest, floodplains, mangroves, tidal mudflats, coastal areas and monsoon forests. The park also has a huge diversity of flora and is one of the least impacted areas of the northern part of the Australian continent. Its spectacular scenery includes landscapes of arresting beauty, with escarpments up to 330 metres high extending in a jagged and unbroken line for hundreds of kilometres.

The hunting-and-gathering tradition demonstrated in the art and archaeological record is a living anthropological tradition that continues today, which is rare for hunting-and-gathering societies worldwide. Australian and global comparisons indicate that the large number and diversity of features of anthropological, art and archaeological sites (many of which include all three site types), and the quality of preservation, is exceptional.

Many of the art and archaeological sites of the park are thousands of years old, showing a continuous temporal span of the hunting and gathering tradition from the Pleistocene Era until the present. While these sites exhibit great diversity, both in space and through time, the overwhelming picture is also one of a continuous cultural development.

Criterion (i) : Kakadu’s art sites represent a unique artistic achievement because of the wide range of styles used, the large number and density of sites and the delicate and detailed depiction of a wide range of human figures and identifiable animal species, including animals long-extinct.

Criterion (vi) : The rock art and archaeological record is an exceptional source of evidence for social and ritual activities associated with hunting and gathering traditions of Aboriginal people from the Pleistocene era until the present day.

Criterion (vii) : Kakadu National Park contains a remarkable contrast between the internationally recognised Ramsar–listed wetlands and the spectacular rocky escarpment and its outliers. The vast expanse of wetlands to the north of the park extends over tens of kilometres and provides habitat for millions of waterbirds. The escarpment consists of vertical and stepped cliff faces up to 330 metres high and extends in a jagged and unbroken line for hundreds of kilometres. The plateau areas behind the escarpment are inaccessible by vehicle and contain large areas with no human infrastructure and limited public access. The views from the plateau are breathtaking.

Criterion (ix) : The property incorporates significant elements of four major river systems of tropical Australia. Kakadu’s ancient escarpment and stone country span more than two billion years of geological history, whereas the floodplains are recent, dynamic environments, shaped by changing sea levels and big floods every wet season. These floodplains illustrate the ecological and geomorphological effects that have accompanied Holocene climate change and sea level rise.

The Kakadu region has had relatively little impact from European settlement, in comparison with much of the Australian continent. With extensive and relatively unmodified natural vegetation and largely intact faunal composition, the park provides a unique opportunity to investigate large-scale evolutionary processes in a relatively intact landscape.

Kakadu’s indigenous communities and their myriad rock art and archaeological sites represent an outstanding example of humankind’s interaction with the natural environment.

Criterion (x) : The park is unique in protecting almost the entire catchment of a large tropical river and has one of the widest ranges of habitats and greatest number of species documented of any comparable area in tropical northern Australia. Kakadu’s large size, diversity of habitats and limited impact from European settlement has resulted in the protection and conservation of many significant habitats and species.

The property protects an extraordinary number of plant and animal species including over one third of Australia’s bird species, one quarter of Australia’s land mammals and an exceptionally high number of reptile, frog and fish species. Huge concentrations of waterbirds make seasonal use of the park’s extensive coastal floodplains.

Suggested Bases:

Jabiru is a town in the Northern Territory of Australia. It was originally built in 1982 as a closed town to house the community living at Jabiru East near the Ranger Uranium Mine 8 km (5.0 mi) away. Both the mine and the town are completely surrounded by Kakadu National Park. At the 2006 census, Jabiru had a population of 1,135. Jabiru Township is 13 square kilometres (5.0 sq mi) in size. The town is owned as freehold by the Director of National Parks, from which a head lease is held by the Jabiru Town Development Authority (JTDA). The JTDA subleases to the mining company, government agencies and private business. The head lease expires in 2021. The JTDA has delegated local government responsibility to the Jabiru Town Council. The Northern Territory Government amalgamated Jabiru Town Council and the West Arnhem Shire (Region) in 2008. Additionally, Jabiru town services are administered by the West Arnhem Regional Council, whose council chambers are in the town plaza [read more].

Palmerston is a planned satellite city of Darwin, the capital and largest city in Australia’s Northern Territory. The city is situated approximately 20 kilometres from Darwin and 10 kilometres from Howard Springs and the surrounding rural areas. Palmerston had a population of 33,695 at the 2016 census, making it the second largest city in the Northern Territory. There are eighteen suburbs in Palmerston, ten of which are close to the Palmerston city centre. Palmerston is mostly residential with two light industrial areas in the north of the city. The major landmark in Palmerston is the Power and Water Corporation’s water storage tank, which supplies the city with fresh potable water. Formerly, the city had a large escarpment in the heart of the city, with extensive walking paths and a small creek, but the area has since been converted into an open grassy area; the community space known as Goyder Square. Palmerston is located between the outer industrial areas of Darwin and the rural areas of Howard Springs, 20 kilometres (13 mi) southeast of Darwin, and is situated in the local government area of the City of Palmerston [read more].

Darwin, a small yet cosmopolitan city, is the tropical capital city of the Northern Territory. People from more than 50 nations make up its population of 149,000 (2018). It sits on the Northern Territory coast (in north-central Australia), with the Timor Sea (a branch of the Indian Ocean) to the west, and the Arafura Sea to the north in Indonesian waters. Darwin has a relaxed lifestyle and unique multiculturalism, where people from over 50 different cultures live and work side by side. The regular Asian-style markets form an intrinsic part of the everyday Darwin landscape, for local residents see food, music, language, and culture from just about every Asian nation, alongside “crocodile hunters”, local Aboriginal artists, musicians of every genre, sports fishing operators, sunset sails, and families with children playing on the beach. Darwin’s unique cosmopolitan makeup has been recognised as an “multicultural icon of national significance” by the Australian National Trust [read more].

1 reply »

  1. Kakadu National Park is the largest national park in the whole of Australia. If you’re both an artsy and sporty traveller, the things to do here will be right up your alley. We recommend two hiking trails: the Ubirr Rock Hike and the Nourlangie Trail. Both trails offer outdoor art “museums” dating back to 20,000 years ago, and moderate walking tracks to show you a picturesque view of Kakadu from different angles.


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