Visiting Kakadu is an adventure in itself, but in the wet, things are a bit different. You won’t see the famous Jimjim falls because many roads will be flooded, but there is so much to see in Kakadu National Park. The wet allows you to see a totally different sight and enjoy the beauty in a much less crowded season.
I did Kakadu on an organised trip with Adventure Tours since I don’t own a 4WD and was on my own. During our first night we saw what the wet season could bring. Our campsite had a beautiful spot to watch the sunset, so I climbed up a hill with my new mates. Instead of the sunset we were seeing the beginning of a storm that would go on throughout the night. We saw the clouds rolling in, getting darker. In the distance there was lightning. When it threatened to come too close I called it a night, but when I was halfway down the hill it started pouring out of nothing. All of us ran to our covered lunchroom, but arrived totally soaked. Luckily everything would dry easily during the day.
The next day the bus smelled like wet and sweat We drove to Ubirr through the forest and over flood plains. Massive groups of birds flew away as we approached them. This time of the year, Kakadu is greener than green. truly fluorescent. It was like you were looking at the landscape through your sunnies, but we weren’t. The colours were real. Sometimes we had to cross a small river. Tall tress, black from fire, rose up from the water.
At Ubirr we had the sacred site to ourselves. It is a well-known place for Aboriginal rock art. There were layers of paintings, mainly in the main gallery, from the last 1500 years. There is even a picture of a man with his hands in his pockets. He is probably one of the first buffalo hunters. You can only look at the paintings from a distance. They are so careful these days that a man was following us to make sure we adhered to the rules. It is all about preservation. Every drawing tells its own story and teaches others about the world.
At the end of our walk we climbed up a beautiful view-point. The view seemed to stretch to infinity. We saw the escarpment and the flood plains with all its beautiful colour. We could see where we were going next. We were going to the border where Kakadu turns into Arnhemland. The road was flooded and we were looking for crocodiles. Unfortunately we had to be satisfied with the warning signs.
Because the wet gets really hot, it gets really sweaty. The itinerary of the trip was influenced by our wishes. Nobody felt like hiking at the hottest part of the day, so our guide took us on a tour in the bus. We got to see the Ranger Mine, where the min Uranium. It is in the news a lot because mining in Kakadu is very controversial. I must say that it is quite a strange sight in the middle of all this nature. After driving through a town we ended up in the visitor center where they put on a movie about te animals of Kakadu. It was cool to see how all the animals adapted to the different seasons, although the aircon and the images in front of my eyes made me a little bit tired. Everywhere you looked you saw heads nodding.
This evening the sky was clear. I went for a swim and a shower. While I was in the shower I tought I heard rain. Five minutes later it was pouring down again. In the end we decided to put on our swimmers and get changed in our tents. That Kakadu in the wet for you! It also means getting up at stupid o’clock. It is best to do any hiking as early as possible. Our hike started at Yurmikmik and led us to a waterfall. The track was 4WD only and we were shaking to our destination.
The hike itself went through tall grass, deeper and deeper into nature. On one side was a big rock wall. On the path the crickets and grasshoppers were making noise. Before reaching the waterfall there was a short climb over the rocks. The water was the best present you could get after the walk. We were all so sweaty you could see the sweat on our skin. I jumped in with my T-shirt. My wet shirt kept me fairly cool on the way back.
And this was the end of the Kakadu adventure. We had another four hours to drive along the Stuart Highway before we got back to Darwin. If you are planning to go to the top end in the wet, be prepared. It is heaps of fun, but be prepared you’ll be sweating all day long. The flies are always around and always prepared to bug you. There can be rain and there can be lots of road closures. Luckily the national park is big and there is always something to see. Kakadu in the wet is worth it!