Darwin Kimberley Kakadu -
With a population around 80,000 Darwin is little
bigger that a moderate sized town but comes with big city style in
keeping with its status as capital of the Northern Territory. This
vibrant new-world feel comes courtesy, in the main, from the
re-building that followed a cyclone on Christmas Day 1974. Those
who have travelled up from the south, mostly during the dry winter
conditions, find that the warm evenings bring street side
restaurants and cafes to life in a way not often seen, even in the
height of summer in the cooler zones. To make the most of Darwin’s
waterside location enjoy a meal at one of the marina cafes – there
are some excellent places at Cullen Bay Marina. Darwin’s location
made it a strategic base for the Allies during World War II and a
large military presence is still maintained to protect Australia’s
most vulnerable border There are several wildlife and nature parks
within 50 km south of Darwin with animals, swimming holes and
walkways including the award winning ‘Territory Wildlife Park’.
Located 153 km east of Darwin, Kakadu National Park
has a wealth of natural wonders including over 1,000 plant
species, 25 species of frog, 60 types of mammals (25 of these
being bats),75 types of reptile and 280 bird species. Much of
Kakadu is Aboriginal Land leased to the Government for use as a
National Park. There are several aboriginal settlements within the
park and dating of historical sites has their occupation of this
land dating back over 23,000 years.
The landscape of the Kakadu National Park changes
dramatically with the seasons, know in this region as ‘The Wet’
(summer) and ‘The Dry’ (winter). Billabongs, lakes and waterfalls
can barely contain themselves with both water and wildlife during
‘the wet’ and some tracks within the park may become impassable.
Conversely, during ‘the dry’ streams and waterfalls may be
completely dry and waterholes little more that puddles.
The gateways to the
Kimberley region are Broome in the west and Kununurra in the east.
State highway 1 joins these towns – a distance of over 1000kms.
But for the more adventurous the Gibb River Road attracts those
wanting a four wheel drive experience. Alternatively fly into
Kununurra from all major Australian cities travelling via Perth or
200kms south of
Kununurra and 55 kilometres off the main highway, accessible by 4
wheel drive only is the Purnululu National Park where you will
find the intriguing beehive like, domed shaped hills of the Bungle
Bungles. (The park is closed during the wet season January to
March but scenic flights over the area from Kununurra or Halls
Creek operate year round).
350 million years
ago the Kimberley Region lay beneath the waters of a vast ocean
and at Geikie Gorge, Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek National
Parks, located north to north east of Fitzroy Crossing, you can
see the spectacular remnants of an ancient coral reef thought to
be around 1000 km long and more than 20 km wide.