Kakadu National Park: Wildlife of Yellow Water Billabong

Kakadu National Park was the highlight of my visit to the Northern Territory in Australia. I had the opportunity to stay at Yellow Water Billabong.

Kakadu National Park, Australia, is listed as a UNESCO Site under two categories. One for its outstanding nature, the other for its cultural significance. The park is the biggest national park in Australia. It’s roughly the size of Slovenia! It also has a diverse landscape including wetlands. It’s home to so many Australian animals.

The History and Culture of Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park has been the home of aboriginal people for over 65 000 years. The park is protected and cared for by the descendants of 2 aboriginal tribes. The Bininj tribe lives in the northern part of the park and the Mungguy tribe live in the southern parts.

If you find yourself interested in the culture and history of these unique people I suggest that you take a tour of the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. If you want to know what the respectful way of approaching aboriginals in the park click here.

The aboriginal tribes of Kakadu National Park have spent their lives dedicated to protecting the land including the endangered wetland ecosystems and a number of Australian animals. So many of these animals arent found anywhere else in the world.

The aboriginal people believe that they are linked to the land. Who knows, learning more about this unique culture may give you a completely different experience than you expected.

The Yellow Water Billabong

The Yellow Water Billabong specifically was the highlight of my visit both in Kakadu National Park and in the Northern Territory.  There are great opportunities to spot wildlife.

The sunrise light was well worth the early 5:15 wake-up call (and being jet-lagged, I don’t say that lightly).  Where else would you have the opportunity to see so many Australian animals?

Kakadu is home to an incredible 2000 bird species and 1 third of Australia’s mammals. The Yellow Water Billabong may have even turned me into a birder. Wannabe birder since I was so busy taking photos that I admittedly don’t remember what most of the species were.

I took an incredible 600 photos in 2 hours!  Here are a few of them:
yellow water billabong kakadu crocThe Yellow Water Billabong is part of the South Alligator River system, but there are no alligators in Australia (an early explorer misidentified crocs for alligators and the name has stuck ever since).  This is a salt-water croc, much bigger and more aggressive than the fresh-water crocs found in other parts of Kakadu National Park.

yellow water billabong kakadu snake
I have no idea how our guide spotted this well camouflaged (but not venomous snake) from over 5 meters away. I could barely see him, even when he was pointed out to me.

yellow water cruises black and white bird

yellow water cruises white birds
The Yellow Water Billabong is a birder’s paradise.
yellow water cruises kakadu bird with fish
This bird (think it was an eagle) was quite annoyed with us for disturbing his breakfast – note the large fish between his talons.

yellow water cruises kakadu bird feathers

yellow water cruises kakadu_jesus christ birds
Nicknamed the “Jesus Christ bird” because of its seeming ability to walk on water. They actually walk on vegetation floating in the water, but still, I could have watched them for hours.
yellow water cruises kakadu croc tail
These whistling ducks had no fear of the huge croc hanging out beside them.

yellow water billabong br bird

Stay tuned for more posts on the Yellow Water Billabong and the Northern Territory featuring photography shot from the Canon EOS 650D and the Canon PowerShot D20.

Visitors Info for Kakadu National Park

  • You can book your own Yellow Water Cruise at Gagudja Dreaming
  • The cruises start at Gagudja Lodge Cooinda, located 300km SE of Darwin
  • Cruises depart at 6:45 am and last for 2 hours in the dry season (April – October), additional times are available during the wet season (November – March).
  • Tickets cost $99 (Australian) for adults and $70 for children and should be booked in advance
  • Bring lots of bug spray, since mosquitoes also call the Yellow Water Billabong “home”
  • Drinking water is available on the boat

Related Reading: Kayaking with Crocs in Katherine Gorge

What Else Does Kakadu National Park Have to Offer

There are several other sites in the Kakadu National Park that are a must-see if you have time. Interested in the diverse history of the area?  Pay a visit to Burrunkuy (Noulangie).

Yeah, its a mouthful to pronounce but it is a site full of protected rock paintings dating back thousands of years. You can book yourself a guided tour or do one of the walks on yourself. There are some great lookouts that give you the opportunity to take in some great views.

Close by you can visit the Jim Jim falls. During summer book an aerial tour. It is the best way to see the falls. In the dry winter season, you can hike over the boulders. There are nearby waterholes but you won’t be able to swim there due to the rather massive saltwater crocs.

Visit East Alligator River, also known as Ubirr. You can take walks that will take you past other rock paintings that tell unique stories about the locals who were once hunters and gatherers. Ubirr is renowned for its brilliant sunsets. If you’re in the area make sure not to miss the golden hour.

Jabiru is the main township of Kakadu National Park and you will find all your basic amenities here including a gas station and supermarket. You will also find the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile. The hotel is shaped like a crocodile.

Can you be a birder without knowing the names of the birds that you saw?  OK, maybe not, but I did remember the most important thing….there are no alligators in the South Alligator River….just much bigger hungrier saltwater crocs!

Note:  All photos are shot with the Canon EOS 650D.  I loved the creative filters on this camera.  I was a guest of Canon Australia and Tourism Northern Territory but as always all opinions expressed are my own.

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