Kakadu National Park, situated 171 km from Darwin, is located in the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory and covers an area of 19,804 square km (7,646 square miles). It is has been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area.
Kakadu is one of Australia's top tourist destinations with over 200,000 tourists visiting the Park in 2005. The Park obtained further fame internationally when it was used as the setting of the Australian movie, Crocodile Dundee (starring Paul Hogan as crocodile hunter Mick Dundee).
The Inhabitants of Kakadu
Apart from being a place of natural beauty, Kakadu is a great cultural importance to the Aborigines whose ancestors who lived there for at least the past 40,000 years. Their long presence is marked by archeological relics and by numerous examples of rock painting in the area, for example, the outstanding art sites at Ubirr, Burrunguy (Nourlangie Rock) and Nanguluwur.
Over the years many other groups have come across Kakadu and often taken up residence there Chinese, Malay, Portuguese, Dutch and British navigators; then buffalo hunters, missionaries, pastoralists, and miners.
Climate, Fauna, Flora, Geology
Kakadu is in the tropics and has a monsoonal climate, with two main seasons: the dry season (April/May to September) and the wet season (January to March/April).
Fauna is prolific in Kakadu, including mammals (60 species), birds (more than 280 species), reptiles, frogs, fish and insects (10,000 species). There are some 1,700 species of plants.
There is six major landforms to be seen such as floodplains, lowlands, the stone country, outliers; and southern hills and basins.
Uranium was discovered in the Kakadu area in 1953. Along the eastern edge of Kakadu that borders Arnhem Land lies an estimated 15% of the world's reserves of uranium. Over the years there has been great controversy on whether uranium should be mined -- whether it is dangerous to the environment and peace or not, whether its mining will damage the Aboriginal culture and way of life.
There are several uranium mining operations which date from the period before the Kakadu National Park was declared and before the local Aborigines obtained legal recognition of their land rights. The coming of the National Park and of land rights had to accommodate the already present mining industry.
The Narbelek uranium deposit was mined in the 1970s. The Ranger Uranium Mine near the town of Jabiru in this area began operating in 1981. The proposed uranium mines of Koongarra and Coronation Hill did not proceed due to the Australian Labor Party's "three mines policy" (under which a maximum of three uranium mines were allowed to operate in Australia). In 1998 the Liberal government in Canberra under Prime Minister John Howard gave the go ahead for another uranium mine at Jabiluka, just up the road from the township of Jabiru and well within the Kakadu National Park.