Kakadu National Park is home to a vast network of waterways. They are the park’s lifeblood, the reason for its stunning wildlife. They sustain and nurture Kakadu, and keep the visitors coming, year after year.
Forming part of the large South Alligator River floodplain, the World Heritage Yellow Water wetland is among the most beautiful and expansive in the park.
We arrived in Cooinda, home to a large and lovely holiday park, Gagudju Lodge Cooinda, in the early afternoon. When we booked in, we also bought tickets for a sunset boat cruise, the best way to take in Yellow Water and its abundant wildlife.
From Gagudju Lodge, travellers can either take the courtesy shuttle to the jetty or walk – it’ll take no more than 10 minutes. At the jetty, staff loaded us on to one of two boats which were operating simultaneously. The skipper provided informative and entertaining commentary and, naturally, the cameras began clicking each time he pointed out an estuarine croc, all of which simply lazed about on the muddy banks, as though full from a large meal. A couple of crocs had their mouths wide open, their way of regulating their body temperature.
But as the skipper pointed out, it’s more than a croc cruise. We saw jabirus and a white-bellied sea eagle, among others.
The sunset boat cruise culminates in the passengers watching the sun disappear behind the wetland back at the jetty.
If you prefer to stay on land in Yellow Water, a 2.6km return walk will take you across the floodplains to a viewing platform at Home Billabong, but it’s only available when the waters recede in the Dry. But however you see it, Yellow Water is a must.
· Yellow Water is north-west off the Kakadu Highway, 50km south of the Bowali Visitor Centre.
· Book your tickets at Gagudju Lodge Cooinda. Phone (08) 8979 0145, or visit www.gagudju-dreaming.com.
· Mardugal Camping Area is an attractive nearby campsite with showers, toilets and a generator zone. Check for access during the wet season. Phone (08) 8938 1120.