Kakadu is set to undergo major upgrades of its tourism infrastructure and resources, with access to major attractions enhanced, refurbishments to tourism facilities completed, and a new format announced for the region’s showcase culinary festival.
Kakadu National Park has just experienced one of its rainiest wet seasons in a decade, replenishing the region’s landscape and ensuring a memorable tourism experience for visitors during the forthcoming dry seasons, known to the local Indigenous people as Yekke (from May to June) and Wurrkeng (from June to the end of August).
With Darwin now included in the federal government’s 50 per cent airfare discount scheme, Kakadu is anticipating a massive surge in interest from interstate, and the region is ready to welcome visitors with upgraded facilities and touring ideas.
This season, Kakadu Tourism’s Spirit of Kakadu 4WD adventure tours will add Koolpin Gorge (Jarrangbarnmi), introducing one of Kakadu’s most scenic landscapes to its touring schedules.
Usually only accessible by permit, Kakadu Tourism has negotiated special entry to the region for its premium Spirit of Kakadu adventure tours. Up to two tours per week will be offered, for a maximum of 12 guests.
The Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which tells the story of Kakadu’s heritage and culture from the perspective of traditional owners, has re-opened after an extensive renovation, designed to improve visitor comfort and protect the exhibits.
Work is set to commence to raise the Jim Jim Creek Crossing to enable enhanced access to Twin Falls this year. In addition, designs are being prepared for upgrades to the Cahills Crossing viewing area, one of Kakadu’s most popular locations to view crocodiles in the wild.
Upgraded WiFi connectivity at Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is also set to be introduced.
The new Marrawuddi Arts Centre has opened in Jabiru, showcasing local Indigenous art. Kakadu Tourism will also launch a new online site promoting Kakadu’s Indigenous artists and weavers, with their works available for sale and transportation to major centres in Australia.
Mimi’s Restaurant at Cooinda Lodge has been upgraded with a contemporary new design. The restaurant specialises in presenting bush-inspired cuisine, as well as bistro staples.
In addition, the Too Deadly fish and chip van will operate at Cooinda Lodge & Camping from April, while A Taste of Kakadu will be staged in a concentrated weekend of activities from Friday 28 May to Sunday 30 May.
Over the remainder of the decade, Kakadu will continue to develop its tourism potential, Kakadu Tourism said, with the federal government’s recently released Kakadu Tourism Master Plan, a 10-year strategy to grow culturally appropriate tourism in the national park.
The master plan was developed in consultation with Kakadu’s traditional owners, Kakadu Tourism’s board of management and the broader tourism industry.
The plan includes a range of proposals to upgrade access to key tourism sites, enhance facilities, establishing new visitor service hubs and revitalising Jabiru as a major tourism centre, with a World Heritage visitor centre to showcase Kakadu’s significant cultural and natural values.
It also contained plans to expand Kakadu’s major events calendar focusing on increasing cultural events with local Indigenous operators, such as the Taste of Kakadu festival.
“With many interstate visitors now able to access half-price airfares to Darwin, there has never been a better time to tick Kakadu off the bucket list,” Kakadu Tourism chair Rick Allert said.
“We have had one of our most successful wet seasons for over a decade, and with extra incentives to visit Kakadu this year, we believe the peak dry season is going to be very popular.
“A holiday in Kakadu offers a remarkable cultural experience, with over 65,000 years of continuous human habitation, set against one of the most dramatic landscapes in Australia.
“Bookings are already significantly higher than in recent years, so we would recommend that potential visitors secure their reservations as soon as possible.”