Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kakadu National Park


Today we decided to have a lazy day, so all we have really done is visit the Visitors Centre and swim and relax by the pool. So I thought I would share some information about the park I have just learnt. Kakadu National Park covers an area of 19,804 km2 (7,646 sq mi), extending nearly 200 kilometres from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west. It is about one-third the size of Tasmania, or nearly half the size of Switzerland. The Ranger Uranium Mine, one of the most productive uranium mines in the world, is surrounded by separation from the park. Over the years there has been quite a lot of controversy regarding the mines location and effect on the environment. Aboriginal people have occupied the Kakadu area continuously for at least 40,000 years. Kakadu National Park is renowned for the richness of its Aboriginal cultural sites. There are more than 5,000 recorded art sites illustrating Aboriginal culture over thousands of years. 
One thing I didn't know was that Kakadu's Aboriginal owners recognise six different seasons.

Gudjewg | Monsoon season
December to March | average temperatures: 24°C - 34°C
Gudjewg, from December to March, can be described as the 'true' wet season. It is a time of thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooding. The heat and humidity generate an explosion of plant and animal life. Spear grass grows to over two metres tall and creates a silvery-green hue throughout the woodlands. Magpie geese nest in the sedgelands. Flooding may cause goannas, snakes and rats to seek refuge in the trees. Eggs and stranded animals are a good food source for Bininj/Mungguy during this time.
Banggerreng | Knock 'em down storm season
April | average temperatures: 23°C - 34°C
Banggerreng, in April, is the season when the rain clouds have dispersed and clear skies prevail. The vast expanses of floodwater recede and streams start to run clear. Most plants are fruiting and animals are caring for their young. Violent, windy storms early in this season flatten the spear grass; they are called 'knock 'em down' storms.
Yegge | Cooler but still humid season
May to June | average temperatures: 21°C - 33°C
Yegge, from May to mid-June, is relatively cool with low humidity. Early morning mists hang low over the plains and waterholes. The shallow wetlands and billabongs are carpeted with water lilies. Drying winds and flowering Darwin woolly butt tell Bininj/Mungguy that it is time to start burning the woodlands in patches to 'clean the country' and encourage new growth for grazing animals.
Wurrgeng | Cold weather season
June to August | average temperatures: 17°C - 32°C
Wurrgeng, from mid-June to mid-August, is the 'cold weather' time; humidity is low, daytime temperatures are around 30°C and night-time temperatures are around 17°C. Most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out. Burning continues, extinguished by the dew at night. By day, birds of prey patrol the fire lines as insects and small animals try to escape the flames. Magpie geese, fat and heavy after weeks of abundant food, and a myriad of other waterbirds crowd the shrinking billabongs.
Gurrung | Hot dry weather
August to October | average temperatures: 23°C - 37°C
Gurrung, from mid-August to mid-October, is hot and dry. It is still 'goose time' but also time for Bininj/Mungguy to hunt file snakes and long-necked turtles. Sea turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beaches of Field Island and West Alligator Head and goannas rob their nests sometimes. White-breasted wood swallows arrive as thunderclouds build, signalling the return of Gunumeleng.
Gunumeleng | Pre-monsoon storm season
October to December | average temperatures: 24°C - 37°C
Gunumeleng, from mid-October to late December, may in fact last from a few weeks to several months. It is the pre-monsoon season of hot weather that becomes more and more humid. Thunderstorms build in the afternoons and showers bring green to the dry land. As the streams begin to run, acidic water that washes from the floodplains can cause fish to die in billabongs with low oxygen levels. Waterbirds spread out as surface water and new growth become more widespread. Barramundi move from the waterholes downstream to the estuaries to breed. This was when Bininj/Mungguy moved camp from the floodplains to the stone country, to shelter from the violent storms of the coming wet season.

So that means we are in Wurrgeng | Cold weather season - so I ask you why am I sitting here typing this post in a sarong with perspiration running down my back??

This rock at the Visitors Centre has been painted to depict the 6 different seasons