Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu’s most famous wetland, is located at the end of Jim Jim Creek, a tributary of the South Alligator River. The river system, which is the largest in Kakadu, contains extensive wetlands that include river channels, floodplains and backwater swamps. Kakadu is famous for its wildlife and the Yellow Water Cruise is one of the best ways to see it. The park covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres and is one of the few places in the world which has been listed for its cultural diversity and natural values. Taking a cruise on Yellow Water Billabong is a great way to experience both of these things.
The Yellow Water Cruise at Kakadu runs throughout the day but we had heard the sunrise one offered excellent wildlife spotting opportunities. In hindsight, there are so many animals at Kakadu any cruise would have been fine. Beautiful early morning light made the early start more than worthwhile. Our guide Mandy Muir, a local Murumburr woman, eased the flat bottom boat out into Yellow Water Billabong and we began our cruise in the soft light of dawn. Crocodiles surfaced silently alongside us, almost as if they too were listening to her stories of growing up in Kakadu.
“Our land is our life,” she said as we watched kingfishers flit through the trees, a jacana and her tiny chicks wade across lily pads and saw more crocodiles than we could count. We also saw a jabiru in the process of building a nest. These black and white birds are surprisingly graceful given their immense size. Our cruise at Kakadu National Park was a feast for the eyes and the soul.
Disclaimer: The writer was a guest of Yellow Water Cruises.