Kakadu National Park is currently experiencing one of the driest wet seasons on record with hardly any monsoonal activity or rain since the start of Gunumeleng, the build-up season, late last year.
In an average monsoon season we normally get regular and heavy downpours resulting in widespread flooding. By now, the rivers have usually broken their banks, floodplains are up with water and roads are closed. Boat cruises would be leaving from the side of the Oenpelli Road with a gushing Magela Creek blocking public access to Arnhemland and Ubirr art site in the East Alligator region.
In a normal wet season, the native spear grass would already be standing over three metres tall, a green wall of grass blocking the view into the woodlands. But now the grass is growing so slowly that in most places it hasn’t even reached a metre yet. That means seed-reliant birds and small rodents will have to hang in there until their favourite staple becomes available.
The park is looking gorgeous though. I’m in awe of all the colours - yellow arda is poking through the lush green grass in the woodlands while scarlet bloodroot, a tall herb used by Aboriginal women as a dye, adds red accents. There’s also some blue from the beautiful wandering Jew too!
Visitors to the park can also still spot the ground orchid and a yam vine with showy pink flowers along the Mamukala walk. And there are many more interesting plants to discover in the rainforest on the Gungarre Walk.
The Oenpelli Road is currently still open to all traffic, so why not check out the sundew along the sandy Bardedjilidji wet season walking track? Or you can drive up to Ubirr after 2.00 pm, where carpets of native ginger still add a good splash of colour!
Anja, Kakadu National Park
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