Kakadu’s hidden gems unlocked in new wet season tour
FLYING over thundering waterfalls in Kakadu woken by the heavy rains, its easy to see why hundreds of tourists are flocking to see the park come alive this wet season.
Kakadu Air co-owner Cameron Marchant said their business had seen a noticeable surge in bookings with tourists in the park this Wet.
"The dry season last year was a complete washout, failure but November, December and January have been unexpectedly busy for us," he said.
"More Australians are holidaying at home, and the NT tourism vouchers have certainly helped as well."
The spike in visitors has allowed Kakadu Air to embark on a new partnership with Kakadu Cultural Tours to give visitors an all-encompassing wet season experience at the park this year.
The new Ubirr and Kakadu Combo Tour begins with a flight from Darwin to Jabiru over the magnificent Mary River wetlands before passing into Kakadu where the billabongs are overflowing and bursting with life.
After a two-hour scenic flight, visitors land in Jabiru and get transferred to the flooded Magela Creek where local Guluyambi guides will take you on a leisurely cruise down submerged paperbark forests to get to Ubirr Rock.
Tour guide Trevor Wie said flooding cut off the road access to Ubirr Rock during the Wet, which meant visitors travelling with them were among the only few who get to experience it during that time of year.
"It's a real hidden gem not many people know about," he said.
"As the floodwaters rise here, all the native animals, like rock wallabies, seek higher ground closer to Ubirr, and you get to see the place come to life.
"It's spectacular when you get on top of Ubirr, and you're all by yourself and can see the flood plains.
"The place just transforms in the Wet."
Mr Wie said local guides like Robbie Namarnyilk also took guests through time to learn about Aboriginal culture, local folklore and stories during the cruise.
After cruising back through East Alligator and the flooded creek, guests are treated to lunch at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel before a return flight to Darwin.
The return journey gives visitors a bird's eye view of the iconic Jim Jim and Twin Falls, which aren't accessible by car during this time of year.
During the Wet, heavy rains send huge volumes of water crashing into the gorges below at the waterfalls, before they slow down to trickles again during the Dry.
Kakadu Air senior base pilot Matthew Lynch said to fully appreciate the scale, diversity and grandeur of Kakadu during the Wet, you have to take to the air.
"Even if you drove every road and track, you would still only see about one per cent of the park's 20,000 square kilometres," he said
"We fly over areas completely inaccessible by road that many people will never get to see."
Originally published as Kakadu's hidden gems unlocked in new wet season tour