The saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) of the Adelaide River are infamous for being able to jump most of their body length out of the water for food. Sightseeing cruises were started by crocodile hunters after conservation laws made hunting illegal in response to falling numbers.
Kakadu National Park – Been There

Why you can't kayak in Australia's Kakadu

Photo by Morales

Kakadu National Park – Been There Why you can't kayak in Australia's Kakadu

It is another hot, near-cloudless day, and the morning has a scorched, brackish smell. We spot sea eagles and kingfishers, snowy egrets and crane-like brolga. Then the “salties” appear.

Ben Lerwill
Ben Lerwill Travel Writer

“We got about 10,000 ginga in Kakadu,” says Jaimee, my guide in the park. She uses the local indigenous word for crocodile. “And they’ve seen plenty. They’ve been here for more than 200 million years.”

The extraordinary Kakadu National Park is one of Australia's most celebrated tracts of wilderness, a 20,000-square kilometer, Unesco-listed expanse of crocs and cliffs, wallabies and waterfalls, ancient rock art and craggy escarpments. The city of Darwin is 150km away, but rare is the visitor to the capital of the Northern Territory who does not also spend time in Kakadu.

People talk about the special power of the place, and I too find myself rapt, not least on the morning I arrive, when I join Jaimee. She steers our vessel out onto the ribboned waters of the park’s Yellow Water Billabong, and within minutes the scenery opens up to reveal deep landscapes of grass plains and far-off hills. It is another hot, near-cloudless day, and the morning has a scorched, brackish smell. We spot sea eagles and kingfishers, snowy egrets and crane-like brolga. Then the “salties” appear.

“He’s a big boy, this one,” says Jaimee, as we inch closer to a ton-weight male lying motionless in the mud and roots at the water’s edge. When we are ten meters away, it gives the merest hint of a movement, a slight motion of the jaws that makes the sight of its dinosaur- era teeth even more unsettling. It stays put as we back off.

“You can come down here with your own boat, but they don’t allow kayaks,” says Jaimee. “A couple of kayakers got eaten, you see.” And as the next hour unfolds, it becomes clear just how many crocodiles there are here. We see more than a dozen of them, sometimes immobile under trees, sometimes shivering silently through the dark water, sometimes startlingly close at hand on the banks, all scaly hides and reptilian bulk. Every one of them has dead, ageless eyes.

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Kakadu National Park's Jim Jim Billabong, also known as the Yellow Water, fluctuates dramatically in level with the seasons. It is the location of the most popular camping site in the park, but by the end of the dry season much of the water seen here will have gone. Photo by Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker

Nikon D7000

Aperture
ƒ/22
Exposure
1/25
ISO
500
Focal
12 mm

Kakadu National Park's Jim Jim Billabong, also known as the Yellow Water, fluctuates dramatically in level with the seasons. It is the location of the most popular camping site in the park, but by the end of the dry season much of the water seen here will have gone.