It’s green out here – and very wet!
Gudjewg – many people call it the “true wet season”. Most certainly this is the time of year when Kakadu receives the majority of its annual rainfall. Gudjewg usually lasts from late December to early March.
Storm in the South Alligator Floodplain
While many parts of the continent have been receiving more than their fair share of rainfall over the last few weeks, while many regions are still battling the effects of cyclones, severe flooding and highly adverse weather conditions, Mother Nature has been kind to the people of Kakadu lately with patchy rain and heavy but short-lived storms and showers.
But it looks like the ominous dark clouds that we watched rolling in yesterday afternoon are here to stay for a while now. Until 9.00AM this morning the weather station at Jabiru Airport had registered 120mm for the 24 hours prior. It’s still raining at lunchtime and it looks like “mandjewk”, the Kunwinjku word for rain, will be heard a bit around Jabiru.
If you’re planning a trip to Kakadu National Park during Gudjewg, please make sure you understand the risks of travelling on our roads in wet conditions.
It’s always a good idea to check the Northern Territory Government’s Road Report Website before heading out.
Definitely pay a visit to Bowali, Kakadu National Park’s headquarters and main visitor centre once you’ve arrived in Kakadu National Park. The friendly staff at the information desk will be able to answer your questions and give advise on accessibility and itineraries.
Water Over Road
Here are a few driving tips for a safe trip to Kakadu during Gudjewg:
Potholes are a regular occurrence on all Top End roads, some of them are deep enough to cause serious damage to your vehicle.
Keep your vehicle on the bitumen, the shoulders are soft and boggy.
If your vehicle does happen to run off the sealed road, slow down and keep it straight before nursing it back onto the road – DO NOT try to steer it back onto the road hastily, rolling your vehicle could be the result!
Creeks and rivers can rise quickly, road conditions can change within minutes.
- Approach floodways with caution.
- Check the depth of the water and the strength of its flow.
- Do not attempt to cross causeways if you’re in doubt.
- Do not circumnavigate any road closure signs that might be in place!
- Wait until the water drops again or take a safe detour.
- Don’t put your life at risk or the life of people who might have to come to your rescue.
- Listen to the locals.
- Watch out for crocodiles! With high water levels they make regular roadside appearances.
Last but not least, make sure you understand the conditions of your contract with your hire car company. Insurance policies usually don’t cover water damage – you break it, you own it!
Risky Vehicle Recovery
Common sense prevailing, you will have a great time in Kakadu National Park during Gudjewg!
Fishing is one of the Territorians’ favourite pastimes this time of the year. Seek out one of the local fishing guides for a Top End fishing experience. The barras have started biting (other anglers’ lures, mine are just squeaky clean and washed), The floodplains truly deserve their names and are an awesome sight, even when you’re as hapless an angler as me.
A cruise, whether you choose the Yellow Water Cruise or the Guluymabi Cruise, is a “must do” if fishing doesn’t tickle your fancy. Floodplains, flooded Paperbark swamps, flowering Lotus lilies – it needs to be seen to be believed!
For the more active travellers the Barrk walk beckons. Starting from the car park at Nourlangie Rock, this 12km walk is my absolutely favourite wet season walk! Take plenty of water, some snacks and leave no later than 9.00AM to beat the heat of the day. Climb to the top of the sandstone outlier following the orange markers and marvel at the rugged beauty of the stone country. I’m always on the lookout for the elusive and strikingly colourful Leichhardt grasshoppers that can only bee found in the wet season, feeding on the Pitirodia jamesii bushes, also a species endemic to stone country of the Arnhemland escarpment and its outliers.
There are also a number of shorter and easier walks in the Nourlangie district, don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or contact us for more information!
There’s heaps to do in Kakadu during Gudjewg!