Gudjewg, Kakadu’s monsoon season is supposed to be in full swing.
It started right on cue, Christmas in the Top End was marred by Tropical Cyclone Grant and torrential rainfall over parts of the Cobourg Peninsula and the north-western parts of Arnhemland. After making landfall on Christmas Day, Grant lost strength rapidly — but the ex-tropical cyclone continued to dump massive amounts of water in the Edith, Cullen and Fergusson River catchments. A flooded Edith River caused the collapse of a railway bridge and the subsequent derailment of a freight train some 50km north of Katherine. About 50m of the Ghan track were washed away in the floods, so were some of the freight containers. While the Stuart Highway was reopened to traffic after a few days of frantic work, the railway bridge is still under repair almost two months later.
It’s got me stumped how the township of Jabiru escaped completely unscathed as Grant passed only about 30km to the west! While 385mm of rain fell at Edith River Falls in the 24 hours to 9:00AM on 27 December, the weather station at Jabiru Airport registered a total of “only” 71mm on Boxing Day. I’m certainly not complaining, after having lived through the experience of TC Monica raging through Jabiru in April 2006, I am grateful for every cyclone that doesn’t eventuate, takes an unexpected turn back out to sea or makes landfall on a remote and uninhabited stretch of coastline!
Right now the monsoon is taking a break. Only 124mm of rain here in Jabiru and the mean maximum temperature of 35.2°C for the first 17 days of this month are a good indicator for the mostly sunny, hot and steamy conditions lately. But it’s not over yet, the Bureau of Meteorology still sees a good chance for a wetter than average tail end of this wet season. The Top End’s fishermen (Steve included) are certainly in favour of a few good downpours to fill up the floodplains and make for a good run-off.
Anyway, regardless of how much rain is going to fall between now and April, we’re ready for a new season!
We will, as usual, start with our ‘Kakadu’s Early Dry‘ tour on 1 April 2012. The flexible itinerary allows us to showcase Kakadu’s most worthwhile destinations during April and May, when seasonal conditions can still change from day to day. Boulder Creek and Motor Car Falls in the Yurmikmik area are looking great right now, the southern ridges of Kakadu have seen some decent rainfall over the last few weeks.
As the last of the rain clouds disappear, floodwaters recede, roads dry up and crocodile management zones (such as Gunlom and Maguk) become accessible to the public, we will gradually adjust our tour itinerary until we arrive at our 4WD tour to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls.
Please note that there is no guarantee this switch will happen on exactly 1 June 2012 — it will happen when park managers unlock the gates at Garnamarr and at the Jim Jim Creek crossing!
We’ve been made aware that in the past some visitors to Kakadu National Park have been given inaccurate and misleading information in regards to the accessibility of Jim Jim Falls and especially Twin Falls by another operator who offers a very similar experience. We’re pretty confident that this issue has been resolved — but if at all unsure about current road and access conditions or envisaged opening dates for destinations here in the park, please check out Kakadu National Park’s road report — alternatively just drop us an email or give us a call on
+61 8 8979 3615!
One last thing before I go outside to check if I just heard thunder rumbling over the escarpment: After thinking long and hard, Steve and I made the decision to ‘go figure’ this season and limit our seat capacity, one truck only on most days, with a maximum of 13 passengers per tour. Please be advised that especially during the school holidays (June/ July) our tours will book out for several days in advance — get in early to avoid disappointment!