The Kimberley Vs. Kakadu

Parry’s Lagoon, East Kimberley

Don’t get me wrong, I like Kakadu. World heritage listed for good reason, it is the home of a 50,000 year old Aboriginal culture and consequently the home of some pretty impressive rock art. It is a hotspot for experiencing some of Australia’s great natural attractions and a wetland of international importance. For all of these reasons it is a big name attraction. On top of that it also has the infrastructure to make it safe, reliable and convenient to visit. But it is that same infrastructure, for me, that robs Kakadu of its magic. The dusty, corrugated roads of the Kimberkey make the journey itself feel like an adventure and the roads are just rough enough to keep the masses out. On Kakadu’s sealed roads it feels more like an amusement park where people are shepherded from one attraction to the next. In Kakadu the phone coverage is a convenience. In the Kimberley the lack of coverage creates a sense of isolation and remoteness that is rare in an over-connected world – it is a place where phones don’t vibrate and the wider world quietly disappears.

Parry’s Lagoon, East Kimberley

Don’t get me wrong Kakadu is the epitome of a national park well done. Good roads, raised walking platforms and hand rails for those who need it. Protective barriers for rock art, swimming pools to cool off and park rangers who control access. It all makes perfect sense. In fact, given enough time it’s probably what the Kimberley will become – a watered down, safer, better connected version of what it is now. And yet it is the absence of all these things – all these conveniences – that makes the Kimberley unique. It is not a single national park with a perfect management plan – it is a patchwork of cattle stations, national parks, private conservation reserves and Aboriginal lands that make it varied and interesting. For me it is a place of magic that rewards the effort and patience required to get you there. And at 420,000 sq km – twice the size of the UK  – it is one of Australia’s last great untouched wilderness regions.

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© Gary Annett Photography 2020