Learn from the Land in Kakadu
In Kakadu, time stands still. With your feet on ancient land, realise you’re standing amongst millions of years of history. The land speaks to us, just as it’s always done. If we listen, inspiration is sure to follow.
The traditional Aboriginal land owners of Kakadu in the Northern Territory have kept their ear to the ground, so to speak, forging a deep connection with the land. This is evident through the stories painted on Ubirr’s rock walls, some dating as far back as 50,000 years.
What’s more, the land offers its inhabitants everything they could possibly need in terms of sustenance. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous Australians have made use of ingredients found right here in Kakadu. Yet it is only recently that bush tucker, or bushfood, has started to make waves in the contemporary Australian food scene.
More Than Meets the Eye
Looking out at Kakadu’s rugged natural beauty, some might just take its waterfalls, lush rainforests, rocky gorges and crocodile-filled billabongs at face value, but to the trained eye, there is a wealth of native ingredients available. When visiting Australia’s Top End, know that you’re not simply walking through weathered bush landscapes, you’re walking through nature’s pantry.
Bush Tucker throughout the Ages
Indigenous Australians have been cooking with native flora and fauna for thousands of years. Water lilies with stalks are as fresh and crunchy as celery. Blackcurrants are picked straight from wild shrubs, their vibrant purple hue is also used to dye baskets. Then there's Native Lasiandra or Blue Tongue which thrives here and across northern Australia, whose sweet blue-black berries live up to their name when eaten.
You'll also find Lemon Myrtle that adds an intense flavour to any dish and whole barramundi caught fresh and slowly cooked over hot coals. And some of these ingredients are now increasingly at home on the Australian restaurant scene too.
Recently, there has been a real push to embrace Australia’s native ingredients in cooking. MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo is a huge advocate for incorporating bushfood into contemporary cooking.
Ubirr’s Ancient Rock Galleries
In Kakadu it is, of course, the 50,000 years of history splashed upon cave walls that now draws in so many of us. Noted as one of the world’s most spectacular art galleries, Ubirr was home for generations of the Bininj/Mungguyj people. We can learn a great deal from the Indigenous rock art, which depicts scenes from everyday life. On our 17 Day Kimberley and The Top End tour, explore the galleries of this sacred site.
The Lightning Man of Nourlangie Rock
Some of Kakadu National Park’s most famous rock art is located at Nourlangie Rock. There are rock art paintings which have been created as recently as the 1960s, including work by an Indigenous artist, Nayombolmi, also known as Barramundi Charlie. Nayombolmi painted the story of Namarrgon (Lightning Man), the creation ancestor responsible for the lightning storms which hit Kakadu every summer.
Follow the path beyond Ubirr’s galleries to Ubirr Lookout. Here, gaze over a patchwork of floodplains, woodlands and rainforests. As you look on this ancient land, hear the laughter of the blue-winged kookaburra which locals refer to as “the call of Kakadu”. Ancient history is embedded in Kakadu's landscape. Whether you’re inspired to fill your pantry with native ingredients or search for age-old Indigenous rock art, make the trip to Kakadu with APT.
Need to Know
As part of a remote journey through northern Australia, explore Ubirr’s rock art galleries against the backdrop of Kakadu's timeless landscapes, on the 17 Day Kimberley and the Top End tour. An adventure that takes you from the former pearling capital of Broome, through Kimberley wilderness country and Kakadu National Park, to Darwin.
Cruise - A highlight has to be the short cruises you board across some of the Top End’s most iconic stretches of water. Discover the music, stories and customs of the local Jawoyn people during a Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge Cruise. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife and watch landscapes unfold on a Yellow Water Billabong cruise. On day 12, see the sunset over glorious Lake Kununurra and enjoy a barbecue prepared on board.