Kakadu is 'Kakadon't': report

Submitted: Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 15:25
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Kakadu is 'Kakadon't': report
February 24, 2005 - 2:51PM

A scathing report has found iconic Kakadu National Park seriously lacking in its role as a tourist drawcard.

The long-awaited Morse report into the future of the world heritage-listed site found perceived limiting of access to sections of the park, patchy information and signage and a negative local public image was holding back the stunning reserve.

Other weaknesses included limited Aboriginal involvement, an "inadequate sense of arrival", poor quality of some tour operators and long-held tension between the federal and NT governments.

Key stakeholders yesterday pre-empted the damning report by releasing their historic new 10-year "vision" for the park, signalling a new era of cooperation between traditional owners, the NT and federal governments and tour operators.

The vision aims to lift tourist numbers by up to 50 per cent, focusing on Aboriginal tourism experiences and storytelling.

Proposals include creating an annual or biennial cultural festival, night wildlife tours and night sky talks on Aboriginal interpretation of the stars, and bush tucker tours.

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AdvertisementNew walking tracks, the accreditation of tour guides and joint efforts to market the stunning wilderness park to the world are also proposed.

The Morse report contained 71 recommendations, finding a history of miscommunication between stakeholders, and an overall lack of involvement in tourism by Aboriginal people.

Annual visitor numbers have dwindled from 240,000 to 170,000 over the past decade, amid global uncertainty and a lack of sustained tourism development.

Just five per cent of visitors to the park are from the NT.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin said the park had been hurt by local negative sentiment, illustrated by the long-held phrase among Territorians: "Kakadon't".

"It has been very damaging for Kakadu, and that's one of the delightful things about where we are now, that we do have all partners involved in building the tourism capacity of Kakadu," Ms Martin said.

"Territorians have to feel more involved, greater ownership, wanting to go more often to Kakadu and I think we can do that."

Tourism Top End committee member Graeme Lewis said the diminishing access to areas of the park was a problem.

"The fact is that Kakadu has been more and more progressively locked up over the years," Mr Lewis said.

"When I first came to the territory 30 years ago I could go anywhere in Kakadu and I saw some wonderful places that I'm now just not allowed to go to.

"If that's an issue that can be addressed out of this report that will be wonderful because some of those places are more magnificent than anything we are allowed to go to now."

Traditional owners' board representative Russell Cubillo said any decision on whether or when new sites would be opened up would be a matter for traditional Aboriginal landowners.

However, he said more focus should be placed on expanding the tourism opportunities in the places that were already available.
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Reply By: Rod W - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 15:31

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 15:31
Don't live in the Territory now, but thank christ I seen a lot of Kakadu before it became Kakadu.
AnswerID: 99937

Reply By: Member - Jack - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 16:01

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 16:01
The lock it up so you can't see anything, and then wonder why nobody goes there?????

Only the mind of a politician can figure that one out (assuming they have minds ....).

Jack
The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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AnswerID: 99943

Follow Up By: Rick Blaine - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 18:49

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 18:49
Oh Jack how scathing of you... of course our Politicians have minds... trouble is they have no brains or common sense... their only objective in life is to get reelected untill they have done 9 years when their absurdly expensive super cuts in and they can get a small fortune for life with no contribution to society at all... A marvelous system we have. Now Jack be a good chap & dont start me... look at the strife they have created in our medical system, schools, defence farce - everything has fallen into disrepair the only thing that goes from best to excellent is the expletive deleted Pollies super scheme....strewth man you've started me.....
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Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 21:08

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 21:08
Sorry Rick, I just can't imagine what I was thinking when I posted that. Or indeed if I was even thinking at all .....
:)
Jack
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Reply By: Member - Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 16:05

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 16:05
Just what we need - More Dream Time!!!
Bill


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AnswerID: 99944

Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 16:23

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 16:23
Unfortunate sign of the times and more unfortunately happening right accross the country. There is a green and indigenous agenda that seems to result in less general access to this country. The results are the lock up of various areas via these interest groups because this is politically palatable as they are doing this supposedly for the future of all australians.

I just wonder if an aging population will ever have the means to go to these areas when they either need to walk in or have lots of $ to pay for entry permits.

Disgraceful state of affairs I reckon. I've put my plans to see as much as possible in overdrive before it becomes only available to a select few.

Kind regard
AnswerID: 99945

Reply By: Kimberly Kruiser - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 19:07

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 19:07
Kakadont I must agree.
Was absolutely rapt when we rocked in there last year, paid our full entry fee to the nice smiley lady at the entry booth and was then informed that by the way 70% of the park isn't opened yet. Didn't get a 70% reduction for admission though.
Although *issed off I did manage to feel a little less ripped off than the poor sods that had travelled from the far flung corners of Oz or even worse, from o/seas to have a look at this so called wonderful icon.
Must admit there are some absolute terrific sights to see in the territory but at present the way Kakadont is set up I am totally gob smacked that they still manage to pull a 170,000 suckers each year.
Although you couldn't get me back in there with a D10 and a drag chain I have spoken to people who have enjoyed it and would have to say to those contemplating the trip that it may ring your thing but certainly not mine. Just my two bobs worth.
Cheers WAL.
AnswerID: 99961

Reply By: Willem - Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 20:33

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005 at 20:33
The trouble is that Kakadu is run by policy from Canberra. A lot of blame can also be laid at the feet of the traditional owners who, at a whim decide this is closed or that is closed. Yes poor management.

But look beyond that. Go and enjoy the ambience of the wetlands. These days it walking tracks and boardwalks and commercial tours. BUt if you go out there to feel the country then you may get a different perspective of the place.

I was lucky to criss-cross the area when it was still known as Woolwonga Reserve in the mid 70's. In the late 70's and early eighties I ran my own tours into Kakadu and was at one stage on the advisory panel to the first plan of management as set up by Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. Needless to say that scant regard was given to our interpretation and ideas of getting the most out of the park and the public servants, nestled in their cradles of comfort and nepotism went headlong, into what some of us considered, the wrong direction.

Forget about the management and go out there and smell the grass after the wet season or take a long paddle up Twin Falls Gorge. Magic!
AnswerID: 99975

Follow Up By: johnsy1 - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 00:56

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 00:56
Forget about the management and go out there and smell the grass after the wet season or take a long paddle up Twin Falls Gorge. Magic!

And the rock tunnel you swim through on top of the falls? or the spring on the road in from Pine creek on top of the jump up great place except the rangers and owners herded everyone into smaller areas.

As one old timer described it recently clapped out tourist destination not even the buff was as bad.
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Follow Up By: Willem - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 20:31

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 20:31
Hey johnsy,

Can one still get to the Rock Hole at the bottom of the jump-up? Used to be a great swimming spot. We used to turn right just after crossing the Mary River from Pine Creek and go deep into southern Kakadu but then they bulldozed the track and the access point. Then we would come up from the mining area near Edith Falls and access the park from that angle. There were some big pigs out there. But I left the Terrirory soon after that(early 90's). Heard a wonderful story later about some blokes shooting out there.

Another part of Kakadu I was able to access was north of Gimbat up on the plateau where the source of Jim Jim Creek is. Did that in the wet season of '77 in a Suzuki softtop with skinny wheels. Mega bogs mate! Life was good up there while it lasted. Also crossed over the Katherine River once near Sleisbeck and made our way into Snowdrop(map name) and some absolutely wonderful country in Arnhemland.

Aahhh, them were the days!!!
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Follow Up By: tonysmc - Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 20:12

Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 20:12
Like seems to be happening everywhere.
Due to cultural significance and sensitivity you can no longer take that long swim up to twin falls.!!!!!
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Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 20:23

Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 20:23
Tonysmc

Is that for real? No swimming up Twin Falls? Good grief!
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FollowupID: 358561

Follow Up By: Truckster (Vic) - Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 21:43

Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 21:43
"Due to cultural significance and sensitivity you can no longer take that long swim up to twin falls.!!!!! "

Oh yes we are moving forward arent we....
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FollowupID: 358570

Reply By: Al & Mrs Al (Vic) - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 07:59

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 07:59
We went to Kakadu last year, and I had heard stories about it being "Kakadon't" and that Litchfield Park was so much better, and so was a bit hesitant. However, I found both parks to be excellent, Litchfield obviously being smaller was so much more accessible and easier to be seen, however, Kakadu was fantastic esp with the differing landscapes, the fantastic views from Ubirr and the wonderfully peaceful and serene waters of the Yellow Waters Billabong. Yes some bits are no go areas however the sites that you can see are fantastic, I found the facilities great, my kids loved the Aboriginal cultural centres and Information Centres, we saw a couple of campgrounds which looked ok, though the mossies were bad :), but overall I liked the place and enjoyed it. I guess at the end of the day it's all about experience rather than expectation, I'd love to go back there during the build up just to experience that. If we all listened to and accepted the word of others without making our own minds up we would live extremely sheltered and boring lives. Life is to be lived.

Lyn
AnswerID: 100054

Reply By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 10:12

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 10:12
The Kakadont tag by locals is probably understandable when you consider it used to be a great place for them to go shooting and fishing/camping with no restrictions or road closures park fees etc etc. The Gawler ranges used to be simular for us when i lived on the EP, I guess anyone gets fired up when the places they used to go for their fun are regulated
AnswerID: 100068

Reply By: Member - David 0- Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 10:28

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 10:28
"lift tourist numbers by up to 50 per cent"!!!

This may be OK if they reduce tourist density by about 100,000 fold ie open up lots more areas. As for the involvment of indigenous Australians, I for one absolutely applaude this in every possible way. It is a crying shame that so much aboriginal culture has been lost, not just to future idigenous Aussies but to us all.

AnswerID: 100071

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 14:20

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 14:20
when I did the yellow waters cruise they had a trainee aboriginal guide. But at the risk of being labelled racist there is no way you would set them up to run the tours them selves. History has shown this does not work. just to name a few enterprises Kurawang emu farm, desert gold fruits, and numerous stations including pinjin and one up near Wiluna all failed due to a total failure to do even very basic things like rotate irrigation trenches for fruit trees and ensure stock had water
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Follow Up By: Member - David 0- Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 21:33

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 21:33
Not arguing that point, just saying I believe that we need more REAL cultural interpretive stuff- tourists would love it and I like it too. The shame is most of the info is already lost even to the indigenous Australians
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FollowupID: 358381

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Saturday, Feb 26, 2005 at 15:26

Saturday, Feb 26, 2005 at 15:26
would that be like the mega bucks centre at ayres rock which you are not even allowed to take any photos of?
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Follow Up By: Member - David 0- Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 14:05

Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 14:05
No it certainly would not. But anytime you have a fe hours around a campfire, invite me along and we will discuss it in more detail.

:-)
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Reply By: western mudrat - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 14:47

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 14:47
As a kid living in Darwin in the early and mid 80's W eused to do family camping trips monthly to places like Edith falls, Kathrine Gorge, Kakadu, Mandorah, Douglas Hot Springs Butterfly and Barramundi Gorges et.al.
I can remember wonderfull secluded bush campsites that were free from rubbish despite frequent use and close to the attactions (waterways - now not so advisable due to the Australian Government's pandering to Mr Irwin and his ilk's "save every animal" campagin, but that's another story). We climbed Ayres Rock - almost a rite of passage for kids in the Territory - how shocking - WHITE Australians having a cultral attaachment to OUR country. The Territory was a place to explore. We respected the land for what it was, not because the unsightly signs and fences erected by "management" organisations and Land Councils told us we needed to.

15 years latter I returned to the territory I returned to the Terrirtoy to work and took my partner to show her the places I grew up in an loved as a kid. To my disgust there were fences to protect us from ourselves, signs to prohibit us from seeing things we had alwas seen, The history of the places had been re-written so that my parents and grand parents who had taught us to love and respect these places were portrayed as demons who did not belong.

I have since been posted from Darwin and have no regrets about having lived there again and have convinced my wife that she wants to go back and live there again.

I know that our childhood is always rosier in hindsight, however my little girl, it seems will never have the chance to climb Ayres Rock, swim to Twin Falls, camp on Jim Jim Creek or rid the rapids at Douglas Hot Springs - because some politically correct so and so has decided that MY culture and heritage is less important than another group of Australians.

I dont need to own the place - I just want to be allowed to live in my own country.
AnswerID: 100127

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 15:29

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 15:29
Best post I've ever seen on this forum - brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you western mudrat.

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Kimberly Kruiser - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 19:43

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 19:43
How absolutely true.
Well said.
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Follow Up By: Truckster (Vic) - Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 21:48

Sunday, Feb 27, 2005 at 21:48
Well put dude.. and as you say, we are not allowed to have a history or culture and heritage of our own, we are pushed into whats left.

Its like Capt Cooks Landing Place at Kurnell - ya know where Australia was "discovered".. They want to rename it to somecrap cause whites are not allowed history.

Discrimiation anyone?
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FollowupID: 358571

Reply By: SteveA - Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 18:03

Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 18:03
Ok I've read all of the comments here and all I can say is, see what the snibble libittarrians (spelling!) and minority groups have done to this wonderful country.

I just wished I was able to tour this great country when Willem was out there doing it. No political bull#%&t back a few years ago

SteveA
AnswerID: 100154

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