Just inside the boundary of Kakadu National Park after you’ve crossed the South Alligator River, you’ll find Mamukala Wetlands; one of Kakadu’s most scenic attractions. You don’t have to be a twitcher or a photographer to enjoy the remarkable birdlife spotting opportunities available at Mamukala Wetlands. The sheer number and variety of bird species – one third of Australian bird species to be exact – populating the wetland is simply astounding. Read on to find out more.
The dry season is the best time to visit Mamukala Wetlands, as water birds flock to this billabong as other bodies of water in Kakadu National Park dry up, so you can expect to arrive to a very densely populated spot for thousands of birds of a feather, as well as a huge range of different species, to find food in the form of water chestnuts, bugs and grubs.
The short, easy stroll to the viewing area is alive with birdlife, where you can spot woodland species such as wagtails, kookaburras and bee-eaters. When you arrive at the bird hide at the end of the path, you’re presented with a cacophony of honking, chirping and tweeting, as a wetland packed to the brim with waterbirds stretches before your eyes.
Find refuge from the sun in the bird hide, where you can relax on the benches and watch the bird as they go about their routines of searching for food, puffing their feathers for the opposite sex, and squabbling with their co-inhabitants. This is a great spot for photographers to set up shop, as the birdlife happily go about their business within meters of the hide, seemingly oblivious to the humans nearby.
Here in the paperbark and pandanus-rimmed main billabong, Magpie Geese, Whistling Ducks, finches and kingfishers are the predominant species. However, keep your eyes peeled for the lesser-seen but iconic Kakadu birds; Jabirus, Brolgas and White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Spot Jacanas gracefully navigating their path across lily pads, as the males herd their chicks among delicate waterlilies in all shades of white, purple and pink.
If you’re lucky, you may even spot a crocodile lurking among the water grasses, stalking a wallaby on the bank.
If you have time, take the two-hour gentle walk adjacent to the billabong and get up close to egrets, herons and kingfishers. There’s also the option of a shorter but equally as easy-going walking trail, which should only take you about half an hour.
Check out our five-day tour to Kakadu, Arnhem Land and Cobourg Peninsula, which includes a guided tour of Mamukala Wetlands.