Kakadu changes dramatically at different times of year. A visit during the monsoon months (November to April) brings vivid green landscapes, spectacular flooding, electrifying afternoon storms and the chance to explore with fewer visitors. Come during the drier months (May to October) to explore a much greater range of visitor sites and enjoy free ranger-guided walks and talks.
Kakadu's Aboriginal owners recognise six different seasons. There are subtle variations that signpost the transition from one season to another - changes in the weather, which plants are in flower, and which bush foods are abundant. This knowledge of nature is fundamental to the culture of Kakadu and its people. Bininj/Mungguy have lived with the changing landscape for tens of thousands of years, adapting and using the land for food, shelter and general well-being.
Gudjewg | Monsoon season
December to March | average temperatures: 24°C - 34°C
Gudjewg, from December to March, can be described as the 'true' wet season. It is a time of thunderstorms, heavy rain and flooding. The heat and humidity generate an explosion of plant and animal life. Spear grass grows to over two metres tall and creates a silvery-green hue throughout the woodlands. Magpie geese nest in the sedgelands. Flooding may cause goannas, snakes and rats to seek refuge in the trees. Eggs and stranded animals are a good food source for Bininj/Mungguy during this time.
Banggerreng | Knock 'em down storm season
April | average temperatures: 23°C - 34°C
Banggerreng, in April, is the season when the rain clouds have dispersed and clear skies prevail. The vast expanses of floodwater recede and streams start to run clear. Most plants are fruiting and animals are caring for their young. Violent, windy storms early in this season flatten the spear grass; they are called 'knock 'em down' storms.
Yegge | Cooler but still humid season
May to June | average temperatures: 21°C - 33°C
Yegge, from May to mid-June, is relatively cool with low humidity. Early morning mists hang low over the plains and waterholes. The shallow wetlands and billabongs are carpeted with water lilies. Drying winds and flowering Darwin woolly butt tell Bininj/Mungguy that it is time to start burning the woodlands in patches to 'clean the country' and encourage new growth for grazing animals.
Wurrgeng | Cold weather season
June to August | average temperatures: 17°C - 32°C
Wurrgeng, from mid-June to mid-August, is the 'cold weather' time; humidity is low, daytime temperatures are around 30°C and night-time temperatures are around 17°C. Most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out. Burning continues, extinguished by the dew at night. By day, birds of prey patrol the fire lines as insects and small animals try to escape the flames. Magpie geese, fat and heavy after weeks of abundant food, and a myriad of other waterbirds crowd the shrinking billabongs.
Gurrung | Hot dry weather
August to October | average temperatures: 23°C - 37°C
Gurrung, from mid-August to mid-October, is hot and dry. It is still 'goose time' but also time for Bininj/Mungguy to hunt file snakes and long-necked turtles. Sea turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beaches of Field Island and West Alligator Head and goannas rob their nests sometimes. White-breasted wood swallows arrive as thunderclouds build, signalling the return of Gunumeleng.
Gunumeleng | Pre-monsoon storm season
October to December | average temperatures: 24°C - 37°C
Gunumeleng, from mid-October to late December, may in fact last from a few weeks to several months. It is the pre-monsoon season of hot weather that becomes more and more humid. Thunderstorms build in the afternoons and showers bring green to the dry land. As the streams begin to run, acidic water that washes from the floodplains can cause fish to die in billabongs with low oxygen levels. Waterbirds spread out as surface water and new growth become more widespread. Barramundi move from the waterholes downstream to the estuaries to breed. This was when Bininj/Mungguy moved camp from the floodplains to the stone country, to shelter from the violent storms of the coming wet season.