What is a Billabong?

The phrase ‘billabong’ is used throughout many of our tour itineraries. With the Yellow Water Billabong, to the White Lily Billabong, but what actually is it referring to. For local Australians, this term is obvious, featured in surf brands and popular country songs. However, for others, it may be a confusing word.

To put it simply, a billabong refers to a large body of water, with its actual translation being ‘a watercourse that only runs after rain’.

How it is formed

A billabong can form when a river changes its course, cutting off a section and leaving behind a large body of water, similar to a lake. It usually only occurs after a large amount of rain flooding the river and nearby region. Eventually, the river water breaks through the base of the loop, and an extra water section is formed. Billabongs can also form due to a pool of water accruing after a large flood.

As the water is continuously restored with new rainwater, with the water flowing from the river into the Billabong as the water accumulates, the area stays fresh and supports a copiousness amount of wildlife.

The word Billabong’s origins

The term billabong comes from the Wiradjuri word ‘bilabang’ which translates to ‘lake’. The Wiradjuri language is from the Aboriginal Wiradhuric tribe, located in the South West of New South Wales. The section bila translates to ‘river’, whereas the bang refers to ‘continuing in time or space’.

For the Aboriginal people of Australia, billabongs were an important water source. This was due to the billabongs remaining for longer periods compared to rivers. During the dry season, the majority of the water sources dried up, leaving only the billabongs to survive. Each billabong was named and cherished, with tribes moving nearby in the dry season to survive the harsh hot weather.

Where can you see them

There is a stunning abundance of wetlands throughout the Australian land. However, Kakadu National Park is renowned for its spectacular billabongs.

  • White Lily Billabong

    Being one of the most prominent watering holes in the area, White Lily Billabong is well worth the visit. It is flanked by an array of wildlife, both in and surrounding the sparkling water. Enjoy a water cruise along the large billabong, and spot unique wildlife such as birds, crocodiles, and of course the famous white lily which this billabong is named after.

  • Corroboree Billabong

    This Billabong is only a section of the Mary River Wetlands, but its picturesque scenery makes it the most memorable spot. It is undoubtedly most visited for being the largest concentration of crocodiles in the entire world, with crocodile cruises going ahead every day. Aside from the crocodiles, a massive collection of flora and fauna also inhabit the region, with bird watching the 280 different bird species a massive highlight.

  • Yellow Water Billabong

    If you are keen to fish, Yellow Water Billabong is for you! It is listed as one of the top fishing spots in the entire country, with numerous fish species that are relatively easy to snag. If not, simply cruising around the area is a treat, with an abundance of incredible wildlife and stunning scenery.

Head to the Kakadu region on our 3 Day Kakadu National Park Tour!

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