What is the meaning of Kakadu?

What is the meaning of Kakadu?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 08/25/2020

Reading time: 2 mins

Kakadu is one of Australia’s most extraordinary regions, being the largest national park around, and home to some of the rarest natural wonders!

But where did the name Kakadu, come from?

The Name Kakadu may sound like an Aboriginal name for the area, but it is, in fact, the western misinterpretation of one Indigenous language spoken by the tribes of the northern Kakadu region. When Australia was invaded by Europeans, there were hundreds of Aboriginal languages spoken throughout the country, but over time, many of these were wiped out of existence. The language known as Gagudju was spoken in the lowland region of Kakadu, being the major language of the park. The confusion came from the mispronunciation as well as the spelling of Gagudji, resulting in the name ‘Kakadu’ to be used instead.

The Gagudji People

Despite Kakadu having twelve different languages used in this area back in the day, nowadays, there are only three still known and spoken. The Gagudju people are still found here, however, they no longer speak their native language. Besides the ancient Gagudju people, younger generations of the Bininj and Mungguy people also live in Kakadu, keeping their ancestor’s traditions and beliefs alive. These tribes have a deep spiritual connection to the Kakadu National Park, with ancient beliefs, the Dreamtime stories, and the spiritual traditions all being tied into the terrain of the land.

How to see Kakadu today

The traditional owners of Kakaku land are in collaboration with Parks Australia to manage the park sustainably and traditionally. Protecting sacred sites, and continuing the connection between traditional owners and Kakadu land that spans over 50,000 years. Head to Kakadu and travel around the terrain to see the extraordinary wildlife and natural wonders dotted about. To learn more about the history of Kakadu, head to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre to discover more about the traditional owners and the stunning stories behind the jagged rocks and dry landscape. As you go further into the parkland, you can discover thousands of years old rock art at Nourlangie Rock. These paintings give you a snapshot back in time to the Aboriginal people’s daily lives and beliefs. With depictions giving a visual history of the wildlife of the area, as well as the traditions done by this ancient civilisation.

Related article: What is Kakadu national park famous for?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.