Yellow Water Cruises are a popular drawcard for tourists to Kakadu National Park.
Photographer: David Hancock – SkyScans

Promises are flying thick and fast ahead of this year’s federal election, with both of the two main combatants today pledging millions in funding to help develop tourism in Kakadu National Park.

In a year where the park celebrates its 40th anniversary in April, up to $220 million is on the table from both the Liberal National and Labor parties to be put towards upgrading the region’s dilapidated infrastructure. Improvements being sought include upgrading roads, accessibility and camping facilities as well as establishing Jabiru as the park’s beating heart and central element to tourism in the park.

Kakadu Tourism has indicated it would like to make many of the region’s attractions accessible year-round and no longer inhibited by seasonal rainfall and associated wetland flooding. The organisation cited one of its “most prized attractions” being open only for two months, saying it was “clearly not good enough”.

“It is a long way to come for overseas visitors and they have every right to expect to experience our key waterfalls, swimming holes, rock art and walks for most of the year,” said Kakadu Tourism Chair, Rick Allert.

“This is a great opportunity to highlight to the world that not only is the park one of Australia’s most inspirational landscapes but also one of the most important cultural destinations, celebrating the legacy of some 65,000 years of continuous Indigenous habitation,” he added.

Allert cited two of the park’s main accommodation options – the Jabiru ‘Crocodile Hotel’ and Cooinda – and said tourism infrastructure has been held back almost to the days of when Tourism Australia’s iconic Crocodile Dundee campaigns were at their peak.

“Jabiru’s Crocodile Hotel is renowned around the world for its distinctive architecture and its integration of Kakadu’s art and spirit in its design, but the town requires a re-invigoration of services and facilities along with a new vision to help rejuvenate the destination,” Allert said.

“We really welcome both parties’ commitment to significant infrastructure investment in Kakadu.”