Banggerreng is not the Wet and it's not the Dry. It is almost always at least partly in April but it can begain as early as mid March and run as late as early May. This 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. Short, violent, windy storms early in this season flatten the spear grass; they are called 'knock 'em down' storms.
This is a season that doesn't get the respect it deserves. Outsiders have never heard of it. Even local residents who spend too much of their time in air conditioning don't realise just how much this season has to offer. This is when the roads that were closed for the Wet begin to open. Creeks that will eventually dry to a trickle are still flowing well. Wet season wildflowers can still be found, albeit not in the same numbers as during the wetter months. The land is still green with just a touch of the browning off that is to come.
Look at the two photos at right. Both show Gunlom Falls in southern Kakadu. The near one was taken in April, the far one in June. People who come in april get a much better view than those who come in June.
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The photos at left emphasise the difference between Banggerreng and the true dry season even more. The one at far left was taken in April. the closer one in July. They both show the top falls and pool in the Barramundi creek system. As with Gunlom, in April, the falls are spectacular. In June and July, they are still nice but not as impressive. By late August the falls would be no more than a tiny trickle. Evfery season has its advantages but Banggerreng is definitely one that deserves more notice.
Look at the three pictures below. They were all taken in April. Do these look like places you might enjoy?
Our Banggerreng (Knock 'Em Down) trips not quite as laid back and relaxed as our Gunumeleng (Build Up) trips but they are more so than most of our other trips. If you want to cover the maximum distance in the minimum time, this is not the time to visit. However, if you would like to enjoy a more leisurely trip, relaxing and soaking up the sights, scents and sounds of the natural world around you, one of our Banggerreng trips could be exactly what you are looking for.
But before you book, there are a few things to remember.
Rain in April is highly variable. In some years, there might not be a drop. In others, it may rain heavily. We did not have a single drop of rain on the three trips where we took the photos above. In face, we have never had substantial rain on any of our April Kakadu trips. We did, however, have a heavy rain one night in May 2007. The morning after, those who weren't prepared for rain had a lot of drying to do as shown inthe photo at right. We've been lucky so far, but rain is possible.
On average, daytime temperatures in April are somewhat warmer than during the wet season months or January to March. On the other hand, night temperatures are cooler. To be safe, you need both a tent fly and a light weight sleeping bag.
Finally, to take the most extreme case, in 1985, the year before Willis's Walkabouts began operations, Russell Willis took a small group from the Darwin Bushwalking Club on an April walk in Kakadu. The remains of Tropical Cyclone Gretel sat over Kakadu and dropped a bit of rain. There was very little wind, but there was a lot of rain. The two photos below are old and a bit fuzzy but they still show what it was like. The one at left shows the top falls on Cascades Creek the night before the rain hit. The second shows the same waterfall the morning after. It happened once and could happen again. We were a bit wet, but we all thought that it was a fantastic experience to be able to see a wet season flood in April.
If you want be sure you get the most out of a trip at this time of year, you need to be prepared for almost anything.
Willis's Walkabouts, 12 Carrington Street, Millner NT 0810, Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
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