Kakadu National Park

Thursday 9 April 2020

Important COVID-19 update – Visitor restrictions

COVID-19 safety measures remain in place at Kakadu National Park. The Northern Territory Government has implemented a number of health directions to keep the community safe. It is important to comply with the current travel restrictions and to use the Territory Check-In app to register at visitor sites and campgrounds in Kakadu.

Is Kakadu National Park open?

To protect remote communities from COVID-19, Kakadu National Park is closed to visitors and other non-essential travellers until 11.59 pm 18 June 2020. This closure is under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations.

In addition, a Determination made under the Biosecurity Act 2015 has enacted measures that restrict access to the West and East Arnhem Local Government Authority (LGA) under the Biosecurity Act. Kakadu National Park is within the West Arnhem LGA and our western and southern borders are the LGA boundary.

What do the new biosecurity laws mean?

Governments are working together to protect remote communities from COVID-19 by restricting non-essential movement into remote communities. On 26 March 2020, the Minister for Health made a determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to formalise these arrangements.

To find out more about biosecurity measures and travel to and from remote communities in the NT, visit the NT Government website, call the remote travel hotline on 1800 518 189 or email remote.travel@nt.gov.au.

Where will I self-isolate if I am a Jabiru resident returning home after visiting Darwin? What if I don’t have anywhere to stay?

Anyone experiencing distress or hardship should contact the NT Government coronavirus helpline on 1800 518 189.

What can residents do and not do?

At present, residents should not leave the park. The Biosecurity Determination area includes West and East Arnhem. Residents can move within these areas, however local community restrictions may be determined and may impact on the ability to visit particular areas.

Moving outside of the park to other destinations will require you to self-quarantine or seek special permission from the NT Government or Northern Land Council (NLC).

Arnhem Land residents will be permitted access through the park. Please note, Arnhem Land is presently closed off at Cahills Crossing and the road is rated as closed due to water height.

Everyone is being encouraged to follow the advice of health authorities and undertake only essential activities, and to remain at home where possible.

Vulnerable people are encouraged to self-isolate in the interests of their safety and wellbeing.

Non-essential Jabiru services have closed including the swimming pool. The Crocodile Hotel restaurant is closed and is serving takeaway food only.

Schools are currently still open but are developing at-home learning aids. They have lifted fines for non-attendance for this term and conditions for Term 2 will be provided by Department of Education officials when available (check the correct department name here).

There are good supplies of food and other staples at the local supermarket. Residents can advise the supermarket of any special needs and all efforts will be made to source these items.

Can park residents access Ubirr?

Ubirr is not currently open to park residents. There are hazards associated with the late season fires the area experienced in 2019 that need to be assessed and managed. We will work with local Traditional Owners to determine an appropriate time to open this area.

When the area is again suitable to allow access, we would expect residents visiting Ubirr to practice recommended hygiene protocols and physical distancing requirements (remaining at least 1.5 metres apart).

Other areas within the park that are currently open will remain so at this stage. It is critical that the community’s mental health needs are considered during these times and the ability to get out of Jabiru and breathe some fresh air is very important. There are still requirements to practice recommended hygiene protocols and physical distancing requirements (remaining at least 1.5 metres apart) to help reduce risk when visiting these areas.

Is the South Alligator boat ramp is now closed?

Yes, the South Alligator boat ramp is closed to non-park residents until further notice. People living on the park are still able to use all accessible boat ramps within the park.

How are you managing compliance with the park closure?

Road Closures are in place at the entrances to the Park on the Arnhem Highway, Kakadu Highway and Jim Jim Road.

Twenty-four hour checkpoints are in place at the entry stations on Arnhem Hwy and at the Mary River Bridge in the south.

We are working with the NT police to enforce the no-entry requirements at these points, and non-residents will be turned away.

The Biosecurity Determination also restricts off park movement. People wishing to exit the park are being advised that they will not be able to return until they have met the self-isolation requirements of 14 days.

What impact does this have on residents and Traditional Owners staying within the park?

This closure is not intended to restrict traditional use of the park by the Indigenous community for hunting, gathering, ceremonial or religious purposes, however recommended hygiene protocols and physical distancing requirements (remaining at least 1.5 metres apart) must still be undertaken by everyone on the park.

How are you keeping Indigenous communities safe?

Park staff are not permitted to visit outstations or other communities associated with the park until further notice – access to these sites is by residents only.

All efforts are being made to get information out to traditional owners promptly, and encouraging staff to keep in contact with their traditional owner networks whenever possible. We are working closely with the Northern Land Council (NLC) to share information with them and traditional owners, and to seek their feedback and professional advice.

We have also developed some information for the Kakadu Board of Management and are providing this to the Board Chairperson and Board members to help convey critical messages to communities.

Travel between districts needs to be planned and discussed with the Park Operations Manager and approved by the Park Manager.

Indigenous communities are encouraged to contact the Jabiru Clinic on 08 8979 2018 if they are feeling unwell or have any flu-like symptoms.

All staff can access the flu shot for free. Staff should be as healthy as possible when having a flu shot – for advice on getting the injection please speak with staff at Jabiru Clinic. Over 65s can also now book with the Jabiru Clinic.

Are contractors entering the park?

Contractors are required to apply for several approvals before entering any restricted area.

These include authority from the Northern Land Council, authority from the NT Department of Business to obtain an Essential Workers photo identification card and in the case of entry to the Park a letter from the park detailing the specific work they are undertaking.

Contractors must also have a management plan and procedures around managing COVID-19 in their workforce which must be provided prior to approval to enter a designated area. This must include an isolation process away from the broader park population and no contact approaches.

The Park has ongoing essential work requiring contractor support. There are contractors involved in the mould remediation work at Mary River Ranger Station; contractors involved in critical maintenance work on our ICT systems including maintaining emergency call devices and a range of ongoing building upgrade work.

It is also critical that the park support local business wherever possible to ensure a swift return to normal operations when advised to do so by relevant authorities. Energy Resources Australia (ERA) staff arriving from interstate will be subject to the 14-day isolation period required by the Northern Territory Government in Darwin. ERA has elected not to seek an exemption, in order to protect the township of Jabiru and the surrounding West Arnhem communities.

What will staff be working on while the park is closed?

There are still ongoing operational-based activities to be done; we still need to prepare sites to enable access when advised to do so by relevant authorities and to allow access to a limited range of areas for park residents. This access is critical to help maintain good mental health in these times of restricted travel.

Many staff will be reassigned to duties that ensure the park closure restrictions are enforced appropriately and that we are able to keep a continuous improvement process underway.

As a national park most of our operations can be undertaken while complying with social distancing requirements and we have also introduced hygiene and sanitisation programs to ensure our vehicles and common areas are regularly cleaned.

Natural resource management which includes control of weeds and feral animals must continue due to work, health and safety reasons and for maintaining the health of the park under the Kakadu Management Plan. Meanwhile, we will also continue cultural heritage management and monitoring the biodiversity and ecological health of the park and its many threatened plants and animals. This allows a range of our staff (i.e. those based in Visitor Services) to engage in a range of appropriate field work that suits their many skills.

While visitation has ceased temporarily, planning and project work will continue along with preparations to reopen the park to the public when advised to do so by the relevant authorities.

Why is Shady Camp open?

The NT Government has opened Shady Camp to fishers under strict conditions.

There is no access to the park for NT residents outside of the park for activities such as fishing. Park residents still have access to all available boat ramps. Park staff are working closely with NT and Commonwealth authorities at entry points into the park to ensure compliance with the Biosecurity Act restricted movement requirements.

Our number one priority is working within the legislation and protecting the health and welfare of people within Kakadu National Park.

How will you communicate to the public, community, residents and visitors?

There will be notifications on the Kakadu National Park website and Facebook pages and through Parks Australia social media channels.

We will also keep industry updated through regular correspondence. Sign up to our industry news here.

There is an Incident Management Team (IMT) set up on Park. This group represents each functional area of the park’s staff. They are holding regular meetings to address concerns; develop options and provide as much information as they can to park staff and residents. This is communicated through the teams direct to their personnel and via a park manager’s update that is being regularly provided to all staff and a range of other agencies in Jabiru.