Nitmiluk National Park rangers have been busy preparing the park for visitors for the dry season.
More than 270,000 people visit Nitmiluk every year, with the majority visiting during the Top End dry season.
Acting chief ranger for the savannah gulf region Phill Cowan said it’s the busiest time of year.
“Once the temperatures cool, the humidity drops and the dry season winds come in, visitors numbers increase substantially,” Mr Cowan said.
“It’s vital we get the park ready and make it as safe and as enjoyable as possible.”
The park rangers have focused efforts on crocodile surveys and walking trail maintenance.
Mr Cowan said it’s a major priority to make sure the waters are clear of saltwater (estuarine) crocodiles.
“People love to swim in the park or paddle a canoe along the gorge, but before our rivers and waterways are open to the public, we undertake a month long survey to monitor for the presence of salties,” Mr Cowan said.
“As anyone living or visiting the Top End, they’re a dangerous predator.
“Salties come into the gorge with the wet season waters every year and so we make sure they are all gone before people can start swimming or boating on the water.
“Surveying includes intensive spotlighting in the first three gorges on the water.
“We also conduct helicopter surveys, flying at low altitude to look for crocodiles.”
The rangers set a second trap in the first gorge and placed a number of floats in the river to monitor for bite marks.
“There were no sign or sightings of saltwater crocs during the intensive survey or after,“ Mr Cowan said.
“So we were able to clear the second gorge and gorges upstream and opened them up for swimming and canoeing.”
The Jatbula Trail and the Southern Walks were also reopened.
“Rangers were busy clearing the walking tracks,” Mr Cowan said.
“We also installed new track markers to help guide walkers,” Mr Cowan said.
Park rangers continue to work closely with the Jawoyn Rangers on a large program of ground-based burning around the key visitor areas.
“The Nitmiluk carbon fire project is vital in protecting visitors and park infrastructure from the damaging late dry season wildfires,” Mr Cowan said.
“It also provides an income stream through the carbon abatement program.
“Parks and Jawoyn rangers have carried out a number of aerial burning runs and are confident that the majority of the wet season and early dry season burning is now complete.”
Nitimiluk National Park and the Jawoyn Association and staff also meet to review the joint work and discuss the progress.
“We will meet again later in the year for another progress review, but for now we are ready for everyone to enjoy what Nitmiluk has to offer during our beautiful dry season.”