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FRESH FACES: Kakadu Tourism Sales & Marketing Manager Sam Hartley

New Kakadu Tourism Sales & Marketing Manager SAM HARTLEY explains why travellers shouldn't miss Kakadu's wet season and how the National Park is much more than just a landscape.


What’s your most memorable travel experience?  

I got to experience Zimbabwe with a very close group of friends, and as they had family living there we got to see and do everything at a grassroots level. We hired a houseboat on Lake Kariba for a week over Christmas as a part of our trip and it was the most amazing experience being able to soak up the atmosphere and see the wildlife so close.

Fortunately, we have our very own outback wilderness here in Australia – it’s called Kakadu!

After having travelled to Kakadu for the first time last week, I had that same exact feeling upon arrival; you just stop and take a deep breath and relax, with Cooinda similar to the safari camps we visited in Africa.     


Why did you take up this particular role?   

I was moving to the Northern Territory with my partner when I heard about the role, and I just had to have it.  

I started reading about Kakadu the day I heard about it. It was an opportunity to work for an amazing destination that really has no comparison in Australia. This is the oldest indigenous culture in the world, and some of the rock art is older than the pyramids in Egypt. What really struck me was the connection of the indigenous culture to country and the community in Kakadu.

What I am representing is far more than a landscape, as spectacular as that is. It’s a living, dynamic culture that is at the heart of the Australian story.  


Jim Jim Falls


What’s one thing that’s coming up at Kakadu that has you excited? OR Tell us something that visitors to Kakadu shouldn't miss?  

Having arrived during the wet season and having not experienced the dry, it baffles me that the wet season isn’t more popular.

Kakadu is a remarkable site in the wet, with torrential waterfalls, spectacular lightning shows and even million dollar Barramundi waiting to be caught. This was the wettest wet in a decade and Territorians came down to Kakadu in their droves.

I really urge people from the southern states to come up and visit Kakadu over the next few months as there are many wet season-only experiences and, even better, prices are lower than during the dry season.

We have partnered with Kakadu Cultural Tours and other operators to provide some incredible packages with accommodation at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge.

Another great time to visit is during A Taste of Kakadu in May.  


How has Kakadu Tourism fared through the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Obviously the closure of international and interstate borders has affected us, but thanks to the Northern Territory Tourism Voucher scheme, we were able to attract a vast number of Territorians, who took the opportunity to finally tick Kakadu off their bucket lists.

We are already receiving encouraging levels of bookings for the dry season. We think that the interstate market will be very strong as Kakadu is such an aspirational destination and for starved long-haul travellers, it really offers an exotic experience.  


What’s one thing you always take with you on your travels? 

Gym clothes. I love to work out when I am away from home. It keeps me sane and it gives me greater licence to eat what I like!  


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Written by: SAM HARTLEY as told to Traveltalk
Published: 22 February 2021

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