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23 Must-Dos in Kakadu National Park + Itinerary Ideas (2024)

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Looking for things to do in Kakadu National Park? This guide highlights the very best, along with some suggested Kakadu itinerary ideas.

Kakadu National Park is a vast and diverse landscape located in the Top End of Australia. It’s usually top of visitors’ Australia bucket list experiences , with cultural sites, wildlife, flora, fauna and scenery unlike anywhere else in Australia – or even on Earth.

Not far from the Northern Territory capital city of Darwin, Kakadu is an Australian icon. While it’s no longer Australia’s largest national park (that crown was taken by Munga-Thirri/Simpson Desert National Park in 2021), it’s a HUGE park – almost a third of the size of Tasmania!

Having just spent almost a week in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, I’ve pulled together a guide to what I think are the must-dos for anyone visiting Kakadu, as well as some handy travel tips.

There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Kakadu National Park and it can be overwhelming to visit, so I’ve also created some suggested itineraries to help you plan your trip.

A four-wheel drive vehicle parked at the entrance of Kakadu National Park, with a sign reading "Welcome to the Aboriginal Lands of Kakadu National Park" in the background. A man - the author's husband - smiles at the camera from the driver's seat.

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Need to know before you visit Kakadu National Park

Is it free to visit kakadu national park.

You’ll need to buy a Kakadu National Park Pass to enter. You can buy this online in advance or at the visitor centre when you arrive at the park.

A 7-day pass costs $40 for adults and $20 for kids.

While you may already have an NT Parks Pass if you’ve visited Nitmiluk National Park or Litchfield National Park , it won’t work here.

Is there mobile phone reception in Kakadu?

Mobile reception is very patchy in Kakadu. We only had reception in Jabiru and at Cooinda Lodge (sometimes). It still surprises me how bad mobile coverage is in remote parts of this country!

Visitor centre

I recommend stopping in at the visitor centre before you head further into the park.

The Bowali Visitor Centre is located at the northern entrance to the park and is a great place to learn about the traditional owners of Kakadu, their culture and the environment.

Make sure you pick up a Kakadu Visitor Guide – it’s the best printed resource about the national park. You can also download a copy online here .

There was a visitor centre at the south entrance, but it’s now closed (although the toilets are usually open). This is why I recommend (if you can) entering Kakadu from the north rather than the south. But, of course, that’s not always possible.

Plan your Kakadu visit

As I’ve already said – and will say again – Kakadu is huge. You really do need to plan your visit around key sites, otherwise you’ll be driving a lot! This may mean you’ll need to change accommodation throughout your visit so that you can be closer to different sections of the park.

I’ve got some itinerary ideas later on in this article to help you with this. 

A straight road leading towards distant rock formations, bordered by tropical savannah and a clear blue sky. The road leads to Burrungkuy, one of the most significant sites in Kakadu National Park.

Is Kakadu open?

Parts of Kakadu can close – whether that’s due to damage, flooding or something else. Check the latest status of Kakadu attractions online here .

Map of Kakadu National Park

Everything I mention in this article is laid out on this Kakadu National Park map.

Things to do in Kakadu National Park

As I’ve already said, Kakadu is huge, so I’ve broken this article up into the 7 regions of the national park. This will help you plan your days around activities in each region, so you’re not driving back and forth.

These 7 regions are:

South Alligator region

Jabiru region, east alligator (erre) region, burrungkuy (nourlangie) region.

  • Yellow Water region
  • Jim Jim / Twin Falls Gorge region

Mary River region

If you’re coming from Darwin to Kakadu, the South Alligator region is where you’ll enter the national park.

1. Mamukala Wetlands

Mamukala Wetlands is a twitcher’s heaven. Head to the observation platform to see hundreds of birds, including magpie geese, ducks and herons, feeding in the wetlands.

If you have extra time, take a walk along the boardwalk to learn about Aboriginal use of plants and animals in this area. The 3-kilometre trail takes a leisurely 1-2 hours to complete.

A white-bellied sea eagle perched on the branch of a tree, with dense green foliage filling the background. The bird life in Kakadu National Park is phenomenal.

2. Boating/fishing

The South Alligator area is also a popular spot for fishing and boating for intrepid travellers. There are a few boat ramps to access the South Alligator River, some of them remote and only accessible by 4WD.

Fun fact: Why alligator and not crocodile? When the Kakadu area was first visited by Europeans, they mistakenly thought the reptiles were alligators. The rivers were named East Alligator River and South Alligator River. But as we of course know, they’re actually saltwater crocodiles. Despite that, the original alligator name has stuck.

The main town of Kakadu is called Jabiru and it has a supermarket, petrol station, mechanic, pharmacy and post office.

There are also a few hotels here, so it’s a good spot to base yourself at the beginning of your visit to Kakadu.

Road sign indicating directions to Pine Creek and Jabiru on Kakadu Highway at dusk with the silhouette of a car antenna in the foreground and a sunset sky in the background.

3. Bowali Visitor Centre

As I mentioned earlier, the Bowali Visitor Centre should be your first stop in Kakadu. Pick up a Kakadu Visitor Guide and chat with the rangers about what’s open and closed. They have great tips about the best time to visit certain spots for views and lighting.

If you haven’t bought your Kakadu park pass online, you can buy one here.

There are some interesting exhibitions about the flora and fauna of Kakadu and the Traditional Owners of the area, so spend some time here learning more about the national park

An interior view of a cultural exhibit featuring indigenous art and artefacts, with a thatched roof and informative displays. The Bowali Visitor Centre at Kakadu National Park should be your first stop when you arrive.

4. Bowali Track

Start your time in Kakadu by tackling a smaller hiking trail. The Bowali Track is a 4-kilometre return that takes you through woodlands. Keep an eye out for birds, wallabies, and maybe even a buffalo.

The trail begins opposite the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel – a hotel that’s shaped like a croc!

An overhead shot of the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel in Kakadu National Park, with its uniquely designed building in the shape of a crocodile.

5. Marrawuddi Arts & Culture

Owned by the Mirarr Traditional Owners, the Marrawuddi Arts & Culture centre is a great place to see and buy authentic Indigenous art and crafts from across Kakadu and West Arnhem Land.

You can find everything here from bark paintings to weavings and sculptures, screen-printed T-shirts, jewellery and artworks on canvas.

There’s a studio space here, too, so you can often see artists at work creating intricate and beautiful artworks and designs.

The cafe here has good coffee – and it’s open 7 days.

The East Alligator River is the boundary between Kakadu and Arnhem Land.

One of the absolute highlights of visiting Kakadu is watching the sun set from Ubirr.

At the top of this rock formation, from the Nadab Lookout, you’ll find incredible views stretching out over the vast Kakadu floodplains all the way to Arnhem Land.

Follow the track to the rocky lookout, stopping to see Aboriginal rock art sites. There are several galleries with artworks from different time periods. The oldest paintings here date back thousands of years.

We took a free guided tour led by one of the Indigenous rangers. It was interesting, although our guide seemed far more focused on cracking jokes than sharing useful information. It was worth it, though, as we did learn a few things along the way.

The trail is flat but you’ll need to climb up the rocks to get to the lookout.

This is one of the most popular things to do in Kakadu and it gets really busy here at sunset, so come early to get a good spot. Bring a picnic (no alcohol allowed).

An indigenous guide pointing to ancient rock art on a sheltered stone wall at Ubirr in Kakadu National Park, displaying various traditional paintings.

7. Cahills Crossing

If you want to see some crocodiles, Cahills Crossing is the place to be. Located at the East Alligator River, this crossing is a popular spot for fishing and also for watching saltwater crocodiles in their natural habitat. There’s a spacious viewing platform that’s mostly shaded.

This is a tidal river, so time your visit here for high tide when the crocodiles come looking for fish.

I couldn’t believe how many crocs we saw floating down the river or surfacing right by the crossing – and we weren’t even there at high tide.

We saw a few cunning crocs making a beeline when someone fishing reeled in a catch.

If you’re here in the evening during the dry season, there’s an informative talk – led by a ranger – about Kakadu and its resident crocodiles.

Lots of people cross here by car for fun and then turn back. You need a permit if you’re planning on driving further into Arnhem Land.

Two individuals fishing from a rocky outcrop by a serene river, with a 4WD vehicle crossing a shallow causeway in the background. This is Cahills Crossing in Kakadu National Park, notorious for being where crocodiles gather at high tide to catch fish.

8. Guluyambi Cultural Cruise

Kakadu has a lot to offer when it comes to adventure and exploration, but it’s also a special place for the Traditional Owners of this land. The Guluyambi Cultural Cruise is a must-do experience to gain insight into the Indigenous way of life in Kakadu.

The one-hour cruise takes you along East Alligator River, which separates Kakadu and Arnhem Land, with a knowledgeable guide providing commentary on the history and traditions of the local people.

You’ll even get to go on the Arnhem Land side of the East Alligator River for a hunting and gathering display.

It’s one of the most interesting things to do in Kakadu National Park if you’re interested in learning about culture.

A riverboat with a canopy top carrying passengers on a calm river, flanked by lush greenery on both banks. The Guluyambi Cultural Cruise is a great way to learn about the Indigenous Traditional Owners of Kakadu and the importance of the national park.

9. Manngarre Rainforest Walk

After you’ve gazed at rock art or spotted crocs, take one of the three loop trails that make up the Manngarre Rainforest Walk.

The trails range from 0.6 kilometres to 1.5 kilometres, and meander through the monsoon rainforest.

10. Injalak Arts Centre

This remote art hub is in West Arnhem Land, just a 25-minute drive from Ubirr. This centre has been around since 1989.

More than 200 artists make and sell beautiful weavings, bark paintings, jewellery, carvings and textiles. Everything here is unique – and ethically sourced and sold.

You will need to arrange permits to visit Gunbalanya (the community where Injalak Arts is located). Information about how to do this is online here .

This region is home to incredible art sites and more stunning lookouts.

11. Burrungkuy (Nourlangie)

This area has a long history of occupation – more than 20,000 years.

Follow the 1.5km return trail – a mix of earth trails and boardwalks – to see rock art painted over thousands of years in shelters used by Aboriginal people.

At Burrungkuy (Nourlangie), you’ll see paintings of people, kangaroos and fish, as well as the famous Lightning Man. Namarrkon (Lightning Man) is depicted as a grasshopper-like creature who makes the powerful lightning and thunderstorms every summer.

You’ll also see Nabulwinjbulwinj, a dangerous spirit who eats women after killing them. You’re asked not to photograph this rock art site.

If you continue on the trail, you’ll reach Gunwarrdehwardeh (also spelt Kunwarddewardde) Lookout. From here you can see for miles over Kakadu National Park, including over to where Namarrkon lives. It’s said that if his home is disturbed, trouble will come.

It’s a really peaceful place and the only noises you’ll hear (other than people) are the sounds of birds and the wind gently swishing the trees.

If you have the energy (and food and water supplies), you can continue from here onto the Barrk Walk, a 12km loop that’s a difficult hike. It loops up with the Nanguluwurr rock art site. We would have loved to do this – but weren’t prepared with enough water.

A metallic walkway leading through a rocky terrain with large boulders and trees, partially shaded by the overhanging rock. This is Burrungkuy in Kakadu National Park, one of the most significant sites in the park.

12. Nawurlandja Lookout

Nawurlandja Lookout is at the end of a short walk (600m return). It’s a steep-ish track over the rock face – I was puffing by the time I reached the top!

This lookout has spectacular views over Anbangbang Billabong, Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) and Arnhem Land.

It’s particularly stunning at sunset, with the sky turning orange and pink and purple. We found it was much quieter here than Ubirr at sunset.

A lone individual - the author's husband - walks on a rocky path in Kakadu National Park with expansive views of a dense forest canopy stretching to the horizon under a soft twilight sky. This is Nawurlandja, a great place for sunset.

13. Nanguluwurr

This was one of our favourite rock art sites in Kakadu – not only for the fascinating art but also because we had it all to ourselves. I’m not sure if that’s common, but it was pretty incredible to be able to take in the history here without being disturbed by any other visitors.

It’s an easy, 4km return walk to the Nanguluwurr art gallery. It’s here you’ll see the painting of a masted sailing ship – a representation of early contact between Aboriginal people and Europeans.

There are also handprints and the typical animals in x-ray style, all painted in ochre.

Close-up of ancient indigenous rock art in Kakadu National Park, with red ochre paintings depicting traditional figures and symbols on a stone wall. This is the ship in the Nanguluwurr art gallery.

14. Anbangbang Billabong

Not far from Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) is Anbangbang Billabong, a peaceful and picturesque wetland. It’s a great spot to see birdlife (and probably some crocodiles, too – although we didn’t see any here).

Take the 2.8km easy loop around the billabong, passing through paperbark forest and savanna woodlands.

It’s also incredibly peaceful and usually not crowded at all. There are some picnic tables here.

I recommend coming here in the afternoon, either before or after visiting the rock art sites at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie), and then heading up to Nawurlandja Lookout for sunset.

A waterlogged field in the foreground transitioning to lush greenery, with trees and clear skies in the distance. Anbangbang Billabong in Kakadu National Park is a great place for bird watching.

Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba) region

Apart from the Jabiru region, this is the busiest part of Kakadu. Cooinda Lodge has a range of accommodation, so this can be a good base to explore the southern part of the park.

15. Yellow Water Cruise

After exploring the land and learning about its history, it’s time to take a cruise on Yellow Water Billabong (Ngurrungurrudjba) and the South Alligator River.

This 1.5 hour boat ride is one of the must-do experiences in Kakadu National Park. It’s such an informative tour and the scenery is remarkable.

You’ll cruise through beautiful wetlands teeming with wildlife – from birds to saltwater crocodiles. We even spotted several water buffalo roaming the floodplains.

Our guide, Jess, was excellent. She shared so much about the flora and fauna of the region, as well as the cultural significance of Yellow Water Billabong to the Traditional Owners, the Bininj/Mungguy people. We learned some of the traditional names of the animals as well.

Crocs are of course the highlight of this boat trip. I started counting them at the start but gave up after a while – they are everywhere . There are estimated to be more than 10,000 crocodiles in Kakadu.

But there was also a huge focus on fascinating birds. We saw magpie geese, rainbow bee eaters, a few white-bellied sea eagles (the second-largest bird of prey) and the nankeen night heron, which we learned loves to stare at itself in the water.

I recommend taking a sunrise or sunset cruise for the best light and to get out of the heat of the day (although the boats are covered). It was incredible to see the huge orange sun sinking over the water.

Book well in advance – these tours sell out very quickly.

A serene sunset over a still water body in Kakadu National Park, with the sky painted in hues of orange and pink, and the silhouette of a crocodile swimming in the foreground.

16. Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre

The Warradjan Cultural Centre focuses on the Aboriginal heritage of Kakadu through interactive displays and exhibits.

Warradjan means pig-nosed turtle, and this impressive building is built in the shape of this marine reptile.

There are informative exhibits on the moiety system, the six different seasons of Kakadu, the wildlife of Kakadu and Creation stories.

But there are also displays about the arrival of the balanda (Europeans) and the history of mining in Kakadu, both of which have had devastating impacts.

Top tip! The building is also air-conditioned, so it’s a nice place to escape the heat of the day and learn about the rich culture and history of Kakadu.

The entrance to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Kakadu National Park, with a curved roof, surrounded by dense foliage and a welcoming sign.

17. Cooinda Lodge

If you’ve been camping in Kakadu (as we were), then Cooinda Lodge will be a welcome stop.

There’s a restaurant here as well as food tents at night, a fuel station, a store selling snacks and drinks – and it’s also the place where you can book tours.

There’s also (very) limited phone reception to catch up – we could only ever get patchy 3G coverage.

18. Take a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park

For a bird’s eye view and a truly breathtaking experience, consider taking a scenic flight over Kakadu National Park.

You’ll be able to see the vastness of the landscape, the winding rivers, and even spot wildlife from above.

This is the best way to see Kakadu in the Wet – when you may not be able to get on the ground but will be able to see waterfalls at their mightiest from above.

There are several companies that offer scenic flights over Kakadu , so shop around and compare prices and itineraries.

Flights depart from Cooinda and Jabiru.

Jim Jim / Twin Falls region

The highlight of Kakadu are these two waterfalls – Jim Jim and Twin Falls Gorge.

19. Jim Jim Falls

Jim Jim Falls is a stunning waterfall located in the southern region of Kakadu National Park.

The falls can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles and require a short hike to reach. But the effort is well worth it once you see the crystal clear water cascading over the red cliffs.

During the dry season, the waterfall dries up from about July, but you can still hike to the plunge pool at the bottom of the cliffs. Salties have been known to appear here, so keep an eye out – and check with the rangers before you take a dip!

The dirt road to Jim Jim Falls can be pretty hairy. Friends we met on our trip had their back window smashed by rocks, so make sure to cover it with cardboard or a yoga mat, just in case!

Don’t have a 4WD? Take a 4WD day tour .

During the wet season, the falls can become impassable and dangerous due to heavy rainfall and flooding. So your best bet at this time of year is to see the falls via a scenic flight.

A breathtaking aerial view of Kakadu National Park showcasing the majestic Jim Jim Falls amidst the rugged cliffs and lush greenery.

20. Twin Falls

Twin Falls is another must-see attraction in the Jim Jim / Twin Falls region of Kakadu National Park.

This spectacular 150-metre-high waterfall is surrounded by towering cliffs. The waterfall is just a trickle during the dry season, but it’s still worth a walk – the scenery is incredible.

While the walk to the base of the falls is currently closed for an upgrade, you can hike along the top along the Twin Falls plateau walk. This 6km return trail has amazing views down into the gorge and the falls.

The powerful Twin Falls cascade down a sheer cliff face in Kakadu National Park, creating a misty spray that catches the sunlight, forming a delicate rainbow across the gorge's depth, symbolising the park's pristine beauty and serene atmosphere. A helicopter flies near the falls.

The southernmost region of the national park is easily accessible from the Stuart Highway and is where you’ll find some of Kakadu’s best swimming holes.

21. Maguk Falls

Maguk Falls is a stunning swimming spot – my favourite place in Kakadu National Park.

While the waterfall isn’t as high as Jim Jim or Twin Falls, this place is still spectacular. The water cascades over the rocks and into a deep plunge pool, a much-needed escape from the heat.

To reach Maguk Falls, you’ll need to take a short 1-kilometre hike through lush rainforest, which then gives way to rocks and boulders – watch your step in this part!

Once at the falls, you can swim in the crystal clear waters or relax on the rocky bank. It’s so easy to while away a few hours here. Bring a pool noodle or something inflatable to laze about on.

The road to Maguk is an unsealed, 4WD track, but we saw 2WD cars tackling it easily in the dry season.

The Beautiful Maguk Falls in Kakadu National Park cascading into a tranquil natural pool surrounded by rugged cliff walls with vegetation, while visitors enjoy a swim.

22. Motor Car Falls

Head to Motor Car Falls, one of the lesser visited spots in Kakadu.

The 7.5km return hike is one of the three Yurmikmik Walks.

Motor Car Falls is best during the wet season – although it can close due to flooding in the peak of the season, so you need to time your visit right.

However, it’s still worth visiting during the dry season. While the waterfall won’t be impressive (and may not be flowing at all), the walk is a chance to spot birds and wildlife.

23. Gunlom Falls

Gunlom Falls is where you’ll get the ultimate Instagram shot.

The walk to the falls takes you through lush monsoon forests, before opening up to a beautiful viewpoint over the valley below.

The falls themselves are a series of natural rock pools, perfect for swimming and cooling off on a hot day.

But the real highlight at Gunlom Falls is the infinity pool at the top of the falls. This natural infinity pool overlooks the South Alligator River and offers unbeatable views for a truly unique swimming experience.

Unfortunately, Gunlom Falls was closed when we visited – and has been for some time. So, check the Kakadu status page for updates. 

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Kakadu itinerary ideas

So, you’ve now seen that there’s a LOT to do in Kakadu. To help you make the most of your time here, I’ve pulled together a couple of suggested itineraries. These are Kakadu self-drive itinerary ideas, as I’ve assumed you’re visiting independently and not on a tour.

3 days in Kakadu National Park

Three days will give you a good taster of Kakadu National Park.

  • Drive from Darwin to Jabiru.
  • Stop by Bowali Visitor Centre to pick up a Kakadu Visitor Guide and chat with the rangers.
  • Head to Cahills Crossing for a chance to spot crocodiles and other wildlife.
  • Catch the sunset at Ubirr Rock, where you can see ancient rock art and enjoy panoramic views of the park.

Stay: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel , hotel/camping at Aurora Kakadu Lodge or Malabanjbanjdju or Burdulba campgrounds (Merl campground is the closest to Ubirr – but it’s known for having a LOT of mosquitos).

  • Visit Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) to see ancient rock art and learn about the local Indigenous history.
  • See more rock art at the Nanguluwurr art gallery.
  • Head up the Nawurlandja Lookout for stunning views or take a stroll around Anbangbang Billabong.
  • Take a sunset cruise on Yellow Water Billabong to see the diverse birdlife and spot saltwater crocodiles.

Stay: Cooinda Lodge or camp at Mardukal campground .

  • Visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre to learn about Indigenous culture and history.
  • End your trip to Kakadu at one of the following swimming holes for a refreshing swim: Maguk, Gunlom (if it’s open) or Motor Car Falls.
  • Head back to Darwin.

A vividly coloured Kingfisher perched on a twisted branch amid dense foliage within Kakadu National Park.

5 days in Kakadu

Five days is a great amount of time to explore more of Kakadu National Park.

  • Head to Cahills Crossing to spot crocodiles.
  • Catch the sunset at Ubirr Rock, where you can see ancient rock art and enjoy panoramic views over the floodplains all the way to Arnhem Land.

Stay: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel or camping at Aurora Kakadu Lodge or Malabanjbanjdju or Burdulba campgrounds (Merl campground is the closest to Ubirr – but it’s known for having a LOT of mosquitos).

  • Take a Guluyambi Cultural Cruise on the East Alligator River to see more wildlife and learn about the local Aboriginal culture.
  • Head out to Injalak Arts to see incredible Aboriginal art (arrange your permit ahead of time).
  • Head up to Nawurlandja Lookout for stunning sunset views.
  • Visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre to learn about the local Indigenous culture and history.
  • Explore the Jim Jim and Twin Falls area, taking in the impressive waterfalls and stunning landscapes.

Stay: Cooinda Lodge or Karnamarr Campground .

Water buffalo grazing in a lush wetland with water lilies, accompanied by white birds, in the natural setting of Kakadu National Park.

What to pack for Kakadu

Here are a few things you should bring on your visit.

  • Kakadu Park Pass
  • Hiking boots  or sneakers
  • Tevas  or other water shoes – especially useful for the Maguk hike
  • Water bladder  (I prefer a water bladder to a bottle when I’m hiking)
  • Sunscreen (at least SPF50+)
  • Insect repellent
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Swimming gear
  • Pool noodles or inflatable – a must for the swimming holes!
  • Food, snacks and plenty of water

How to get to Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia, approximately 150km southeast of Darwin. There are a few ways to get there:

  • Self-drive – this is the most popular option and gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace. Rent a car in Darwin (or in Katherine ) and make the 1.5 hour drive to the park entrance (it’ll take you about 2.5 hours to get to the Bowali Visitor Centre). Avoid driving to Kakadu from Darwin in the dark – there are lots of animals, including wild buffalo, that cause hazards.
  • You can also visit Kakadu on an Adelaide to Darwin road trip or a Top End road trip !
  • Organised tour – there are several companies offering day trips or multi-day tours to Kakadu from Darwin.

Darwin to Kakadu tours

There are a few Darwin to Kakadu day trip tour options . Most include pick up and drop off from your accommodation in Darwin, as well as lunch and knowledgeable guides.

Best time to visit Kakadu

The best time to visit Kakadu National Park is during the dry season, which runs from April/May to October. This is when the weather is cooler and there’s less chance of heavy rains or floods. Some parts of the park may still be closed earlier in the season, so July/August/September are good months to visit.

However, Kakadu during the wet season (October to April) can be spectacular. The monsoonal rains mean the waterfalls are at their thundering best and animals are on the move. Just be aware that some areas of the park may be closed during this time due to flooding.

The Bininj/Mungguy actually recognise six different seasons , and have used their knowledge over thousands of years to live in harmony with the land.

Keep in mind that during the dry season is when burn-offs can take place. This is an important part of caring for the land. There were burn-offs when we were there, but most of these happened overnight so we only had to deal with a bit of smoke.

Time your trip with the Taste of Kakadu festival , which celebrates bush food. Over a weekend, you can experience traditional bush tucker, cooking demonstrations, music and cultural performances. In 2024, the festival will be 24-26 May.

The Kakadu Dird (full moon) Feast also looks fabulous. A four-course meal under the stars celebrates bush tucker and the six seasons of Kakadu.

A dusty, unsealed road lined with tall grass and woodland in Kakadu National Park, seen from the perspective of a vehicle's front hood.

Where to stay in Kakadu

Here are options for accommodation in Kakadu National Park – I’ve included places to stay across the park.

Camping in Kakadu

I highly recommend camping in Kakadu – there’s nothing quite like the tranquility of the evening, when the only sounds are birds and insects, and the occasional bellow of a buffalo.

There are a number of campgrounds located throughout the park. National park-run campsites come in three types: managed sites (with showers, toilets and an on-site manager), unmanaged sites (pit toilets, pay to an honesty box) and free sites (no amenities). You need to bring your own drinking water to all types of campsites.

During our time in Kakadu, we stayed at Djarridjin, Mardukal and Maguk campgrounds. A full list of campgrounds can be found online .

There are also campsites at some of the hotels, including Cooinda Lodge and Aurora Kakadu Lodge .

A man standing beside a camping setup in the woods with a tent mounted on a 4WD vehicle and camping chairs and equipment arranged around. This is Maguk campground in Kakadu National Park.

Kakadu hotels

Don’t have camping gear or want a bit of luxury? No worries – there are several hotels throughout the park.

The majority of hotels are in Jabiru:

  • Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel – in the shape of a croc, this full-service hotel has a pool that you’ll need at the end of a long day | Check prices online on Booking.com and Expedia
  • Aurora Kakadu Lodge – has self-contained cabins (with AC) and lodge rooms, as well as powered and unpowered caravan and campsites. There’s a great pool and a bar/restaurant | Check rates online on Booking.com and Expedia
  • Anbinik Kakadu Resort – has lovely suites and cabins, as well as “bush bungalows”, all of which are surrounded by lush vegetation | Check rates online

Cooinda Lodge Kakadu is further south. The resort has both hotel rooms and glamping tents, as well as access to a restaurant/bar, swimming pool, petrol station, shop and tours. | Check rates online on Booking.com or Expedia

Where to eat in Kakadu

Bring plenty of snacks with you – and if you’re camping, bring all your food and water as the stores at Jabiru and Cooinda Lodge are unsurprisingly pricier than supermarkets in Darwin.

The Manjmukmuk Restaurant and Bar at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru has the usual hotel fare – but you can also try crocodile, barramundi or even buffalo curry.

At Cooinda Lodge, Barra Bar and Mimi’s Restaurant have dine-in and takeaway options. We had some fish and chips there and they were fine, if a little overprices (to be expected). At night during the dry season, a few food tents open and sell smoked meats and fish and chips to enjoy alongside the live music.

A night view of a food stall named 'The Smoking Croc BBQ House' under a tent lit by string lights, with vendors serving customers at a counter. Cooinda Lodge is really the only place inside Kakadu National Park where you can get food.

Wrap up: Things to do in Kakadu

Kakadu is one of the most stunning places to visit in the Northern Territory – and Australia. But it is huge, so you really do need to plan your trip there. Depending on how much time you have, pick a few areas and plan your Kakadu activities around those.

And while you may have a long to-do list while you’re here, make some time to simply relax in nature and appreciate the beauty of this World Heritage Site. It truly is a magical place.

What to do in Kakadu: FAQs

How many days do i need in kakadu national park.

At least 3 days are needed to see the highlights of Kakadu National Park. But ideally you should plan for a week to fully explore the area.

Are there crocodiles in Kakadu National Park?

Yes! There are more than 10,000 estuarine (saltwater) crocodiles in Kakadu. But salties can also be found in fresh water (something I learned while I was in Kakadu) so don’t think that there are no crocs there if you’re swimming in fresh water. Stay away from water unless a ranger has advised it’s okay to swim there. While rangers are always looking out for and removing crocodiles, you do enter the water at your own risk.

A saltwater crocodile swimming in the murky waters of a river in Kakadu National Park, with its back and tail visible above the surface.

Do I need a 4WD for Kakadu National Park?

A 4WD isn’t necessary for most of the main attractions in Kakadu National Park. You can see most of the main sites I’ve listed in this article with a 2WD. However, there are some areas where you’ll need 4WD, like Jim Jim Falls and Maguk. If you’ve rented a 2WD , check with your rental car before driving on any 4WD tracks – some rental companies won’t let you take 2WD cars off road.

Can I visit Kakadu in the wet season?

Yes, you can visit Kakadu National Park in the wet season (October to April). In fact, it can be a stunning time to visit, when the waterfalls are at their peak and the rivers have flooded. Just be aware that some roads and sites may be closed due to flooding, and swimming may be restricted due to increased risk of crocodile encounters. Check the Kakadu website for closures.

Is Kakadu better than Litchfield National Park?

It’s difficult to compare Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks , as they’re both so different! While Kakadu is known for its vast wilderness, croc spotting and Aboriginal culture, Litchfield is the ultimate stop for stunning waterfalls and swimming holes. If you have time, it’s worth visiting both parks. Plus, with only about two hours’ drive between the two parks, it’s easy to do so. Other notable national parks in the area include Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) and Gregory National Park.

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Related posts

Before you leave… you might like these other Australia travel articles:

  • The ultimate guide to Litchfield National Park
  • The best things to do in Darwin, NT
  • The ultimate guide to Nitmiluk National Park
  • How to plan an epic Adelaide to Darwin road trip
  • The best things to do in the NT
  • The ultimate Top End road trip
  • How to spend a few days in Alice Springs
  • How to plan an epic Central Australia road trip

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How to road trip Kakadu and itineraries for visiting

30 October 2023

Time

18 January 2021 -->

Last updated . 30 October 2023

There’s no shortage of great tours on offer in Kakadu, but a do-it-yourself driving adventure holiday is pretty hard to beat, says Lee Atkinson

There are two ways you can drive around Kakadu : on the bitumen or in the dirt.

The sealed road

Getting to Kakadu is easy. From the south it’s 150 kilometres from Katherine , via the Stuart and Kakadu highways.

Most people come from Darwin though (that’s the closest airport), which is also around 150 kilometres from the edge of the park, via the Arnhem Highway. Both roads are sealed, open all year, and in fairly good condition, although you do need to keep an eye out for wandering cattle, buffalo and kangaroos.

Ubirr, Kakadu National Park

The view from Ubirr Kakadu at susnset.

Once you’re in the park a sealed all-weather road runs right through the centre of the wilderness, roughly forming a triangle from the two highways with the township of Jabiru – 254 kilometres from Darwin, 211 kilometres from Pine Creek – at the apex. This triangle is the classic Top End Road Trip .

All of the must–see Kakadu attractions , such as Ubirr and Nourlangie with their magnificent rock art galleries, tour hub Cooinda and the wildlife-filled Yellow Water Billabong are easily accessible from this main road, as are the popular accommodation options and most of the parks that cater for caravans.

kakadu nothern territory holdays attractions culture outback

Enjoy a Yellow Water Cruise at sunset through the Kakadu wetlands (photo: David Hancock)

The dirt track alternatives

You don’t need a 4WD to see the best of Kakadu, although if you do have one there are a few special spots where high-range comes in handy.

Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu

Jim Jim Falls Kakadu just after the wet (Photo: Tourism NT)

A 4WD will get you out to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls (although you still have to walk the last kilometre or so), Sandy Billabong, the more remote waterholes and some of the bush camping areas.

You’ll also need a 4WD on the Old Jim Jim Road, which is a great shortcut from Cooinda to the Arnhem Highway.

swimming spot Jim Jim Falls in Kakadu

The bucket-list swimming spot: Jim Jim Falls in Kakadu National Park (photo: Sarah Mackie).

Many of the unsealed roads that are fine for 2WD in the dry season like Maguk are 4WD-only in the wet. The tracks aren’t particularly difficult, but some can be rocky and slow and the river crossings can be a bit tricky in the wet.

There are more than 25 designated campgrounds in Kakadu , ranging from commercial caravan parks to remote bush camping sites with no facilities at all, as well as bush campgrounds that have toilets and hot showers. Hiring a campervan is a great option if you have flown to Darwin: most come with basic camping gear.

Kakadu Road trip tips

Avoid driving in the dark: your chances of colliding with a critter are very high, and most car hire insurance policies do not cover you for the damage.

Many hire car companies will not allow their cars on dirt roads – even SUVs – so check the fine print.

The visitor centres frequently run out of maps, so download one from parksaustralia.gov.au . The free ‘Visit Kakadu’ app (iTunes and android) is also useful, but the maps are easier to read on  tablet than a phone.

You’ll need a snorkel fitted to your vehicle if driving on 4WD tracks in the wet season.

Fuel is available at Jabiru, Cooinda and Pine Creek. No fuel is available at Goymarr Roadhouse.

Can go : The Arnhem and Kakadu highways remain open, as do the roads to Nourlangie, Ubirr and Cooinda, although they may close after big storms. Check the Parks Australia road report for Kakadu.

Can’t go : The roads to Jim Jim and Twin Falls are closed. The best way to see these is on a scenic flight. Old Jim Jim Road, Maguk and Sandy Billabong are also out of action. Many minor unsealed roads are closed; those that remain open are 4WD-only and some bush campgrounds are closed. Check the road report for details.

Check out our Kakadu FAQs for more.

Kakadu road trip itineraries

Kakadu in three days.

  • Drive Darwin to Jabiru
  • Head to Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Enjoy sunset at Ubirr
  • Camp at Merl campground (Luxe option: Crocodile Hotel, Jabiru )
  • Take a two-hour Guluyambi Cultural Cruise up the East Alligator River
  • See the amazing art at Nourlangie Rock
  • Do a sunset cruise on Yellow Water Billabong
  • Camp at Mardugal campground (Luxe option: Cooinda Lodge )
  • Spend the morning luxuriating at Gunlom Plunge Pool
  • Drive back to Darwin

Kakadu in five days

  • Follow the three-day itinerary, plus:
  • Stay an extra two nights at Mardugal campground or Cooinda Lodge
  • Spend the afternoon of Day 3 at Sandy Billabong (take a chair and watch the birds descend at sunset)
  • Spend Day 4 at Jim Jim Falls before heading back to Darwin on Day 5

Kakadu in eight days

  • Follow the five-day itinerary, plus:
  • Stay an extra night at Jabiru and do the Bardedjilidji Walk along the Alligator River
  • Stay an extra two nights at Mardugal campground or Cooinda Lodge and walk out to Gubara Pools
  • Do a full-day Animal Tracks Tour before heading back to Darwin on Day 8

For more information on things to do in the NT, visit the official Northern Territory website at northernterritory.com

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Moon rising over Kakadu escarpment

The ultimate guide to Kakadu National Park

How to do a trip to Australia's biggest national park right

Photograph: Tourism NT | @helloemilie

Maya Skidmore

If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring the land before time (friendly dinosaur babies not guaranteed), boy, is there a place out there for you: Kakadu National Park . It's a  World Heritage Site and Australia's biggest national park.  Tucked into the Top End of the Northern Territory, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Darwin, Kakadu is a powerful place with a powerful history. The traditional land of the Bininj and Mungguy people and home to 19 different clan groups, Kakadu has been a sacred place of living and ceremony for Indigenous people for 65,000 years. Covering 20,000 square kilometres, Kakadu is a wild land rich with tiny yellow butterflies, rolling lightning storms, ancient rock art galleries, immense red gorges and deep blue pools, and its primordial wealth of life is something that has to be felt to be truly believed. A trip to Kakadu is one that makes you fall deep, and it will stay firmly within you long after you leave. 

Here are the coolest things you can do, the best places you can stay, and the most delicious things you can eat while you throw yourself into the adventure of a lifetime. 

A couple holding hands face out over the flood plains at sunset at Ubirr

What's the best time to go?

In this far northern part of Australia there are six seasons, with each one bringing something wonderful to the table. The dry season is the most popular (and arguably the best) time to hit up Kakadu, with most of the attractions open and free from the big floods that come through in the wet. If you like cooler weather and low humidity head north from mid-June to mid-August in Wurrkeng , the cold weather season. While the rest of Australia is gripped by big-time winter shivers, Kakadu is still balmy, with daily temps averaging 30 degrees by day and 17 degrees by night. The floodplains are dry, visitor sites are open for business, and bird lovers can see thousands of rare water birds frolicking in the shrinking billabongs. If you like yourself a bit more heat, go in Kurrung – the hot dry season. Spanning from mid-August to mid-October, this is the busiest time of year in Kakadu, when the average temperature ranges from 23 to 37 degrees. The days are tropically hot, with the land overflowing with colourful wildflowers and sparkling waterfalls that you can (sometimes) swim in. Big yes. 

What are the coolest things to do? 

Two people point at a map outside Bowali Visitor Centre

First, get acquainted at  Bowali Visitors’ Centre

Make this your first stop before plunging into the wilds of the national park. Kakadu is a pretty massive place, so getting the ropes before tackling it head-on is a good idea. Located off the Kakadu Highway in Jabiru, this is an excellent place to refresh after a long highway drive, with lush greenery and a café welcome sights for weary travellers. Head into the gorgeous visitor’s centre to chat to the friendly staff, get an idea of where you’d like to go on your trip, and wander through the very cool resident museum, where you can squiz a crocodile skeleton and a giant olive python (spoiler: not a live one). 

You’ll also need to buy a national park pass before entering Kakadu . 

Two people peer over the shoulder of an Indigenous artist at the Murrawuddi Arts & Culture Centre

Peruse art and sip coffee at  Marrawuddi Arts & Culture Centre 

A seven-minute drive from Bowali you'll find this not-for-profit Aboriginal art centre in Jabiru. This beautifully restored bakery painted in various shades of pink, with a pretty epic mural out the back, features an air-conditioned exhibition area and workspace that showcases the work of more than 400 artists from in and around Kakadu. You can peruse and/or purchase all the paintings, weavings, printed shirts and jewellery on display, meet the artists as they work on their works, and (if the caffeine craving calls) pick up a bloody good cup o’ joe from the resident café. It's owned and governed by Mirarr Traditional Owners, and all proceeds here go towards contributing to Gundjeihmi’s community development initiatives. 

People look at rock art at Ubirr

Gaze at ancient rock art and watch the sunset at  Ubirr

A 30-minute drive from Jabiru down the Arnhem Highway/ Oenpelli Road, you’ll be blessed with a front-seat row seat to some of the most incredible rock art on the planet, as well as a pretty mind-blowing place to watch the sunset. Ubirr is home to two ancient Indigenous rock art galleries that can be explored via an easy one-kilometre loop track, and the best time to visit during the dry season is around 4pm, when the light is golden and the heat of the day is gone. For the best experience, definitely go with an Indigenous guide. We recommend the incredible Victor Cooper , a Bininj man who runs Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu . A former Indigenous ranger in Kakadu, Cooper specialises in translating the significance of the rock art and historic sites at Ubirr. Keep your eyes peeled for etchings of a Tasmanian tiger, the ethereal mimi spirits, and a musket from the 1800s. After you’ve had your art fill, clamber up the rocks to find a prime spot to sit and watch the sunset drench the stretching flood plains. It is always spectacular and never the same twice.   

An overhead shot of the cascades of Jim Jim Falls at sunset

Bask in the wonders of Jim Jim Falls 

These majestic 200-metre cascades at Jim Jim are renowed for their power and jaw-dropping splendour. In the wet season, getting up close by foot is basically impossible, which is why (if you've got a bit of dough in the bank) you can do a pretty incredible scenic flight overhead. If, however, you'd rather go in for free and also go for a life-changing swim in the process, then we suggest you hit Jim Jim up in the dry for maximum bang for your buck. Just 43 kilometres down the Kakadu Highway from Bowali, this is a four-wheel-drive-only trip over 10 kilometres of soft sand – so make sure you're equipped. However, once you clear this almighty adventure, you're in for a treat. Clamber across a 900-metre track until you get to the plunge pool. Swim beneath the deep red Arnhem Land escarpment in heart-rendingly clear water, bask on the white sandy beaches, and bathe in the pure light. Magic.

Couple at Nawurlandja lookout

Feel the silence at sunrise (or sunset) at  Nawurlandja Lookout 

If you want another good sunrise (or sunset) spot, look no further. The lookout is a 30-minute drive from Jabiru, so you don’t need to get going too early to catch an epic look at first light. Get on the one-way walking track and clamber up a slight rocky incline (it is a little steep in parts; you’ll need to be of moderate fitness) and head up to the rock platform that overlooks an impossibly wide stretching view across a bright green savannah, the Anbangbang Billabong and the ochre cliffs of the Arnhem Land escarpment. Keep your eyes peeled for rock wallabies and let yourself dissolve into the soft pastel silence. 

  

People swim in the plunge pool at Maguk Gorge

Take a crystal clear plunge at  Maguk Gorge

Perhaps one of the most spectacular things to do in Kakadu, this incredible natural gorge is one of the only places you can swim in Kakadu. Despite having a few ‘Beware: Crocodile' signs scattered around, this gorge is an incredibly popular swimming spot, and for good reason. Only accessible by four-wheel-drive and an hour's drive from Cooinda, it is at the end of a short monsoon rainforest walk that requires a low to moderate level of fitness. Walk past rainbow pittas, emerald doves and tiny yellow butterflies that dart over the tropical track. Soon you will arrive at the main event: a crystal-clear plunge pool and massive sparkling waterfall, all set within a dazzling stone amphitheatre. Swim in the glittering turquoise water, sunbake on the smooth rocks, and lie under the fresh tumbling cascades. This place is, by all definitions, 100 per cent paradise. 

A picture of an ochre drawing of the famous Lightning Man on the wall at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie)

Explore the golden rocks and 22,000-year-old paintings at  Burrungkuy (Nourlangie)

Once the traditional land of the Warramal people who have now all passed on, this deeply sacred and ancient site is now cared for by neighbouring clans. A 30-minute drive from Cooinda Lodge, this place is home to intricate rock art and human artefacts that date back more than 22,000 years. Filled with heritage-listed art, including the world-famous Lightning Man , this extraordinary place is steeped in primordial history, stories and unique wildlife that you can soak up at your leisure. Either amble through the Nanguluwurr art site walk, clamber up a moderately steep track to the Kunwarddehwardde lookout to gaze out at the wild ridges of the Kakadu escarpment or walk around the shady Anbangbang Billabong. To maximise your viewing experience of these intricate rock galleries and the stunning natural formations surrounding them, we recommend Victor Cooper from Ayal Aboriginal Tours , whose deep knowledge is unparalleled.   

A woman looks at a crocodile on the Yellow Water Cruise

Drift down the river with  Yellow Water Cruise

A 10-minute drive from Cooinda Lodge, this incredible river cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong along the heritage-listed South Alligator River takes dreamy adventure to a whole new level. There are six departures per day, and the most popular times are sunrise and sunset, this being the best time to see wildlife. We recommend going at dawn, when the air is soft and oceanic and all the animals are starting their day. See colossal crocs swimming through fields of pink water lilies, sea eagles diving for fish, and tiny bird lovers hopping across gigantic floating lily pads. With one of the dynamic and hilarious Yellow Water guides driving the boat, you can be confident that not a single animal fact, sneaky croc or colourful story will pass by unaccounted for.

Where are the best places to stay? 

There are many  places to lay your head in Kakadu. Camping aside (and trust us,  the options here are plentiful ), you have the choice of a few more luxe accommodation options that are a rich Kakadu experience in themselves. 

An overhead shot of the crocodile shaped Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel in Kakadu

Sleep dangerously at  Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Shaped like a gigantic saltwater crocodile, this wild hotel is a quintessential embodiment of the Northern Territory’s irreverently irresistible spirit. Situated in the township of Jabiru, this croc-shaped paradise (spoiler: there are absolutely no real crocs here) is an excellent base from which to explore Kakadu, with it within an hour's drive of Ubirr, Nawurlandja Lookout and Burrunkuy (Nourlangie). All the comfy rooms face outwards into an internal courtyard and shady oasis of a pool. Guests get the choice of a standard room (one queen, or two doubles), a superior (a queen and a single or two doubles) , or a courtyard superior (a big double or queen bed and seating outside in the courtyard area).  All rooms have big white beds, comfy pillows and easy courtyard and pool access. With an on-site restaurant, big private pool, shaded seating areas and lovely bright rooms, this (slightly) wacky accom is a comfortable place to retreat to after a day of adventuring. Plus, you can play the fun game of where exactly within the big croc your room is located. We got lower belly. It's pretty cute. 

People stand in the backlit glamping tent against a night sky at Cooinda Lodge

Glamp in glamour at  Cooinda Lodge 

An oasis of glamping tents, cabins and shady lush campground, this village-like property is tucked away right by the Yellow Water Billabong. In a national park as vast as Kakadu, the need for petrol, food, water and shelter is more pressing than most. At Cooinda Lodge, you can find all of the above in one space, and there is a variety of accommodation options available. Whether you glamp in one of the elevated outback retreats, sleep in one of the luxe air-conditioned lodge rooms that accommodate up to four people (and come with a mini-fridge, squishy pillows and TV) or camp in a luxury tent, you’re in for a simply gorgeous time. 

Where are the best places to eat? 

People sit around a table at the restaurant at Cooinda Lodge

Food options are a little scarce once you dip into the wilds of Kakadu. You can either come along fully stocked with your own extensive provisions, or, you can rely on the few foody establishments that are scattered throughout the park for sustenance.  Here, we’ve gathered some of em’ together for you. 

Anbinik Restaurant

Located in Jabiru, this fresh Thai restaurant is the only one of its kind in Kakadu. Serving up zesty pad thais and divinely thirst-quenching lime juice frappes, this sleek timber joint is a delicious and shady nook providing a yummy variety of foods. You can get yourself a classic toastie and a wedge of cheesecake, as well as a delightful variety of zingy Thai options, with them doing dinner every night during the dry season, and breakfast, lunch and coffee from Tuesday to Sunday. We recommend. 

Barra Bar & Bistro

Cooinda Lodge’s on-site restaurant, this cosy timber paradise is full of golden light and good times. In the morning, you can get stuck into a succulent breakfast buffet and swill back delicious barista-made coffees in ‘Mimi’s Restaurant’,  while at lunch you can snaffle down a proper pub lunch, with all the classics up for grabs, alongside ice-cold schooners. For dinner, get involved with the ‘Taste of Kakadu’, a tasting platter featuring smoked and marinated crocodile, seared buffalo and chargrilled kangaroo with Kakadu plum chilli sauce and bush tomato chutney on the side. The food is tasty, the service is on-point, and the vibes extraordinarily comfortable. Note: the platter is best when shared. 

Escarpment Bar & Restaurant

The Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel’s resident restaurant, all the main meals are covered here. You can guzzle your way through a breakfast buffet, a rather pricey cold lunch buffet (just salads, bread and cut meat), or, the star in this particular crown: dinner. With an emphasis on locally sourced flavours and produce, you can eat your way through buffalo, crocodile balls with aioli, seared barramundi steak and finger lime panna cotta in the cavernous formal dining room. 

Keen to keep travelling through the Great Southern Land? Check out this list of the 25 very best things to do on your trip across Australia.

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

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Gunlom Falls, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Guide to Kakadu National Park

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  • Getting to Kakadu National Park
  • When to visit

Experience the magic of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park on an outback adventure that defies expectation.

In Australia's biggest national park you'll find rugged escarpments, lush rainforest and rock art galleries up to 20,000 years old. Learn about Aboriginal culture from Traditional Owners, the Bininj/Mungguy people, take in thundering waterfalls and witness millions of migratory birds among the wetlands. Experience Kakadu's magic in six dramatically different seasons.

International flights arrive directly into Darwin International Airport (DRW) from many global hubs. Follow the Nature's Way route from Darwin for a scenic adventure through the Top End.

  • Darwin International Airport (DRW) is located a three-hour drive outside of Kakadu National Park
  • Car hire options are readily available from Darwin Airport or in Darwin city, though it’s best to book ahead
  • Or leave the driving up to someone else and join a coach or small group tours from Darwin to Kakadu National Park

While it is not required, it is recommended to hire a 4WD if you are self-driving in the national park. Be sure to refuel your vehicle as frequently as possible on your way. Unleaded and leaded petrol and diesel fuel are available at Jabiru and Cooinda .

Because of the remote location of Kakadu National Park, there is no public transport available to get to, or around the park.

The dry season (May - September) or the transitional periods between the dry and wet season (April/May and September/October) are considered the best time to travel to Kakadu National Park.

  • High season: Dry season (May-September)
  • Low season: Wet season (October - April)
  • Don’t miss: the annual ‘Taste of Kakadu’ festival (May)

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Kakadu National Park: The Complete Guide

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Things to Do

  • Best Hikes & Trails

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Where to camp, where to stay nearby, how to get there, accessibility, tips for your visit, kakadu national park.

Most travelers to Australia stay around the big cities and pristine beaches of the east coast, but thrill-seekers and adventure-lovers are better off heading to the rainforests of the north. Located in Australia's Northern Territory about three hours from Darwin, Kakadu National Park is much closer to Indonesia than it is to Sydney. The park covers more than 12,000 square miles—about half the size of Switzerland—and is known for its stunning waterfalls and ancient rock art sites.

Since the park is so remote and there's so much to see, you should allow for at least three days to get to know Kakadu. Guided tours are available if you're unfamiliar with Australia's wilderness, or you can camp out and explore on your own the rushing waterfalls and vibrant "billabongs"—what Australians call seasonal lakes and rivers.

The traditional owners of Kakadu are the Bininj/Mungguy Aboriginal people, who jointly manage the park with the Australian government. Kakadu has been populated by Aboriginal people for more than 65,000 years and the park holds many sacred sites, ceremonial sites, and burial grounds. There are about 500 Aboriginal people living in the park today, both in towns and in more remote settlements.

The activities available at Kakadu vary depending on the time of year. Northern Australia is generally considered to experience two seasons: wet from November to March and dry from April to October. In the wet season, you'll find fewer fellow tourists and cheaper prices for tours and accommodation. The park's waterfalls are flowing freely thanks to the frequent rainfall and there are plenty of birds and other animals around, but the downside is that many access roads and attractions are closed due to flooding. A scenic flight to see the falls from above or a cruise on Yellow Water Billabong may be your best bet, along with some short walks in areas that remain open.

During the dry season, there is a large range of things to see and do, from hiking and birdwatching to taking a boat cruise or learning about Aboriginal art and history. The waterfalls are less dramatic in the dry season, but many of them can only be hiked to during this time. Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls are two of the most popular and you can even camp out near the bases.

Aboriginal rock paintings at Kakadu are up to 20,000 years old, recording the lives of Bininj/Mungguy people throughout history. At Ubirr, there are depictions of the extinct thylacine, as well as paintings of early contact with Europeans. At Burrungkuy (Nourlangie), you can see creation stories told through art.

The national park offers planned itinerary ideas depending on how many days you will spend in the park, which are helpful to get your bearings and narrow down how much you can see. If you want something even more curated, guided tours range from boat tours to walking tours to helicopter tours, depending on what you'd most like to see.

Best Hikes & Trails

In a park as big as Kakadu, there are practically endless options for hiking and countless things to see. Choose a trail based on how much time you have, your fitness level, and what you most want to explore. Most of the trails are closed throughout the wet season and some of them may be closed at other times due to weather. If you're unsure, ask at the visitor's center or a park ranger for a recommendation.

  • Kungarre Walk : This loop trail is just over 2 miles and takes about two hours, but the terrain is flat and maintained and it's considered an easy hike. It begins near the Aurora Kakadu Resort and it's especially known for its diverse display of local birds.
  • Jim Jim Plunge Pool Walk : Walk to the base of the famous Jim Jim Falls, which is just a mile and a half roundtrip but considered a moderately difficult hike because you have to scramble over boulders. This trail is only open in the dry season when the falls are at a minimum, so you'll have to visit from a plane if you're visiting in the wet season.
  • Twin Falls Plateau Walk : Experienced hikers can reach the lookout above Twin Falls, but it's a strenuous and very steep journey to reach it. The hike takes about five hours, but you'll be rewarded with a jaw-dropping view down a 500-foot gorge into the wilderness below. The creek near the falls also includes a spot that is safe for swimming to cool down before hiking back down.

There are more than 2,000 plant species spread across the distinct landscapes of Kakadu, including fruits like the Kakadu plum and the red bush apple, the distinctive paperbark tree, and the pretty yellow flowers of the kapok bush. Bininj/Mungguy people have extensive knowledge about the uses of these plants for food, medicine, art, and ceremonial purposes, which you can learn about on a guided tour.

The park is also home to more than 280 bird species, 60 mammal species, 50 freshwater species, and 10,000 insect species. Birdwatchers can spot brolgas, lorikeets, kookaburras, magpie geese, and cockatoos in the trees, while iconic Australian animals like wallabies, bandicoots, and quolls can be seen around the park's waterholes at sunrise and sunset.

Australia's reputation for dangerous animals applies in Kakadu, with around 10,000 crocodiles living in the park. Although both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles can be seen in Kakadu, the "salties"—as the locals affectionately call them—are known for their aggressive nature. As a general rule, swimming in rivers or other bodies of water in northern Australia is not safe unless specifically designated by park authorities.

You can see crocodiles from the safety of cruise or a viewing platform like  Cahills Crossing  or the  Yellow Water boardwalk . You'll have the best chance of spotting crocodiles during the dry season, as they are restricted to smaller bodies of water during this time.

Due to the park's remote location, you will almost definitely need to prepare for an overnight stay. Camping is one of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in the park and there are several campgrounds dispersed across the park. Managed campgrounds have toilets, showers, and sometimes even a store. Bush campgrounds, on the other hand, are much more rustic and have pit toilets, barbeques, and not much else. Commercial campgrounds that are privately run are pricier, but typically have more amenities like a restaurant or a pool.

All of the campgrounds run by the park operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so you don't need to make reservations ahead of time.

  • Cooinda Campground : This campground is part of the Cooinda Resort, so all of the hotel's services are nearby in case you need anything. It's located near the popular area around the scenic Yellow Water Billabong, making it an ideal base for exploring more of Kakadu.
  • Burdulba Campground : This bush campground feels remote, but it's not far from a visitor's center and the famous rock art at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) and Nanguluwurr, so the location is one of the best. From here hike to the Kubara pools where you'll often find swarms of butterflies flittering around.
  • Karnamarr Campground : This managed campsite has not only breathtaking views, but it's also the best place to camp if you want easy access to trails that lead to Jim Jim Falls (6 miles away) or Twin Falls (11 miles away).

If you'd rather sleep in a little more comfort, there are hotel and rustic cabin accommodation options right within the park itself.

  • Anbinik Kakadu Resort : This lodging is located in the town of Jabiru on the east side of the park, and guests can choose to stay in small cabins, bungalows, or traditional suites. You'll have access to amenities like a restaurant, store, and a pool to enjoy after exploring the park.
  • Cooinda Lodge : Near Yellow Water Billabong, rooms at the Cooinda Lodge all have en-suite bathrooms, coffee makers, and television to help make the stay more comfortable. If you're planning to take one of the famed Yellow Water cruises, then the location couldn't be better.
  • Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel : If your kids are into crocodiles, then they'll love this quirky hotel in Jabiru since the entire building is shaped and designed to look like a giant crocodile. While kids play in the tropical-themed pool, parents can enjoy cocktails at the on-site bar and restaurant. It's considered one of the best accommodations inside the park.

Kakadu's nearest airport is in Darwin , the capital and largest city in the Northern Territory. Daily flights arrive in Darwin from most other Australian cities as well as some destinations in Asia. Most visitors stay in one of the two towns inside the park, Jabiru or Cooinda. The journey from Darwin is about two and a half hours to Jabiru or three hours to Cooinda. There is no public transport to or within Kakadu, so if you want to travel independently, you will need to hire a car in Darwin and drive to the park. If you can, get a car with 4WD, which is necessary for visiting some areas.

A variety of tours to Kakadu are available from Darwin and Jabiru, ranging from general day trips to week-long adventures with a focus on walking, four-wheel driving, birding, or cultural experiences. For example, the Heritage 4WD Safari Tour is a 14-day expedition that begins in Darwin and ends in Cairns, giving a comprehensive tour of northern Australia.

Many parts of the park include uneven terrain or rocky trails, but there are areas accessible to visitors with wheelchairs. The Mamukala Wetlands Walk is a bird-lover's dream, and the part of the trail that arrives at the viewpoint to sit and watch them on the lake is accessible. The shortest loop of the Mangarre Rainforest Walk is also fully accessible and ideal for spotting wildlife in its natural habitat. The rock paintings at Ubirr, one of the biggest attractions in the park, is also an accessible site.

The boat dock to get on the Yellow Water Cruise is accessible for non-electric wheelchairs, but there is a short 3-foot ramp from the dock onto the boat that wheelchairs cannot cross.

  • Winter (June to August) is the most popular time to visit Kakadu, though the shoulder season of April to May and September to October are also excellent options for escaping the crowds.
  • Always check with park authorities before swimming anywhere in Kakadu due to the presence of crocodiles throughout the park.
  • Visit Ubirr at sunset for one of the most spectacular light shows in all of Australia.
  • Campers should stock up on food in Katherine or Darwin as the selection at the supermarket in Jabiru is limited.
  • Consult road closures online before setting out on your road trip.
  • Bring your insect repellant! The rivers and wetlands of Kakadu are buzzing with mosquitoes and flies all year round.
  • Cell service is patchy in the park, so make sure to download maps and other necessary information at your accommodation or a visitor center.

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Visit Kakadu National Park: A complete guide

Kakadu National Park is enormous and you need to plan a visit in advance. Here are all my tips, including the best things to do in Kakadu!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Travel Australia Today. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and loves exploring different parts of Australia.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Travel Australia Today and has been a journalist for 20 years.

Last updated: December 22, 2021

A guide to visiting Kakadu National Park

Use the table of contents to jump down the article - or continue reading for all my tips for visiting Kakadu National Park.

How to get from Darwin to Kakadu

Know before you go, things to do in kakadu, kakadu self-drive itinerary, kakadu tours, kakadu accommodation, kakadu camping.

As Australia’s largest national park, it makes sense to plan your visit to Kakadu in advance. Across the vast Top End wilderness, there are lots of things to do in Kakadu but being prepared is vital – not just to make the most of your time but because mobile phone reception is quite limited to do research on the road.

So, where to start? Well, there’s something eternal about Kakadu National Park, a landscape that was forged millions of years ago – and with scientific evidence of some of the continent’s oldest human habitation (65,000 years ago!). It’s not somewhere you rush and I certainly don’t recommend visiting Kakadu as a day trip.

From the coast in the north, down towards the Outback in the south, there’s a huge range of landscapes across Kakadu National Park. You’ll find wetlands with mangroves and crocodiles, woodlands with billabongs and crocodiles, and sweeping stone country with waterfalls and crocodiles.

So I’m half-joking about the crocodiles. There are certainly lots of them here and you need to be careful around water, but you won’t be seeing them all the time. It’s the birdlife in Kakadu that really stands out – there are 280 types, a third of all Australia’s bird species, and they’re constantly around you.

Kakadu National Park was named a World Heritage Site 40 years ago for both its natural and cultural elements and, as a visitor, it’s important to experience both sides of the park to properly appreciate it.

The Indigenous heritage is still strong here amongst the different clans who live on their country. Most of the rangers who lead tours in the national park are Bininj/Mungguy (the local words for Aboriginal people) and they’ll be able to share stories about both the history and the current way of life.

One of the most obvious tangible parts of the Indigenous history is in the rock art found at sites around the park. As you’re planning your Kakadu itinerary, I would suggest including time to visit the rock art amongst any other plans you have for hiking, swimming, fishing, and relaxing.

What is the best time to visit Kakadu?

You’ll often hear about a bad time and a good time to visit Kakadu, but let me explain why it’s not that simple.

The dry season, between June and September, is the most popular time because you’ll get good weather, moderate temperatures, and most sites will be open and accessible. For the average visitor, this is when you should try to come.

But during the wet season, between November and March, you’ll find much more natural activity in Kakadu. The waterfalls are thundering, wildlife is everywhere, and the green landscapes glow. For something special, come during this period.

In the shoulder periods, you’ll get a bit of both worlds, depending on the climate that year. But between March and May, many sites will still be closed from the wet season. And between October and November, some of the waterways and falls will have dried up.

How many days do you need in Kakadu?

As many days as you can give! It’s a huge park with some roads that can be slow to drive, so you’ll need a few days in Kakadu. One day is certainly too short and even two days (one night) will be pushing it a bit.

I would recommend a minimum of three days (two nights) to see the main sites in Kakadu National Park. If you want to explore some of the further areas, add more days. And if you want to spend time just relaxing at the best spots, rather than rushing like a tourist, add even more. I think you could easily do a whole week here.

How much does Kakadu cost to visit?

You need a park pass to visit Kakadu but, don’t worry, it’s good value for everything that you’ll be able to see and do here! Each person will need to buy a pass, but it lasts for seven days (and can be extended to 14 days for free).

During the tropical summer from 1 November to 14 May, a pass is:

Adult: $25 Seniors, pensioners, and carers of disabled pensioners: $19 Children aged 5-15: $12.50 Family (2 adults and 2 or more children): $65

During the dry season from 15 May to 31 October, a pass is:

Adult: $40 Seniors, pensioners, and carers of disabled pensioners: $30 Children aged 5-15: $20 Family (2 adults and 2 or more children): $100

Park passes are free for residents of the Northern Territory.

You can get the pass in advance here . Or you can buy it at a few places in the park including the Bowali Visitor Centre, Cooinda Lodge, and Mary River Ranger Station.

Are there tours from Darwin to Kakadu?

Yes, there are indeed tours from Darwin to Kakadu, and they can be a really good way to explore the park without having to worry about the logistics yourself. Visiting Kakadu is one of the best things to do from Darwin .

Although I wouldn’t recommend just going for one day, if you’re short of time, then this is a good one-day tour of Kakadu from Darwin . I’ll have some more recommendations for longer tours further down.

There is no one way to visit Kakadu National Park. Everyone approaches it a bit differently – coming for a couple of days to relax by the natural pools, spending a few days learning about the Indigenous culture and natural heritage, or even adventuring on the 4WD tracks and camping by remote billabongs.

There are so many things to do in Kakadu and you can craft the trip that’s right for you. To help with your planning, I’ve got a whole heap of useful information in this Kakadu travel guide.

Getting from Darwin to Kakadu is easy if you have your own vehicle. The drive from Darwin is along good sealed roads with speed limits of up to 130 km/h in some parts. Just head south from Darwin and turn left at Humpty Doo.

Technically you’ll reach Kakadu National Park about 1.5 hours after leaving Darwin – but this is just the park’s boundary. It’s still about another hour until you get to Jabiru.

Jabiru is the main town in Kakadu and it has some shops and the famous Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel (which is a great option for accommodation). It’s also very close to the Bowali Visitor Centre, where you can buy your park pass. It’ll take about 2.5 hours from Darwin to this part of Kakadu, then most of the sites you’ll want to visit are even further on.

Unfortunately there’s no public transport to Kakadu National Park. However, even if you could arrive by bus, you would need a vehicle to get around, so there wouldn’t be much point.

If you don’t have a car, the best option is to join a tour. There’s a wide variety of Kakadu tours to suit your interests, and I’ll go through some of them later in this article.

There are a few important things you need to know before you go to Kakadu, to make sure you stay safe and make the most of your trip.

  • There is limited phone coverage throughout much of the park. You’ll get good reception at places like Jabiru and Yellow Water, but be prepared not to be able to access the internet or call people in many other areas. You may want to take printed maps and plan your day before you head off from the accommodation.
  • You need to be careful of animals that might harm you. Crocodiles are the most dangerous, so stay away from water that you’re unsure of, and always follow the warning signs. Wild buffalo are also not to be messed with, so stay far away from them.
  • Roads and access to sites can change suddenly for a variety of reasons. It could be because of bad weather, crocodile sightings, or cultural issues with the traditional owners. Check at the visitor centres for the latest information and be prepared to change your itinerary.
  • There are restaurants at Jabiru, Yellow Water and the Mary River Roadhouse, and there are shops at Jabiru and Cahill’s Crossing. But you should bring enough food with you for all the times you’ll be away from these main tourism centres – such as day trips to waterfalls and rock art sites.
  • Water, water, water. It gets really hot in Kakadu and you’ll need lots of water. If you’ve got your own vehicle, I recommend stopping at a supermarket in Darwin and buying one (or more, depending on number of people and days) of those large 10-litre water containers and keeping it in the car.
  • The main roads in Kakadu National Park are sealed and are fine for any type of vehicle. But there are lots of unsealed roads leading off the highway to some of the more remote sites. Some of the unsealed roads are designated as 2WD and some as 4WD. Don’t risk driving down the 4WD ones without a suitable vehicle. Even with the unsealed 2WD roads, you may want to consider going with at least an SUV with AWD.

There really are so many things to do in Kakadu. With all the campsites, small walking trails, 4WD tracks, and boat ramps, you could create a real adventure in the epic landscapes.

But, for the sake of this article, I’m going to assume you don’t want to go bush for a few days, and that you’re more interested in seeing the main sites and having some special guided experiences.

Because Kakadu National Park is so large, I’m going to break down the things to do into each region within the park. It might help to refer to the map below to see where things are.

In the next section, I’ll offer a sample Kakadu itinerary, so you can see how you might put it all together.

South Alligator region

This is the name given to the region along the road from Darwin, from the park’s boundary until near Jabiru. There isn’t too much to do here and most people just drive straight through.

However, there’s a nice 3km walk at the Mamukala wetlands , especially towards the end of the dry season when there are huge flocks of magpie geese here. It can be a good way to spend an hour if you need a break after (or before) a long drive.

There are also a couple of 4WD tracks here – the West Alligator Head track and the Alligator Billabong track – which lead in different directions to remote campsites and boating facilities.

Jabiru region

The most obvious thing in the Jabiru region is Jabiru itself, the main town that was established to support the nearby Ranger Uranium Mine. If you need shops, a bank, a post office, a health clinic, etc – then this is your place.

Jabiru is also home to the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel , as I mentioned earlier. Even if you’re not staying here, I think it’s worth stopping at Jabiru to check out the Marrawuddi Arts and Culture Centre , which has a gallery of Indigenous art combined with a cafe with good coffee. Often the artists will be here painting as well.

The main thing to do in the Jabiru region is the Bowali Visitor Centre . It has a very interesting free museum about the nature and environment of Kakadu National Park. There are often events here, like art classes. And the rangers will be able to give you lots of information about what else is happening in the park.

There is a short 2km walk you can do between the Bowali Visitor Centre and Jabiru called the Bowali Track that gives you a good sense of the flora of this area, with an elevated pathway over the wetter areas.

East Alligator region

Heading northeast from Jabiru, away from most of the other things in the park, you’ll read the East Alligator region.

The highlight here is Ubirr , an incredible sunset spot from a sandstone outcrop – and probably the best collection of rock art in Kakadu. There’s a range of different art styles, with new ones often superimposed over older ones. The works tell the stories of the mythology, the laws, and the wildlife.

You can learn a lot from the details in the paintings. There’s one of a Tasmanian tiger, which became extinct on the mainland at least 2000 years ago. And there’s one of an early buffalo hunter, a white man from around the 1880s. You’ll get a lot out of the site with a guide.

The eastern boundary of Kakadu is formed here by the East Alligator River , which is an attraction in itself. You can join the Guluyambi Cultural Cruise , run by local Aboriginal guides, for a 1h 45m cruise to see the landcapes, learn about the culture, and spot a few crocodiles!

There are also three interesting walks you can do in the region, each of a slightly different length, so you can fit them in regardless of your plans.

There’s the 1.5km Manngarre Rainforest walk , which leads you through some verdant monsoon rainforest. The 2.5km Bardedjilidji walk is a fascinating exploration of the layered sandstone here. And that connects to the 6.5km Badbong Wodjmeng Sandstone River walk , which has a variety of landscapes including the river, billabongs, and sandstone outliers.

Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) region

Not too far south of Jabiru is the region known as Burrungkuy (Nourlangie), a popular area because of its rock art and stunning views.

The main attraction here is the site that the region is named after – Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) . There are a series of rock art galleries here, featuring images from over the centuries depicting different parts of Indigenous life from hunting to complicated kinship laws. There’s a 1.5km trail that leads past them all. A guided ranger tour here will really add to your experience.

Continue up the path for just a few hundred metres more and you’ll reach the Kunwarddewardde Lookout , with incredible views across the wilderness over to the Arnhem Escarpment and the shape known as the Lightning Man Dreaming.

This is also the official start of the loop Barrk Sandstone walk , a difficult 12km trail through striking sandstone country and past more rock art. You’ll need to put aside a few hours and be well-prepared but it’s a great option for keen hikers.

The trail passes the Nanguluwurr art site , which you can access with a short 1.7km trail from a different carpark. There’s a huge amount of paintings at the site, showing a wide variety of styles, and it’s just as (if not more) impressive than the main Burrungkuy gallery (and with a lot less tourists).

Also in this region is the Anbangbang Billabong , one of the best examples of a billabong in Kakadu National Park and with a beautiful vista with the rocks in the background. There’s a 2.5km walking trail around the billabong (which will only be open if there are no crocs around).

And there’s also a short but steep hike up to Nawurlandja Lookout , another stunning viewpoint to see the rocks and the distant escarpment, with the billabong just visible below. Sunset is beautiful here (which is convenient because it’s not far from the main accommodation options).

Yellow Water region

South of Burrungkuy, in a location that’s pretty much the centre of Kakadu National Park, Yellow Water is a bit of a tourism hub. For instance, it’s where you’ll find Cooinda Lodge , a popular accommodation spot with rooms, glamping, and powered camp sites – plus good restaurants, pools, and a bar.

But the main attraction here is Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba), a huge wetlands area full of wildlife. As well as crocodiles, you’ll see dozens of bird species in the trees and on the water itself. There is a boardwalk but the best way to experience the wetlands is on a Yellow Water Cruise , which I recommend doing at sunset so you’ll get the amazing colours (sunrise is another good option). It’s one of the best things to do in Kakadu.

To learn more about the heritage of the area, head to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre , which has an excellent free museum all about the people who have lived here for millennia – as well as the changes since new ones arrived in the past couple of centuries.

There are a couple of short walks you can take from the Mardukal campground but they’re not worth going out of your way to do.

The other site of note in this region is Jim Jim Billabong , a pretty wetlands spot. It’s not really aimed at the casual tourist but at those who come prepared with a boat and camping gear because it’s great for fishing and hanging out for a couple of nights.

Jim Jim region

From near Yellow Water, there’s a slow 4WD track that goes down towards the southeast of Kakadu National Park to a region known as Jim Jim. On the edge of the Arnhem Escarpment, this is rough stone country and is quite an expedition to reach and explore.

The main attraction here is Jim Jim Falls , a spectacular natural sight where water plummets over a 150-metre-high cliff (although it dries up during the dry season). Beneath the waterfall is a large (cold!) swimming hole surrounded by steep rock faces and lush trees.

From the main track into the plunge pool at Jim Jim Falls, you can take the Barrk Marlam walk . It’s a steep and difficult 6km return walk but will give you an awesome perspective of the stone country here.

A bit further along the road is Twin Falls , another of the Kakadu’s largest waterfalls. As the name suggests, there’s a split cascade here spilling over the enormous cliff face. You have to take a boat transfer ($12.50) along the gorge to reach the falls, where there’s a large natural pool where swimming isn’t allowed, and a sandy beach beside it.

There’s a 6km return walk here up to the plateau and pools at the top of the cliff, where you’ll not surprisingly get some incredible views.

Because this region is so hard to access and the waterfalls turn to a trickle in the dry season, it’s not visited by road by most tourists. But during the wet season, it’s one of the most popular areas for scenic flights, as the water flows over the incredible ochre escarpment.

Mary River region

Down south, you’ll find some of the most scenic things to do in Kakadu National Park, with the Mary River region full of adventure but with much more convenient access than areas like Jim Jim.

The first place you can reach is Maguk , a large stunning swimming hole set in an amphitheatre of sandstone. With a waterfall flowing down the cliff at the far end, it’s a beautiful site as well as a refreshing place for a dip. From the carpark at the end of a dirt road, it’s about a 20 minute walk over the rocks to Maguk.

From the Maguk turn-off on the Kakadu Highway, it’s about another hour of driving (77km) to the region’s other famous waterfall and swimming hole at Gunlom . You might recognise Gunlom not from the bottom, but from above, because the infinity pool at the top of the falls is used for lots of photos!

It’s only a 100m walk to the plunge pool at Gunlom Falls, and another steep 500m to the top. There’s a campground here that is quite popular and you may want to consider spending a night here so you can see the falls at sunrise and sunset.

On the way in to Gunlom, you’ll pass the Yurmikmik walks , a series of interconnecting trails that lead through a tropical environment of plunge pools and wet season falls. The shortest trail is the 2km-return Boulder Creek walk, while there’s also the 5km-return Yurmikmik lookout walk, the 7.5km-return Motor Car Falls walk, and the 11km-return Kurrundie Creek walk (which needs a permit).

Also in the same area is a special site called Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin) gorge , which is rarely visited because you need a permit to access it (apply at least two weeks in advance). But the stunning red rock formations lining the gorge, filled with dark pools are incredible, and there are lots of spiritual stories about the site.

Other things to do in Kakadu

So, now that I’ve covered all the main sites in the park, let’s have a look at a few other activities in Kakadu that are worth considering.

The first thing to mention is the seasonal rangers program , where the (mainly Indigenous) rangers take free tours of some of the sites. It’s a really good way to learn more about the cultural and environment heritage of Kakadu and I really recommend you do one, if you can.

The only problem is that they don’t run as often as you would like, and the schedule changes each month. You can see the schedule here , so have a look in advance and see what you can sign up for.

Aside from the ranger program, I think one of the best tours in Kakadu that you can do is the Animal Tracks Safari . You’ll go off the main roads into some beautiful country with a local Bininj guide called Patsy, who will show you all the tricks of bush tucker and then cook up a feast in a ground oven. It’s a special look at the traditional way of life in the park.

A popular activity in the park is fishing , and there are lots of spots where you can cast a line. Unfortunately I don’t know of any fishing tours that operate here, so you’ll need to have all your own equipment – and maybe even a boat.

However, if you like birding then there are some tour operators that will be able to take you out to the best spots and help you spot many of the 280 bird species that live here. Have a look at NT Bird Specialists or Tracks Birding .

And, of course, I need to mention one of the best things to do in Kakadu – which is scenic flights over this wonderful landscape. You’ll get a completely different appreciation of the land when you see it from the air, especially the long rivers and the waterfalls tumbling over the escarpments.

Scenic flights are particularly popular in the wet season because the cascades are more dramatic – and it’s the only way you’ll see some of the sites. But the views are just as good in the dry season. The biggest operator is Kakadu Air , or there’s a helicopter option with Coolibah Air as well.

Putting together a Kakadu itinerary is a bit tricky because there are so many different ways to approach the park. Even if you’re wanting to do a fairly classic visit to Kakadu, some people will want to focus more on hiking, others on the rock art, others on the swimming holes.

Still, to help with your planning, I’ve got a suggest Kakadu self-drive itinerary that you can use as the base for your trip. It’s just three days, but I’ve got some suggestions for how to extend it. I’ll also explain why I’ve done things this way, but you can swap activities around to your own taste.

Drive from Darwin in the morning and stop first at the Bowali Visitor Centre to get your parks pass, find out any latest information, and see the museum. I recommend staying tonight at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel , so you may want to check in or drop your bags in Jabiru.

Spend the afternoon out in the East Alligator region, visiting the Ubirr Rock Art site, doing some of the walks here, and possibly staying for the stunning sunset view before heading back to Jabiru for the night.

Hit the road early for a long drive down to the Mary River region, where there are a few possible activities for the morning. You could just do the hike into Maguk and go for a swim, which means less driving. Or you can go all the way to Gunlom and hike to the top of the falls for that iconic infinity-pool shot.

In the afternoon, head back to Yellow Water, where I suggest you stay overnight at Cooinda Lodge to save the extra drive. Visit the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre and then jump on the sunset Yellow Water Cruise for amazing wildlife and colours over the wetlands.

(Another option is to spend all day at both Maguk and Gunlom and then do the sunrise Yellow Water Cruise the next day.)

Regardless of whether you do the sunrise cruise today, head off after breakfast to the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) region, where you’ll easily be able to spend all morning. Visit both of the main rock art sites here, as well as do some of the walks to the viewpoints. Hopefully you can time your visit to join a ranger tour.

After lunch, head back to Darwin, possibly stopping at the art gallery in Jabiru and the Mamukala Wetlands on the way.

Extra days:

If you have a good 4WD, you can add a whole day to go to Jim Jim region and explore the two enormous waterfalls there.

You could also do an extra day in the Mary River region so you can focus on all the things around Gunlom without feeling too rushed. You might want to consider camping a night there – or there’s the Mary River Roadhouse which will save driving all the way back to Cooinda Lodge.

And, of course, it’s really easy to add more days to do some of the specialised tours to scenic flights. Or just to take things slower and enjoy the tranquility of the nature here.

I said it earlier, and I’ll say it again – I really recommend you don’t visit Kakadu as a day trip. However, if you’re really short of time and have no other option, there is this good day-trip tour of Kakadu from Darwin .

If you don’t have your own vehicle – or you just don’t want to drive – doing a tour for a few days in Kakadu is a fantastic way to explore the park without worrying about any of the logistics.

For a budget camping-style tour, have a look at Territory Expeditions .

For a small-group tour that’s affordable and a bit adventurous, there’s Kakadu 4WD Safaris .

Another good option for a small-group tour that shows you a range of sites is Sacred Earth Safaris .

And for private tours in a comfortable 4WD vehicle that you’d probably describe as ‘soft adventure luxury’, the best options are Brookes Australia Tours or Venture North Safaris .

When it comes to accommodation in Kakadu, there are quite limited options – but don’t worry, as long as you book in advance, you’ll be able to find something that suits your taste.

I’ll cover camping in the next section, so let’s just look first at hotels.

The first area you’ll come to with Kakadu accommodation is Jabiru, which has a few options. By far the nicest hotel here (and in the park) is the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel and I recommend getting a room here if you’re looking for comfort. There’s a great pool and the bar and restaurant are just the kind of place you want to relax in after a busy day of exploring.

There are a couple of other options in Jabiru, so if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, then there’s Aurora Kakadu Lodge to consider.

Although it’s not particularly convenient for most of the park, if you need somewhere to stay near the Ubirr rock art site, then Hawk Dreaming Wilderness Lodge has some tented cabins.

The most central Kakadu accommodation, and a great option for families and groups, is Cooinda Lodge at Yellow Water. You can choose from large rooms, comfortable glamping tents, or powered campervan spots. With pools, restaurants, and other facilities, it’s easy to base yourself here for a few nights.

And a final option to mention is the Mary River Roadhouse . It’s at the bottom of the park, so most people coming from Darwin wouldn’t use it, but it can be useful if you’re driving up from Katherine. It’s a rather basic setup, but it’s safe and comfortable enough for a night or so.

The other thing you can do in Kakadu for accommodation is camp. There are about 20 campgrounds in Kakadu, right across the variety of landscapes, so it’s definitely a wonderful way to connect with the nature.

There are four types of campground in Kakadu: Commercial sites, managed sites, unmanaged sites, and free sites.

The commercial camping sites are run by the private accommodation providers in Kakadu, most of which I have already mentioned – places like Cooinda Lodge, Aurora Kakadu Lodge, and the Mary River Roadhouse. They each have their own fee system that usually gives you access to the facilities like pools and restaurants.

The managed camping sites in Kakadu are run by Parks Australia and have more facilities than its other spots – things like showers, toilets, picnic areas, and fire pits. There’ll usually be a campground manager on site to help as well. A managed site is a good way to stay in Kakadu if you don’t have a lot of camping gear and want to have a bit of comfort.

Some of the managed campsites include Gunlom, Mardukal near Yellow Water, and Djarradjin near Burrungkuy. They cost (per night) $15 for an adult, $7.50 for a child, or $38 for two adults and children.

The unmanaged camping sites still have some facilities but they are more basic. So it’s likely to be pit toilets and no showers, rudimentary picnic facilities, and a fire pit. There’s no staff on site and you’ll need to be more prepared with your gear.

Some of the popular unmanaged camping sites include Maguk, Burdulba near Jabiru, and Jim Jim Billabong. They cost (per night) $6 for an adult, $3 for a child, or $15 for two adults and children.

And the free camping sites are the most basic of all. There are no facilities and it’s basically just a spot in the bush. It’s really just a designated area that you’re allowed to pitch a tent – you’ll need to bring everything with you and be much more prepared. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The good news is that the free camping sites have no fees, as the name suggests.

While the commercial camping sites will often take reservations, you don’t need to book ahead for any of the Parks Australia campgrounds – in fact, you can’t book ahead. They all work on a first-come first-served basis.

This is good in a sense because it means that people haven’t block-booked campsites over popular periods like school holidays. But the downside is that you’re not necessarily guaranteed a spot and you won’t know until you get there.

But don’t worry, the park never fills up, even if your favourite campground is a bit busy. There’s more information here about Kakadu’s camping spots . I recommend stopping at the Bowali Visitor Centre on your way in just to check the status of the campground you’re heading to – or even phone ahead in busy periods.

More Northern Territory stories

  • Things to do in the Northern Territory
  • A guide to Kakadu National Park
  • The best things to do in Darwin
  • A helicopter pub crawl around Darwin
  • How to visit Litchfield National Park
  • What to do in Alice Springs
  • The Red Centre Way itinerary
  • Things to do at Uluru

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  • 9 Incredible Experiences in Kakadu

If you ever need an endorsement of why you should visit Kakadu, the story of intrepid UK travellers Cat and Joe should convince you. Their blog walkmyworld.com.au contains incredible adventures from around the world, but Kakadu certainly stood out for them as a must-do adventure destination. Following is an account of their experience in our beautiful backyard.

How many people’s first glimpse of Australia was Crocodile Dundee?! It was for us – a funny insight into a completely different world. For those who don’t know, Crocodile Dundee was filmed largely in the ‘Top End’, two hours from Darwin at the northern most point of the Northern Territory. This pristine wilderness is only a stone’s throw from Indonesia, and packs in many of the experiences that foreigners see as synonymous with Australia. Rugged landscape, indigenous art and culture and plenty of wildlife watching opportunities. While much has changed over the years the scenery is still as jaw dropping as it was in the movie.

Kakadu National Park is the jewel in the crown of the Top End, and should be on any nature lovers’ itinerary. Access to the national park has become much easier since the film aired over 30 years ago and it’s now one of Australia’s top places to visit.

Don’t miss these top Kakadu experiences:

Cruising Yellow Water

We loved this boat trip so much that we did it twice. Lucky for us when you’ve paid for the first one all subsequent cruises are $25pp. The sunrise trip is really beautiful and the best time to see the many bird species.

You’ll definitely spot the odd croc but the focus of the tour is the birdlife. You will stop at a good vantage point to watch the sunrise and it’s amazing how still and calm the water is. It’s a very special experience. You might also spot brumbies (wild horses) and buffalo (which are actually a pest) but we weren’t so lucky.

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

If you have the chance we’d also recommend going at sunset. The crocs are far more active, we saw huge numbers. Keep an eye out for alpha male Maxi who usurped his predecessor by chomping on his head, eeek. The sunset was also one of the most spectacular we saw on the whole trip. The trip will finish before all the colour has but you can stay on the bridge until the last rays… or until you can stand the mosquitoes no more!

Read more: The best time to visit Darwin, Kakadu & Litchfield

Seeing some of the oldest rock art in the world at Ubirr and Nourlangie

If you want to see ancient aboriginal rock art, then head straight to Kakadu. At Ubirr and Nourlangie you’ll find some of the best preserved and most vibrant aboriginal rock art in the whole of Australia.

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

The best things to do in Kakadu: Ubirr

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

Many of the paintings in these galleries are over 20,000 years old, and the stories that are passed on over generations are fascinating. They are so bright and vivid and still in incredible condition. Many people come to Kakadu for the rock art alone.

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The sunsets at Ubirr

There are few places to take in the sunset like Ubirr.

Make sure you arrive in time to thoroughly explore the rock art before making your way to the hill to sit and watch the sun go down. It’s a popular activity but the area is vast so you can easily find a crag of your own and pretend you’re the only ones there. The park actually closes at 7pm and the gate is locked, so be prepared for a mad dash back to your car so you don’t get locked in.

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

Very close to the gate there is a general store which serves great Thai food. It was the best meal we had in Kakadu so it makes for a good combo with an Ubirr sunset.

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Hiking through the outback: the Barrk Walk

We love this walk, Kakadu has some great hiking but most of the trails are pretty short, if you’re a keen hiker this is definitely the track for you. They don’t recommend starting after 8am due to the heat and the track is pretty exposed so we were glad we took this advice on board. The walk starts at the Nourlangie rock art site, we arrived at 7am to spend an hour exploring the site before starting the track.

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

We did not see another soul on this entire 12km track which is staggering given how beautiful it is, and how popular Kakadu is. You really felt like you were in true outback wilderness and it had me yearning to walk the Larapinta trail one day.

The walk starts off quite steeply as you ascend to the top of the cliffside, and the views are spectacular. There are some exposed sections which can give you a serious case of jelly legs! There are a few steep downhill sections on loose rock so walking poles would come in handy.

At around the half way mark you come to the Nanguluwur art site. The art here is particularly well preserved. It was quite confronting to see the pictures of tall sail boats take over from the indigenous animals and spirits. This seemed to be quite a quiet site, probably due to the fact that the nearest car park is a 3.4km round trip away, whereas most of the other sites require very little walking.

From the rock art site it is a very easy walk back to your car, through sandstone outcrops and open woodland. This was perfect for us as it had started hotting up by this point.

Overall, we’d definitely recommend this walk, there is a fair bit of up and down in the first part of the track and some exposed edges and uneven terrain but definitely doable if you’ have a little bush walking experience.

Finding an azure blue waterhole: Motor Car Falls

It’s a tough call but this is possibly our favourite waterhole of them all. In a national park full of sublime spots this is really high praise. You access the falls via an 8km return walking track, so this is a waterhole you can visit later in the day and still be likely to have it to yourself, or shared with just a few others.

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

The colour of the water almost looks fake, like something straight out of a fairy tale. There are also several small waterfalls running into the pool. You access the pools by climbing behind the rocks that you will see when you first arrive at the creek. That just adds to the feeling that you’ve stumbled upon a a very special place.

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An infinity pool on top of a waterfall: Gunlom Falls

This has to be one of the most spectacular and unique infinity pools we’ve ever been to. A short but very steep 500m walk takes you up to a series a falls, each with a picture perfect swimming hole. Our favourite was the one with the view over the plains. Really, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

There are also pools just five minutes from the car park but these are known to be croc haunts and we wouldn’t advise swimming here (though we saw people who were). It’s a beautiful spot though, and well worth a look.

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Sunset at Nawalandja Lookout

Ubirr is the most famous sunset spot in Kakadu but if you’re there for a few days we definitely recommend checking out Nawalandja too. It’s just a 300m leisurely climb from the car park to the top of the rocky plateau, offering amazing views over the plains and Nourlangie rock.

explore kakadu national park

Unlike Ubirr there are no gates here so you can stay for as long as you like, soaking up the last of the rays. There were only a couple of people here when we visited and the plateau is huge so it still had that alone in the wilderness feel. It is a very beautiful, calming experience to watch the sun slowly light up the rocks in the distance.

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Sandstone and River Walk

This easy 6.5km loop track gives you a great overview of the surrounding countryside. It follows on from the shorter Bardedjilidji Walk (2.5km), which was actually our favourite part of the track so if you’re short on time you could just do this loop.

The Bardedjilidji track takes you round a series of sandstone pillars, which feel like you’re wondering through an ancient man made city, nature is so spectacular!

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

The rest of the walk largely follows the East Alligator River, and is very pretty, though at times I found the proximity to the croc infested water rather alarming! It’s also a good spot for spotting white bellied sea eagles.

Checking out this epic landscape from above

The routes are different depending on whether you are visiting in the wet or the dry so make sure you check the website closely, but a scenic flight over Kakadu and Arnhem Land is amazing. The wet season route looks far more spectacular as you pass over many of the waterfalls.

Kakadu National Park | Explore Kakadu

In the dry you are largely flying over escarpment and flood plains which is beautiful in its own right, but there are no waterfalls which was a tiny bit disappointing. It’s a great vantage point for spotting wildlife though, and we saw heaps of crocs and brumbies which was fantastic.

It’s also the only real way you can get any idea of the scale of the park too, which is simply staggering. I would love to try this flight again in the wet, one for next time!

Practicalities

It’s worth noting that Kakadu has two distinct weather patterns – the wet and the dry season- that will affect what you can do when you visit. The wet season runs roughly from October to March and can flood much of the area, meaning a lot of the attractions will be inaccessible.

Some are year round though, including several of the rock art sites and yellow water river cruises, and the benefits are that there will be fewer visitor numbers than in the dry.

We’d love to go back to experience a scenic flight over the roaring waterfalls too. Most people do choose to visit in the dry though as this is a time when you can access everything including the waterholes which can see crocs in the waterholes during wet season. It’s also a good time to see wildlife as they tend to congregate around the few waterholes that are left.

The park entrance fee is $25, good for 14 days, and should be purchased as soon as you arrive at the visitor centre.

We ummed and aaaahed over getting a 4wd as they are so much more expensive to rent, in the end, we did and didn’t regret it. Some of the waterholes are not accessible to 2wd unless you are prepared to risk serious damage.

We wouldn’t have taken a 2wd to Gunlom falls or Motor Car falls for example. Unfortunately, our car rental agreement despite being for a 4wd prohibited us visiting Jim Jim and Twin falls – much to our disappointment.

Check your rental agreement carefully as we heard rumours about cars being fitted with trackers and fines handed out for those who did take them there – this might not be true but we didn’t want to try our luck.

Another thing to be aware of is that all rental companies put a cap on the amount of free kilometres you can drive per day (this tends to be 100km). After this you’ll start paying per kilometre you go over. This can be frustrating as the distances are quite long and you’ll fly over this limit, so account for this before you arrive.

We’re not going to lie, you don’t come here for the food. There is a great supermarket in Jabiru though so if you have access to cooking facilities or you want to make your own lunches you’ll be fine. Sadly since our visit, the village bakery has closed down which was our go to for lunch.

The only restaurant we’d recommend (and I think we tried them all given we were there for seven days) was the Thai food at the general store. Like all food in Kakadu, it was expensive but the portions were so big it did us for lunch the next day. Small eaters should definitely share! The next best would be the food at the Cooinda lodge if you are staying out that way, or after you finish the sunset yellow water cruise.

Where to stay in Kakadu

We were in Kakadu just over a week in total and ended up trying several different accommodation options.

Mecure Crocodile Hotel

This was a nice midrange option, clean and large rooms with all the usual amenities. A similar hotel would be much cheaper in other parts of Australia, but all accommodation in Kakadu National Park are overpriced. The hotel is in Jabiru which is well placed near to the supermarket and roughly 45 minutes drive from both Ubirr and Yellow Water (in between both).

Cooinda Lodge

This hotel was in a lovely leafy and shady area, very close to where the yellow water river cruises run from (you buy your tickets from here). The rooms are individual freestanding cabin types, which have just completed a full refurb, exciting news if you’re heading to Kakadu later in the year!

If you are doing a yellow water sunrise cruise, we’d still recommend staying here as otherwise, the early start from Jabiru would be fairly brutal. The location is also very good for visiting some of the water holes, such as Gunlom and Motor Car falls, which make a very long day trip from Jabiru.

Categories: Cooinda Lodge , Indigenous Experience , Kakadu Adventure Tours , Kakadu Events , Media , Media & Trade , Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel , Uncategorized , Warradjan Cultural Centre , Yellow Water Cruises

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best way to travel kakadu

🐊 17 June marks World Croc Day! To celebrate these incredible creatures, we've put together a little snapshot of a recent Yellow Water Cruise. It's the perfect way to sit back, relax and soak up the natural beauty of Yellow Water Billabong - home to abundance of wildlife including the Kinga (Croc)! Thanks to Dennis from Yellow Water Cruises for his great hospitality, as always! @ntaustralia #ntaustralia #dokakadu #seekakadu #kakadunationalpark #ntlife #cooindalodge #yellowwaterbillabong #yellowwatercruise

best way to travel kakadu

Take off over Kakadu with a scenic flight from Kakadu Air ✈️ For a limited time, you can also opt for a heli-flight over Kakadu departing from Cooinda 🚁 The heli-flight option is avialable on Monday and Saturdays: 10 minute - $129pp 30 minute - $370pp 45 minute - $529pp You can book with the Cooinda Lodge reception team or directly with @kakaduair Video: @daniellecook [IG] #heliflight #scenicflight #dokakadu #kakaduscenicflight #kakaduair #kakadunationalpark #cooindalodge

best way to travel kakadu

Mid-June to Mid-August is Wurrkeng – Cold weather season with temperatures averaging 17°C – 32°C. This is the cold time – at least by Northern Territory standards. Humidity is low, while daytime temperatures are around 30°C and drop to about 17°C at night. Most creeks stop flowing in Wurrkeng and the floodplains quickly dry out. The Bininj/Mungguy continue patch burning, which is extinguished by the dew at night. Birds of prey patrol the fire lines during the day as insects and small animals escape the flames. Magpie geese, fat and heavy after weeks of abundant food, crowd the shrinking billabongs with a myriad of other waterbirds. Find out more about the 6 six seasons of Kakadu here: kakadutourism.com/about-kakadu Image: @jasonedwardsng #dokakadu #ntaustralia #nationalparks

best way to travel kakadu

🔦 ✨🌛 NEW TOUR >> The Algohgarrng Night Tour - A 1 hour unique stargazing journey aboard a Yellow Water vessel equipped with a retractable roof for maximum WOW 🤩 Experience the spectacle of Kakadu's night sky, showcasing stars, planets, and constellations above Kakadu National Park. Operating Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights until September 2024. Your starry starry night awaits - book now at: kakadutourism.com/see-and-do #dokakadu #kakadunationalpark #stargazing #underthestars

best way to travel kakadu

MAYALI MULIL FESTIVAL | 6 - 9 September, 2024 Located in Kakadu National Park, Mayali Mulil is a gathering of people, country, culture and enterprise, with an aim of achieving sustainable balance between two worlds. Family and community activitiesincluding: 🪃 Learn Traditional Dancing 🪃 Indigenous Music 🪃 Guided Walks & Talk on Country 🪃 Art Exhibition celebrating local artists 🪃 Bush Tucker 🪃 Cultural workshops Choose between: 🪃 Pandanus Weaving 🪃 Bark Painting 🪃 Didj & Clapstick Making 🪃 Spear & Borndok Making 🪃 Plucka Goose You can also choose to stay on-site at Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp in an Eco-hut, or camp with your caravan, campervan or tent in our unpowered sites with shower and toilet facilities.

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Photo: Mitchell Cox, Tourism NT

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Getting to Kakadu National Park is easy. Take a look at the options below to find one that suits you.

Flight hubs are at Darwin and Alice Springs, from there, choose whether you hire a vehicle or jump on a tour to get to the park. Currently there aren’t any commercial flights to Kakadu.

If you’re travelling from overseas, you may need to fly into one of the major cities first and then take another flight to Darwin or Alice Springs.

Drive from Darwin

If you like a roadtrip, self-drive from Darwin on the Stuart Highway then the Arnhem Highway. For those without personal transport you can hire a 2WD vehicle, 4WD or motor home in Darwin. The journey takes about three hours and there are NT sights to explore along the way. See our suggested itineraries for ideas.

Or sit back, relax, and make friends by joining a bus or 4WD tour from Darwin.

More information on tours .

From Katherine

Explore the park by hiring a 2WD vehicle, 4WD or motorhome from Katherine. Take the Stuart Highway followed by the Kakadu Highway – it will take you about three hours.

From Alice Springs

The trail from Alice Springs to Kakadu is often known as the Red Centre Way . It’s an iconic roadtrip up the centre of Australia – and one you’ll never forget! Take a tour or self-drive at your own pace.

Tip: If you are self-driving, refuel your vehicle as frequently as possible. Unleaded and leaded petrol and diesel fuel are available at  Jabiru  and  Cooinda

It’s also a good idea to check the park’s daily access report for the latest updates on road conditions and seasonal closures.

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Best time to visit Kakadu National Park

Group hiking to swimming hole in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

The best time to visit  Kakadu National Park  largely depends on the activities you want to do and your tolerance for heat, humidity and rain.

If you’re not a fan of 35°C+ temperatures, the cooler months of May to August are your best option. The dry season is also better for swimming as heavy rains can cause flash flooding, making some areas unsafe or inaccessible. That being said, the wet season is usually quieter, which may suit you if you’d prefer to share the park with fewer people.

Kakadu’s weather can be divided into two major seasons: a wet season (November to March) and a dry season (April to October). However, the six seasons recognised by the traditional owners, the Bininj/Mungguy people, paint a much better picture of what to expect throughout the year.

December to March

Kudjewk is the peak of the tropical summer. Think intense humidity, monsoonal downpours and thunderstorms. Temperatures average 24°C to 34°C, but the humidity can make it feel hotter. Some areas of Kakadu may become inaccessible due to excessive rain and flooding, so you might be unable to swim in certain waterholes for safety reasons.

But don’t let this deter you. The rains breathe new life into the park, transforming it into an explosion of green. The waterfalls are also at their most powerful, and while you may not be able to swim in some of them, they’re certainly a sight to behold.

The beginning of bankerreng sees heavy rains and winds, known as ‘knock-em-down’ storms, which flatten the speargrass. However, it doesn’t take long for the skies to clear and the water to recede in the floodplains. The landscapes are still lovely and lush, and animals return to their habitats to take advantage of all the fruiting plants.

May to mid-June

With the storms gone, cooler temperatures of 21°C to 33°C and lower humidity, yekke is one of the best times to visit Kakadu. Waterlillies blanket the wetlands and early-morning mists over the plains make for excellent photography opportunities. Areas of the park that closed due to flooding usually open again in May.

Mid-June to mid-August

Despite meaning the ‘cold weather season’, wurrkeng still sees balmy highs of up to 32°C and lows of 17°C — this is the Northern Territory, after all! Floodplains dry out and large numbers of native water birds, including magpie geese, flock to billabongs. You might even witness a noisy scene of hundreds of birds taking flight to dodge a hungry crocodile.

Mid-August to mid-October

Kurrung brings warmer temperatures of 23°C to 37°C and cloudier skies. Humidity is still reasonably low, so the heat isn’t too oppressive. Billabongs remain an exciting place to visit with lots of bird-watching opportunities. White-breasted wood swallows also arrive towards the end of the season as thunderclouds begin to build.

Mid-October to late December

As the pre-monsoon season, kunumeleng sees high humidity levels that can make the heat feel more intense. Dramatic lightning shows also take hold of the skies, providing a teaser of what’s to come later in kudjewk (monsoon season). This can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Most roads are still accessible unless the rains arrive early.

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How to get to Kakadu from Darwin

Getting to kakadu national park is easy. how to get to kakadu from darwin on the best kakadu national park tours..

Always wondered how to get to Kakadu from Darwin? in this blog we explain more about the distance between Darwin city center and Kakadu National Park. Plus the best ways to get there.

Find out how far is it from Darwin to Kakadu. The distance from Kakadu to Darwin and do you need a 4wd for Kakadu?

We have the answers to help you plan the best Kakadu National Park itinerary. 

In this blog we will answer a few of our most asked questions about Kakadu National Park. Including how to get to Kakadu from Darwin and how long to drive from Darwin to Kakadu?

 Read on to find out more.

Why Visit Kakadu?

Kakadu is a huge area of protected land in the Northern Territory, about 3 hours drive from Darwin.

It’s a popular destination for tourists, and there are plenty of things to do – hiking, swimming, wildlife spotting, aboriginal art and culture. The park is also home to big crocodiles!

Kakadu National Park is a vast national park in the Northern Territory of Australia, and is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

The park is also important for its cultural heritage, with evidence of human habitation. Kakadu National Park is a major tourist destination, with over 400,000 visitors each year. It is also home to a significant Aboriginal population. As mentioned there are so many things to see and do in Kakadu, including birdwatching, camping, fishing, and hiking.

How big is Kakadu National park?

Who owns kakadu national park.

The traditional owners of Kakadu National Park are the Bininj in the north and Mungguy in the south.

Couple at the Nadab Lookout at Ubirr on our 4 day Kakadu National Park Tour from Darwin

There are a few different ways to get from Darwin to Kakadu.

Drive from Darwin

You could drive yourself on the Stuart Highway and then the Arnhem Highway. Or, if you don’t have your own vehicle, you can hire a 2WD, 4WD, or motorhome in Darwin. The journey usually takes around three hours, and there are some great sights along the way in the Northern Territory.

Take a Tour

From Darwin to Kakadu on tour is more comfortable, sit back relax and let us guide you to Kakadu National Park. On tour you have the ability to see a lot in a short time frame, meet like-minded travelers, and have an expert itinerary planned for you so you don’t miss any of the highlights. 

Check out our best tours from Darwin to Kakadu: 

For a day tour to Kakadu: 1 Day Kakadu National Park Tour

For longer tours, we have our popular overnight adventure tours to Kakadu National Park from Darwin.

5 Day Top End and Arnhem Land Tour

5 Day Kakadu and Litchfield Comfort Adventure Tour

How long to drive from Darwin to Kakadu?

The drive from Darwin to Kakadu National Park is about 2.5 hours. Just 2 and a half hours!! Kakadu is about 253 kilometers from Darwin city. So not far at all if you have a car. 

“Just three hours from Darwin you can explore the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park by coach tour, hire car or self driving. “ Real Adventure Group

Why visit Kakadu National Park?

Visit Kakadu for the stunning wetlands. Almost a third of Kakadu is listed as wetlands, over 7000 square kilometres. 

For more information on why visit Kakadu from Darwin check out our Kakadu tours . 

Real Aussie Adventures, Small Group Adventure Tours Australia. Twin Falls from above on our 4 day Kakadu National Park Tour from Darwin

How many days do you need in Kakadu?

Ideally, three days are needed to explore Kakadu National Park. However, if you want a more complete experience, spend five or more days here.

Our recommended itineraries will help you create the perfect ‘Kakadu Experience’.

Check out our 5 day Kakadu tours:

5 Day Kakadu and Litchfield comfort Tour

Kakadu is one of the most famous national parks in Australia and is located about three hour drive east of Darwin. The park is world heritage-listed and covers nearly 20,000 square kilometers, making it one of the largest national parks in the world.

Kakadu is home to a wide range of landscapes and ecosystems, including wetlands, woodlands, and Arnhem Land – one of the last remaining Aboriginal homelands in Australia. The park is also famous for its many crocodiles, which can be seen swimming in the rivers and billabongs.

Is Kakadu a day trip from Darwin?

Yes, you can visit Kakadu National Park in a day from Darwin if you’re willing to spend a lot of time on transport. Ideally, you need between 2 and 5 days to explore everything the park has to offer. Kakadu is a big park, so there’s a lot to see.

This 1 Day Kakadu Tour from Darwin is one of the best day tours in Australia. Upon booking one of our Kakadu Day Tours you get to visit and experience the largest National Park in Australia.

1 Day Kakadu Tour

Do you need a 4WD to get to Kakadu?

There are many popular attractions that can be accessed with just a car/ 2WD vehicle. To explore the best of Kakadu’s attractions you will need a 4WD.

We recommend jumping on one of our tours if you do not have a 4WD vehicle.

4 Day Kakadu and Litchfield Tour

Do you need a 4WD to drive from Darwin to Kakadu?

No, you don’t! Hiring a car can be expensive at the best of times, especially a 4WD. So just either take your 2WD vehicle and you should be able to see a lot of Kakadu National Park from Darwin.

Or join us on one of our tours to Darwin so you don’t have to worry about driving at all.

5 Day Kakadu and Litchfield comfort tour

Kakadu from Darwin

Kakadu National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. It is located near Darwin and is home to some of the country’s most amazing wildlife. If you want to see Kakadu for yourself, book a tour today.

Check out our popular tours in Kakadu.

Tours from Darwin

Real Aussie Recommendations

  • Book your Kakadu tour early in the dry season as we fill fast. Especially June and July! 

Real Aussie Adventures, Small Group Adventure Tours Australia. Couple at the Nadab Lookout at Ubirr on our 4 day Kakadu National Park Tour from Darwin

2 Day Kakadu Tour Wet Season

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21 Day Adelaide to Darwin Tour with Kangaroo Island

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18 day Darwin to Adelaide Tour Package

Yellow Water Billabong Cruise

5 Day Kakadu Camping Tour

A guide speaks about basket weaving and Aboriginal culture on a Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tour.Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours is Aboriginal owned and operated with the majority of their tours taking place from the Adelaide River, on Aboriginal owned and managed lands. Guests are taught and shown traditional techniques, such as clap stick and didgeridoo playing, spear making and throwing, dilly bag and basket weaving, plus guided walks and talks.

1 Day Kakadu Wilderness and Cultural Tour

Real Aussie Adventures, Small Group Adventure Tours Australia. Couple hiking to Edith Falls on our 4 day Kakadu National Park Tour from Darwin

1 Day Katherine Gorge Tour

Girl in South Australia. Title: Wilpena Pound Region: Flinders Ranges & Outback

18 Day Adelaide To Darwin Tour Package

Lady looking at the UBIRR SUNSET on our kakadu national park 3 day tours. Perfect kakadu tours for seniors

3 Day Kakadu 4WD Accommodated Tour

Gunlom Falls kakadu tours

3 day Camping Kakadu Tour

Kakadu Ubirr sunset on our Kakadu tours

5 Day Top End and Arnhem Land Adventure

Real Aussie Adventures, Small Group Adventure Tours Australia. Couple at Nawurlandja lookout on our 4 day Kakadu National Park Tour from Darwin kakadu katherine and litchfield adventure

5 Day Kakadu and Litchfield Adventure Tour

Real Aussie Adventures, Small Group Adventure Tours Australia. Taking in the beauty of Nourlangie Rock on our 4 day Kakadu National Park Tour from Darwin

4 day Kakadu National Park Tour

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12 Incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites That Mix Nature and Culture

Cave art or beaches mountains or temples ancient ruins or volcanoes you can enjoy both culture and nature at these remarkable sites..

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Shallow pools of light blue water among petrified white rocks

The otherworldly appearance of Pamukkale, Türkiye, has made it popular on Instagram.

Photo by Nadezda/Shutterstock

Yes, all UNESCO World Heritage sites are special by definition. But only 39 of the more than 1,000 are mixed, meaning that they’re noted for both cultural and natural features. That’s fewer than 5 percent with this special status. Many are islands and/or mountains. A few are famous: Machu Picchu , Tikal, Cappadocia. And some are unexpected: Ibiza? It’s more than a party island. Australia and China tie for the most—four each. The one in the United States is not exactly on cruise ship itineraries; it’s almost as hard to spell as it is to get there: Papahānaumokuakea, an archipelago of small islands in Hawai‘i . Others inaccessible to tourists include Chiribiquete National Park, in Colombia, the world’s largest protected tropical rainforest.

Although several of these sites are very remote, that means they are also well preserved—and most are crowd free. Here are 12 of the most intriguing mixed World Heritage sites around the globe:

Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

One of three national parks on the North Island, Togariro is also New Zealand’s oldest. Its nearly 200,000 acres (312 square miles) encompass alpine lakes and three active volcanoes. The 12-mile Tongariro Crossing hike, with views of Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe volcanoes, is considered one of the world’s best day hikes, while the Tongariro Alpine Crossing of nearly 27 miles takes several days to hike. Also in the park: Mount Ruapehu, the country’s largest active volcano and the North Island’s high point at 9,177 feet. All three volcanoes have erupted in the past 50 years. For the Māori people, the park’s mountains are rich in mythology.

The Blue Mountains carpeted in greenery, with fog in background

The Blue Mountains offer more than coveted coffee beans.

Photo by John B Hewitt/Shutterstock

Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica

Coffee cultists associate this Caribbean island’s Blue Mountains as the source of rare, pricey beans. But for UNESCO, these ranges, which form a national park, are notable for biodiversity (well over 1,200 species of flowering plants), endangered frogs and birds, and their history as a refuge for enslaved people. The rugged landscape provided the fugitives, the Maroons, with a suitable place to hide and develop a culture closely connected to mountain life. Visitors can tour a coffee factory and join a guided hiking trip.

A small rowboat with a few passengers passes through a cave, with forested hills in background

Cave boat tours are one way to explore this unusual landscape.

Photo by Marie Shark/Shutterstock

Trang An Landscape Complex, Vietnam

Forested limestone rock towers reach as high as 600 feet throughout this area, and there’s evidence that people long ago lived in the elevated caves here. Situated near a river delta, Trang An also includes a network of subterranean waterways, accessible to visitors by small-boat tours. Today, aside from villages, rice paddies, temples, and a few small tourist resorts, the landscape remains in its natural, dramatic condition—one of the reasons 2017’s Kong: Skull Island was filmed here.

Turquoise pools at Pamukkale in stacked rows of white stone

While Pamukkale gets the most attention, the ruins of nearby Herapolis are well worth seeing.

Photo by Suksamran1985/Shutterstock

Hierapolis-Pamukkale, Türkiye

Nothing new about hydrotherapy. Back around 130 B.C.E., the Greco-Roman town of Hierapolis ( sacred city ) was a spa destination, as it would remain for several centuries. One reason: the nearby thermal mineral waters of Pamukkale ( cotton palace or cotton castle ), with its bizarre landscape of terraced basins and petrified waterfalls. An extensive system of canals was built to bring the water not only to the baths but also to village residents and to fields for irrigation. The ancient amphitheater here, one of the best preserved in the world, was a venue for gladiator fights during its Roman era.

Half a dozen tall white birds standing in water at the Ses Salines natural wildlife reserve in Ibiza

Bird lovers flock to the Ses Salines natural wildlife reserve in Ibiza.

Photo by Wanderlust Media/Shutterstock

Ibiza, Spain

This island, hardly a secret vacation spot, has a reputation as a party place. But UNESCO recognized it for culture and biodiversity more than 20 years ago. Throughout history, various cultures have visited this Balearic isle, including the ancient Phoenicians, who had a colony here. Remains of their presence include a well-preserved necropolis. A highlight of Ibiza’s biodiversity is Ses Salines Natural Park, noted for its marine life; it’s ideal for watching flamingos and snorkeling.

Two giraffes roaming in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with cloudy gray sky

Wildlife and fossil remains are among the attractions at this African World Heritage site.

Photo by Giuseppe D’Amico/Shutterstock

Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Adjacent to famed Serengeti National Park, this natural/cultural site includes Olduvai Gorge, long an area of archaeological research that’s rich in fossil records of human ancestors. It also features the world’s largest unbroken volcanic crater and supports a wide range of wildlife, including major migrations of zebras, gazelles, and wildebeest. Semi-nomadic Maasai continue to use the land for cattle grazing.

Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region, Albania & North Macedonia

The natural aspect of this site, Lake Ohrid, straddles the border of these two countries, while the cultural part, the old town of Ohrid, is in North Macedonia. Both are far from well-trod paths, and together this scenic and historic spot includes Europe’s oldest lake as well as one of its oldest settlements of people. It’s also home to St. Panteleimon, the oldest Slav monastery, plus remains of Christian churches and basilicas from the 4th through 6th centuries noted for their mosaic floors. Extensive frescoes and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons in Ohrid date from the 11th through the 14th century. The geographic isolation also means the lake is a fine place for bird-watching.

Huge head of the Leshan Giant Buddha dwarfing row of people in background

Visitors are dwarfed by the Leshan Giant Buddha.

Photo by Efired/Shutterstock

Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, China

This mixed site combines two notable places a few hours’ drive apart. All of China’s mixed sites involve mountains, but only Leshan, near Emei in Sichuan, offers the world’s largest Buddha sculpture (233 feet tall) carved into a hillside. That’s fitting, since this is where Buddhism was introduced to China. The hills and cliffs also feature many historic temples. Evergreen forests and three rivers enhance the setting. As one of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains , Emei has long been protected; the first Chinese Buddhist temple, dating from the 1st century C.E., tops its summit.

Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu National Park, with detailed white drawing of human figure

Aboriginal rock art is abundant in Kakadu National Park.

Photo by Miroslaw Skorka/Shutterstock

Kakadu National Park, Australia

Australia’s largest national park, located in a tropical stretch of the Northern Territory, encompasses portions of four river systems, waterfalls, wetlands, and steep cliffs and plateaus inaccessible to vehicles. Plus, the thousands of sites of rock art and cave paintings indicate people have lived here some 40,000 years, including Aboriginal people today. Crocodiles, wallabies, and flying foxes also live here, and a large and diverse bird population makes it a prime place for bird-watching. Crocodile Dundee featured Kakadu’s Gunlom plunge pool, popular with visitors.

A rock monument known as La Theiere (the Teapot) in Algeria, surrounded by rocky desert

The rock monument La Theiere (the Teapot) is one of many impressive sights in this Algerian spot.

Photo by imageBROKER.com/Shutterstock

Tassili n’Ajjer, Algeria

Nature and culture mix vividly at this site, which offers an impressive array of prehistoric cave art in a landscape of eroded sandstone pillars and arches in the desert. The engravings and paintings, rediscovered in the 20th century, include images of animals; they range over 10,000 years and show species that have long been extinct in the region, such as crocodiles and hippopotamus. They also depict how a society and the climate evolved.

Overhead view of two people in yellow jackets in a kayak, passing through narrow section of the Bloodvein River

The Bloodvein River, one of several in Pimachiowin Aki, gets its name from red rocks; some feature ancient drawings.

Photo by Dustin Silvey

Pimachiowin Aki, Canada

This site, “The Land That Gives Life,” is the traditional home of four Anishinaabeg First Nations communities. In this boreal forest rich with lakes and rivers in the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, caribou, wolverines, moose, and other wildlife flourish. The local First Nations communities follow their long cultural tradition of “keeping the land,” a responsible stewardship that includes fishing and hunting, maintaining ancient and sacred spaces, and avoiding commercial development.

Overhead view of stone walls and small shelters (with grass roofs) in green field on St. Kilda

Walls and shelters on remote St. Kilda testify to its long habitation.

Photo by corlaffra/Shutterstock

St. Kilda, United Kingdom

Among nearly three dozen U.K. UNESCO sites, St. Kilda is the only mixed cultural-natural site; it’s also one of the most remote. Yet this small archipelago off Scotland’s west coast was inhabited for thousands of years. (No one lives there now, except for 1 million visiting seabirds and feral sheep.) The striking landscape results from the islands’ formation by a volcano. St. Kilda’s high sea cliffs and sea stacks experience some of the tallest waves and strongest winds in Europe.

This article was originally published in July 2021. It was updated in June 2024 with new information.

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  1. Kakadu: Top things to see, when to go & how to get there

    best way to travel kakadu

  2. A Guide to exploring the Kakadu National Park Australia

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  3. Best Darwin to Kakadu Tours 2023

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  4. This is the ultimate guide to exploring Kakadu National Park in The

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  5. Kakadu Tourism Adventure Tours

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  6. 3 Day Kakadu 4wd Tour

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  1. Exercise Kakadu 2012 KDB 08 Darulaman leaves Fort Hill Wharf, Darwin, NT, Australia

  2. Kakadu Walking Adventure with World Expeditions

COMMENTS

  1. Plan your trip

    Take the first step. A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single click. Enter your email to get free trip planning advice from Kakadu rangers. Kakadu trip-planning ideas - find itineraries, where to stay, where to eat, where you'll find internet access and information on staying safe when travelling through the Kakadu National Park.

  2. 23 Must-Dos in Kakadu National Park + Itinerary Ideas (2024)

    8. Guluyambi Cultural Cruise. Kakadu has a lot to offer when it comes to adventure and exploration, but it's also a special place for the Traditional Owners of this land. The Guluyambi Cultural Cruise is a must-do experience to gain insight into the Indigenous way of life in Kakadu.

  3. 10 Unforgettable Things to Do in Kakadu

    Hike up the rocky and rugged plains of Nawurlandja. (Image: Tourism NT/Jewels Lynch) 3. Swim at Maguk. Best for: Active and adventurous traveller seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences. Of all the things to do in Kakadu, a swim at Maguk is one of the more under-the-radar activities, despite being absolutely stunning.

  4. Kakadu Tourism

    Daytime temperatures are around 30°C and night temperatures around 17°C, making it Kakadu's peak visiting season. Most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out while burning continues, extinguished by the dew at night. Birds of prey patrol the fire lines of the daytime burning as insects and small animals try to escape the ...

  5. The how to guide to road trips in Kakadu National Park

    The best way to see these is on a scenic flight. Old Jim Jim Road, Maguk and Sandy Billabong are also out of action. Many minor unsealed roads are closed; those that remain open are 4WD-only and some bush campgrounds are closed. Check the road report for details. Check out our Kakadu FAQs for more. Kakadu road trip itineraries Kakadu in three ...

  6. The ultimate guide to everything to do in Kakadu National Park

    A former Indigenous ranger in Kakadu, Cooper specialises in translating the significance of the rock art and historic sites at Ubirr. Keep your eyes peeled for etchings of a Tasmanian tiger, the ...

  7. Guide to Kakadu National Park

    Experience the magic of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park on an outback adventure that defies expectation. In Australia's biggest national park you'll find rugged escarpments, lush rainforest and rock art galleries up to 20,000 years old. Learn about Aboriginal culture from Traditional Owners, the Bininj/Mungguy people, take in ...

  8. Kakadu National Park: The Complete Guide

    Kakadu National Park. Address. Kakadu Hwy, Jabiru NT 0886, Australia. Phone +61 8 8938 1120. Web Visit website. Most travelers to Australia stay around the big cities and pristine beaches of the east coast, but thrill-seekers and adventure-lovers are better off heading to the rainforests of the north. Located in Australia's Northern Territory ...

  9. 7-day Kakadu itinerary

    Jim Jim Falls. Kakadu National Park. See & do. Whether they are raging with water or reduced to a mere trickle, the majestic Jim Jim Falls are a sight to behold at the end of a challenging four-wheel drive track in the southern escarpment country of Kakadu National Park. (08) 8938 1120 Website Email.

  10. 3-day Kakadu itinerary

    Book this trip. Make the most of your 3 days to experience the diversity and beauty of Kakadu National Park. Follow expert guides to discover ancient local Aboriginal art. Get up close and personal with the largest reptile on the planet and learn about native wildlife on a river cruise. Take to the skies to get a bird's eye view of the park ...

  11. 17 Things to KNOW before Visiting Kakadu National Park, Australia

    What a view! No, to enter Kakadu National Park you will need to buy a park pass, which is valid for 7 days. There are two main seasons in Darwin: wet and dry. During the wet season, the humidity is higher and there are many storms and monsoons. Prices are higher during the dry season, and cheaper during the wet season.

  12. Visit Kakadu National Park: A complete guide

    The main thing to do in the Jabiru region is the Bowali Visitor Centre. It has a very interesting free museum about the nature and environment of Kakadu National Park. There are often events here, like art classes. And the rangers will be able to give you lots of information about what else is happening in the park.

  13. The Ultimate Guide to Kakadu National Park • The Blonde Abroad

    What to Know Before You Go. To get into Kakadu National Park, you'll have to pay an entrance fee. It's $25 AUD for adults and $12.50 AUD for children between the ages of 5 to 15. If you're traveling with your family, you can get a group pass for $65 AUD. It's good for two adults and two children and is valid for an entire week.

  14. MUST READ

    1. Bushwalk Through Kakadu National Park. Tourism Australia/Nicholas Kavo. Access: Mixture of 2WD and 4WD depending on the trail. One of the most rewarding things to do in Kakadu is to find a quiet walking trail and spend the afternoon exploring!

  15. The best things to do in Kakadu

    7 - Sunset at Nawalandja Lookout. Ubirr is the most famous sunset spot in Kakadu but if you're there for a few days we definitely recommend checking out Nawalandja too. It's just a 300m leisurely climb from the car park to the top of the rocky plateau, offering amazing views over the plains and Nourlangie rock.

  16. Top 10 things to do in Kakadu

    Three hours' drive from Darwin, Kakadu offers many experiences: bush walking, bird watching, cruising and swimming under waterfalls to four-wheel driving, camping, scenic flights and wandering through galleries of Aboriginal art 20,000 years old. Here are 10 of Kakadu's must-do activities. 1. Walk through ancient shelters at Nourlangie.

  17. Kakadu Tourism

    The best things to do in Kakadu: Motor Car Falls. The colour of the water almost looks fake, like something straight out of a fairy tale. There are also several small waterfalls running into the pool. You access the pools by climbing behind the rocks that you will see when you first arrive at the creek.

  18. Getting here

    Take the first step. A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single click. Enter your email to get free trip planning advice from Kakadu rangers. Just three hours from Darwin or Katherine, visitors can explore the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park by coach tour, hire car or self driving.

  19. 5 Different Kakadu Tours from Darwin: Our Personal Favorite Tours

    2. 4-Day Kakadu & Katherine Tour (Luxury Option) Seeing crocodiles in Kakadu National Park on a cruise! Prepare for the safari adventure of a lifetime on this four-day Kakadu tour from Darwin! This tour is perfect for those who want to explore the park in depth without sacrificing modern amenities.

  20. Best time to visit Kakadu National Park

    Yekke (cooler season) May to mid-June. With the storms gone, cooler temperatures of 21°C to 33°C and lower humidity, yekke is one of the best times to visit Kakadu. Waterlillies blanket the wetlands and early-morning mists over the plains make for excellent photography opportunities. Areas of the park that closed due to flooding usually open ...

  21. How to get to Kakadu from Darwin

    The drive from Darwin to Kakadu National Park is about 2.5 hours. Just 2 and a half hours!! Kakadu is about 253 kilometers from Darwin city. So not far at all if you have a car. "Just three hours from Darwin you can explore the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park by coach tour, hire car or self driving.

  22. Kakadu

    Kakadu National Park will change how you see the world. Experience the magic of this ancient land, only a few hours from Darwin. There's so much to Kakadu. With a World Heritage-listed national park as your playground, the options are endless, and so are the views. Walk through a pristine wilderness brimming with wildlife or take a river ...

  23. Best Way to do Kakadu? : r/travel

    I'd suggest renting a car or maybe just finding a bus or something that can do one way. There are campsites and resorts etc in Kakadu as I'm sure you are aware. I'm not sure about exploring solo as I have never done it nor really have I thought about it. It's truly beautiful there and there are people around all the time at the popular spots in ...

  24. 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites That Mix Nature and Culture

    Yes, all UNESCO World Heritage sites are special by definition. But only 39 of the more than 1,000 are mixed, meaning that they're noted for both cultural and natural features. That's fewer than 5 percent with this special status. Many are islands and/or mountains. A few are famous: Machu Picchu, Tikal, Cappadocia.