The vast protected area of cultural and natural significance, Kakadu National Park, lies in the remote tropical north of Australia. It is revered for it rugged escarpments, flood plains and abundant wildlife and Aboriginal artwork. There are stunning waterfalls, gorges, bushwalking tracks, billabongs, birds, native wildlife, ancient landforms and plant life to see.
Kakadu is 3.5 hours drive east of Darwin and can be visited as a day trip. Accommodation within the park can be found at
Image: Mamukala Wetlands, Nourlangie Aboriginal Rock Art, Yellow Waters and Nardab plains from Ubirr look-out.
Choosing the right time of year is important in Kakadu. There are two distinctive seasons: the dry, cool season from April to September and the hot, wet season from December to March. The months of October and November are called the ‘build-up’ and are the hottest and driest times of the year. It is usually more comfortable to visit during the dry season.
It is thought that the first people came to Australia via the Top End, where the rock walls of Kakadu feature more than 20,000 years of art, including X-ray style paintings. Ubirr and Nourlangie Rock Art sites have outstanding galleries and companion interpretive panels that give insight into Aboriginal customs and culture.
Indigenous people now play an important part in the management of national parks and land that has been recently restored to them including Kakadu.
Mamukala Wetlands near the entrance to the park, has a large bird-hide where visitors can watch thousands of migratory birds and thirsty wildlife stop at the waterhole for a welcome rest .
A must-do activity in Kakadu is a river cruise along Yellow Waters and the South Alligator river from Cooinda. When water is scarce in the dry season, animals and birds migrate to available water sources in billabongs and rivers. It's a great opportunity to see otherwise elusive creatures.
The networks of roads around the park are well-maintained, sealed roads that can be navigated with a conventional car.
Be sure to pack a water bottle, hat, sunscreen and insect repellent against flies and mosquitoes. Park Use fees apply are collected at the entrance to the park and children under 16 are free of cost.
Things to do:
Bowali Visitors Centre - for visitor displays on habitats in Kakadu. Open 8am to 5pm
Mamukala Wetlands - an enclosed observation platform on the edge of the wetlands. Spectacular when the magpie geese arrive in the September-October.
Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre - displays on Aboriginal culture in the region. Open 9am to 5 pm
Yellow Water - a refuge for wildlife that changes dramatically with the seasons. Can be explored by boat cruise or boardwalk.
Maguk - monsoon rainforest that leads to a plunge pool and waterfall. Dry season only.
Gunlom - a waterfall and plunge pool with walks through stone country.
Yurmikmik Walking Tracks - a series of creeks waterfalls and lookout
Ubirr Art Site - Aboriginal rock art site walk with views over the Nardab floodplain. Wonderful variety of rock art and explanatory panels.
Bardedjilidji Walk - a walk through layered sandstone, pillars and caves.
East Alligator River - that forms the border between Kakadu and Arnhem Land. Explore the river with a boat cruise.
Nanguluwur Art Site Walk - stroll through peaceful woodlands to see a gallery of Aboriginal rock art.
Gubara Pools Walk - woodlands, sandstone cliffs and shady monsoon forest pools
Nourlangie Rock Art Site Walk - explore the ancient Aboriginal shelter and exceptional Aboriginal rock art, helpfully explained with interpretive signs.
Anbangbang Billabong - at the base of Nourlangie Rock, that is a small wetland haven for waterbirds during the dry season
Mirrai Lookout - on top of a platform which provides views over the woodlands of central Kakadu
Jim Jim Falls & Twin Falls Gorge - a 4WD track to a plunge pool, waterfall and gorge surrounded by spectacular cliffs. You may need to swim to see Twin Falls. Accessible in dry season - but can be seen from the air as dramatic falls during the wet season.
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Darwin, Kakadu and the Top End