Immerse yourself in World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, a natural and cultural wonder around three hours from Darwin. Discover detailed Aboriginal art galleries, hike to the top of rugged escarpments and cruise the wetlands past waterlilies, waterfalls, crocodiles and migratory birds. Drive the Nature's Way route from Darwin, or add Katherine and Arnhem Land for a longer Top End adventure.
Experience the magic of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, a three hour drive east of Darwin.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
See Aboriginal rock art
Kakadu is home to Aboriginal rock art dating back 20,000 years, one of the longest historical records for any group of people in the world. Art can be seen at ancient rock art galleries including Ubirr and Nourlangie. The art sites at Ubirr, 39 kilometres (24 miles) from the Kakadu township of Jabiru, can be reached via an easy one kilometre (0.6 mile) circular walking track. The galleries reveal some of the world's finest examples of traditional X-ray art. At Ubirr, take the moderately steep 250 metre (820 foot) climb to Nadab Lookout, which provides amazing views across the floodplains, especially at sunset. The rock art at Nourlangie is equally as impressive. Follow the 1.5 kilometre (0.9 mile) Nourlangie Rock Art Walk past an ancient Aboriginal shelter and outstanding art sites. The main site of Anbangbang Gallery reveals stories of Dreamtime ancestors including Namarrgon, the Lightning Man, who is believed to control the violent lightning storms that occur during the wet season.
Take a cruise
At the heart of Kakadu are dramatic wetlands, abundant in rare flora and fauna. The Yellow Water billabong lies at the end of Jim Jim Creek, a tributary of the South Alligator River, and is considered one of the best places to see Australia's wildlife in its natural habitat. Take a Yellow Water Cruise for the ultimate wilderness experience. Canopied boats will steer you through the tranquil waters, where you'll see saltwater crocodiles, sea eagles, whistling ducks and buffalo across the floodplain. Cruises depart daily from Jabiru and run for 90 or 120 minutes. Book well in advance for the sunrise or sunset cruise to be rewarded with a spectacular colour show across the wetlands.
Swim beneath waterfalls or soar above them
Of Kakadu's many cascading waterfalls, Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls are the most breathtaking. This is 4WD territory only, and access to the Jim Jim Falls is via an unsealed road, which is generally open from June to November. From the car park, take the 900 metre (0.6 mile) walk through monsoon forest and boulders, to the deep plunge pools surrounded by magnificent 150 metre (492 foot) high cliffs. With its white sandy beach and cool water, this is a popular swimming spot. Twin Falls is a split cascade that gushes down the cliff face. The best way to see the falls is on a cruise up the gorge or aboard a scenic flight. Ferry tickets are available from the Garnamarr Campground, while scenic flights depart from Jabiru Airport in Kakadu National Park, and will take you above both Jim Jim and Twin Falls.
Witness Kakadu's dramatic change in seasons
You'll need to visit Kakadu more than once to appreciate its dramatic seasons. The local Bininj/Mungguy people recognise six seasons, beginning with the thundering waterfalls and lightening of the Gudjewg monsoon season between January and March through to the hot dry weather of the Gurrung from August to October. See blossoming paperbarks and billabongs filled with waterbirds in the Bang Gereng season in April. Yegge, from May to June, and Wurrgeng, between June and August, are peak tourist seasons as Kakadu enjoys cooler temperatures and clear skies. Gungmeleng occurs from October to December, when there's a build up of humidity before the monsoon arrives. You can admire Kakadu's scenery on a sweeping flight over the landscape or up close on a bushwalk, billabong or river cruise.
Go on a road trip
You can visit Kakadu as part of the 550 kilometre (341 mile) Nature's Way driving route, which starts in Darwin and passes by wetlands, gorges and waterfalls in a land rich in Aboriginal culture. Take your time. Over the course of four to seven days, as well as travelling through Kakadu National Park, you'll visit the town of Katherine and Litchfield National Park, taking in the best of the Top End's natural beauty. Hike to the top of Gunlom Falls, where you can swim in nature's infinity pool, and ride a canoe through Katherine Gorge. The route follows a fully sealed road suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles.
Let someone else do the driving
If you are travelling with a larger group or would rather leave the driving to someone else, Venture North offers a range of guided tours that can be customised to suit. Visit the best of Kakadu, Arnhem Land and Cobourg Peninsula and choose your level of comfort - from camping under the Outback sky to luxury lodges with all the amenities.
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The Ancient Art of Kakadu
In amongst the wetlands, wildlife and rugged gorges, World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park holds one of the highest concentrated areas of rock art in the world. As many as 5,000 Aboriginal sites have been found here, including rock art, shelters, stone tools, grindstones and ceremonial ochre. This detailed, dramatic record of life in Kakadu stretches back more than 50,000 years - from the first evidence of human occupation to the arrival of Europeans.
Wind through the Adelaide and Mary River wetlands to World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Here you can bushwalk through rugged escarpments and lush rainforest and discover a treasure trove of Aboriginal rock ark. Learn about the Territory's pioneering history in Pine Creek and swim in crystal-clear waterholes in the tarzan landscape of Litchfield National Park. You can do this dream drive on a fully sealed road in a two-wheel-drive vehicle.
Bordered by Kakadu National Park, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria, Arnhem Land is a vast unspoiled wilderness, rich in Aboriginal culture. The Yolngu people are the owners of Arnhem Land and have occupied the region for at least 60,000 years. The Yolngu retain strong cultural and spiritual links to the land and you will find authentic indigenous experiences. This is the land where Australia's famous musical instrument, the didgeridoo, originated.
The Northern Territory's Katherine region stretches from Dunmarra in the south to the Daly River region in the north. In total it covers an incredible 480,000 sq kilometres. From east to west it touches both the Queensland and West Australian borders. Katherine and its surrounds are the place to go for true outback adventure and indigenous experiences.
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park, with its lush woodlands, spectacular waterfalls, sparkling plunge pools and tall termite mounds is an increasingly popular trip from Darwin. In Northern Territory terms it's just a short two-hour drive away. What's more all the main natural attractions - including Buley Rockhole and the dramatic Florence, Tolmer and Wangi falls - are easily accessible from Litchfield's main road. Check out the cleverly-constructed termite mounds, swim in pandanus-lined pools and take scenic walks on a day trip. Or stay, camp and hike or 4WD to the more remote reaches of the park.
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