Guide to Kakadu National Park
Experience the magic of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, a three-hour drive east of Darwin.
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.
- Discover Aboriginal rock art up to 20,000 years old
- Hike to the top of rugged escarpments
- Cruise the wetlands past water lilies and waterfalls
How to get there
International flights arrive directly into Darwin from many global hubs. From the airport it's about a three-hour drive to Kakadu National Park. Follow the Nature's Way route from Darwin for a longer adventure through the Top End.
Things to do and top attractions 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. 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 Cooinda 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 boat shuttle 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, Nitmiluk National Park 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 Nitmiluk (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.