Kakadu National Park – The Largest Park of Australia

Situated at a distance of 257 km south east of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Kakadu National Park is the largest territorial national park and a World Heritage listed site of Australia. Teeming with wildlife and several alligator infested rivers flowing through, Kakadu National Park is a haven of natural beauty. There are magnificent rock formations and natural caves in the park.

Flora & Fauna

Kakadu-National-Park-Australia

For more than 40,000 years, the park has been home to the Aborigines with cave paintings and rock carvings recording their history. The towns of Jabiru, Cooinda and South Alligator are within the Kakadu National Park. Kakadu National Park boasts of approximately 290 species of birds, 68 species of mammals, 50 species of freshwater fish, 120 species of reptiles, 10,000 species of insects and 1700 species of plants.

Types of mammals include wallabies, dugongs and kangaroos. Freshwater crocodiles and the estuarine or saltwater crocodiles are also found here. The ecosystem consists of estuaries and tidal flats, floodplains, southern hills and basins, lowlands and stone country and outliers.

In the dry season tourists can participate in free activities such as walks, cultural activities, daily art site talks and nightly slide shows.

Attractions

Kakadu National Park has 2 entrances: the northern entrance and the southern entrance. The park itself is divided into 7 main visitors regions:

  1. South Alligator
  2. Jabiru
  3. East Alligator
  4. Nourlangie (or Burrunggui)
  5. Yellow Water
  6. Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls
  7. Mary River

1. South Alligator Region

Two Mile Hole, Four Mile Hole And The West Alligator Head:Bird watching, 4WD driving, white water fishing and bush camping are some of the popular activities at Two Mile Hole, Four Mile Hole and the West Alligator Head. One can reach these places on a 4WD via the Waldak Irrmbal Track.

South Alligator River: Flowing in a northwesterly direction, the South Alligator River is a perennial river and 160 km in length. There is a boat ramp, picnic area and fish cleaning tables on the bank of the South Alligator River. Fishing enthusiasts can take up barra and reef fishing on the river. Care should be taken to observe and obey all crocodile warning signs.

Mamukala Wetlands: Situated at south off the Arnhem Highway about 7 km east of the South Alligator River, the Mamukala wetlands is a haven for bird lovers as it boasts of several species of splendid birds such as magpie geese. Bird watching can be done from an observation platform and a dry season 3 km walking track. A mural depicts the seasonal changes of the year.

Gu-ngarre Walk: Gu-ngarre Walk is a 3.6 km circular walk taking one through woodlands, the edges of Anggardabal Billabong and monsoon forest.

2. Jabiru Region

Jabiru is the main town in Kakadu National Park and is the entry point to the different areas of the park and Arnhem Land. The town has all facilities for visitors including a medical centre, chemist, police, public telephones, service station, supermarket, post office, travel agent, accommodation, restaurant, cafe and bakery. Sightseeing flights are available from Jabiru Airport to see the cascading waterfalls during the wet season.

Bowali Visitor Centre: The Bowali Visitor Centre, situated about five km from Jabiru, is a tourist friendly place informing the visitors about the attractions to see and accommodation to stay in. Eatables are available at the Anmak An-me Café.

The Marrawuddi Gallery: Aboriginal arts and crafts, books and gifts are available at the Marrawuddi Gallery.

3. East Alligator Region

The East Alligator region features stone country, lush green rainforest, rock art, widespread floodplains and the grand East Alligator River.

Ubirr (Obiri) Rock Art Sites: Situated about 40 km from Jabiru off the Kakadu Highway is a group of rock outcrops at the edge of the Nadab floodplain that constitute the striking aboriginal rock art sites of Ubirr. The aborigine art can be viewed from a 1 km circular path and includes depiction of goannas, long-necked turtles, barramundi, catfish, mullet, rock ringtail possums, pig nosed turtles and wallabies. Some of the paintings are more than 20000 years old. One can have a spectacular view of the Nadab floodplain from the top of a lookout on Ubiir Rock. Ranger talks about aboriginal art and culture are available in the dry season.

East Alligator River: The East Alligator River is situated east of the Merl Camping Area and the Border Store and is a grand tidal river forming the boundary between Kakadu and Arnhem Land. One can take a pleasant boat cruise on this river during the dry season and on Magela Creek during the wet season. Upstream and downstream of Cahills Crossing are boat ramps.

Bardedjilidji Walk: Bardedjilidji Walk is an engrossing 2 hour, 2.5 km walk through layered sandstone outliers.

Manngarre Rainforest Walk: As the name indicates the Manngarre Rainforest Walk is a 1.5 km circular walk taking one through a beautiful monsoon rainforest. It takes about an hour to complete this walk and is available only in the dry season.

Cahills Crossing Picnic Area: Cahills Crossing Picnic Area is a fine picnic spot with picnic tables at the riverside and a platform for viewing over the East Alligator River.

4. Nourlangie Region (or Burrunggui Region)

With magnificent rock art galleries and superb views from Gunwarddehwardde lookout of Kakadu’s escarpment and Nourlangie Rock, Nourlangie Region has interesting things to offer to art aficionados and nature lovers. Visitors are cautioned to observe all crocodile warning signs.

Nourlangie Rock: Situated in an outlying formation of the Arnhem Land about 31 km from Bowali Visitor Centre, Nourlangie Rock has a 1.5 km circular walk going past an old Aboriginal shelter and several splendid art sites. On top of Gun-warddehwardde Lookout one can have a heart stopping view of Kakadu’s escarpment and Nourlangie Rock. Ranger talks are available in the dry season.

Kakadu Culture Camp: Kakadu Culture Camp is situated at Muirella Park and is open in the dry season. Interesting activities include weaving a pandanus bracelet, throwing a hunting spear, playing the didgeridoo and a night wildlife boat cruise. A delicious 3 course dinner cooked on the coals is another highlight of this camp. The amenities include spacious and ventilated canvas cabins with solid wood floors, a cozy bed and a bunk cot for children.

Anbangbang Billabong: Anbangbang Billabong (Billabong is translated as a pool of water) situated about 22 km from Jabiru in the shadow of Nourlangie Rock, has a 2.5 km dry season circular walk around it. It is a splendid picnic area. Several waterfowl and wading birds are found in the Billabong.

Nawurlandja Lookout: Nawurlandja Lookout is a 600 m climb, the top of which gives a glorious view of Nourlangie and Anbangbang Billabong.

Nanguluwur Art Site Walk: Nanguluwur Art Site Walk is a 3.4 km return walk. The walk takes one through pleasant woodlands with an aboriginal rock art site at the end of the walk. It takes about 2 hours to complete the walk.

Gubara Pools Walk: Gubara Pools Walk is a 6 km return walk taking 4 hours. Sandstone cliffs, pleasant monsoon forest pools and cascading waterfalls are encountered in the walk.

Barrk Bushwalk: Barrk Bushwalk is a 12 km circular walk taking about 6 to 8 hours to complete.

5. Yellow Water Region

Yellow Water Wetlands: Part of the South Alligator River floodplain, the spectacular Yellow Water Wetlands are home to several species of beautiful birds and wildlife. In the early dry season one can view the wildlife from a boardwalk and in the late dry season a 1.8 km return walk enables one to cross the floodplains to a viewing platform. One can see and take pictures of the wildlife from boat cruises which are available throughout the year.

Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre: Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre is a circular shaped building representing a warradjan or a pig nosed turtle. The displays provide information about aboriginal culture. Aboriginal arts and crafts, books and cards are sold at a gallery in this centre.

Mardugal Billabong: A 1 km return walk borders the Mardugal Billabong. This walk takes about 30 minutes.

Gun-gardun Walk: Gun-gardun Walk is a 2 km circular walk through woodlands taking about an hour.

6. Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls Region

Jim Jim Falls and Plunge Pool: Access to the scenic Jim Jim Falls Plunge Pool is available via 4WD in the dry season. The 2 hour drive to the falls involves turning east off the Kakadu Highway 43 km south of the Bowali Centre and then driving a further 60 km. There is a 2 km return walk through pretty monsoon forest to the splendid Jim Jim Falls Plunge Pool which is surrounded by towering cliffs. Scenic flights can be hired in the wet season to see the spectacular full flowing Jim Jim Falls plunging from a height of 200 m. Visitors are cautioned to observe all crocodile warning signs.

Twin Falls Gorge: The route to the picturesque Twin Falls comprises turning south off the Kakadu Highway at a distance of 40 km east of Jabiru and the Bowali Visitor Centre or 6 km west of the turn off to the Cooinda and Yellow Water area and then travelling a distance of 8 km from Garnamarr towards Jim Jim Falls. Turning right here and going a further 10 km leads to the Twin Falls. It takes about half an hour to go to Twin Falls from Jim Jim Falls. One can take a boat shuttle service and then use a walking track over boulders and sand and a boardwalk to access the stunning Twin Falls. Swimming is not allowed in the Twin Falls Gorge as there is a danger of estuarine crocodiles. Striking views can be had from a plateau above the Twin Falls. Budjmi Lookout accessed via 1 km return walk from the Jim Jim Creek picnic area has amazing views over the escarpment cliffs.

7. Mary River Region

With dramatic bushwalks, plunge pools and waterfalls, the Mary River Region is popular with tourists and can be accessed by turning east off the Kakadu Highway 2 km north of the Mary River Ranger Station.

Gunlom Falls (Also Called UDP Falls Or Waterfall Creek): One can reach the breathtaking Gunlom Falls driving a 4WD and turning right just after the southern entrance into Kakadu National Park or coming from the opposite direction turning left about 90 km from the Cooinda and Yellow Water turn off and travelling about 30 km. There is a camping site near the falls. Gunlom Lookout at the top of the waterfalls gives a panoramic view of southern Kakadu.

Murrill Billabong Walk: An easy 2.5 km return walk from the camping area, Murrill Billabong Walk leads to the Murrill Billabong and the South Alligator River.

Maguk Falls: Turning off about 50 km from the southern entrance to Kakadu National Park or 92 km south of Bowali Visitor Centre on the opposite side, a 4WD going another 12 km takes one to a fantastic cascading falls, the Maguk Falls. The 2 km walk to the falls from the car park takes one through lush green monsoonal forest. The Maguk Falls Pool is a deep pool and one can have an enjoyable swim here.

Koolpin Gorge (Also Called Jarrangbarnmi Gorge): The stupendous Koolpin Gorge can be reached by turning off the Kakadu Highway at the sign posted turn off to Gunlom, moving down the road for a distance of about 30 km down, then turning right towards the Gimbat Picnic area and traveling another 10 km to a sign posted turn off leading to Koolpin Gorge. It has gorgeous deep pools and scenery and is a perfect place for swimming and picnics.

Yurmikmik Walks: Yurmikmik Walks are 4 interconnected walks of varying lengths ranging from 2 km to 11 km along the Gunlom road. The individual walks are Boulder Creek Walk (2 km return), Yurmikmik Lookout Walk (5 km return), Motor Car Falls (7.5 km return) and Kurrundie Creek Walk (11 km return). Eye catching woodlands, green monsoonal forests, bubbling creeks and billabongs are encountered on these walks.

Gimbat Picnic Area: Gimbat Picnic Area is accessible only in the dry season via a 4WD and can be reached by driving a distance of 26 km east on the Gunlom Road and then turning right at the Y junction and going a further 19 km. The picnic area is near Guratba (Coronation Hill) and the South Alligator River.

Gungurul Picnic Area: Gungural Picnic Area can be reached by turning west off the Kakadu Highway 37 km north of the Mary River Ranger Station or 9 km south from the Muguk turn-off. Picnic tables and toilet facilities are available here.

Gungurul Lookout: A 4 km return walk from the Gungurul picnic area along the river leads to Gungurul Lookout. An awesome view of the South Alligator Valley can be had from this lookout.

Bukbukluk Lookout:The Bukbukluk Lookout can reached by turning west off the Kakadu Highway at a distance of 10 km north of the Mary River Ranger Station or 124 km south of the Bowali Visitor Centre and traveling a further 600 m on an unsealed road. Picnic tables are provided here. There is a 400 m return walk with remarkable views over the old Goodparla Station.

Ranger Uranium Mine: Located near Jabiru, the Ranger Uranium Mine works a rich uranium deposit under the sandstone. Guided tours are available to this mine.

Quick Facts

Location: 257 km south east of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia

Altitude: 1706 ft

Climate: Kakadu National Park has an average maximum temperature of 34?C. April to September is the dry season and the wet season is from October to March.

Best time to travel: June to August

Accommodation: Camping areas, commercial hotels and motels, lodges and holiday inns are available for tourist stay.

Getting There

There are no direct flights to Kakadu National Park. The best option would be to fly into Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory and then drive via the fully sealed Arnhem Highway to the northern entrance of Kakadu National Park. The travelling time from Darwin to Kakadu National Park is about 3 hours.

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