World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, covering more than 19,000 square kilometres, is a landscape of contrasts. Beneath waters dotted with lotus flowers, saltwater crocodiles lurk. Jagged peaks of towering escarpments hide pockets of monsoon rainforest. Waterfalls cascade into pools fringed with paperbarks, pandanus and cycads. You can view the spectacular Jim Jim Falls, browse through a gallery of ancient Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr or Nourlangie Rock, or explore the scenic Yellow Water, a billabong teeming with wildlife. Around 1,000 plant species, a quarter of all Australian freshwater fish species, and over one third of Australian bird species can be found in the Park.
THINGS TO DO IN KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
Take to the air in a light aircraft during the Tropical Summer (November – March) for a breathtaking view of Kakadu’s majestic Twin and Jim Jim waterfalls.
Take a cultural cruise on the East Alligator River.
Cruise the Yellow Water Billabong and spot birds, animals and big crocodiles.
Bird watch at Mardugal Billabong or try the Mardugal Billabong Walk.
Call in to the Bowali Visitor Centre for the latest information on Kakadu.
The Nature’s Way tourism drive is a great way to explore the park. The drive runs along the Arnhem Highway to Jabiru, then the Kakadu Highway to Pine Creek, and then south on to Katherine and Nitmiluk National Park.
Kakadu is shaped by water, being the catchment area for the South Alligator, East Alligator, Katherine, Roper and Daly Rivers. From November to May, waterfalls are at their most spectacular and the lowlands are flooded, attracting millions of migratory birds. The unique and diverse avian life in Kakadu includes jacanas, azure kingfishers, cuckoos, rufous owls, magpie geese, jabiru and more.
At the centre of the Park the small mining township of Jabiru offers a range of services and accommodation. Cooinda also offers accommodation and is located on the banks of Yellow Water, a billabong teeming with migratory birds, saltwater crocodiles and other wildlife. Cruises on Yellow Water depart daily. A visit to Kakadu is best started at the Bowali Visitor Centre near Jabiru or the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre near Cooinda.
There is a wide range of accommodation in Kakadu including the unique Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, a crocodile-shaped complex that is an amazing sight when viewed from the air. Resort-style accommodation is also available at Cooinda, a village on the famous Yellow Water Billabong, while family friendly resorts are located in Jabiru as well as at the entrance to Kakadu on the South Alligator River.
Kakadu National Park Entry Fee
Kakadu National Park reintroduced a park entry fee in 2010 to help manage the natural and cultural values of the park environment and improve visitor services. Like many World Heritage sites around the world, a park use helps maintain world-best management practices and facilities for the more than 200,000 visitors who experience Kakadu each year.
The $25 fee (inclusive of GST) will apply to all interstate and international visitors aged 16 years and over. All Northern Territory residents and children under 16 will be exempt. Tickets and more information are available on the Kakadu website.
Bowali Visitor Centre
Before exploring Kakadu National Park, get familiarised by exploring the Bowali Visitor Centre, where you can watch a 25 minute audio visual presentation to help you gain a greater understanding of Kakadu’s landscape and moods, then take a walk through the interpretive displays. Videos are shown on the half hour giving different perspectives on Kakadu and its international significance. The habitat based display and library gives detailed information about the Park and how much there is to see and do. Take a look at The Marrawuddi Gallery for Aboriginal arts and crafts, books and gifts, and then enjoy a coffee at the cafe.
Jim Jim Falls
Open daily 6.30am to 8.30pm subject to weather conditions.
Whether the falls are raging with water or the merest trickle, this majestic waterfall is a sight to behold. Set in the red ochre of the Arnhem Land escarpment, and boasting white sandy beaches and crystal clear water, it is worth the two kilometre return walk across rocks to appreciate this special area.
Open daily, subject to weather conditions. Tour fee applies.
Twin Falls is set in the Arnhem Land escarpment. Take a ranger-guided boat cruise, followed by a bushwalk and a scenic stroll along a boardwalk to the cascading falls. You will be rewarded by panoramic views of the towering red escarpment and sparkling waters. Afterwards, sit down and relax on the white sandy shore.
Maguk / Barramundi Gorge
Open daily, subject to weather conditions.
A one kilometre walk through monsoon rainforest leads to the base of a beautiful plunge pool. Maguk / Barramundi Gorge is a scenic and tranquil place to enjoy a refreshing swim in a series of small waterholes. The water is crystal clear and a short hike to the top of the waterfall is well worth the effort, affording a panoramic view.
Yellow Water Billabong
Yellow Water is one of Kakadu National Park’s best known landmarks. Located near the small settlement of Cooinda, Yellow Water is home to crocodiles, wild horses, buffalo and other wildlife. The billabong, which floods to join other waterways during the wet season, attracts millions of migratory birds each year, including jacana, egrets, jabiru, sea eagles and magpie geese. Paperbark forests, pandanus and freshwater mangroves line the banks, and the water is dotted with beautiful pink and white waterlilies. Explore the billabong by joining a wildlife cruise, or witness an unforgettable sunset from the viewing platform.