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The Ultimate Guide to Kakadu National Park, Australia

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all you need to know about Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia. Give a 👍 at the end of this post & feel free to share your experience or any updates you might have in the Australian Forum. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our knowledge & does not replace official sources & your research.

Kakadu National Park entrance
Kakadu National Park entrance

About Kakadu National Park

Kakadu Park is a World Unesco Heritage located in the Northern Territory (NT) which covers the top North East of the state and spreads across and enormous 20,000 square-kilometers. The national park is currently owned and leased by the Aboriginal people and bordered by Arnhem Land. The Park features unique wildlife and art sites to explore in your own time there. You will find 6 distinct seasons but generally two are remembered; ‘dry and wet’. Kakadu is one of the most isolated places on Earth and getting there is easy by plane, and hard by any other mean.

Kakadu National Park is itself divided into 7 regions, each offering unique habitats to explore. These are East Alligator, Jabiru, Jim Jim and Twin Falls, Mary River , Burrungkuy, South Alligator and Yellow Water.

About Northern Territory’s weather

Throughout the year, Northern Territory undergo spectacular changes. Aboriginals identify with six different weather transitions falling under the umbrella of more westernly known as dry and wet seasons.

☔ The wet season runs from mid October to mid April.

  • Kunumuleng or pre moosoon (mid-Oct - Dec): steams begin to run, waterbirds spread out as surface water and new growth becomes widespread.

  • Kudjewk or moonsoon (Dec - Mar): the heat and humidity generate an explosion of plant and animal life.

  • Bangkerreng or harvesting (April): Clear skies prevail. The vast expanses of floodwater recede and streams start to run clear and newborns from most species can be seen.

☀️ The dry season begins runs from mid April to mid October.

  • Yekke or cool weather time (May - June): best time to visit, wetlands are carpeted with water lilies, drying winds and flowering flora times.

  • Wurrkeng or early dry season (June to Aug): most creeks stop flowing and the floodplains quickly dry out.

  • Kurrung or hot dry season (August to mid-Oct): very hot weather above 40C with relentless numerous flies. Most waterfalls dry out, leaving ponds behind.

Where is Kakadu National Park and how to get there?

Located in the centre of Northern Australia's coast, it remains an isolated place on Earth which remains relatively well protected and preserved. Kakadu NP is located about 200kms East of Darwin (North entrance) or 150 kms from Katherine (South entrance); the main town is Jabiru where you will find petrol, groceries, water, travel information and the famous Crocodile Shaped Hotel.

Crocodile Shaped Hotel Kakadu, Northern Territory (NT), Australia

✈️ Getting to Kakadu from Darwin (by plane): Coming from Darwin, you will necessarily need a flight from another major Australian city, Bali or East Timor. Once in town, you will need to rent a car for a few days or book yourself onto a tour to visit the national park.

🚗 Getting to Kakadu from Katherine (by car): If driving (like we did), then you will be coming from the South where you can enter the park shortly after passing by the town of Katherine which also has all you need to fill up before entering the National Park.

The National Park’s main road bringing you to Jabiru is a loop so you will eventually see all places at your own pace and wonder around. We recommend you spending at least 2 or 3 days onsite to fully appreciate the stunning beauty and peace of this world famous Australian destination.

What to do in Kakadu National Park?

Go on a Crocodile Adventure

🐊 You probably already know that Australia has a lot of crocodiles, world’s largest reptiles. Kakadu goes a little further as it features saltwater and freshwater crocs, sometimes coexisting in the same river. The freshwater crocs are actually inoffensive to humans unless you harass or corner them, they only attack to defend themselves, leave them alone and you will be fine. The salt crocs are quite the opposite and will jump on anyone swimming nearby, avoid taking a dip anywhere you’re unsure about their presence.

💡Traveller Tip - We highly recommend to visit Cahills Crossing at the beginning of a high tide coming in, there you see dozens of saltwater crocs awaiting patiently for fish to jump into their open mouths.. or a car to get strangled on the crossing. If you wish to see them more closely then book yourself a crocodile tour where you will see them jump nearby your boat, but be aware that tours feed them for this to happen, and prefer natural sightseeing.

Cahills Corssing with saltwater crocodiles
Cahills Crossing, how many crocs can you spot?

Go Swimming

Ever dreamed about swimming in lost waterholes all for yourself surrounded by tropical fish and waterfalls? Kakadu offers you a lot of spots to do such but be sure to follow local guidelines as salty crocs are nasty. Best time to enjoy a swim is during the beginning of the dry season (between June and August), when all waterfalls are still flowing and it isn’t too hot to get anywhere just yet.

Here are some stunning swimming spots we’ve scored/recommend:

  • Jim Jim Falls Plunge Pool & Twin Falls: Jim Jim Falls are surrounded by spectacular 150m cliffs, the waterfall offers a magical moment but only flows in wet season. Travelling there is a little tricky as 50kms off the main road, allow 2h one way. Plan on visiting Twin Falls while down there.. both are only accessible during the dry season and by 4WD only.

  • Maguk Waterfall (or Barramundi Gorge): a sweet lagoon with medium size fish and a waterfall flowing all year round.. Located only 10kms from the main road, it offers a welcomed refreshing bay for travelers.

  • Jarrangbarnmi (or Koolpin Gorge): located in the Mary River region, you will need a permit to get there but are certain to score some remoteness by staying onsite in the nearby camp for a night.

Maguk Waterfall

Go Art Site Sightseeing

Probably why Kakadu is most famous is for its ancient well preserved Aboriginal Art. You will find along your way several sites, most easily accessible and well explained to tell you about their stories. We’ve certainly enjoyed this above anything else, and here are our favorite spots to not miss:

  • Nanguluwurr: A 3.4kms return walk though woodland leads to a quiet Aboriginal rock art site offering a unique drawing there but we won’t say more.. From this site, you can also undertake a loop track leading to Burrunkuy.

  • Burrunkuy: A 1.5kms circular walk taking you past ancient Aboriginal shelter and several outstanding art sites. Some paintings there are not to be photographed for cultural reasons, please respect all art sites.

  • Ubirr: A 1km circular track takes you past several Aboriginal rock art sites. Open from 8.30am until sunset in the dry season and from 2pm in the wet season. Our personal favorite rock art was seeing the arrival of the ‘white man’ painted with his hands in their pockets.. demonstrating their vision and how much of an event this must have been in their lives.

Burrunkuy Art Site, Kakadu, Northern Territory
Burrunkuy Art Site, Kakadu, Northern Territory

Go on a helicopter sightseeing

Why not take a flight and see it all from above? This is unique way to see the beauty of Kakadu National Park and during the wettest times, sometimes the only way too. Two operators to choose from Kakadu Air or the Scenic flight company.

Go on a boat tour

Kakadu features several wetlands and you can visit a few of them via a boat tour. Within the national park, the most visited one is Yellow Water Wetlands.

💡Traveller tip - We would however recommend to do another one just outside Kakadu, in Mary River National Park called Corroberee Billabong Wetland Cruises offering you plenty of crocodiles and bird life sightseeing (choose the sunset cruise).

Corroboree Billabong Wetland Cruises
Corroboree Billabong Wetland Cruises

Where to stay & eat in Kakadu National Park?

Well that depends on what you want to see. If you love nature and want to experience it at its most, then you can choose between the 20 camping grounds available located across the entire park. Most of them you will need to pay onsite in a trust box, count $6/adult/night but some are free in the South Alligator region. They are isolated and simple, there isn't much there, but it is the destination of like-minded people, therefore if you're lucky enough to have a neighbour in that camping ground, chances are that you will swim, fish, and share story tales.Next level is to go for caravan parks which you will find in Jabiru and Cooinda or treat yourself and book the Crocodile hotel in Jabiru itself..

Rooftop Tent camping Kakadu National Park
Our rooftop accommodation in Kakadu National Park

Can I fly my drone in Kakadu National Park?

Kakadu National Park is located in Northern Territory (NT) which follows the common rules of the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). If you're looking for the unmanned aerial vehicle rules of Australia then click here.

As for a shortcut, no matter where in Northern Territory, you should fly:

  • at a maximum altitude of 120 m above the ground.

  • away from private property, vehicles in movement, people or large crowds (including over beaches, stadiums or parks) & respect individuals' privacy.

  • at least 5.5 km away from airports (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft or helicopter take off & land) & give way to all other type of aircraft.

  • only during permitting weather & within your sight at all times.

  • away from areas where its use could interfere with police or first responders.

  • avoiding sensitive areas including government or military facilities.

Recreational drone use: flying your unmanned aerial vehicle in a national park comes under the competence of NT Park Management. You will need to ask to the park's manager if its alright before flying above any national park in NT. The park manager may grant consent for the recreational use of a drone if:

  1. it will not annoy or cause risk to visitors, or invade their privacy

  2. it will not be a nuisance or cause risk to wildlife

  3. it will not interfere with park-management operations.

Commercial drone use: it is possible for you to fly there for commercial purposes (movie, aerial photography, etc.) but you must apply for a permit and have an Australian license to obtain it.

Once you get the consent from the park manager, before flying, make sure to check the alerts for NT National Parks in case of bush fires 🔥 for example as you should never fly next to rescue operation sites.

What to think of Kakadu National Park?

Well we don't like to write this part of the story so we've put together some of our coolest pics. If you don't feel like seeing them before heading there, we get it and won't be sad.

✅ Please leave a comment or update the the Australian Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience in Kakadu National Park! Have fun over there and make a lot of good memories! #travel #experience #kakadu #northern #territory #nt #australia #australian #nationalpark #park


Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone rules and regulations.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links meaning we will get a commission if you decide to purchase via them. This has no costs for you but helps Dronemade stay free for all.



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