Kakadu & Surrounds7-day itinerary
With a whole week in Kakadu National Park you’ll have plenty of time to get to know this diverse and magical part of the Northern Territory.
Learn the ancient stories and traditions of Australia’s oldest living culture and immerse yourself in the high calibre of Aboriginal art in the region. Get up close and personal with the largest reptile on the planet and learn about native wildlife on a river cruise.
Take a day trip to relax under waterfalls and swim in crystal clear plunge pools. Climb to great heights for unsurpassed views of the Park’s incredible floodplains and escarpment country. Finish off your days taking in Kakadu’s iconic sunsets.
Start early to get the most out of your day
Rise early this morning and depart Darwin along the Stuart and Arnhem highways for your 2-hour drive to the northern entry to Kakadu National Park. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended for this trip as some locations are only accessible via a 4WD track.
As you’ll be visiting Aboriginal-owned land, a park pass is required. Your pass includes entry to the park, ranger-guided walks and talks, and interpretive materials. You can buy your pass online or at several convenient locations in the Top End. For details visit the Parks Australia website.
Begin your adventure at Bowali Visitor Centre
Your first stop is the Bowali Visitor Centre. Here you can stop for refreshments at the café before you wander through interpretive displays and the gallery. Remember to check in with the staff at the regarding any possible road closures or conditions you should be aware of for your trip through Kakadu.
Cruise on the East Alligator
Experience Kakadu from the water and join a cultural cruise on the East Alligator River. Keep an eye out for crocodiles while your local guide talks about culture, shares creation stories, bush foods and survival skills. Disembark and walk on to Arnhem Land for a display of traditional hunting and gathering techniques.
Rest your head in Jabiru
Home tonight is in Jabiru, Kakadu’s main township, which has a variety of accommodation options including camping and hotels.
Hop on a day tour to Arnhem Land
Today, immerse yourself in the culture of the region and join a one-day Arnhemland Aboriginal Culture Adventure tour. Led by a local Aboriginal guide, you’ll get to explore ancient rock art on Injalak Hill and have the opportunity to visit the Injalak Art Centre.
The centre is a source for high calibre Aboriginal art, all made locally. You may also be able to see the artists at work, and watch local women weaving pandanus baskets. All permits and royalties to enter Arnhem Land are included on an approved tour.
Or get a permit & explore on your own
You can visit the Injalak Art Centre without being on an approved tour, however please be mindful that you’ll need to apply for a permit prior to your visit through the Northern Land Council. Alternatively you can apply for permits at the NLC office in Jabiru, however, make sure you have some time up your sleeve, as the permit can take a couple of days to be approved.
Take advantage of free dry season activities
If you’re travelling during the dry, make the most of the seasonal ranger program and get involved with over 40 free activities per week to choose from, such as cultural demonstrations, guided walks, night time slideshows and rock art presentations.
Experience a famous Ubirr sunset
The late afternoon guided walk at Ubirr, one of Kakadu’s most visited sites is a must-do. The local guide will explain the meanings of the ancient Aboriginal rock art and you’ll finish the tour on top of Ubirr in time for a stunning sunset and memorable views across the floodplains.
Grab a bite on the way back
On the way home, grab a bite to eat from the Border Store, which is well known for its delicious food and friendly service.
Prepare your supplies
Pack your 4WD and get ready for an outback camping adventure. Make sure you’ve packed plenty of food and water for the night (and firewood if you’re travelling in the cooler months).
Soak up history at the Nourlangie rock art site
Head south from Jabiru to visit the Nourlangie rock art site, which was used by the local Aboriginal people as a shelter from storms for thousands of years. The art on the walls serve as an insight into their rich spiritual tradition. In the dry season, free activities are conducted daily.
Challenge yourself to the top of Mount Cahill
Just up the road is Mirray Lookout. If you’re feeling active, challenge yourself to the 3.6km return trail to the top of Mount Cahill which takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete. You won’t be disappointed with the stunning panoramic views of the escarpment and floodplains of central Kakadu.
Unwind at Cooinda Lodge
Head approximately 20km along the Kakadu Highway and turn off to Cooinda Lodge, where you can stay tonight. There are a variety of room or camping options to choose from and the lodge also offers entertainment and activities for guests, from bushtucker talks to live music.
Get off the beaten track to the magnificent Jim Jim Falls
Today you’ll be embarking on a four-wheel drive adventure to the pristine locations of Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls. Travel approximately 2 hours down the 4WD track to your first stop at Jim Jim Falls, which is accessible during the dry season.
You’ll be rewarded after the energetic journey with incredible views of the red ochre Arnhem Land escarpment contrasting the crystal clear waters of the falls. Stretch your legs and set off on the 2km return walk through a monsoon forest that will take you to a deep plunge pool surrounded by ancient, 150m high cliffs. During the wet, the falls are in full force and are a spectacular sight from the sky.
Picnic for lunch before heading to Twin Falls
You’ll find the picnic area located along the Jim Jim Falls access road on the way to Twin Falls. Stop here for a bite to eat before making your way to Twin Falls, just 10km further up the road. Be warned, a 4WD with a snorkel is highly recommended for this part of the journey as there’s a creek crossing to drive through, which is usually around 0.6–0.7m in depth.
Climb aboard a shuttle boat to Twin Falls
You can access Twin Falls via the Twin Falls Gorge Boat Shuttle Service that will ferry you to the base of the falls, during which you can learn about the area from a talk given by the guide on the boat. The shuttle service returns regularly until late in the afternoon, and tickets can be purchased from the campground. Immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings and take a scenic stroll along the boardwalk to the cascading falls, or sit back and relax on the white sandy shore.
Another night in Cooinda Lodge
Drive back to the Kakadu Highway this afternoon and make your way back to your accommodation at Cooinda Lodge.
Explore the Cooinda area
Spend the day exploring Cooinda. Make a visit to the Warradjan Cultural Centre. Here, you can learn about the culture and beliefs of the local Aboriginal people and see traditional weaving and cooking techniques.
Absorb the changing landscapes of Yellow Water Billabong
Get acquainted with Kakadu’s most famous wetland on a Yellow Water Billabong sunset cruise. It’s the best way to see the wetland wildlife in their pristine natural environment; the billabong is home to crocodiles and a vast range of resident birdlife. Watch the Brolgas dance as the sun sets while your experienced guide gives a fascinating insight into how the Bininj people used the flora and fauna to support their way of life.
Or get in the action with a fishing tour
If you want to get amongst the action, perhaps a Yellow Water Fishing Tour is more up your alley? Led by experienced fishing guides, you’ll have the opportunity to catch the famous barramundi on Kakadu’s most famous billabong. If you manage to catch a large one, you can have one of the chefs cook it exactly to your liking. It’s a fishing adventure you’ll remember forever.
Kick-back for your final night at Cooinda Lodge
Head back to your accommodation at Cooinda Lodge and wind down after a full day spent exploring.
Stopover at crystal clear Maguk
Break up the trip with a stopover at Maguk. There’s a short walk to the base of the Maguk waterfall that’s well worth your effort. You’ll be greeted by crystal-clear pools that are perfect to relax by in the mid-morning sun.
Hike into Motor Car Falls
If you’ve started the day early and have more time, then prepare for a decent hike and head to Motor Car Falls – a glorious location with a cascading waterfall feeding into the plunge pool below. Motor Car Falls are part of the Yurmikmik walks area. Be prepared with plenty of water and snacks for the 7.5km return hike.
Settle in for a night under the stars
Set up camp for the night and make the most of your final sunset over Kakadu National Park. Raise a glass to a week full of adventure and unique experiences before you turn in for the night.
Relax the morning away
Today’s your final day in Kakadu National Park. Use the morning to relax poolside before you make your way back to Darwin via the Kakadu Highway.
Continue your journey to Katherine or Litchfield National Park
Stop over at Pine Creek, a town near the intersection of the Kakadu and Stuart Highways. There are several places to relax with a cool drink and chat to the locals. Continue on your way choosing to stay longer with a trip to the Katherine region or stopping at Bachelor on the doorstop of Litchfield National Park, before returning to Darwin.
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