11 summer travel ideas for Kakadu & Surrounds
A holiday in the Top End of the Northern Territory over tropical summer (September to April) means you can see the landscape at its greenest, watch the waterfalls roar at their fullest and witness the floodplains fill with migratory birds that have journeyed from across the other side of the world.
Here are 11 ideas to fill your days on a trip to Kakadu National Park over the summer season.
1. Take a jumping crocodile cruise on your way out to Kakadu
A holiday to the Top End isn’t complete without seeing a crocodile in the wild. When travelling from Darwin to Kakadu along the Arnhem Highway – make the time to board a jumping crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River. Remember to book ahead to ensure you get a spot!
2. Cool off & grab a cold drip at Marrawuddi Gallery and Café in Jabiru
The newly reopened Marrawuddi Gallery and Café is a working space for local artists with visitors welcomed inside the brightly coloured building to watch pieces being created – from painting and weaving to carving and screen printing. The gallery is owned and run by the Mirarr Traditional Owners and is a proud member of the Indigenous Art Code – meaning that all works for sale have been obtained ethically from local artists. Stop in while you’re in Jabiru for a freshly brewed coffee and take the opportunity to support the community centre.
3. Stroll around the ancient open-air rock art site at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie)
The area of the impressively preserved Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) rock art site is the traditional homelands of the Bininj. Here you can follow the 1.5km trail through shaded rock shelters to view rock art spanning generations leading to an incredible vista of escarpment and open forest.
4. Go where the locals go to watch the sunset at Nawurlandja
Nawurlandja lookout attracts both locals and visitors during golden hour seeking the best vantage point to admire the surrounding rock formations as the escarpment starts to glow while the sun sets behind the vista. Walk up the steep 300m incline for sweeping views over Anbangbang Billabong and towards Arnhem Land. Not to mention, Nawurlandja is the perfect place to watch the moon rise on an evening when it’s full.
5. Witness an incredible sunrise on Yellow Water Billabong
From sunset to sunrise, Kakadu has you covered with epic ways to start and finish each day. Yellow Water Cruises allows you to discover the large number of wildlife that call the area home. Sit back and listen to a knowledgeable guide while keeping an eye out for crocodiles, birds such as the delicately sized Jacana hopping across the lily pads, as well as buffalo and wild horses. The daily cruise operates year round and is located next to Cooinda Lodge within the national park.
6. Wake up in the air-conditioned glamping tents at Cooinda Lodge
Experience a touch of camping with all the creature comforts in Cooinda’s Outback Retreat glamping tents – built on an elevated platform and fitted out with a fridge, power points to charge all your electronics and air-conditioning. There’s no need to go without!
7. Experience a scenic flight over World Heritage-listed wetlands & waterfalls
Take to the skies for spectacular views of the natural wonders throughout Australia’s largest national park. Booking a scenic flight with Kakadu Air Services between November – April rewards visitors with jaw dropping scenes of the waterfalls over Jim Jim and Twin Falls. Flights depart regularly from Jabiru Airport.
8. Enjoy a refreshing dip at Motor Car Falls & Boulder Creek
The entry point to the Yurmikmik Walks region gives walking enthusiasts a few options for hikes to secluded plunge pools. Lace up the boots and remember to take plenty of water for the moderate 7.5km (allow 4 hours) return walk into Motor Car Falls. For a shorter walk, take the 2km (30 minute) return stroll to Boulder Creek where you can take a refreshing dip in the gorge. Remember to follow the designated safe swimming signs inside the Park and Be Crocwise at all times.
9. Stay inside the belly of a croc
The Top End of the Northern Territory originally made its claim to fame thanks to scenes filmed in Kakadu and featured in the movie Crocodile Dundee. Take the iconic theme further and book a room in the reptilian-shaped Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel located in Jabiru. The hotel has a large swimming pool at its centre.
10. Stop in at Ubirr for ultimate scenes over the floodplains
Ubirr is one of the reasons why Kakadu is listed as a World Heritage site. This is where you can see well-preserved rock art, including early contact art, a depiction of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger and well preserved x-ray paintings. Follow the natural gallery at Ubirr to the top for impressive open views over the East Alligator region.
If your croc fix hasn’t quite been satisfied, stop in at Cahill’s Crossing along the same route to watch the action from the safety of the viewing platform. While the area is accessible via sealed roads for most of the year, make sure to check the Kakadu Access Report to ensure the road is open – especially after heavy rains.
11. Drive the Nature’s Way loop to continue the adventure
Take the adventure further travelling from Kakadu to Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge to dip into natural swimming waterholes and choose from bush walks for all fitness levels. If heading straight back to Darwin via the southern entry point of Kakadu, take a small detour with a last splash in the plunge pools and waterfalls in Litchfield National Park.
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