Kakadu & Surrounds3-day itinerary
Make the most of your 3 days to experience the diversity and beauty of Kakadu National Park.
Follow expert guides to discover ancient local Aboriginal art. Get up close and personal with the largest reptile on the planet and learn about native wildlife on a river cruise. Take to the skies to get a bird’s eye view of the park’s incredible floodplains and escarpment country. Learn the stories and traditions of Australia’s oldest living culture and finish off your days taking in Kakadu’s iconic sunsets.
Start early to get the most out of your day
Rise early and depart Darwin along the Stuart and Arnhem highways for your 2-hour drive to the northern entry of Kakadu National Park. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended for this trip as some locations are only accessible via an unsealed 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 will be the Bowali Visitor Centre. Stop for refreshments at the café before you wander through interpretive displays and gallery. Remember to check in with the staff at the Visitor Centre regarding any road closures or conditions you should be aware of for your trip through Kakadu.
Cruise on the East Alligator
Now it’s time to see some of the park’s sights. See 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 stories about creation time, bush foods and survival skills.
Be prepared & arrange a permit to Arnhem Land
Prior to your trip, apply for a permit to enter Arnhem Land so you can travel across the border at Cahill’s Crossing 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.
You can apply for the tourism permit to visit Arnhem Land online through the Northern Land Council, allow processing time prior to your trip. Alternatively, you can apply for permits on site at the NLC office in Jabiru, however, again please make sure you have some time up your sleeve, as the permit can still take a couple of days to be approved.
Cahill’s Crossing is a tidal river and during some seasons a 4WD may be required to cross. If you don’t have a 4WD there are many tour operators who travel into Arnhem Land daily and can also arrange your permits for you.
Take advantage of free dry season activities
If you’re travelling during the dry season, 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 atop Ubirr in time for a stunning sunset and memorable views across the floodplains.
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.
Take in the views from the sky
Today, see the varied landscapes and impressive landforms of Kakadu National Park from the air. Scenic flights depart regularly from Jabiru airport, and if you visit between December and May you can circle the Jim Jim and Twin falls when they’re at their best.
Soak up history at the Nourlangie rock art site
Pack your 4WD and head south from Jabiru to visit the Nourlangie rock art site, which was used by local Aboriginal people as a shelter from storms for thousands of years. The art on the walls serves as an insight into their rich spiritual tradition. In the dry season, free activities are also conducted daily at the site.
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. You won’t be disappointed with the stunning panoramic views of the escarpment and floodplains of central Kakadu.
Make your way to Cooinda Lodge
Continue on to Cooinda Lodge. 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. As the sun sets, watch the majestic Brolgas dance as your experienced guide gives you 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, then 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 iconic billabong. If you catch a large one you can have a chef cook it up exactly to your liking. It’s a fishing adventure you’ll remember forever.
Unwind at Cooinda Lodge
Head back to your accommodation at Cooinda Lodge and make the most of your final evening in Kakadu National Park. Raise a glass to a day full of adventure and unique experiences before you turn in for the night.
Stopover at crystal clear Maguk
Break up the trip with a stopover at Maguk. There’s a 2km walk to the base of the Maguk waterfall that is well worth your effort where you’ll be greeted with a crystal clear pool and tranquil waterfall, a perfect place to relax 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 is part of the Yurmikmik walks area. Make sure to be prepared with plenty of water and snacks for the 7.5km return hike.
Make a Pine Creek stopover
Make your way back to Darwin via the Kakadu Highway. Have a stopover at Pine Creek, a town you’ll find near the intersection of the Kakadu and Stuart Highways. There are several places to relax with a cool drink and a chat with the locals. Continue on your way back to Darwin, reliving memories of your Kakadu adventure.
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