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5 Reasons to Visit Kakadu National Park

Updated on October 8, 2014

Kakadu National Park - it's half the size of Switzerland!

In 2002 I managed to secure a flight from Brisbane to Darwin for A$1. It was the first birthday of Virgin Airlines entering the Australian market and it was something I had no time to think about, I had 5 minutes to decide before the opportunity would be gone. So of course I bought the ticket, there was nothing to lose and off I went later that week with almost no planning or preparation.

While I am not an expert I would love to show you the places I visited and the photos I managed to get. Unfortunately this was before I had a digital camera so the image are scanned and not as nice as the hard copies.

Kakadu National Park is 20,000 square km of World Heritage. It is one of only 3 sites in the world that are both World Heritage Area and UNESCO sites.

5 reasons to visit Kakadu

  1. Amazing Rock Art
  2. Spectacular Waterfalls
  3. Wondrous Wetlands
  4. Creepy Crocodiles
  5. Inspiring Indigenous Culture

Twin Falls Kakadu National Park

Twin Falls Kakadu National Park
Twin Falls Kakadu National Park

When to visit Kakadu National Park

and how long should you stay?

Deciding when to visit Kakadu can be difficult. There are 6 weather seasons at Kakadu and each offers a different set of experiences. I would choose April at the very end of the wet season. The park is still be a lush shade of green and waterfalls are usually flowing. Hopefully flooded roads will be beginning to open up too, although some like the road to Jim Jim Falls, usually opens later in the year.

There is really helpful detailed information on the best time to visit Kakadu on the Outback Australia Travel Guide website

I spent an amazing 8 days in March 2003 exploring Northern Australia or what us Aussies refer to as "The Top End". 3 days in Darwin and 5 days on a small group camping trip in Kakadu. I felt that this was a prefect amount of time for me. I did not do any extended hiking but I did get to see a good range of sites. I think 2 days is probably the minimum.

Download this large map of Kakadu National Park (PDF) to help you plan your visit.

I have prepared a separate page on Visiting Darwin that you might find helpful.

1. Amazing Rock Art at Ubirr - Aboriginal Rock Art Gallery

Ubirr Rock Kakadu
Ubirr Rock Kakadu

There are reportedly more than 5000 rock art sites in Kakadu. Ubirr and Burrunguy, formerly known as Nourlangie Rock, are two of the best known and most easily reached sites. I suggest you stop at the visitors centre before heading to the art sites. Having an understanding of how the paintings were made and their significance enhances your time here. A tour with an aboriginal guide is ideal. At the time I visited these were offered for free by the park rangers.

Watch this film - Life before white man arrived in Australia

This film is the first to be made entirely in Aboriginal Language - it showcases the Arnhem Land region of Northern Australia and the landscape is spectacular. The film won a Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard program at the Cannes International Film Festival/

2. Spectacular Waterfalls - Jim Jim & Twin Falls - Plan ahead to see the waterfalls in full glory

Jim Jim Falls Kakadu
Jim Jim Falls Kakadu

Jim Jim Falls are amazing but before you get your hopes up, seeing them with as much water as is pictured above is pretty difficult. They only look like this in the wet season and dry up pretty quickly when the rain stops. The best way to see them is by helicopter joy-flight.

You can drive into the area but to get close to the falls you will need a four wheel drive. You can even camp here in the dry season. Learn more about visiting Jim Jim Falls

Crocodile Hotel - It's a Holiday Inn - a crocodile

Crocodile Hotel Kakadu
Crocodile Hotel Kakadu

My visit to Kakadu was a camping trip but we did stop by the Crocodile Hotel for a great buffet lunch. The hotel offers a swimming pool, one of only 2 safe swimming places in the park.

Treaty by Yothu Yindi - An Aboriginal perspective on Land Rights

3. Wondrous Wetlands - Yellow Waters River is breathtakingly beautiful

Yellow Waters is considered one of the healthiest wetland systems in the world. It is home to over 60 different species of birds as well as crocodiles and buffalo. Parts of the Crocodile Dundee films were shot here. Try to take a sunrise or sunset cruise - if you are a photographer you will find this provides 2 hours of heavenly photography opportunities.

"People need to come here and relax,

sit on the country, feel the spirits

of this country, and go home and feel

the same way."

Natasha NadJi BUNIDj ClAN

ABORIGINAL TRADITIONAL OWNER

Kakadu National Park Visitors Guide

4. Get up close to a Crocodile - Hopefully like my crocodile encounter yours will be a planned occasion!

River Cruise crocodile
River Cruise crocodile

I was not that interested in crocs before I visited Kakadu but once I got there they were certainly on my mind. While there are safe swimming spots in the park I was too chicken to try them ;-)

I joined a wetlands river cruise where along with the crocs we saw a huge assortment of bird life and some beautiful wildflowers.

Water and first aid are essentials on your camping safari

5. Inspiring Indigenous Culture - Nourlangie Rock

If you have the opportunity to join an Aboriginal guide for a tour make sure you do.

Great resources on Kakadu and Northern Australia - Best online resources for a Kakadu visit

Instead of making this page a mile long I have added links to what I feel are the best websites you can find when planning a visit to Kakadu - Let me know if I have missed any.

What would you most like to visit at Kakadu?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Such a beatiful park..thanks for being my guide!

    • profile image

      TreadSoftlyPhotography 6 years ago

      There looks like so much to see at Kakadu, I'd like to take it all in, especially those waterfalls and the crocs!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 6 years ago

      Kakadu National Park sounds beautiful!!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      Beautiful

    • Dee Gallemore profile image

      Dee Gallemore 6 years ago

      Love it . . . and blessed!

    • profile image

      livingfrontiers 6 years ago

      Thanks for the trip to Australia!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 6 years ago

      Spectacular!

      ~ Blessed by a Squid Angel >*

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      I doubt I would want to try the swimming holes either, but I sure would love to come and see the rock art, it's so different than the ones I've seen. Thanks for the tour ;)

    • Richard-H profile image

      Richard 6 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      The Crocodile Hotel looks very cool...and a great place from which to discover what this beautiful looking area has to offer.

    • profile image

      aishu19 6 years ago

      Half the size of Switzerland? Wow Kakadu sounds like a wonderful place. Great that you got to fly there for a dollar..

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I never saw before the crocodile hotel, very cool! I love the rock art as well, I do collect Australian stamps and there is a set of those art pieces on them (issued sometimes in the 1980's). I would really like to visit Ubirr