Mention Kakadu National Park
and a number of images come to mind. Aboriginal art, rock formations, bird life and sweeping escarpments. Other than being well known for its world heritage
listing, Kakadu has a lot to offer the traveller. There are a number of 4WD tracks in and around the park and its a bird watchers, boat and fishing lover's dream. Just watch out for the crocs!
The images we tend to see of Kakadu are aerial photographs taken from light aircraft during the November to April period, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Kakadu was a rainforest - it is far from it. Kakadu is not world heritage
listed for its beauty, but for its diversity so forget the images you've seen in the magazines and on TV. In reality Kakadu is not like that - ask anyone who's been there. Kakadu actually has 6 main landforms, although about 80% of the park is defined as "Lowlands", which means shallow soils, lots of ironstone and ancient rocky hills. The most popular areas for tourists are the Floodplains and the Estuaries, due to the wonderful array of plant life and especially wildlife that can be seen near the water.
Visiting Kakadu by vehicle means you'll be there during the Dry Season as this is the only time that vehicular access is possible along the dirt and sometimes rough tracks that lead to the most interesting locations.
Interactive Route Map
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This trek supports moving map, to take a virtual tour click on the Play button.
No entry fee. Camping fees for some campgrounds.
Things to See & Do
listed area, birdlife, Aboriginal art galleries, rugged escarpment, billabongs.
The entry fee into Kakadu has now removed you may visit for free. Camping fees apply at National Park camping areas with shower and toilet facilities located at Merl, Muirella Park, Mardugal and Gunlom. There are a number of undeveloped camping areas in the Park, with limited facilities, where you can camp free of charge. A permit is required to camp outside of designated camping areas.
Fishing - Kakadu has a number of boat ramps and lure fishing only is permitted. Bag limits apply to Barramundi
and some areas are off-limits to fishing. Check with the Bowali Visitor Centre Ph (08) 8938 1120, located near Jabiru
, 253 km from Darwin
via the Arnhem Highway entrance. Road conditions
in the Park vary according to the season. Widespread wet season flooding occurs frequently during November to April therefore you should plan your trip accordingly. ExplorOz receives weekly updates on conditions direct from Bowali Visitor Centre within Kakadu and publishes the changes in our report.
By far the most important precaution you need for a trip to Kakadu is adequate insect repellent and mozzie-proof tents. At dusk, mozzies and insects are at their worst so wear loose protective clothing at this time. Burning mozzie coils is also very effective, as is the giant sandalwood and citronella incense sticks that are now available. If you are a person that is prone to allergic reactions from bites and can't stop scratching then start taking antihistamine tablets the day prior to your trip. Metho directly on the bite can also help take out the sting, but is very damaging to your skin if applied directly so make up a more appealing brew by adding some oil (baby or olive whatever is handy) into the mixture.
NOTE - there are no caravan parks or camping grounds within Darwin
city but there is plenty of backpacker accommodation and moderately priced motels and hotels. The nearest caravan park to the city is on the Stuart Highway at Berrimah, which is an industrial/rural area. Then there's one at Howard Springs, which is east off the Stuart Highway about 30kms (25 minutes drive) from the city.
Fuel Supplies & Usage
Unleaded and leaded petrol and diesel fuel are available at the Kakadu Resort (South Alligator), Jabiru
and the Wirnwirnmila Mary River Road House.
Camp Sites & Accommodation
Most of the camping areas require you to bring your own firewood and water.
The land itself is more than two billion years old, and the Aboriginal rock art adorning it is has been there for 50,000 years or more. There are as many as 5,000 Aboriginal sites identified in Kakadu. The rock art galleries reveal fish, birds and animals presented x-ray style, revealing internal organs and bone structures. The name ‘Kakadu’ comes from ‘Gagadju’ - the main Aboriginal language used in the northern part of the area at the start of the 20th century. Today three major languages are spoken within the Park - Gundjehimi, Kunwinjku and Jawoyn.
The first European discovery of the Kakadu area was in 1818 with the naming of the West Alligator, East Alligator and South Alligators Rivers by surveyor Phillip Parker King. In an overland expedition in 1845, explorer Ludwig Leichhardt was the first European to stand on the edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment.
In 1979, the first stage of Kakadu National Park
was begun and in 1984 it gained its World Heritage
listing and the area achieved international recognition as a cultural and ecological treasure. Today, Kakadu National Park
covers 20,000 square kilometres and is home to more than 1,600 species of plant, 60 mammals, 290 birds, 120 reptiles, 25 frogs and 55 fish (many are rare and occur only in Kakadu).
Kakadu's World Heritage
status, its recognition as the back drop to Crocodile Dundee, and its controversial uranium mining leases keep the Park in the international spotlight.