Kakadu

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesDarwin
FinishPine Creek
DifficultyDifficulty 3/5
Suitable for4WD 
Distance737.48 km
Minimum Days3
Average Speed26.14 km/hr
Driving Time1 day 4 hrs 12 mins
Page Updated: 29 May 2015

Description

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.

How to Use this Trek Note

Click the "Map" tab below to see the route we've provided. Icons on the map are the POIs you'll need for navigation purposes. Be sure to check the list of Nearby Places on each POI page.

If you'd like to save this information there are a couple of ways to go about it, depending on what you're actually after:-
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  • You can print a paper copy of the text using the print icon button shown above, near the social media buttons. For the best output it is advised to open each tab/section to load all images and artwork. You will still need to click open each Place page (listed in Where to Stay, What to See) to print off all available information.
  • If you have a Hema Navigator or use Mapping Software such as OziExplorer, or TrackRanger AND you are an ExplorOz Member, then you can click the Download Trek button at the top of this page to obtain the raw data files (eg. GPX) for this Trek.
  • If you're not a Member, or you'd like to batch download the entire Treks database you can obtain this by buying a product called EOTreks Route Files from our online shop.

History

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.

Preparation

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.

Permits

No entry fee. Camping fees for some campgrounds.

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel SymbolMary River Roadhouse.Unleaded and leaded petrol and diesel fuel are available at the Kakadu Resort (South Alligator), Jabiru, Cooinda and the Wirnwirnmila Mary River Road House.
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 104 litres4cyl 119 litres4cyl 147 litres
6cyl 113 litres6cyl 131 litres *6cyl 130 litres
8cyl 113 litres8cyl 122 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

May to October

Closest Climatic Station

Batchelor Aero
Distance from Trek Mid Point 34.67km W
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C32.732.232.833.732.731.231.833.336.036.835.333.8
Mean Min. °C24.023.823.421.618.816.516.317.020.623.023.924.1
Mean Rain mm306.7360.7258.9101.824.60.50.22.86.668.5133.9268.0

Services & Supplies

Map

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What to See

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Save time and download all digital map data for this trek (all places are included in the trek download).
This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.
World Heritage listed area, birdlife, Aboriginal art galleries, rugged escarpment, billabongs.

Showing 11 Places

Where to Stay

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Save time and download all digital map data for this trek (all places are included in the trek download).
This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.
Most of the camping areas require you to bring your own firewood and water.

Showing 9 Places

Directions

LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Darwin to Stuart Hwy & Arnhem Hwy34.52 kmSE115° 22 min
Stuart Hwy & Arnhem Hwy to Window On The Wetlands29.52 kmE110° 20 min
Window On The Wetlands to Kakadu NP Entry Station105.15 kmE101° 1 hr 39 min
Kakadu NP Entry Station to Two Mile Hole14.35 kmN14° 49 min
Two Mile Hole to Aurora Kakadu52.48 kmE87° 1 hr 24 min
Aurora Kakadu to South Alligator River - Boat Ramp3.48 kmNE59° 13 min
South Alligator River - Boat Ramp to Man Giririr (Mungena Waterhole)3.56 kmE93° 15 min
Man Giririr (Mungena Waterhole) to Mamukala Wetlands and Bird Hide6.26 kmE77° 12 min
Mamukala Wetlands and Bird Hide to Arnhem Hwy & Ubirr Rd28.59 kmE90° 52 min
Arnhem Hwy & Ubirr Rd to Arnhem Hwy & Kakadu Hwy1.56 kmE104° 2 min
Arnhem Hwy & Kakadu Hwy to Gagudju Crocodile Hotel2.99 kmS166° 8 min
Gagudju Crocodile Hotel to Jabiru1.26 kmS195° 9 min
Jabiru to Arnhem Hwy & Kakadu Hwy6.02 kmN353° 31 min
Arnhem Hwy & Kakadu Hwy to Merl Campground37.61 kmNE28° 1 hr 16 min
Merl Campground to Cahills Crossing3.21 kmE88° 25 min
Cahills Crossing to Ubirr Rock3.09 kmNW335° 20 min
Ubirr Rock to Cahills Crossing3.09 kmSE155° 20 min
Cahills Crossing to Merl Campground3.21 kmW268° 25 min
Merl Campground to Arnhem Hwy & Kakadu Hwy37.61 kmSW208° 1 hr 16 min
Arnhem Hwy & Kakadu Hwy to Bowali Visitor Centre2.43 kmSW210° 5 min
Bowali Visitor Centre to Malabanjbanjdju14.15 kmSW214° 25 min
Malabanjbanjdju to Malabanjbanjdju Tent Campground0.75 kmS171°
Malabanjbanjdju Tent Campground to Nourlangie Rock16.69 kmSE151° 27 min
Nourlangie Rock to Muirella Park26.23 kmW283° 1 hr 8 min
Muirella Park to Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre33.39 kmW259° 1 hr 11 min
Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre to Gagudju Lodge Cooinda Caravan Park0.64 kmSW221° 3 min
Gagudju Lodge Cooinda Caravan Park to Yellow Water0.8 kmN348° 4 min
Yellow Water to Mardugal Campground4.96 kmSE152° 53 min
Mardugal Campground to Gagudju Cooinda Lodge3.92 kmNW326° 45 min
Gagudju Cooinda Lodge to Cooinda0.1 kmNW313° 2 min
Cooinda to Turnoff to Graveside Gorge29.81 kmS200° 53 min
Turnoff to Graveside Gorge to Maguk (Barramundie Gorge)31.29 kmS183° 53 min
Maguk (Barramundie Gorge) to Bukbukluk Lookout44.53 kmSW225° 1 hr 43 min
Bukbukluk Lookout to Kambolgie Creek17.42 kmE103° 31 min
Kambolgie Creek to Yurmikmik12.3 kmE89° 33 min
Yurmikmik to Gunlom Falls13.86 kmNW332° 53 min
Gunlom Falls to Yurmikmik13.86 kmSE152° 53 min
Yurmikmik to Kambolgie Creek12.3 kmW269° 33 min
Kambolgie Creek to Kakadu NP Entry Station10.91 kmW248° 24 min
Kakadu NP Entry Station to Ikoymarrwa Lookout3.48 kmSW222° 5 min
Ikoymarrwa Lookout to Mary River Roadhouse7.08 kmSW226° 21 min
Mary River Roadhouse to Bokanj0.61 kmW266° 2 min
Bokanj to Harriet Creek31.75 kmW252° 1 hr 13 min
Harriet Creek to Pine Creek26.69 kmSW226° 53 min
Darwin to Pine Creek737.48 km  1 day 4 hr 12 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.

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