Kakadu is an iconic tourist destination in Australia. Check out our interactive guide to the 13 must see destinations in Kakadu National Park.
Kakadu seems to be on everyone’s bucket list but the distance from Australia’s capital cities means many people just never getting around to visiting. Some people are even under the impression the park is only accessible by 4WD. In reality Kakadu National Park is only a 3 hour journey from Darwin and many of the attractions can be reached via sealed roads.
Did you know Kakadu is the largest National Park in Australia? It is home to some of the most culturally significant sites in Australia and is often in the news for breaking records when it comes to scientific studies of human occupation in Australia. The park is a UNESCO world heritage site which is rich in history, culture, biodiversity and the stunning sites which make our list below.
The region is dominated by the wet season which runs from November to April and the dry season which runs from May to October. Dry season is the most popular and easiest time to visit, however a wet season trip (if you have time to be delayed) could be a truly memorable experience as well. Kakadu is home to the Bininj and Mungguy people who live in the townships and more remote regions of Kakadu.
Here are are our top 13 destinations to visit when you come to Kakadu National Park.
The Mamukala are one of the most accessible spots on our list as it is only 1km off the Arnhem Highway via a sealed access road. It comes first on our list as it is the first attraction you will find if you are traveling from Darwin before reaching Jabiru. These wetlands are home to some of the iconic picture post card scenes that you might have seen from Kakadu. This place is a mecca for bird watchers as it is home to almost one third of all the birds found in Australia.
Arnhem / Kakadu Highways
One of the first things that will blow you away when visiting Kakadu is the never ending 360 degree panoramas. Just driving or riding along these highways is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who travel this way. The pristine environments never fail to impress at every turn. This spot below is 20km out of Jabbiru on the Arnhem Highway.
Bowali Visitors Centre
In Kakadu all roads lead to Jabiru and in Jabiru, the best place to start your Kakadu adventure is by visiting Bowali Visitor Centre. The centre is full of information including, local knowledge and history. This is the best place to go over your itinerary to be sure that your trip won’t have any unexpected problems. The building is designed to resemble an ancient rock shelter and is also home to the Marrawuddi Gallery.
Traveling south along the Kakadu Highway will take you to Mirrai Lookout. This is another easily accessible attraction in Kakadu National Park. It is just over 32km from Jabiru and offers panoramic views in all directions across the region.
Nourlangie Rock / Burrunggui
This area is home to a number of rock shelters which showcase some of the most well known art sites in Australia. Nourlangie Rock also has a lookout point and a number of walks which will take you to the rock shelters as well as offering views to nearby Nawurlandja and Anbangbang Billabong.
Nawurlandja Lookout / Anbangbang Billabong
Getting to this area and Nourlangie is very easy as roads are sealed the entire way. The lookout here looks over Anbangbang Billabong and Nourlangie Rock which is where you will no doubt recognise some of the most iconic images you might have already seen from Kakadu tourist brochures or TV ads.
Warradjan Cultural Centre
While south of Jabiru, make sure you check into Warradjan Cultural Centre. This is the place where you want to pick up some traditional souvenirs or artworks. The cultural centre is by far the best place to learn about the region and it’s timeless history. The cultural centre is located just over 20km south of Mirrai Lookout along the Kakadu highway which is 56km from Jabiru.
Heading North of Jabiru, you can find Cahills Crossing. This place might not look that spectacular but it always seems to be making headlines. This crossing (creek crossing) is teaming with crocodiles. Sometimes they bask in the sun on the crossing itself. Unless you want to be the next headline, stay very aware of you’re surroundings when you visit. The other danger at Cahills crossing are the floodwaters. Don’t attempt to cross if it’s flooded. Floodwaters and crocodiles are not a good mix. There are lookout points both North and South of here which can be accessed on foot.
Ubirr Art Site
Ubirr is another site that is very easy to access as roads are sealed all the way. The site is only 40km North of Jabiru and is within walking distance of Cahill’s Crossing. At Ubirr, you can find an extensive amount of rock art and take in the views at Nadab lookout. This site is a women’s only area however this rule has been relaxed for non Indigenous tourists.
Jim Jim Falls
We are now heading South again. The next three spots on our list (all waterfalls) are only accessible by 4WD and are all over 100km from Jabiru. So be sure to remember that if swimming is one of your priorities when you come to Kakadu. Jim Jim Falls is almost exactly 100km south of Jabiru. If you’re not sure what to expect, check out this 360 degree view below.
If you made it all the way to Jim Jim falls you have to go a little bit extra and visit Twin Falls. Once again you will be greeted by stunning cliffs, white sand and cool water in the middle of the outback. Once again this is a 4WD only access area and involves 2 creek crossings in between Jim Jim falls and Twin Falls.
This place is the second last on our list and the second most furthest destination to get to. Gunlom is home to one of the best swimming spots in Kakadu. The large pools here offer a welcome escape from the tropical heat. Check out this magnificent view below.
Jarrangbarnmi / Koolpin Gorge
Most travelers never make it to this spot and that is because it is one of the most remote spots on the tourist map in Kakadu National Park. Permits are also required to visit this area in order to protect the fragile biodiversity. If you never make it this far, here is a glimpse of what you’re missing out on.
Well that’s the end of our list, we hope you have a better idea of what to expect and how you might plan your journey when you come to Kakadu. Always remember to respect the local culture and environment and pay close attention to warning signs for Crocodiles.
For more info, visit the official Kakadu National Park Website.
For Kakadu accommodation, the cheapest places to stay are at the numerous campgrounds which are found in the park and if you’re really on a budget there are Greyhound buses that run from Darwin to Kakadu (Jabiru) three times a week. If you have extra time after travelling through Kakadu, you might want to stop at Adelaide River or head West to Litchfield National Park or South to check out Katherine Gorge and the beautiful Mataranka Springs.
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