Kakadu National Park: The Adventure Continues

There's nothing quite like being in a vast wilderness landscape surrounded by mysterious landforms. It's an indescribable freedom. Whether you're road tripping (you lucky nomad, you) or looking for an escape from the daily grind, Kakadu is well worth a visit. Wild Weekend recently returned from their Kakadu and Litchfield National Park getaway and shared their highlights with us.

Quick Facts

Your next adventure: Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park

Where in the world?: Northern Territory, Australia

Activity: Swimming, Hiking, 4WD

Difficulty: Most of the bushwalks at Kakadu National Park are easy but can get a little bit steep in parts. The main routes are listed on the Parks Australia website with safety tips.

Wrap up: Whether you need an escape or you're looking for an adventure, Kakadu National Park is a must-do Australian destination for your bucket list.

Wild Weekend Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: eave Brisbane airport in the morning and arrive in Darwin in the early afternoon. You'll need to arrange a 4WD so you can make the most of your adventure because it does get rough in some areas and you'll need it to access some of the campsites and waterfalls. Pick up some supplies on the way to Bucket Billabong Campsite and set up camp for the night.

Day 2 (morning): Today you're going flying! Go to Jabiru Bowali Visitors Centre for a pre-activity before heading to Jabiru Airstrip for take-off. Experiencing the vast landscape from the air is an unforgettable experience (we took the East Alligator River and Floodplains Tour with Kakadu Air). You'll need to book your flight in advance.

Day 2 (afternoon): Drive to Cahill's Crossing at East Alligator River and head to Ubirr to see Aboriginal rock art, explore Barddedjilidji Sandstone Walk and take in the views from Gunwarde-warde and Nardab Lookout. Arrive at Kakadu lodge and stay overnight.

Day 3 (morning): Leave Kakadu lodge for Nourlangie (approximately 1 hour drive) and hike to Nawurlandja Lookout (600 metres return).

Day 3 (afternoon): Drive to Maguk Car Park (approximately 1.5 hour drive) and explore Maguk Gorge. Take your swimmers and give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy it! Drive 40 minutes to Gunlom Infinity Pool for another refreshing dip before heading to Pine Creek Railway Resort for your last night.

Crocodiles and Helicopter Rides

Kakadu National Park is big. It's 19, 804 square kilometres to be exact, and we were determined to experience it in every way possible – walking, swimming, hiking, 4WD-ing and flying. Yes, flying. After our first night camping we took to the skies with Kakadu Air on a scenic helicopter flight over East Alligator River and the Floodplains. We soared over huge, fascinating rock formations, followed winding rivers and looked down on vast floodplains, wondering how many crocodiles were lurking below.

When you're heading to a place like Kakadu, the thought of crocodiles and snakes does cross your mind once…or twice. We were excited, and admittedly a little bit nervous, about the prospect of seeing one of these incredible prehistoric creatures in the wild. On day two we got what we wanted – we spotted some saltwater crocodiles at Cahill's Crossing…from a safe distance of course.

Thousands of Years of Painting

You can't go to Kakadu without taking a moment to see the rock art. Painted over thousands of years, the earthy stones offer a window into Indigenous traditions, laws and spiritual stories. Our first encounter with this fascinating tradition was at Ubirr Art Site, just a few minutes' drive from Cahill's Crossing. The next day we went on to explore the ancient rock art and shelters of Nourlangie Rock.

A Rock with a View

As well as being home to rock art and shelters that date back thousands of years, Nourlangie Rock also has some great walks. As we hiked Narwurlandja lookout, we were taken aback by the vastness and beautiful rock formations that have been sculpted by the elements. Since we were trying to fit in as many things as possible that day we chose a 1 hour walk, but if you're game you can do a 12 km loop walk over and around Nourlangie. That's about a 6 hour walk on difficult terrain, so make sure you're properly prepared if you decide to tackle it!

Gunlom Infinity Pool

When I say Gunlom pools are incredible, I mean it. During our Kakadu and Litchfield trip we swam in a lot of waterholes, but Gunlom is really something else. At the bottom of Gunlom Falls there's a crystal clear and seemingly endless pool. This is just the beginning. After a steep climb (well worth it) to the top of Gunlom Waterfall, we found them – a series of smaller pools overlooking the southern hills and ridges. I would highly recommend giving yourself plenty of time to swim, take in the views and have a picnic. It's spectacular to say the least.

Sunset Spots You Need to See

There are sunsets… and then there are Northern Territory sunsets. In Kakadu, we had no shortage of places to catch the red and gold as Mother Nature painted the sky. Our favourite places were Nardab Lookout at Ubirr and Gunlom Falls.

Tips and Hints from Wild Weekend

- Pack some rope so you can set up a clothesline if you're camping.
- Make sure you're shoes are comfortable – if you have new shoes, wear them in before you go.
- Take a reliable GPS device or make sure the 4WD you're hiring has one (check it's working before you start your drive).
- Pack plenty of water or take a SteriPEN purifier or Lifestraw filter to make sure you stay hydrated.

How Do I Get There?

Kakadu National Park is approximately 2 hours drive from Darwin Airport. You'll need to arrange a 4WD in advance and pick up some supplies on the way to your campsite.

Where Do I Stay?

There are plenty of places to set up camp, park the van or rest in comfort in Kakadu. We tried out Bucket Billabong Campsite, Kakadu Lodge and Pine Creek Railway Resort. Bucket Billabong is free and it's close to the sights, but it is only accessible by 4WD. It also has no facilities and no fresh drinking water – so be prepared for that. If you want a little more comfort, Kakadu Lodge offers cabins, tent sites, powered van sites, a camper's kitchen and bistro. If you really want to step it up on the comfort side of things, Pine Creek Railway Resort has modern rooms for weary singles, friends, couples and families.

What We Packed

A comfortable pair of sandals
Our KEEN UNEEK Sandals were very comfortable to wear. They had great functionality for crossing water ways such as creeks and pools. The grip on these sandals works well across different surfaces, but, as with all shoes, you'll still want to be careful on wet and slippery rocks.
Convertible pants
Kakadu has a tropical climate, so it's handy to have a pair of pants that you can wear comfortably on the cold nights and during the warm days. The Women's Kuhl Anika Convertible Pants came in really handy because they could be worn as long pants or shorts.
A practical backpack
The Berghaus Wilderness packs are storage giants with an incredibly useful design. We especially liked the front pouch zip as well as the pockets on the pack belt. These were great for storing items we wanted to have quickly on hand – like sunscreen & insect repellent.
A quick drying shirt
I can highly recommend the Mountain Designs Drift Lightweight Longsleeve Shirt for its functional design. It dried quickly from water and sweat, plus has good ventilation from the back pocket.
Reliable hiking boots
When you're navigating up and down rock faces you'll want a pair of comfortable boots that support your feet. We took the KEEN Targhee ll Mid Hiking Boots and were very happy with the sturdy and trusty design which helped immensely. They also have good ventilation so we didn't sweat too much.
Cool water
It was a luxury to have cooled water during a 36 degree hot day hike. Our Klean Kanteen Insulated bottles kept our water cool, even on the longer hikes.
Sun protection
The Mountain Designs Swift Active Caps did a good job keeping the sun off our faces.
Waterproof watch
We really enjoyed the waterproof feature of our Suunto watches - great to be able to take it swimming. The sunrise/sunset feature was incredibly helpful in planning when to arrive and set up camp.


Not sure what to pack? Use the Mountain Designs camping checklist as a guide for your adventure.
Categories: Destinations  


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