There is so much to see and do in Kakadu National Park that it can be challenging to decide where to start… Even though we say any time in Kakadu is better than no time at all, we recommend putting an absolute minimum of three days aside to visit the park. Four to five days are even better, particularly if you would like to embark on some of the longer walks, and include some relaxation time at the breathtaking waterholes and around camp.
1. Jim Jim Falls
Sorry to be predictable, but Jim Jim Falls have got to be on the list. Jim Jim Gorge is one of the most spectacular of the publicly accessible gorges in Kakadu! The walk up the gorge to the beach and base of the falls is so much fun, and the refreshing swim at the large plunge pool, or the beach is just the best. All this while admiring the striking beauty of this imposing natural masterpiece. To be able to visit Jim Jim Falls, you will need to be in Kakadu between late June/ early July and October when the walking track is open to visitors. If you are visiting Kakadu earlier in the year, you can take a scenic flight over the area to witness the falls flowing impressively after the wet. To hike the gorge and reach the falls by foot, you will need to be able to rock scramble and make your way over sandy slippery rocks and boulders- the closer you get to the falls, the bigger the boulders. Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks or a picnic, as this walk can take longer than you might expect. Even though the walk is only 900 meters in length from the car park, expect to take approximately one hour to complete each way. This is a return walk.
2. Warradjan Cultural Centre
If you are interested in the indigenous culture and history of Kakadu National Park, which really should be part of any visit, the cultural centre is a must! It’s easy to spend over an hour here depending on your level of interest- there are plenty of displays and lots to read, with the information very well presented. It is also a great stop for families as there are many visual displays and things to try out and learn- for example about the local seasons, traditional bush foods, and the indigenous kinship system.
3. Nourlangie area
To view some of the most outstanding examples of indigenous rock art in Kakadu, head to Nourlangie. The sites are easily accessible regardless of your fitness level, and the art is truly stunning! Rock art here has been maintained by the local custodians, so the most important images and stories are still very vivid. There are also information boards that explain the stories behind many of the paintings. If you are here at the right time, you can catch a ranger talk- or even better- bring your own knowledgeable guide by booking a guided Kakadu Tour.
4. Gunlom Falls
Ready for another waterfall? Gunlom Falls are a great choice early in the season when the top and bottom pools are still fresh with clear wet season run off. The area usually opens around Easter each year. You have the choice between the relatively short but steep climb to the top of the falls, where you can take a refreshing swim in Kakadu’s now Insta- famous “natural infinity pool”. This has to be one of the most Instagrammed features in Australia right now! Put on appropriate footwear for this walk; Flip flops are definitely not recommended! If you prefer to take it easy, you can stay at the bottom pool and relax on the beach while taking a dip in the large plunge pool.
5. Gubarra Springs
Most people would not have heard of Gubarra Springs, but that doesn’t make them any less enticing than many other attractions in the park. These springs are best visited in the shoulder season between February and April, and offer a nice respite from the warm weather. The walk to the springs is moderately challenging, and when you get there you enter a true oasis. The great thing is that once there, you can explore the area at your own pace; there is plenty of shade beneath the monsoon canopy to relax and enjoy while surrounded by nature. Bring a picnic and enjoy the day!
Remember to be croc-wise and always observe crocodile warning and walking track signage while exploring Kakadu National Park. Kakadu is a challenging, raw, rich and dramatic landscape, with huge rewards for the adventurous traveller.