Kakadu National Park Guide
Kakadu National Park Holidays
It's a wonder. World Heritage listed for its cultural and natural values; there are stories woven into the geography, geology and custodians of Kakadu National Park. This is Australia's largest national park – nearly 20,000 square kilometres in the north of the Northern Territory – with 6 seasons, 7 main visitor areas and impressive biodiversity. Generations of Bininj/Mungguy have lived in the area and cared for the land for generations. 'Kakadu' comes from a floodplain language spoken in the north of the park early in the 20th century.
Kakadu attractions are spread across 7 main regions in the park. Here's a quick guide to both. Check wet season access before you go. Jabiru – has the park's main township and is the gateway to exploring Kakadu and Arnhem Land. East Alligator – visit Ubirr rock art site. South Alligator – see the Mamukala Wetlands which are most dramatic in the late dry season. Nourlangie – enjoy its rock art galleries and impressive views from Gunwarddehwardde lookout. Yellow Water – glean an overview of Aboriginal culture in Kakadu at the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls – 4WD in dry season through spectacular scenery. Mary River – camp at Gunlom near a clear plunge pools and waterfall.
Eat and Drink
There are sporadic fuel stations and outposts offering basic food and drink throughout the park. If you're hankering to eat more than a pie or a sandwich from a servo (I know, who'd have thought?), you'll find a couple of Kakadu restaurants in Jabiru and at the lodge at Cooinda. The Jabiru Sports and Social Club is a top spot to chat with the locals, grab a beer and enjoy a bistro meal (look out for the tempura croc tail) with lake views. If you're near Cooinda, drop in to Mimi Restaurant for barramundi, emu and bush tucker amid its offerings. The Barra Bar and Bistro will also serve native foods and meats.
Where to Stay
If you're considering camping at one of the many grounds throughout the park, just check if it has year-round access. Note not all have toilet facilities but there are commercial camping areas in close proximity to natural attractions at Jabiru, Cooinda and South Alligator. Other Kakadu accommodation options include caravan parks (Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park) and 3 to 4-star hotels in Jabiru and Cooinda.
Kakadu shopping is, shall we say, limited. Jabiru has a handful of public amenities including a supermarket, newsagent, cafe, restaurant and travel agent. Small gifts and Aboriginal souvenirs can be found at several of the service stations and outposts dotted throughout the vast wilderness. Gagudju Lodge Cooinda store and the Border Store in the East Alligator region take bookings for commercial tours, in addition to selling souvenirs. But, apart from garnering the basics, who's here to shop? Nature's giving you more than you could ever buy.
Kakadu like a Local
There's a secret to making the most of Kakadu: take your time. If you can, allow at least a week to see what you can, get a feel for the ancient landscape, drink in some of the stories, swim, fish, boat, walk. If you're not sure what to see or how to go about planning your trip, the knowledgeable staff at the Bowali Visitor Centre or the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre are more than happy to help. Different regions of Kakadu National Park will offer different sights and experiences, depending on the timing of your visit. Remember, there are six seasons recognised here and each has beautiful nuances.