3 days in Kakadu - Tropical Summer
Many locals and experienced travellers believe the Tropical Summer, from November to April, is the best time to visit Kakadu, as this is when the land truly comes alive. It’s a time when this famous national park unveils its lush beauty coupled with impressive storm activity.
While some areas of Kakadu may be closed due to flooding, seeing Kakadu in its resplendent glory is a special treat. See iconic waterfalls in full flow from a perfect viewpoint by taking a helicopter or light plane flight – truly impressive.
Start early to get the most out of your day Set out from Darwin early for the 250 kilometre drive to Kakadu National Park. Stop along the way at Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve and Window on the Wetlands for an insight into the abundant wildlife of the northern coastal wetlands.
Learn about Kakadu
Next stop is Bowali Visitor Centre to meet experienced staff and stroll through the interpretive display to see why Kakadu is a dual World Heritage listed national park. Browse the local arts, crafts and books on offer at the Marrawuddi Gallery and Café. The centre also features interactive displays and videos to help visitors learn about the flora and fauna, habitats and geology of Kakadu.
Walk through ancient shelters
Take the 1.5km circular walk through what was the wet season (tropical summer) home for generations of Aboriginal people at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie). Wander past the large rock shelter and lookouts to one of Australia’s most outstanding Aboriginal rock art sites, with illustrations portraying ancient connections between the people and their land.
Climb nearby Nawurlandja Lookout for amazing views across Anbangbang Billabong, and the Arnhem Land escarpment. This peaceful spot is a great place to sit and admire the scenery at sunset or watch dramatic storms roll in during the tropical summer.
Check into your accommodation.
Options in Jabiru include:
• Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel
• Anbinik Kakadu Resort
• Aurora Kakadu
Witness the magic of Kakadu from the air
Kakadu’s two major waterfalls are a sight to behold when they’re in full flow. Board a scenic flight with The Scenic Flight Company to see the spectacle of water thundering over the falls, flanked by a canopy of lush green foliage. Book a flight that leaves from Jabiru, and fly over world-famous wetlands, mighty floodplains and on to the ancient sandstone Arnhem Land escarpment.
Experience a culture cruise
Get an insight into local Aboriginal mythology, how to use the wetland’s bush tucker and learn bush survival skills on the Ubirr Combo Tour operated by Guluyambi Cultural Cruise from February to March. The expert Aboriginal guides will provide traditional indigenous knowledge while visitors are inspired by the flooded plains around Magela Creek. Wander around Ubirr – another of Kakadu’s stunning Aboriginal rock art sites – to see the different art styles Kakadu is famous for. As roads can sometimes be flooded, check access with the Bowali Visitor Centre before heading to Ubirr in your vehicle. Ubirr has three main galleries to explore. The main gallery rock art represents one of the longest historical records of any group of people in the world. Climb the moderately steep 250 metre track to a rocky outlook with views across the breathtaking floodplains. Time your visit for a spectacular and unforgettable tropical sunset from the top.
Unwind at Cooinda Lodge
Drive to tonight’s accommodation at Cooinda Lodge and make the most of the final evening in Kakadu National Park. Raise a glass to a day full of adventure and unique experiences before you turn in for the night.
Watch nature come to life
Get acquainted with Kakadu’s most famous wetland on a Yellow Water Billabong morning cruise. It's a great way to see the wetland wildlife in their pristine natural environment. The billabong is home to crocodiles and a vast range of resident birdlife. As the sun rises, float through paperbark forests and past carpets of lotuses and lilies. Your experienced guide will give you a fascinating insight into how the Bininj people use the flora and fauna to support their way of life.
Discover ancient hunting techniques
After breakfast, visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre. Here, you can learn about the culture and beliefs of the local Aboriginal people and see traditional weaving and cooking techniques.
Hit the road again
Stock up on snacks at Cooinda, and head south along Kakadu Highway to Bukbukluk Lookout with its easy walk and beautiful views of the southern hills and ridges of Kakadu. Keep an eye out for wallabies and birds such as the pheasant coucal, called Bukbuk by the traditional owners.
Stopover at Yurmikmik
Take the unsealed Gimbat road (check access reports for conditions) to Yurmikmik and take the walking track to Boulder Creek (2km return walk) or to Motor Car Falls (7.5km return walk).
These small waterfalls are green shady retreats, in lush monsoon forests. Enjoy the unspoilt wilderness, however be aware that flash flooding can occur at these sites.
Say ‘bobo’ (farewell) to Kakadu
Relax on the three hour drive back to Darwin. If you need a break, stop at historic Pine Creek to keep that holiday feeling a little longer.
Note: As you’ll be visiting Aboriginal owned land, a park pass is required. Your pass includes entry to the park, ranger guided walks and talks, and interpretive materials. You can buy your pass online or at several convenient locations in the Top End. For details visit the Parks Australia website.