Local Guide To Australia's Kakadu National Park

Photo from Stephen Michael Barnett on Flickr

Beady eyes break the surface of murky waters, like a scene out of Peter Pan. Birds flock overhead, flapping their way through various habitats and settings. Then, you stumble upon works of art stemming from not decades prior but rather thousands upon thousands of years ago. The Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia sees this scene take place daily, namely through its awe-inspiring Kakadu National Park.

Australia’s Top End region clutches on to one sixth of Australia’s land mass and certainly doesn’t want to let go. Frankly, it is hard to blame the geographical region for keeping Kakadu National Park and its surroundings to itself. Luckily visitors can explore the largest national park in Australia, even if it appears to be on loan for just a short while. The national park sits 240 kilometers east of Darwin, the Northern Territory’s capital city. Like one of the many crocodile’s in the area stalking its prey, you’ll want to keep your eyes wide open and your trap permanently agape while exploring Kakadu National Park. 

Kakadu National Park

Photo from Francesco on Flickr

What To See 

What to see: Kakadu National Park

Photo by Stephen Michael Barnett on Flickr

Kakadu National Park might be a dream for wildlife lovers, but it is also home to some of Australia’s richest pieces of history. One of the main reasons why the park has obtained World Heritage status is due to the world-class rock art found within its grounds. The artistic works admired today record the lives of Aboriginals from thousands of years ago. Some of the paintings are up to 20,000 years old. The main rock art galleries reside in Ubirr and Nourlangie.

What to see: Kakadu National Park

Photo from Paul Mannix on Flickr

In addition to rock art, the area is sprinkled with waterfalls to view. A number of those waterfalls flow in the Mary River Region, south of Kakadu National Park. Gunlom Falls, Maguk and Motor Car Falls are all worth climbing to the tops to view the rushing waters below. Mary River National Park is also within close range to Kakadu National Park. The park is one of eight rivers in Australia’s Top End, which have large floodplains in their catchments. Mary River National Park is a good spot to see wildlife, fish, go on a bush walk or even hone your photography skills.

What To Do 

What to do: Kakadu National Park

Photo by Paul Mannix on Flickr

This portion of Australia is crawling with wildlife and bushland. As a result, visitors can stay active by taking walks in and around the park. Walks invite travelers to soak up the details of the massive area. The Mary River region in particular is rich in bushwalks. In addition to walking trails, Kakadu National Park is where many locals like to fish. You can go out on the river and billabongs to fish with a number of companies who offer fishing tours. Bird watching is also supreme in the park. Kakadu National Park boasts a third of Australia’s bird species. And the ultimate activity in this corner of Australia is flying. Flights on helicopters and fixed wing planes are possible from Jabiru East and Cooinda Airstrips. A bird’s eye view is one of the best ways to survey all of the habitats present in the park. 

Things to do: Kakadu National Park

Photo by Paul Mannix on Flickr

Where To Eat

For the widest selection of restaurants around Kakadu National Park, hungry travelers can head to Jabiru. The community boasts a number of restaurants including Escarpment Restaurant and Bar, serving up modern Australian cuisine. Jabiru also houses Kakadu Bakery where you can grab a pastry before a day of wildlife spotting. Aurora Kakadu Lodge is also a favorite for its bistro style dishes. In the Mary River region, travelers can grab a sandwich or a pie at Goymarr Tourist Park.

Where To Stay

 Where to stay: Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park holds several lodges and safari camps. Located on the western boundary of the park, Bamurru Plains is one of those luxury camps. The luxurious accommodations rest in the Mary River floodplains. Guests to one of the suites at Bamurru Plains can expect to take advantage of the setting by viewing the rich wildlife on site. Bamurru Plains in home to wallabies, dingoes and even crocodiles. Activities on site include airboat tours where travelers can access remote nesting places of rare birds. Visitors can also go on a river cruise at the lodge to meet crocodiles face to face. Bamurru Plains completes visitors’ itineraries with the opportunity to go on 4x4 wildlife drives, special bird watching tours, wildlife photography classes and culture-themed journeys through the Aboriginal heartland.

Places to stay: Kakadu National Par

The accommodations at Bamurru Plains include nine tented safari suites. The secluded and private suites each come with a private deck and special mesh walls. The make-up of the walls allows you to enjoy the views of the wildlife and the scenery and also stay cool while in your room. While you can enjoy your seclusion in one of the tented suites, you can also head to the Lodge for a little interaction with other guests. For added incentive to join some civilization, the main Lodge features a spacious deck and an infinity swimming pool. Best places to stay: Kakadu National Par

When To Go

Kakadu National Park is open all year round, along with its surrounding wildlife areas. The wet season occurs from November to April. During this period, some attractions and activities might be closed. The dry season is the most popular time to visit the area, stemming from May to October. No matter the time of your visit, Kakadu National Park boasts something to see.

Getting There

The remoteness of this part of Australia calls for visitors to arrive by car, whether visiting the Mary River area or Kakadu National Park. The drive from Darwin takes about three hours. From Jabiru, Bamurru Plains is about two and a half hours away. Kakadu National Park in particular is best explored by car due to its enormity. It is also possible to reach the area by charter flight from Darwin. The journey is the reward as the 25-minute flight whisks travelers above some of the most impressive wetlands in the world.

Your Turn…

Have you been to Kakadu National Park or Bamurru Plains?

Share your experiences with us in the comments below.