There is always something to see and do in Kakadu, regardless of the season.
The wet season offers a rich, verdant vista, teeming with wildlife, flowing streams and dramatic waterfalls. While some areas may be inaccessible by road, the destination still offers a multitude of activities that will ensure you have a memorable experience of Kakadu. The dry season is at its height from June through to the end of September, while shoulder seasons such as March - May and October - November offer a combination of attractive scenery and pleasant climatic conditions.
Ideally three days are required, though seven days or more will reward you with an experience that you will never forget. We have come up with some itineraries that will help you build your ‘Kakadu Experience’.
While some of the Park’s sight-seeing attractions may be inaccessible during the green (or ‘wet’) season, there are still a vast number of reasons to come to Kakadu for an adventure.
When are you traveling?
Departs directly from Cooinda Lodge Kakadu.
Explore the magnificent landscape of Kakadu National Park by air, a must. A fun 30-minute flight filled with unimaginable scenes such as winding rivers, escarpments, 1.8 billion years of continuous erosion. Views of Arnhem Land, Magela flood plains, Alligator Valley and the Mikinj Valley Billabongs. Includes live commentary and a guaranteed window seat.
Enterprise Holdings has a deal for you! Unlimited Kilometres, with every car hire purchase through the link provided below. Driving to Kakadu is a three-hour trip (one way) on a fully sealed bitumen road, so you don’t necessarily need a four-wheel drive to get there. Car hire is strongly advised as there are no taxis, buses or trains out in Kakadu. Some of the sites do require you to use a four-wheel drive to access but not all. There are four-wheel drive day tours you can do out to the sites with Kakadu Tourism Adventure Tours if you want to hire a smaller car.
The Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba) Billabong Cruise is an essential Kakadu experience, any time of the year. The cruise takes you on a discovery of the world-famous Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba) Billabong and South Alligator River. You will see native Kakadu wildlife and birdlife whilst hearing about the rich and diverse history of Kakadu. The tour is a past winner of the Qantas Australian Tourism Award for Major Tour and/or Transport Operators, has exclusive use of Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba) Billabong.
Relax and enjoy a Taste of Kakadu at the Escarpment/Manjmukmuk Restaurant and Bar for your included buffet breakfast or after a day of exploring Kakadu.
Escarpment/Manjmukmuk offers special dishes providing the tastes and flavours of Kakadu, with tasting plates featuring ‘bush tucker’, including crocodile, buffalo and kangaroo. A wide range of international dishes are also available, along with full buffet breakfasts, light lunches and an extensive wine and bar menu.
Dining is offered in air-conditioned comfort, with outside seating available to enjoy a drink during balmy evenings. Restaurant fits up to 200 guests and includes our bar lounge.
Have you ever visited a hotel shaped like a crocodile? Well now is your chance. Part of ACCOR, The Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is the only full-service hotel in Kakadu. The hotel is an idyllic retreat located in the wilderness of Kakadu National Park. Situated in the township of Jabiru, it is the perfect base to start exploring many of Kakadu's most significant natural attractions such as Ubirr, Jim Jim and Twin Falls, Maguk, Gunlom Falls, Motorcar Falls, Nourlangie, Cahills Crossing & Mamukala Wetlands. Cool off in the large outdoor pool, the perfect oasis for relaxing in between discovery tours around Kakadu before feasting on Kakadu bush tucker & gourmet dining at the Escarpment restaurant and bar.
Bonus extra: A million-dollar reason for visiting Kakadu during tropical summer
Add another day on your itinerary if you love fishing because not only are Kakadu’s waters brimming with large fish, each year between October and the end of March you have the opportunity to win a million dollars for catching a tagged barramundi – the king of Kakadu fish. The Million Dollar Fish competition started in 2015 but to date no one has caught one of the tagged million dollar barras (possibly because the crocs like them too and care little about the tags!). However, many $10,000 tagged Barras have been caught in Yellow Water Billabong and even if your Barra doesn’t have a tag, it will taste like a million dollars on a BBQ.
If you want expert advice on fishing, either as an experienced or novice fishing enthusiast, you can join a Yellow Water Fishing cruise. The tours are led by experienced guides, who know the waterways like the back of their hands and know exactly where the Barras are biting. They will provide all of the fishing gear and will coach you to cast, retrieve and how to make your lure the most attractive for a Yellow Water barramundi.
Day 4. A memorable cruise only available during the wet season
Have an early breakfast and be ready for a pick up at 8am for the memorable Guluyambi Combo Tour a five-hour 4WD/cruise combo that is only available during the wet season and the only way of accessing the Ubirr rock art site during this time.
The drive from Jabiru takes you through the East Alligator River district to the flooded Magela Creek, where you are transferred to a cruise vessel for a magical trip through the paperbark forests. Expert Indigenous guides provide an insight into local Aboriginal mythology, traditional uses for many plants and animals, and bush survival skills required for this wilderness environment.
After departing the cruise you’ll travel to nearby Ubirr Rock, where you’ll view ancient rock art sites and experience the panoramic views from the lookout before returning to Jabiru by boat and 4WD.
Return to Jabiru and enjoy a relaxing lunch at Escarpment Restaurant before saying goodbye (‘bobo’) to Kakadu and returning to Darwin.
Day 3. A bird’s eye view of Australia’s most spectacular landscape
After breakfast, pack your bags and call into the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre for a fascinating explanation of Kakadu’s living cultural heritage and European history. You’ll see many artefacts, hear about kinship and personal stories from local Bininj/Mungguy (the Aboriginal people of Kakadu). Artists are often present creating traditional paintings and crafts. Drive to Jabiru and drop your bags into the world-famous Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel. Fully Indigenous-owned, the locals just call it the ‘The Croc’, and with its comfortable rooms, quality restaurant and large shaded swimming pool, it’s the only crocodile you’ll want to end up inside!
Indigenous art is one of the highlights of visiting Kakadu, and you can view high-quality locally produced art at The Croc’s Ochre Art Gallery and the Marrawuddi Gallery, where artists can be seen producing paintings.
Many visitors say that Kakadu is best seen in the wet season because nature is at its most powerful. Take a scenic flight in a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft from Jabiru Airport (flights also go from Cooinda Lodge airstrip) and experience the grandeur and enormity of the landscape. It’s a remarkable site to see Kakadu’s iconic waterfalls such as Jim Jim and Twin Falls in full-torrent, and view the advancing waters as they flow across the wetlands. Return to Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel for a leisurely swim, a cocktail and some fine bush-tucker influenced cuisine at the Mimi’s Restaurant or opt for casual outdoor dining at the Barra Bistro.
Day 2. Cruises, rock pools and waterfalls
Plan an early wakeup for a truly memorable Kakadu experience. The Yellow Water Cruise through this wetland area of international significance floats through paperbark forests and past carpets of lotus lilies, populated by over 250 bird varieties, vast numbers of crocodiles and other wildlife. The two-hour cruise is complemented by expert commentary sharing stories of the landscape and Indigenous culture. You’ll love the cruise so much that you might want to come back for a sunset or extra sunrise cruise at a specially discounted rate. Stock up on snacks at Cooinda for a picnic lunch before heading south to Stone Country, the home of Kakadu’s Jawoyn people to experience Kakadu the traditional way, walking on country. First stop at Bukbukluk lookout (400 m easy loop walk) for beautiful vistas of Kakadu’s southern hills and ridges. Keep an eye out for birds and wallabies. Travel on the unsealed Gimbat Road (check access report for conditions) to Yurmikmik and take the walking track to Boulder Creek (2 km return walk) or Motor Car Falls (7.5 km return walk). This is a stunning part of Kakadu that’s popular with locals. At this time of year the surroundings are unbelievably green and fragrant. Sit and enjoy a picnic lunch in a truly unspoilt wilderness. Return to Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel for a cooling swim and drink by the pool before dinner.