This post was originally found on my friends blog Where Kimmy Went. If you’re looking for another travel blog to get some more inspiration from I can highly recommend reading Kimmy’s posts. Her photography is amazing!
I spent nearly 2 years in Australia and one of the best things I did was a visit to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territories.
I met two friends in Darwin and we hired a car together to road trip and explore Lichfield and Kakadu NPs. We spent the first day in Lichfield seeing the magnetic termite mounds (they are all built in a north to south direction so one side always stays cool), Buley Rockpool, Florence Falls, Tolmer lookout and Winji falls. At certain times of the year you can swim in these pools so definitely take your swimming trunks!!
We began the second day with a long drive to Kakadu. We stopped at a place called Humpty-Doo (yes that is a real place name!) for fuel as it was one of the last places we could fill up before the park. The first thing I should say about Kakadu is how big it is! It’s over an hour drive from the main highway to the park border, and then it’s 200 kilometres from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west which makes Kakadu NP about half the size of Switzerland. We bought our park tickets for $25 from the rangers office and our first stop was the wetlands.
The wetlands had a lookout area to see some of the native birds and giant floating water lilies. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many unusual birds but the information boards were really interesting, explaining how the aboriginals view the plant and animal life in the area and the changes that occur during the different seasons. The locals aboriginals recognise 6 distinct seasons in Kakadu and know the different animals and foods available at each of these times.
Jabiru is the main town and one of the only settlements in the park, so we stocked up on supplies and drove on to the East Alligator River on the lookout for crocodiles. Unfortunately (or maybe that should say fortunately?) we didn’t see any while we were there.
There are many sites that have aboriginal rock art in Kakadu. In some parts of the park the rock art is up to 2000 years old, whilst others are so recent they have depictions of Europeans attacking aboriginals. We found some incredible artwork at Ubirr, one of the most famous in Kakadu. After a short and very accessible walk we saw paintings of kangaroos and Nabulwinjbulwinj (a spirit figure that eats females!) amongst others.
From there we climbed a small hill to watch one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. The colours were amazing and the contrasts were striking with the Sun setting over a grassy savannah. Behind us were the dust red rocks of Australia. As the big red ball of fire touched the horizon, the moon emerged behind us. It was an incredible sight and photos will never do it justice in the vast expanse of Kakadu.
Watching the sunset is great, but it often means getting home in the dark. I had to drive back to our campsite with full beams on. Flies kept hitting the windscreen like rain drops. I was very aware that kangaroos could jump out into the road at any second and I also had to contend with frogs jumping across the road. It was like a game of Frogger in reverse!
We made it back to the campsite and was up early the next day to try to catch sunrise. We did a short walk up a hill and watched the sun poke up over the green trees beneath us. We stayed there for an hour admiring the views before the long drive back to Darwin to return our rental car.
Kakadu top tips
- Hiring a car and camping can be cheaper than going on a tour. Three days of car hire and camping with three people came to $225 per person, whereas a one day tour from Darwin was $260 per person.
- If you are camping, stock up on food and drink in Darwin as it’s super expensive in Jabiru and the other small places nearby
- Tell others where you are going and when you expect to be back, because you won’t have phone signal for most of your trip
- Check the time of year! Many roads are closed or impassable during the rainy season. We went at the start of the dry season and some roads were still closed.
- Mosquito repellant won’t do much so you’re going to have to cover up in the evenings. Buying a fly net may be an option. It’s honestly one of the worst places I have ever been for mosquitos and flies once the sun goes down!
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.