If you’ve set your sights on a genuine Top End experience complete with the heat, humidity and some of the country’s most dramatic natural scenery, a road trip from Darwin to Jabiru (the main town of Kakadu National Park) is a super amazing place to start. A renowned World Heritage Listed site, the Kakadu National Park is a vast national treasure absolutely packed with spectacular landscapes, tumbling waterfalls, natural water holes and indigenous rock art, while billabongs teaming with resident crocs and other wildlife are all part of the ride!
A few directions to get you on your way
About 255km on the (sealed) Arnhem Highway will get you to Jabiru. When it comes to detours and off-grid options, there are heaps of additional possibilities which you may like to factor into your journey through the expansive park, allowing you to explore a little (or a long way) off the beaten track!
The best vehicle and tyres for the journey
If you stay on the main drag, a 4×4 vehicle is not really necessary — a reliable passenger vehicle and tyres (Maxxis of course) will still enable you to enjoy heaps of Kakadu’s magic! However, if you’re wanting extra adventure and are keen to explore some of the area’s hidden treasures, some of these famous sights can only be reached by a 4WD with tyres that are up to the task! Maxxis RAZR MT772 muddies are all-time favourites with many Maxxis 4×4 drivers to tackle Kakadu terrain, while ultra-intrepid Maxxis Trepadors are renowned for their puncture resistance and outstanding ability to take on the most challenging off-road environments with ease.
A few top picks to get those tyres rolling…
The Bowali Visitor Centre
A great place to load up on information to help you find your way to some of Kakadu’s best spots – including walking tracks and wildlife information. The award-winning building itself is constructed of local materials and well worth a visit!
Along with the visitor centre, Jabiru is a welcoming little town where you can stock up with supplies. The 4km Bowali walking track is a great way to get your Kakadu experience started.
Just 30km from Jabiru, Mamukala Billabong is a haven for birds. The covered observation platform is a perfect place for some peaceful viewing of many of Australia’s native birds in their natural habitat and you can count on seeing other Kakadu wildlife including maybe a wallaby and even a croc!
Nourlangie and Ubirr Rock Art Sites
Ancient rock art is extremely abundant in the park and an essence of the Kakadu experience and its history. These two iconic rock art sites are a window into the connection of the Bininj/Mungguy people with the land and their stories.
Bush walks, workshops and croc talks
A wide variety of ranger guided activities are available in the park, offering valuable inside information on Kakadu’s history, cultural heritage, wildlife and environment.
Where you’ll need a 4×4
Did we mention, Kakadu is truly vast? As one of Australia’s largest national parks with some 20,000 square kilometres ready to be explored, it’s the perfect terrain for some of the very best 4×4 experiences. Kakadu’s highest waterfall, Jim Jim Falls along with Twin Falls and the magnificent Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) and Maguk are a few of the highlights that can only be accessed by 4×4 (and only in the dry season). On this note, there are seasonal closures in some areas of the park (particularly in wet summers), so check for this important information before you go.
Camping, glamping and other places to stay
There’s always something pretty special about getting up close to nature, and camping in Kakadu can help you do just this. Complete with the sound of birds, magnificent sunrises, stunning sunsets and dark night skies filled with stars that can’t be seen in the city, Kakadu is legendary for avid campers: Whether you’re looking for a campground site, a site for your van, or even a spot of glamping, Kakadu has all corners of camping covered. There are also a range of hotels and lodges in the park including the very aptly named, one-of-a-kind croc-shaped Kakadu Crocodile Hotel.
A few tips before you go
You’ll need a park pass for Kakadu which you can organise online before setting off (these can also be purchased at the Bowali Visitor Centre). While being one of the world’s most beautiful ‘Great Outdoors’ destinations and a great place to test out your Maxxis tyres, it’s really important to remember that Kakadu is also home to thousands of crocs! So, although the natural pools and waterways may seem very enticing on a hot day, swimming is not advisable and remember, never set up camp close to water!