Kakadu is a whole lot more than a national park. It's also a vibrant, living acknowledgment of the elemental link between the Aboriginal custodians and the country they have nurtured, endured and respected for thousands of generations. Encompassing almost 20,000 sq km (about 200km north–south and 100km east–west), it holds in its boundaries a spectacular ecosystem and a mind-blowing concentration of ancient rock art. The landscape is an ever-changing tapestry − periodically scorched and flooded, apparently desolate or obviously abundant depending on the season.
In just a few days you can cruise on billabongs bursting with wildlife, examine 25,000-year-old rock paintings with the help of an Indigenous guide, swim in pools at the foot of tumbling waterfalls and hike through ancient sandstone escarpment country.
If Kakadu has a downside − in the Dry at least − it's that it's very popular. Resorts, camping grounds and rock-art sites can be very crowded, but this is a vast park and with a little adventurous spirit you can easily get off the beaten track and be alone with nature.
The Arnhem Hwy and Kakadu Hwy traverse the park; both are sealed and accessible year-round. The 4WD-only Old Jim Jim Rd is an alternative access from the Arnhem Hwy, joining the Kakadu Hwy 7km south of Cooinda.
Note that takeaway alcohol is hideously expensive anywhere in Kakadu − if you want a drink back at the camp site, stock up in Darwin.
Best places to stay in Kakadu National Park
Australia - Darwin To Uluru (Chapter)
Northern Territory’s Top End has an undeniable wild side, timeless indigenous culture and ethereal rock art. Darwin is a multicultural mix with fusion cuisine and a tropical vibe, while the Red Centre boasts the iconic attractions of Uluru and...
Australia's wildest road trip
Stretching across Australia’s northwest corner, the road from Darwin to Broome runs through one of the world’s last great wildernesses...
Kakadu National Park destination guides
Photographic Expedition Kakadu and Beyond
A photographic exploration of some of the Top End's best secret spots
3-Day Kakadu National Park and Waterfalls Tour from Darwin
Experience the best that the Kakadu National Park has to offer on this 3-day tour from Darwin. View the ancient Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr Rock, cruise the East Alligator River and Yellow Waters and paddle a canoe to majestic Twin Falls.