2 Day Dash to Kakadu
I cruised by Darwin in 1984 during an accidental ’round Australia road trip in a three cylinder jellybean with custom curtains – a rare model Mazda of my own making. Perry has always been curious (about Darwin and the jellybean) so when the opportunity popped up, it was an easy decision – an air conditioned Darwin experience would be nice.
Why the 2 day dash?
I’m not really the trail walking kind of person. I’m not a mozzie person. I’m not a “spend a day in the sun” person. I like to put it down to health, which is true but also convenient. I’d love to see some spectacular scenery but I’d rather do it from a helicopter. Perry assured me that a helicopter wasn’t part of the plan and neither was time for that matter so we opted for a moderate camping experience and a tiny sample of what all the fuss was about.
Darwin to Kakadu
It’s pretty cool to be able to fly into a capital city then drive 2.5 hours and you’re amongst one of the most iconic and vast wilderness regions anywhere in the world.
We sorted our car rental from the airport and went straight for Kakadu. It’s only a 30 minute drive through Coolalinga (I love saying that), Bees Creek and then turn off to Humpty Doo – I’ve always loved saying that but didn’t have a reason until now. You can get your Kakadu pass here at the Mary River Wilder Ness Retreat – we didn’t know that, we were expecting a toll gate, there’s not; but there is plenty of opportunities to buy passes – I’ve got them listed at the end of the post.
So, you’re now heading through Humpty Doo and on the ring road through Kakadu (I feel like this should be song). It’s an easy 2 hour drive from here, there’s a few spots for food first up but then you’re pretty much on your own until you get to South Alligator (180km), which is another opportunity to get your pass.
The drive in is interesting but I was over it by the time we got there. We were both gagging to get up Gunwarddehwardde lookout which affords some pretty special views at sunset. So it was a quick check-in at Anbinik Kakadu Resort, we stayed in a fancy bush bungalow, a welcome sight for someone that has a fear of camping (not sure if that has been diagnosed). We wandered around Jabiru township which is pretty basic and utilitarian, stocked up on snacks and headed down past the Bowali Visitor Centre (yes… another opportunity to get your pass), then another 19km to the lookout.
This is where it gets interesting. I do a lot of field research for my painting and jewellery design but I rarely get excited at the idea of bush walks. For all of those reasons I mentioned earlier – and many more if I thought they were worth mentioning. The 1.5km circular trip to the top wasn’t too difficult, although my Arthritis and Asthma spoke up a few times. But hey, I got there and it was soooo worth it. That famous “Crocodile Dundee” view of Nourlangie Rock is as impressive as it is on film. I should say it was much better, but I am factoring in shortness of breath and swollen joints.
P.S. We flew down to Adelaide next for another dash, this time to Uluru, click here for details.
Kakadu Pass & Maps
Darwin to Jabiru (Kakadu) – 253 km, 2 hours, 40 minutes.
Accomodation – your options are fairly limited.
Anbinik Kakadu Resort – Where we stayed at the upper end of the camping experience $130 per night (with a bathroom).
Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel – If you fancy a little more comfort you can find this one and more by clicking on the banner below.
A single park pass costs $25 for 14 consecutive days (passes are valid for 7 days by default. This can be extended to 14 days at no extra cost) | Children under 16 are free. |
Click here for online bookings – here’s a list of places you can get them on the road –
- Britz Campervan Hire Darwin, 17 Bombing Rd, Winnellie, Darwin
- Youthshack Hostel, 69 Mitchell St, Darwin
- Self Drive Shop, 440 Stuart Highway, Winnellie, Darwin
- Bowali Visitor Centre, Kakadu National Park, Kakadu Highway, Jabiru
- Two Rivers Newsagency, Jabiru Shopping Plaza, Jabiru
- Cooinda Lodge, Kakadu Highway, Cooinda
- Aurora Kakadu, Arnhem Highway, South Alligator
- Katherine Visitor Centre, Stuart Highway and Lindsay Street, Katherine
- Mary River Wilderness Retreat, Arnhem Highway, Humpty Doo
- Wildman Wilderness Lodge, Point Stuart Road, Mary River.
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