Kakadu National National Park
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Preface: I wrote this blog after a recent 3 day photo shoot to Kakadu National Park. When I searched the web I couldn't get a simple idea of how the drive all feel into place. There probably are too many phot'os on this page but I couldn't help myself. There are places of interest here that will described in other pages soon in greater detail such as the Mary River National Park - Ijust have to go back down there for a separate trip soon. All the web sites says just a 3 hour drive to Kakadu from Darwin and only 253klm. If you don't blink and drive straight then that's right but how could anyone drive straight and not stop.

Blog: Arnhem Highway from Darwin to Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory Australia is 253klm.

Leaving Darwin is generally travelled on the Stuart Highway from Darwin. Darwin CBD is basically 5 straight roads running into Daly St which is around 2klm long and that runs and begins the Stuart Highway. Map of Darwin CBD. If you take the Stuart Highway it's around 22klm to the junction with the Stuart Highway veering left to Katherine, Alice Springs, Kakadu and Litchfield and if you keep straight the road goes to the smaller city of Palmerston (Pop 22,000) straight ahead. Palmerston is also the home of our Defense base.

Update: June 2011 - Forget the photo's below it's all changed I just went down today from darwin and forgot to take my camera. So let's say left to Kakadu and Katherine and Alice Springs and straight ahead to Palmerston.

Coolalinga- Woolworths Shopping Centre

Then 3klm further the Howard Springs turnoff - which you pass the turn off you actually don't drive thru this town. There are a few bed and breakfasts and caravan parks in Howard Springs.

Veering left and further down 8klm you drive past the small country township of Coolalinga conveniently located 26km south of Darwin on the Stuart Highwa (last easy to find shopping centre-Woolworths Supermarket).

As you can see in Sept 2007 the fuel here at the Coolalinga petrol station was Petrol AUD$1.32 per litre and Deisel was AUD$1.26 per litre, a good spot to check your tyre pressure and oil.
Arnhem Highway road signs
Arnhem Highway road signs

Down the highway around 35klm now from Darwin you see the Arnhem Highway on the left with a sign saying Humpty Doo and Jabiru. The first sight of interest alond the highway is the didgeridoo workshop, actually at the beginning but it's on the right of the road.

Humpty Doo, here is another fuel stop and the home to the Boxing Crocodile though it a great photo snap for the kids to be in it. It seems to be an obbession with Australian's to have the biggest icon's. Humpty Doo is a large sprawling country suburb of the outer Darwin region.

Point of Interest on humpty Doo: Humpty Doo is a town some 10klm from the begiining of the Arnhem Highway with around 2829 residents on 5-20 acre farms with some 1006 households in the area. I mentioned this as Humpty Doo seemd to stretch along the highway quiet a bit.

Futher out the properties are larger and mostly farmed as Mango Plantations. Can you imagine the aroma driving with the window down when there in season around October/November (there was a small crop at the beginning of September also). Oh Mango prices at the Darwin/Parap markets on a Saturday morning are around $4-6 a kilo the first few weeks of the season and in the middle of the season you get huge Bowan Mangos (are you ready for this) I mean huge mangoes at AUD$2.50 a kilo.or whole trays at AUD$10.00 Just come for the mangoes at least.

The Boxing Crocodile at Humpty Doo
Banana Plantation on Arnhem Highway

>The one things about the Arnhem Highway is once you are on it you don't get lost. It has every sign you need.

>The sign are in a brown colour sometimes hard to see but I was glad to see the blended into the background colours of the land.

mango Plantations on the Arnhem Highway 20klm past Humpty Doo
Arnhem Highway 20klm past Humpty Doo
>After we travelled further along and sw signage for the Wetlands Region. Basically a low lying land area that floods constantly during December to April though is home to 1000's of migrating birds. In this area we came to a a turnoff for Fogg Dam and as you can see from the photo's it can be a day trip itself. Now a word of warning allow 3-5 hours here for 2 major icons. The first is Fogg Dam

Fogg Dam is the only wetland easily accessible to conventional vehicles 12 months of the year – only an hour’s drive from Darwin on a sealed road.

Turn onto the Arnhem Highway and drive 35km (22 miles) to the Fogg Dam turnoff (Anzac Parade) on the left, which is well signed, and drive 6km to the entrance on the left hand side of the road, also well signed.

Large numbers of wading birds gather at the Dam wall at the end of the wet season. From the end of March until the build up, around the start of October is the best time to visit Fogg Dam.

Woodlands to Waterlily - Length: 2.2 km return. Time: 45 minutes. Grade: easy.
Monsoon Forest Walk - Length: 3.6 km. Time: 2 hours. Grade: easy.
Dam Wall Walk - Length: 2.2 km return. Time: 45 minutes. Grade: easy.
Pandanus Lookout - Length: 2.5 km return. Time: 1 hour. Grade: easy.

Entering the Wetlands region on the Arnhem Highway past Humpty Doo
The road to off Dam
The Boardwalk from the carpark straight ahead at Fogg Dam
The walk along the sealed road at Fogg Dam

>The second is Harry Bowmans - Adelaide River Crocodile cruise. So now we were some 6klm down the turnoff from the Arnhem Highway and we had Fogg Dam but then if you continued on and followed the hand made signs the road goes on for another 10 odd klms (or so it seemed) to a dead end. from there turn right and the jumping crocodile cruise is located on their private stretch of the Adelaide River at the end of Fogg Dam Road. All in all it was about 75 minutes since I left Darwin.

I then followed to the right on a dirt track form some 5klm to Harry Bowmans - Adelaide River Crocodile cruise. Once we arrived I knew that the 40min trip was worth it. Harry and Karen came out and greeted us large as life before he realised he had known us from 10 years ago. So we received a special once off private tour. And the photo's says it all. Wow that 30 minutes just amazed my wife and I. Harry's web site is http://www.adelaiderivercruises.com.au/ Harry’s brother Morgan & wife Maxine joined him 10 years ago when they embarked on a seachange from NSW. $43 for a adult and $16 for a child with 4 cruises a day and the boat capivity is 30 folks. Cruise times are 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm Daily from May to November

Some of the signs to the Adelaide River Cruise
Some of the signs to the Adelaide River Cruise
Harry -larger than life at the Adelaide River Cruise
Harry guiding us the Adelaide River Cruise
look at Harry then look at the size of that crocodile
The quaint dock from the waters
We travelled back to the Arnhem Highway and up the road about 10klm was the Windows to the Wetlands. A great place to stop and view the birdlife from a higher view and also really interesting display's inside to learn about the Wetlands. Diffinately worth stopping at.
Windows to the Wetlands
Windows to the Wetlands - courtesy of Tourism Northern Territory
>A few kilometres along the Arnhem Highway and up the road to the Adelaide River about 3 klm were the other 2 Crocodile Cruises both larger business ventures and a little easier to find. See below 2 photo's and you will see what I mean. Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre is 62 klm from Darwin and Adelaide River Queen see below (Jumping Crocodile Cruise) on the Adelaide River is 65 klm from Darwin.
>Along the Arnhem Highway on the right is Corroboree Park Tavern - another place to stop for fuel, drinks and a take away bit to eat. Djukbinj national park along the Arnhem Highway forms part of the Marrakai floodplains, Djukbinj National Park contains a portion of the catchment and drainage for the Adelaide River in this area. The abundance of water all year round has ensured the park's importance as a roosting and feeding site for waterbirds, magpie geese, egrets and brolgas. There is a carpark and bushwalking though I haven't had time to fully explore it just yet.
Djukbinj - A  park just recently signed - I will be doing a web site on this park soon
Corroboree Park Tavern
Further along the highway we came upon a unique sight and literally at our fingertips. the Termite Mounds - they were actually on the roadside of the Arnhem Highway.
Termite Mounds right on the Arnhem Highway before the Bark Hut Inn Roadhouse
Termite Mounds right on the Arnhem Highway before the Bark Hut Inn Roadhouse
Mary River National Park
Bird Billabong
Adventure Bound NT

Here is a brief overlay on 3 turnoffs you pass before coming into the Bark Hut Inn Roadhouse

Adventure Bound NT - a private business offering corporate and schoold adventure and traing activities
http://www.basecampwallaroo.com/ .

 

Mary River National Park - I actuallly intend to create a new website just on this park a bit later. In the meantime here is a good site. http://www.maryriverpark.com.au and also http://www.pointstuart.com.au. Bark Hut Tourism Centre which is located beside the Mary River National Park reached via Point Stuart Road some 20 kilometres on. In the park is the Mary River floodplain seen from Couzens Lookout, or you can try fishing trips going to Shady Camp, Rockhole or Corroboree Billabong. You can also hire a houseboat on Corroboree Billabong from Mary River Houseboats.

Hardies Track - The Hardies Track runs between the Rockhole Road and the Arnhem Hwy and passes Bird Billabong which has an abundance of bird and other wildlife. A small bird hide is accessed by a app. 3 km return walk and offers very good photographic opportunities. Allow approximately 3 hours for this drive and often closed int he wet season.

Bark Hut Inn & Caravan Park on Arnhem Hwy Kakadu National Park NT 0886 Telephone: (08) 8978 8988 Facsimile: (08) 8978 8932. Here is a REAL Aussie Roadhouse with the walls adorned by crocodiles and buffalo. This is a tourist icon in itself and a must see on the way. The staff were a mix of international backpackers and locals with the service friendly and meals reasonable for a remote location. The park offers a nice pool and campgrounds and basic budget donga's. There a good gift shop and lot's of room to move around.

Cocodiles and Buffaloes adorned the walls at the Bark Hut Inn
Meals at the Bark Hut Inn
Emu on the prowl at the Bark Hut Inn
Swimming pool in the camp grounds at the Bark Hut Inn
petrol Station at the Bark Hut Inn
Budget accommodation at the Bark Hut Inn

An alternative route to Cooinda (in Kakadu) is via turning right off the Arnhem Highway onto the unsealed Old Jim Jim Rd some 19km beyond the Bark Hut Inn (above). Often impassable in the wet season October - April. Though more so with the heavier rains January-March). The entrance to kakadu is around 38klm from the Bark Hut Inn. The gates are a great photographic opportunity and also stop at the Kakadu Information centre and there is a small box that has the free Kakadu Booklet in it.

Kakadu Information Stop on the Arnhem Highay
Kakadu Entrance on the Arnhem Highay
2 Mile Hole and 4 Mile Hole 4WD Track turnoffs are clearly visable from the Arnhem Highway some way past the bark hut inn roadhouse. In September you may witness an incredable sight with the traditional burnoff (see the photo on the right below). This is controlled burning for regrowth. It may be a bit hard to see in this photo but there were around 30 kitty hawks circling and diving on the smaller animals and reptiles escaping the burnoff in the photo above. This is truely an amazing sight. The road seemed very hazy to pass thru but really it was only for a few metres nothing to worry about and then it was clear again.
Two_Mile_&_Four_Mile_4WD_Tracks
Kitty hawks diving on animals escaping the burnoff.

29klm pass the West Branch of the Aligator River you reach the larger South Alligator river and also the Aurora Kakadu South Alligator Resort with accommodation and camping facilties. This where we filled up for fuel before driving down to Cooinda. Just to be safe I would fill up here and check the road conditions.

Kakadu Resort South Alligator - Aurora Kakadu
Outdoor Bar area at Kakadu Resort South Alligator - Aurora Kakadu
Camping Grounds at Kakadu Resort South Alligator - Aurora Kakadu
Camping Grounds at Kakadu Resort South Alligator - Aurora Kakadu
Aurora Kakadu situated in the Kakadu National Park is the perfect base to visit one of the world's finest wildlife reserves. Set amidst 10 hectares of lush bushland, Aurora Kakadu offers tropical gardens, manicured lawns and abundant relaxation areas. Aurora Kakadu provides guests with the opportunity to encounter close at hand some of the Territory's spectacular wildlife. Magpie geese, Wallabies, Corella and Goanna freely wander the landscaped gardens and pool area. Guests are encouraged to explore further the natural habitats of the animals and plants exhibited by experiencing the park and it’s surrounds. Fact sheet Courtesy of http://www.auroraresorts.com.au/
Kakadu Resort (South Alligator) - Aurora Kakadu - in the Kakadu Wetlands - Located in the South Alligator Area of Kakadu, the Aurora Kakadu is a 3 ½ star property, offering 138 units which include private patios or balconies, air conditioning, colour television, refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities.
Accommodation at Kakadu Resort South Alligator - Aurora Kakadu
Petrol station, cafe, takaway at Kakadu Resort South Alligator - Aurora Kakadu
From Aurora Kakadu South Alligator Resort you are now about 40 klm to Jabiru and 7klm to the Mamukala Wetlands. Now the Mamukala Wetlands Hatch is not what i expected. Back in Darwin I had a very friendly lady tell me that it was a fantastic hatch you crawled into. She meant well but I don't think she had actually been too - see what you think.
The paved very accessable walk to Mamukala Wetlands Bird Watching in Kakadu National Park
Mamukala Wetlands Bird Watching in Kakadu National Park
Boardwalk to the entrance of Mamukala Wetlands Bird Watching in Kakadu National Park
Viewing area at the Mamukala Wetlands Bird Watching in Kakadu National Park

SUMMARY: Blog on the road - Arnhem Highway to Kakadu

Well from here you are only 25klm to Jabiru and the end of our stretch of the Arnhem Highway. Again all the web sites says just a 3 hour drive to Kakadu from Darwin and only 253klm. If you don't blink and drive straight then that's right but how could anyone drive straight and not stop. I would say stopping Fogg Dam, the Adelaide River Cruise, Bark Hut Inn, the Termite Mounds, Windows to the Wetlands, Mamukala Wetlands, South Alligator resort and stopping along the way say 10 times for photo shoots is an absorbing 10-15 hours. Maybe do some of the icons on the way back if you go back the same way. Rob - September 2007

General information on Kakadu National Park

Roads to Kakadu National Park

Road conditions in the Park vary according to the two seasons being the Green 'Wet' season or Dry season. Widespread Green 'Wet' season flooding occured historically and frequently during November to April there nowdays the seasons have changed signifciantly. Therefore you should check the road conditions well before your departure .

Up-to-the-moment road reports can be obtained from the Bowali Visitor Centre (Telephone +61 (0) 8 8938 1120). The Arnhem and Kakadu Highways are sealed and generally remain open throughout the year. Green 'Wet' season flooding associated with any prolonged heavy rains may have various locational temporary closures.

We here also provide helpful tips on Kakadu National Park and what to see and activities available, visitor safety, park camping and accommodation facilities, emergency contacts and useful Kakadu Parks information.

If time allows, we advise you stay in the park for a 2-5 days so that the major sites can be explored at your leisure. Kakadu National Park can be visited selfdrive a 2 wheel drive vehicle such as a car, camper, 4WD or even a large motorhome though access is limited to the Kakadu Highway and the Arnhem Highway. Ubirr, Yellow Waters, Jabiru and Nourlangie Rock being main the extent of where you can visit a 2 wheel drive vehicle. Currently about 200,000+ folks visit Kakadu National Park each year. Visitor numbers are higher during the dry season months of June to September (approx. 33,000 people visit each July) and lower during the wet season months (approx. 7,000 people visit each January).

Yellow Waters sunrise and sunset cruises - seeing birds and crocodiles and incredable landscapes in Kakadu national Park, Northern Territory Australia (also known as the Top End)Where is Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park an Australian Natural Icon covers almost 20,000 square kms and is 257 kms East of Darwin the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. Kakadu National Park is a World Heritage listed area that has been listed for it's cultural and natural heritage and Kakadu is the largest terrestrial national park in Australia. Life in the park does depends on the water, also in respect to the tropical monsoon climate that produces the downpours of the tropical humidity of the "wet" season, and the milder weather of the "dry" season.

Kakadu National Park is the gateway to Arnhemland. The sealed roads from Darwin to Kakadu is via the Arnhem Highway and from Katherine to Kakadu National Park via the Kakadu Highway. The Bowali Visitor Centre near Jabiru in Kakadu National Park is located 257 km from Darwin in Northern Territory Australia via the Arnhem Highway entrance. If travelling by road, you should allow 3 hours travelling time from Darwin. Maps of the road to Kakadu National Park and of Kakadu National Park.

Kakadu National Park - Seasons

But Australia's Kakadu sees seasons of varied extremes -- so varied, in fact, that the park's longtime aboriginal inhabitants have divided the year into six distinct seasons.
• Kakadu Seasons - Gunumeleng Pre-Monsoon Storm Season - Gunumeleng, from mid-October to late December, may in fact last from a few weeks to several months.
• Kakadu Seasons - Gudjewg - Monsoon Season - Gudjewg, from January to March, can be described as the 'true' wet season.
• Kakadu Seasons - Banggereng - Knock 'em down storm Season - Banggerreng, in April, is the season when the rain clouds have dispersed and clear skies prevail.
• Kakadu Seasons - Yegge - Cooler but still humid Season - Yegge, from May to mid-June, is relatively cool with low humidity.
• Kakadu Seasons - Wurrgeng - Cold Weather Season - Wurrgeng, from mid-June to mid-August, is the 'cold weather' time; humidity is low, daytime temperatures are around 30°C and night-time temperatures are around 17°C.
• Kakadu Seasons - Gurrung - Hot Dry Weather - Gurrung, from mid-August to mid-October, is hot and dry.

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