For an encounter with the park's highlights from both land, air and water, follow this three day Kakadu itinerary and you're sure to leave the National Park both satisfied and longing for a return visit.

Day 1

Ubirr Lookout

  • Window on the Wetlands 

  • Mamukala Wetlands and Bird Hide

Driving along the picturesque Stuart and Arnhem highways south from Darwin, make your first stop in Humpty Doo where you can visit the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre.

One of the highest points on the Adelaide River floodplain, the information centre provides a great introduction to the park and offers superb views over the floodplains. Also in Humpty Doo, you can hop on a Specatular Jumping Crocodile Cruise to see one of about 80,000 snappy saltwater crocodiles in action.

Further down the Arnhem highway you can encounter birds in their natural habitat at the Mamukala Wetlands and Bird Hide. Between September and October, thousands of magpie geese congregate. All year round you'll see a range of bird life such as egrets, darters, herons and forest kingfishers.

Back on the road, continue east to sacred Aboriginal site Ubirr – one of the two best rock art sites in Kakadu National Park. After following the one-kilometre walking track through the galleries, stop to admire a spectacular Outback sunset before calling it a night in Jabiru, Kakadu's main township. 

Day 2

River in Kakadu National Park

  • Marrawuddi Gallery

  • East Alligator River

Start your first morning in Kakadu National Park by orientating yourself with the area at the Bowali Visitor Centre. Also home to the Marrawuddi Gallery, the cafe is a great place for you to hydrate before heading deeper into The Outback for the day.

With the park offering attractions in all directions, first head east to take an intimate small boat cruise along the East Alligator River. The highlight of the cruise is reaching the stunning point of the river that separates Kakadu from Arnhem Land. Keep your eyes peeled along the whole way for crocodiles and various other forms of native wildlife.

Back on dry land, make your way south to Cooinda and along the way stop to stretch your legs on the six-kilometre Gubara walk. No worries if you do happen to work up a sweat – just take a dip in one of the nearby freshwater pools. You can rest assured that any crocodiles inhabiting freshwater are generally considered harmless to swimmers, unlike their saltwater cousins.

Once at Cooinda, check-in for the night at the comfortable Gagudju Lodge. Don't linger too long though, or you'll miss one of the park's highlights – a sunset cruise at Yellow Water Billabong. Home to a vibrant array of wildlife, the billabong is one of the best places to spot some of Kakadu National Park's local wildlife.

Day 3

Aerial shot of Kakadu NP

  • Nourlangie Rock Art site

  • Bark Hut Inn

On your final day, visit the informative Warradjan Cultural Centre. Located just one kilometre from the lodge, spend some time learning about the traditional owners of Kakadu National Park then head onwards to another Kakadu highlight, the Nourlangie Rock Art site. One of the most sacred sites in the park, take in the Anbangbang galleries by walking the 1.5-kilometre Nourlangie Rock Art Walk.

With your three days coming to an end, the best is perhaps still to come. Make your way to the Jabiru airport and take to the air for a bird's eye view of the spectacular Jim Jim and Twin falls. If you visit between December and May, you'll catch the falls at their most majestic, with the rainy season bringing them to full flow.

After the scenic flight you might have to wipe a tear from your eye as it'll be just about time to embark on your journey back to Darwin. Brighten your spirits with a stop on the way at Bark Hut Inn – a unique Outback pub located almost exactly halfway between Darwin and Kakadu.