Photo credits: Top - left Libby Larsen, centre Rebecca Mc Evoy, right Rebecca Mc Evoy. Bottom - left Waltzing Van Flickr CC, centre Rebecca Mc Evoy, right Waltzing Van Flickr CC
Whether it's your first foray to Kakadu National Park or you are seasoned visitors, Kakadu has heaps of unique experiences on offer for families with tiny tots to teens. There's world famous Aboriginal rock art, jaw-dropping swimming holes, awe-inspiring landscapes and of course we can't forget those feisty crocs!
Being an Aboriginal-owned World Heritage listed national park there are some pretty awesome things your kids and family can see and do to learn about the vibrant Aboriginal culture in the region - like the amazing Injalak Rock Art Tours and the Guluyambi Aboriginal Cultural Boat Cruises down a croc infested river!
But, Kakadu is vast, and it can be overwhelming deciding where to go and what to do, especially when you have kids in tow! Who better to get the lowdown on the best haunts for you family holiday than a local family who live there.
I've been a fan of @twolittleterritorians - an amazing Instagram account of local Jabiru mum Bec which has fabulous photos of Bec and her family exploring Kakadu. So I was stoked when she agreed to share some of her tips and advice on Kakadu for families with Growing up Troppo.
Thanks so much Bec!
PS. You might also be interested in my article Kakadu with Kids - An Aboriginal Cultural Boat Cruise
Can you tell us a little bit about your family and what brought you to Jabiru?
My Husband and I moved to Jabiru with our two kids, Stella (4) and Shaye (2), in 2015 for work. Previously our family lived in Darwin for 8 years which we loved!
Why is it a unique and special place to bring up kids?
Jabiru is a small close knit community in the heart of Kakadu National Park. Our kids constantly play outdoors on the street with all the other kids in the neighbourhood. As a family with young kids there's never ‘nothing’ to do when you live in a World Heritage listed National Park. It is summer all year round. Playgrounds are waterfalls and dirty bare feet are the best kind! Fishing shirts are acceptable attire for every occasion, as are Havaianas.
In the Wet Season the colour green is so bright it hurts your eyes and good rain lasts for at least 3 days - non stop! Thunderstorms shake the house, the bigger the storm the better!
Photo credits: Rebecca Mc Evoy
How many days would you suggest is a good amount of time for families to visit Kakadu?
Kakadu is so big and in order to see everything you have to be prepared to do a lot of driving. However the end points are worth it. Should you have ample time with the kids to explore and want to see all Kakadu has to offer, a week is essential. If time does not permit, you need to choose your itinerary wisely.
For families visiting for the first time what are the "must see" places to visit and things to do?
Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) is the best waterfall in Kakadu and flows all year round - unlike Jim Jim and Gunlom.
Top Left: Ubirr (Rebecca Mc Evoy), Top Right: Maguk (Rebecca Mc Evoy), Bottom Left: Yellow Waters Cruise (Grant Williamson Flickr CC), Bottom Right: Gunlom Top Pools (Libby Larsen)
Where's the best place for families to see Aboriginal Rock Art?
Left: Nourlangie Rock Art, Right: Ubirr Rock Art (Libby Larsen)
What are your top 5 places for a swim with the kids in Kakadu?
Top Left: Maguk, Top Right: Boulder Creek, Bottom left: Moline Rockhole, Bottom Right: Gunlom Top Pools (Photo credits - Rebecca Mc Evoy)
Motorcar Falls (Wet season)
Motor Car Falls (Rebecca Mc Evoy)
What are some good "shorter" walks for families with littlies?
Boulder Creek (Wet Season)
Cahill’s Crossing (Check with Bowali Visitor Centre for tide times to watch the Crocodiles congregate and feed on Barramundi)
Left & Right: Bottom Pool at Gunlom (Rebecca Mc Evoy)
How about families willing to hike and camp?
Gubara (Hiking only. Wet Season)
Motorcar Falls (Hiking only. Wet Season)
Koolpin Gorge (Permit Only)
Koolpin Gorge (Rebecca Mc Intyre Flickr CC)
If families want to experience Aboriginal culture what would you suggest to them?
Free Ranger Guided Tours – Enquire for times and locations at Bowali Visitor Centre (Dry Season only)
I would highly recommend contacting Kakadu Tours and Travel who are based in Kakadu and offer tours throughout Kakadu, Arnhem Land and beyond.
What are you favourite family friendly camping spots?
Maguk and Gunlom
For families who want to get off the beaten track where would you suggest they go?
Essentially everywhere in Kakadu is off the beaten track however, for the more adventurous I would recommend;
Koolpin Gorge – Permit Only
Arnhem Land including:
Injalak Art Gallery – Permit Only
If you have a boat, Wiligi and Coburg Peninusla – Permit Only
Left: Baskets at Injalak Arts (Injalak Arts), Right: Visiting Injalak Arts (Rebecca Mc Evoy)
Is there a best time of year for families to visit Kakadu?
Early Dry Season – Late May/June to August when there is still a lot of water about (dependent on the previous wet season). It’s hard to anticipate, some years they open the waterfalls really early and other years not until July/August. However, Maguk and Gunlom are usually open by June.
How about the Wet Season? What are your favourite things to do in the Wet Season with kids?
Any tips on places to stay and eat for families in that part of the world?
Border Store is great for Thai which you can order on your way out to Ubirr and collect on your way back!
Always check with the Bowali Visitor Centre for road conditions and road closures, and depending on the age and stage of your kids it's always good to have a chat with staff at the visitor centre about the level of difficulty of the hikes and whether its going to suitable for your kids.
Thanks again Bec for sharing your insights on Kakadu for families and your awesome photos!
Bec, Stella, Shaye and dad at Ubirr!
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* The photos in this article from Rebecca Mc Evoy shouldn't be copied or used in anyway. Permission was given for their use in this article only.
Libby Larsen - Growing up Troppo
Growing up Troppo provides honest travel advice tips and inspiration from parents about special and unique places to stay, play and eat with kids that parents love too! Travel is and has always been, Libby's passion and she believes this shouldn't stop when you have kids.