Kakadu National Park, featuring Nourlangie Rock: Day trip from Darwin, Australia
Kakadu National Park is World Heritage listed and covers an area of more than 19,800 square km’s. There is so much wildlife to see in Kakadu from thousands of different insects, plants and hundreds of bird species. There are many rock art sites which showcase Aboriginal culture which dates back to around 50,000 years ago.
Kakadu was a must for us, but we struggled to find a variety of tours given it was still wet season so we booked through AAT Kings for a day trip to Kakadu, Nourlangie and a Yellow Water Billabong cruise. They seem to run all year round tours which worked in our favour. We also joined their full day tour to Katherine Gorge!
About the tour
It was an early start; pick up time was scheduled for 06:15, after all, Kakadu isn’t that close to Darwin! The tour is a 13 hour day – so be prepared for some serious driving time! Kakadu is about a 3 hour drive each way.
Once you leave Darwin, you jump on to one of the longest roads in Australia, the Stuart Highway. The landscape is not what we expected and was quite green and luscious but it is the wet season so the rainfall is higher than other times in the year.
Once you exit the Stuart Highway, you’re then on the Arnhem Highway which continues with the changing landscape.
There is a pit stop half way there which is a great chance to grab some breakfast or a snack.
The Bark Hut had pre-made pies, toasted sandwiches and also made to order breakfast if you got in first and had time to wait for your eggs!
There is a lovely outdoor area where you can see some emus. They are interesting creatures!
It was then back on the road, Kakadu here we come!
The tour offers an optional scenic flight over Arnhem Land and Escarpment and is around $250 per person extra. We didn’t do this simply because we had the flight included with the Outback Floatplane adventures tour. However, I am sure it would be fantastic to see if you did choose this option. So, once you drop those taking the flight off at the airport we continued down towards the Cooinda Lodge where we departed for our 1.5 hour Yellow Water Billabong Cruise where we were lucky enough to see a couple of crocs and some amazing birds.
Here are a few of our favourite pictures from the billabong cruise.
Take a look at our short video of our river cruise.
We then walked back up to Cooinda Lodge which is where a buffet lunch was included. The lunch was nice, offering some cold meats, salads, rolls and some fruit and carrot cake for dessert. There was also a bar available for drink purchases if you wanted something a little more refreshing!
It was then a quick drive over to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The Bininj (pronounced Binning) are the traditional custodians of Kakadu National Park, and this cultural centre provides a good introduction on their way of life. It was interesting to read the different seasons and their calendar. It is very different to our traditional calendar.
The last stop on the tour is, of course, Nourlangie Rock. This particular part of Kakadu provided shelter to the indigenous people for many thousands of years.
They used this rock as a canvas which illustrates their deep spiritual culture.
The walk around the base of the rock is around 1.5km and our guide (also the driver) walks you through and explains the different types of rock art paintings and what they mean.
Cost of the tour
The tour costs $235 per adult (and $118 per child). However, this doesn’t include Kakadu National Park entry which is $25 per person. This ticket does last 14 days should you be staying on in Kakadu for additional tours. If you’re limited to only being able to spend one day in Kakadu and are basing yourselves in Darwin, this is going to be the tour for you. There isn’t a lot of walking involved, so it is suitable for elderly people (in my opinion!).
To read more about our recent trip to Darwin and our itinerary, click here!
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“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca