need help planning 2 days in Kakadu

Old Jun 18th, 2008, 01:00 PM
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need help planning 2 days in Kakadu

We will spend one night in Kakadu National Park in mid-September. We are staying at the Gagadju Lodge in Cooinda so that we can take the early morning Yellow Water Billabong Cruise in the morning.

I'm having trouble planning our days.

Our plan is to drive from Darwin and arrive around noon on the first day--and to stop at the Visitor Center first.

We would like to spend time at Ubirr Rock and then go on to the hotel. But I've heard that it is nice to catch the sunset at Ubirr Rock. So, I'm wondering if we should do Ubirr Rock later in the afternoon.

The only problem with that is that we won't check into our hotel until very late this way. Is it true that it is almost an hour drive between Ubirr Rock and Cooinda? (we have hired a rental car that allows us to drive at night--we know we will need to be very careful to look for animals while driving after the sunset at Ubirr Rock).

Not sure how best to fill our afternoon that day.

Then the next day, we will do the Yellow Water Cruise in the morning, and then on to Nourlangie Rock. Then back to Darwin.

Is there anything else we should do? We'd decided to skip the waterfalls, because we figured that at the end of dry season, there wouldn't be much (any) water in them.
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Old Jun 19th, 2008, 05:30 PM
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Hi Caligirl56

It's been a while since I was at Kakadu so it may have changed in the tour and acommodation sense. But considering how timeless the place is it'll still be beautiful.

Try looking up kakaduculturecamp.com also type kakadu buffalo into ggl and it comes up with lots of sites.

Can t help you with the trip distances but you could pop off an email to the visitor centre.

The thing I remember most is the view from the escarpment over the East Aligator river flood plain. If I go back I'd sit and enjoy that for a longer while.

There are a few bird hides you can sit in if you re into bird watching, but if it's dry they may be a bit thin on the ground.

I also remember a huge buffalo on the road which fortunately we avoided.

N-)
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Old Jun 19th, 2008, 11:51 PM
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There is a boat trip on the East Alligator River which is fairly close to Ubirr Rock. This boat trip is different to Yellow Waters as it is run by the local aboriginal community.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 04:28 PM
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Hi Caligirl,

The view from Ubirr Rock is spectacular at any time of the day. No doubt, particularly nice at sunset though. You do need to allow time to enjoy it all once there - so if you are going for a sunset viewing don't leave it too late.

Nourlangie Rock and Billabong is also a fantastic walk.

Once there, check in to see if there are any free Ranger talks - the Northern Territory (well 10 years ago anyway) offered a great number of these throughout their National Parks. When we were at Kakadu there was a free talk about the Aboriginal art and I think it may have been near Ubirr but can't be sure. There was also a slide show and talk at the caravan park one night.

The place is just so beautiful you will have no trouble filling up your two days. Oh I've just re read your post - actually only one night - well you really won't have time for anything other than your selections but imho they would be the best considering.
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Old Jun 21st, 2008, 09:15 PM
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Thanks so much for all of the answers. I'm starting to wonder if maybe I should try to add a night in Kakadu. It seems like we might really prefer to take our time there and soak it all in. We'll have to think on it a bit!!
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Old Jun 21st, 2008, 10:03 PM
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Hi caligirl56

We spent 3/days and 2 nights in Kakadu back in May and had a great time and found this to be just about the right amount of time to see most things without rushing. We stayed in the YHA at Jabiru which is a great place, but there are plenty of hotel and lodge style accom in Jabiru and Cooinda. Either place is within driving distance of wherever you would choose to go.
For a few photos and a little more info have a look at our round the world blog at http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog..._UID=candcthai
BTW The sunset at Ubirr is fantastic and well worth the drive.
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 09:55 AM
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We just got back from a 3 week trip to Oz...spent 2 nights in Jabiru at the Lakeview Park Resort in a family (2BR) unit which was GREAT. We did Ubirr Rock at sunset which was just perfect, but those mozzies come out just after the sun goes down. Also toured the uranium mine (interesting place) and did some other hikes (Gunlom was great). I remember the road from Ubirr to Jabiru was about 40KM and then it's quite a ways to get to Cooinda. I think that drive will take more than an hour at night. We stopped at one of those jumping croc tours on the ways from Darwin, and while hokey, it was just amazing to see the power (and grace) of those animals up very close. We are all glad that we did that
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Old Jul 31st, 2008, 08:14 PM
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Good choice on doing the Yellow Waters cruise in the morning -- I highly recommend the dawn trip (the boat left at 6:30 a.m. in early June). The sunsets at Yellow Waters are also fantastic, so if you can't stay for the sunset at Ubirr, be sure to head over to Yellow Waters for the sunset there. There's a viewing platform and a boardwalk, and in September, if the wet season hasn't started, you can probably do some good walking beyond that.

We started our visit to Kakadu in Jabiru, where we stayed 2 nights before moving on to Cooinda for 2 nights. (In retrospect, 3 nights would have been plenty, and I would have dropped 1 from Jabiru.) We visited Ubirr from Jabiru in the early afternoon. We really enjoyed it. When we climbed up to the lookout over the escarpment the view was fantastic (undoubtedly even more beautiful at sunset).

I don't think I would want to drive from Ubirr to Cooinda in the dark--it's about 90 km--but if you do decide to do that there are a couple of good options for afternoon activities prior to visiting Ubirr for the sunset. A short drive away there's a nice marked trail that takes about 1 1/2 hours to walk, with lots of interesting vegetation and sandstone outcrops -- definitely worthwhile (ask about it at the park HQ, it's one of their most highly recommended walks though I forget what it's called). Also, as marg mentions, there's an informative boat trip (takes about 2 1/2 hours) on the East Alligator River near Ubirr -- the Guluyambi cruise. It's different from the Yellow Waters trip in that it focuses more on the vegetation along the river and aboriginal life in the area and less on the birdlife that is the highlight at Yellow Waters.

I thought the rock art was more impressive at Noorlangie than at Ubirr, but I was glad to have visited both.

Kakadu is unlike anyplace else I've ever been. I think you'll find it fascinating.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 06:40 AM
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See this thread for a description of our time at Kakadu in August 2006.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...t=0&dirtyBit=1

I think one night in Kakadu, driving from Darwin one day and back again the next, would make me crazy. There is a lot to see and experience in Kakadu, but it isn't all close together and it takes some time. It is a long drive from Ubirr to Cooinda.

If you can add a day and stay 2 nights you might consider staying one night at the Lakeview (read my review of this place on Tripadvisor), if you can get in or somewhere else in Jabiru. You could go to Ubirr that first evening. Seeing the sunset from the top was really exceptional and one the highlights of the trip. Next day check out from the Lakeview and do other things during the day such as the Alligator River tour and /or Nourlangie.

Then drive to Cooinda and make a stop at the museum there either this day or the next after the cruise. It is a very nice little museum. Spend the evening at the resort...great pool there and they had entertainment at the outside bar when we were there...a trivia contest that got everyone involved and teamed up with strangers, who quickly became friends. One note is that there isn't much to Cooinda and you are kind of captive to their food scene so you may want to bring some drinks and food from the Jabiru grocery.

Next morning up early for the Yellow River cruise..definitely worth it. A bus picks you up just in front of the hotel for the short ride to the boats.

Then you are ready to head back to Darwin, which will be a long drive...

We went back to Darwin the other way around, making it a circle so we didn't back-track and stopped at Katherine and Litchfield. This was a great way to do it, but if you don't have time you may have return to Darwin via the way you came in. You could also check out Fogg Dam on the way back or the way in, as we did. See my description in the other thread.

Kakadu seems a subtle place in some ways and it was not what we expected. Jabiru is a very small place, and amenities are few. There is a grocery and a few restaurants, but not many. You may want to bring enough food with you from Darwin to get you through the first evening. We got our first meal at the poolside place at the Aurora and had to wait a long time for it as they were backed up. We were starving by the time we got the food. Next day we went to the Jabiru grocery for supplies.

You get a lot of different thoughts about Kakadu..some people call it Kakadon't...which made me nervous about spending 3 nights there. Our family absolutely loved it. We enjoy wildlife, outdoors stuff, hiking, etc. We were there in August and it was not lush...in fact, very dry but there was a beauty that unfolded for us in many ways...the longer we were there, the more beautiful we found it.


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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 04:45 PM
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Aprillilacs and LynAK,

Thanks so much for all of the great ideas. I definitely wish we had more time in Kakadu. I don't like rushing.

We visit Litchfield the day before we go to Kakadu, but I had planned to just return to our lodging in Darwin. Maybe, instead, we should head on to Jabiru. I had based us out of Darwin as much as possible, because we don't like changing hotels frequently. But, maybe staying in Jabiru and then Cooinda would be worth it.

We can't wait to get there. Wondering what the situation with bush fires will be at the very end of the dry?

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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Sorry, I think that link in my previous post went someplace I didn't intend.

Kakadu with Kids thread. This is a great thread for planning a trip to the NT

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=3

This is the thread from 2006 where I wrote a lot about our travels to Kakadu and about the Lakeview bungalow. I apparently did not write a tripadvisor review! Guess I intended to do that so thought I'd done it!

But I think this thread would be useful for descriptions of how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B, etc.

"longhorn55" and "wallos" also have some especially helpful posts about things to do in the NT, itineraries, etc.

Here is another thread with some good info:
Info on Darwin, Litchfield, Kakadu
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=3

And here's a thread about accomodations in Litchfield

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...t=0&dirtyBit=1


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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 07:15 AM
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Well, it seems I am having a lot of trouble with these links!

Do a search for these threads and see if you can find them, all started in 2006:

Kakadu with Kids?

Litchfield Lodgings

Litchfield and Kakadu

They will give you a lot of information. Good luck.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Personally, I would drop Litchfield and spend your 2 (or 3 if you can swing it) nights in Kakadu. That's just my opinion based on our recent trip -- after Kakadu, Litchfield seemed just more of the same (though I must admit the pool at the base of Florence Falls was inviting). Not sure what the falls will look like there in September. And termite mounds, another Litchfield claim to fame, were just not that interesting (to me). If you weren't going to Kakadu I'd say definitely make a day trip to Litchfield, but it's a lot of driving to do both, for not that much benefit.

There were lots of bush fires in June -- most (if not all) of them set on purpose. Made the sky a little hazy, but otherwise they were just a feature of the landscape.

By the way, we really enjoyed Darwin. Spent two nights there, and especially enjoyed the lively Mindil market and the sunset viewing (and people watching) on Mindil Beach, the very nice art museum (including some wonderful work by aboriginal artists), the wharfs, and the good food. Hanuman restaurant was one of the best restaurants we ate at during our 5 weeks in Australia, and the noodle shop across the street from Hanuman was excellent as well. Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 5th, 2008, 11:32 AM
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"We visit Litchfield the day before we go to Kakadu, but I had planned to just return to our lodging in Darwin. Maybe, instead, we should head on to Jabiru. I had based us out of Darwin as much as possible, because we don't like changing hotels frequently."

Litchfield is not a quick drive from Darwin and if you make all the rounds (various Falls, Buley Rock Holes, Berry Berry Springs) it will be a long, long day. Then your plan is to get up early the next day and drive to Kakadu (a long way) and stay one night there, then back to Darwin. In my opinion you will be so exhausted that you will cease to enjoy...that is a ton of driving in a few days time...if you only have 3 days to fit both in, better to skip one or the other...and there is quite a debate as to whether people enjoy Litchfield or Kakadu better.

I'm glad we didn't have to choose and could do both. How many total days are you staying in the NT, including Darwin?

At Litchfield you will have lots of swimming opportunities, which may or may not be something that you like; if you don't want to swim in these various cool formations and waterfalls and holes and warm springs, then Litchfield is less important..in Sept., though it will be at the end of "winter," it will likely be warm..we were there in August and swam everywhere; no swimming at Kakadu, which is a World Heritage Site and very interesting with all the ancient aboriginal paintings you can see up close and the river cruise with all the wildlife.

I don't really agree with AprilLilacs that Litchfield is more of the same of Kakadu. They seemed very different to us and each wonderful in its own way. I think there have been threads before that compare the two experiences in more detail.

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Old Aug 5th, 2008, 11:15 PM
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We have 5 nights in the Red Centre, and then we fly up to Darwin, and have 5 nights in that area.

So, the plan was:

Day 1: Arrive Darwin around 2:00 p.m.
Night 1: Darwin

Day 2: Litchfield (we might want to swim-- but only a little bit--and although it sounds wonderful, I think we will skip Berry Berry Springs); Deckchair Cinema
Night 2: Darwin

Day 3: Drive to Kakadu--spend time in the Ubirr Rock area--then on to Cooinda
Night 3: Gagudju Lodge, Cooinda

Day 4: Sunrise Yellow Water Cruise/explore Nourlangie Rock area/back to Darwin
Night 4: Darwin

Day 5: Museums/relax in Darwin/Mindil Market (this is a Thursday)
Night 5: Darwin

Day 6: Fly to Cairns

I wish we had more time everywhere, but we only have 5 weeks--and are trying to fit in 5 separate areas of Australia.

One thing--it's just my husband and me (our (grown)children will be at home watching the dog!)--so the drives will go relatively quickly--not a lot of stops.

I'm still thinking that maybe we should go straight from Litchfield and stay in Jabiru, instead of driving back to Darwin--but this would add ANOTHER change of hotel.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 05:29 PM
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Five weeks isn't a alot, is it? It's so hard do decide what amount of time to spend where. I'm trying to write a brief trip report of our short 5 weeks around Australia -- hopefully I'll post something next week. Our itinerary was Sydney/Perth (Fremantle)/Southwest/Ayers Rock/Atherton Tablelands/Daintree/Hinchinbrook Island/Cairns/Sydney.

What do you have planned?

I'm sure you will enjoy the trip, whatever you decide. Based on my own experience, I would modify your Top End itinerary somewhat (note: my opinion only!):

Day 1: Arrive Darwin around 2:00 p.m.
Night 1: Darwin

Day 2: Drive to Kakadu--spend time in the Ubirr Rock area--stay at Jabiru (we liked Lakeview--not fancy, just really comfortable).

Day 3: Visit Noorlangie, then on to Cooinda.
Night 3: Gagudju Lodge, Cooinda

Day 4: Sunrise Yellow Water Cruise/back to Darwin
Night 4: Darwin (can you do the deckchair cinema this night?)

Day 5: Museums/relax in Darwin/Mindil Market (this is a Thursday)
Night 5: Darwin

Day 6: Fly to Cairns

Note that Litchfield is not in this itinerary (though I agree with LynAK that it's an interesting place to visit). I would choose one or the other (Kakadu or Litchfield), not both, with your limited time.

In any case, don't worry--whichever direction you go, your trip will be great.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 07:22 PM
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Thanks for the good advice. I think we'll look into staying in Jabiru on night #2. Skipping Litchfield would certainly reduce the amount of driving we will have to do.

aprillilacs--I would love to see your trip report. Our plans are a bit different--but they definitely overlap in various areas.

Our plan is:
5 nights in Uluru/Alice Springs
5 nights in Top End
10 nights Daintree/Palm Cove/Atherton Tablelands
7 nights in Tasmania
6 nights Sydney

Our idea was to go to the hot weather areas first--during September--and hopefully the full heat won't have set in yet. I'm a bit worried, though, because we will be in Tasmania in early October--and I'm guessing it will still be pretty cold then. It's a challenge to pack for so many climates--we'll just do layers I guess.
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 08:44 AM
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Are your flights already set? I'm wondering if you really need 5 nights at Uluru and Alice. I haven't been there, so this is all from some reading but I think there is more to be seen up by Darwin over that many days. Maybe you could take a day, or even two, from there and add it to Darwin.

Perhaps someone else who has done both could offer an opinion. I just know that we spent 10 days doing Darwin/Kakadu/Katherine/Litchfield/back to Darwin and we could have easily filled a couple more days.

Good plan to be back in Darwin on a Thursday for the Market. That's a must. But no matter how you slice it you are in for a lot of driving with your plan, even if you skip Litchfield and go straight to Jabiru from Darwin. Distances are farther than you might think and the landscape is often flat and will be a lot of brown at this time of year so it just seems a lot of the same kilometer after kilometer.

If you do decide you can add a day and go to Litchfield for the day you might consider taking a bus tour there and then picking up your rental car in Darwin the next day to go to Jabiru. I am usually not into bus tours AT ALL, but if you go to all the places around Litchfield and then are worn out at the end of the day you can lay back and get driven back to Darwin, which is a fair distance.

Alternately, you could go to Litchfield on Day 2, stay in Batchelor overnight and then drive to Jabiru without going all the way back to Darwin. That would save you some driving time. Not much in Batchelor, except as a gateway to Litchfield, but all you'll be doing is sleeping and you'll get back to Darwin late anyway after a long day at Litchfield.

Just some ideas.
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 05:53 PM
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Lyn,

Thanks for the ideas. They look like good ones. We'll have to keep considering. I hadn't thought about staying in Batchelor.

Although we could probably change our flights, I don't think I want to--because I actually have the same feeling about the Red Center: I feel like we need more time there.

We're planning to walk around Uluru (base walk)--do the Valley of the Winds walk at the Olgas, and visit King's Canyon. We think that we'll get more of a feeling for the outback if we don't just rush off after a day or two.

Then, we'll drive up to Alice Springs--and spend a couple of days there. As it is, I don't think we'll even have time to go out and visit the MacDonnell ranges--as we plan to mainly visit things around the town while we are in Alice.

I wish we had 3 months--then there wouldn't be quite so many tough decisions!

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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 05:53 PM
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to add a further pull on ur time at kakadu:

we did an almost full day tour w/ Lord's Tour that took us into Arnhemland. we hiked up w/ a local elder who took us to see some extraordinary cave paintings in very good condition. much better than what was available to see at the time in kakadu.

i agree w/ the recommendation of lakeview w resort we stayed in a cool tented cabin that had its own private freestanding washroom and shower and ate at the service club across the road w/ locals great food and company very reasonable prices.
but believe we spent 3 nights at lakeview and 2 nights at cooinda where in addition to yellow waters at dawn we took a guded tour into the local bands buffalo farm and got to do neat stuff including eating grubs mmm.

while we enjoyed the mindl market, the extra time in kakadu is unique
cheers
AndrewDavid
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