8 Helpful Tips for Camping in Kakadu National Park

8 Helpful Tips for Camping in Kakadu National Park

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Billabongs in Kakadu National Park

No trip to the Northern Territory is complete without visiting Kakadu National Park. The largest national park in Australia covering over 20,000 square kilometers is taunted as the number one national park in all of Australia. And being one of 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with both natural and cultural significance, there is little wonder why.

There are plenty of blogs out there that tell you why Kakadu National Park is so great and all of the many things that you can do in Kakadu National Park, but I found it difficult to find anything on camping in Kakadu National Park. With 20 national park campgrounds and a handful of other commercial campgrounds available, making sure you are prepared is imperative.

If you are like me, you searched for hours trying to figure out how to book a campsites in Kakadu National Park. There is nothing easily accessible on the national park website that I could find that gave me any insight into how the camping in Kakadu National Park actually worked. Was camping included in my Kakadu National Park Pass? Do I need to book campsites in advance? Could we have a fire while camping in Kakadu National Park? These are all of the questions that I wanted to know before we planned our trip.

We put together a list of everything we wish we would have known about camping in Kakadu National Park. Hopefully the insight that we learned during our time in Kakadu will help you in planning your holiday to Kakadu National Park.

Things to Know About Camping in Kakadu National Park

Maguk waterfall in Kakadu National Park
The waterfall near the Maguk campsite while camping in kakaadu National Park

Campsites Are Open Based on the Aboriginal Seasons

Camping in Kakadu National Park follows the season cycle of the Aboriginal people. What this means for you is that depending on when you plan your trip, there could be campsites that are not open. Additionally, as the land is shared with us by the traditional owners, areas within Kakadu could be closed for cultural reasons. For example, when we visited an elder had recently passed away and therefore certain locations within the national park were closed out of respect to the elder.

Find out more on the seasons and how they will impact your trip to Kakadu in our article on whether visiting Kakadu National Park is worth it!

Camping in Kakadu National Park Is on a First-Come, First-Serve Basis

Camping in Kakau National Park is on a first-come, first-serve basis. From the campgrounds that we visited, however, there were no numbered sites but rather large open spaces where multiple campers could set-up camp.

Camping in Kakadu National Park Is Not Included in your Parks Pass

Camping in Kakadu National Park is not included in your parks pass, however, the cost for camping depends on the campsite that you choose. Some campsites in Kakadu are free while others cost betwen $6 – $15 per person. Below is a list of the campsites and the associated charges at each. Family rates (2 Adults/2 children) and are $15 at the bush campsites and $38 at the facilities campsites.

Free of charge

  • Four Mile Hole
  • Two Mile Hole
  • Red Lily Billabong
  • Bucket Billagong
  • Alligator Billabong
  • Bilkbilkmi (Graveside Gorge) – permit required

$6 per person (bush)

  • West Alligator Head
  • Malabanjbanjdju
  • Burdulba
  • Sandy Billabong
  • Jim Jim Billabong
  • Maguk
  • Gungurul
  • Kambolgie
  • Jarrangbarnmi(Koolpin Gorge) – permit required

$15 per person (facilities)

  • Merl
  • Djarradjin (Muirella Park)
  • Mardukal (Mardugal)
  • Karnamarr (Garnamarr)
  • Gunlom
Maks sure to check out the amazing rock art in Kakadu

There Are Alcohol Restrictions in Kakadu National Park

Similar to many places in the Northern Territory, there are alcohol restrictions in Kakadu National Park which applies to all public places and MOST campsites. The campsites that DO allow alcohol consumption include Merl, Djarradjin (Muirella Park), Karnamarr (Garnamarr), Gunlom, and Mardukal (Mardugal).

Make sure to check the NT government website for the most up-to-date information on the alcohol restrictions throughout NT.

There is no takeaway alcohol sold in Kakadu, however, alcoholic beverages can be purchased at the restaurants in Jabiru and Cooinda.

There Are SHOWERS in Kakadu National Park

Kakadu is hot. I mean extremely hot. We visited at the end of May and the afternoons were brutal. Luckily, certain campsites in Kakadu have cold showers that can be used. Trust us, you will be grateful and will stop by even if you do not plan to stay at the campground for the evening.

Campfires Are Allowed in Kakadu National Park

Everyone loves a good campfire when camping and while many national parks have banned campfires, Kakadu has not (yet). Campfires are permitted in the fire pits provided by the national park services. Per the Visitor Guide publication, dead and fallen wood can be collected from road sides to be used for campfires (not at the campsites).

You Don’t Need a 4WD for Camping in Kakadu National Park

One of the great things about Kakadu National Park is that it is accessible by all types of vehicles. While there are certain campsites that are only accessible by 4WD, there are plenty of areas for camping in Kakadu National Park that can be reached without a 4WD. Here is a list of the 2WD and 4WD campsites.

2WD

  • Merl
  • Malabanjbanjdju
  • Burdulba
  • Maguk
  • Gungurul
  • Kambolgie
  • Djarradjin (Muirella Park)
  • Mardukal (Mardugal)
  • Gunlom

4WD

  • Four Mile Hole
  • Two Mile Hole
  • Red Lily Billabong
  • Bucket Billagong
  • Alligator Billabong
  • Bilkbilkmi (Graveside Gorge) – permit required
  • Karnamarr (Garnamarr)
  • Sandy Billabong
  • Jim Jim Billabong
  • Maguk
  • Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge ) – permit required
  • West Alligator Head
Hiking in Kakadu National Park
Hiking in Kakadu National Park

Plan Where to Camp in Kakadu in Advance

One of the things that I wish we would have researched is campsites near things we wanted to visit. Kakadu National Park is massive! As the largest national park in Australia, Kakadu National Park covers more than 20,000 square kilometers which is approximately one-half the size of Switzerland!

Planning out your route and activities is important. You wouldn’t want to plan to see the Maguk plunge pool and stay at Merl as these locations are on completely different sides of the national park.

There Are Commercial Campgrounds in Kakadu Natinal Park

In addition to the national park campsites, there are also four commercial campgrounds in Kakadu National Park. Each of the commercial campgrounds include a swimming pool, restaurant/bar, drinking water, and more.

  • Anbinik Kakadu Resort
    • The most secluded of all of the campsites with only 15 sites available each with their own toilet and shower. Anbinik also offers self-contained cabins and backpacker accommodation and is located walking distance from the Jabiru town center.
  • Cooinda Lodge Resort
    • A large resort offering over 100 powered sites and 200 unpowered sites near Yellow Water Billabong.
  • Kakadu Lodge Resort
    • Another resort near Jabiru town center, Kakadu Lodge offers spacious grass caravan sites.
  • Mary River Roadhouse
    • Perfect for those getting a late start from Katherine or looking to camp at the south end of the national park. Mary River Roadhouse caters to all types of campers from caravans to tents and also offers motel accommodation.

Things to Pack for Camping in Kakadu National Park

Camping in Kakadu National Park at Maguk campground
Camping in Kakadu National Park at Maguk campground

If you are planning on camping in Kakadu National Park, then this probably isn’t your first rodeo and you know what to pack. If not, here is a quick list of all of the essentials that we think you should make sure you carry with you.

This list does not include any recovery equipment or gear for 4WD tracks. If you are interested in the best items to pack for 4WD adventures, check out our article on What to Pack for Cape York which includes the items above plus other essential items for offroading like snatch straps and D-rings!

If you are interested in some delicious camping meals check out our article on our favorite van life meals (because lets be honest, van life is a lot like camping)!

Other Tips for Camping in Kakadu National Park

  • Pack bug spray. In certain campground in Kakadu, the mozzies are relentless!
  • Remember to be croc-wise!
  • Bring enough water as drinking water (for carvan or camper refills) is not available in Kakadu National Park.
  • Be sun safe! The heat in Kakadu is relentless even during the winter months.

Looking for More Northern Territory Travel Inspiration?

The Northern Territory is full of amazing things to do and see, particularlly stunning national parks. Check out one of our other articles to find out the best destinations in the Northern Territory to visit!

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With our list of helpful tips, we hope you are now ready for camping in Kakadu National Park. Let us know if you found our article helpful or if you think we missed something in the comment section below!

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