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Kakadu’s Hidden Treasures: 4 Gems You Must Discover

3 June 2024

Kakadu’s Hidden Treasures: 4 Gems You Must Discover

Kakadu National Park, located in the Northern Territory of Australia, is a vast expanse of diverse landscapes, rich culture, and stunning natural beauty. While many visitors flock to its well-known sites, such as Jim Jim Falls and Ubirr, there are lesser-known treasures within this UNESCO World Heritage-listed park that are equally captivating. Here are four hidden gems in Kakadu that you must discover on your next adventure.

Image credit – Tourism Australia.

1. Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)

Nestled in the southern part of Kakadu, Maguk (also known as Barramundi Gorge) is a pristine and secluded spot that offers a refreshing escape from the more crowded areas of the park. This hidden gem is perfect for those looking to experience the serene beauty of Kakadu’s waterfalls and plunge pools.

Getting There: Maguk is accessible via a 14-kilometer unsealed road, suitable for 4WD vehicles, off the Kakadu Highway. The road can be rough, especially after rain, so be sure to check conditions before setting out.

What to Do:

  • Hike: A relatively easy 2-kilometer return walk from the car park takes you through monsoon forests and along the creek to the main plunge pool.
  • Swim: The clear, cool waters of the plunge pool are perfect for a refreshing swim. Be sure to check for crocodile safety signs before diving in.
  • Picnic: There are shaded areas near the pool where you can relax and enjoy a picnic amidst the stunning scenery.

Why Visit: Maguk offers a more tranquil and intimate experience compared to the larger, more popular falls. The combination of an invigorating hike and a swim in a secluded pool makes it a perfect day out for nature lovers.

2. Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge)

For those seeking adventure and a sense of seclusion, Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) is an exceptional choice. This remote and rugged location is part of the restricted-access areas of Kakadu, ensuring its pristine condition and fewer visitors.

Getting There: Access to Koolpin Gorge requires a permit from the Parks Australia office, and it’s recommended for experienced 4WD drivers only. The road can be challenging, particularly in the wet season.

What to Do:

  • Hike and Explore: The gorge offers several hiking trails, with varying levels of difficulty. The trails lead you through spectacular landscapes, including rocky outcrops, cascading waterfalls, and crystal-clear pools.
  • Swim: The series of plunge pools along the gorge are perfect for swimming. Always adhere to safety guidelines regarding crocodiles.
  • Camp: There are designated camping areas where you can set up for the night, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the serene wilderness.

Why Visit: Jarrangbarnmi is a hidden paradise for those who love remote, untouched nature. The challenging access ensures that you’ll have a more private and undisturbed experience, making it a true adventurer’s delight.

Kakadu's Hidden Treasures: 4 Gems You Must Discover

3. Nanguluwurr Rock Art Site

While Kakadu is renowned for its rock art, Nanguluwurr offers a quieter alternative to the more famous Ubirr and Nourlangie sites. This lesser-known site showcases an array of fascinating rock art, providing insight into the rich cultural heritage of the indigenous people.

Getting There: Nanguluwurr is located near Nourlangie Rock. A 3.4-kilometer return walk from the Nourlangie car park takes you to the rock art site.

What to Do:

  • Explore Rock Art: The walk leads to a rock shelter adorned with ancient paintings depicting animals, mythical creatures, and European contact-era figures.
  • Learn: Interpretive signs along the trail provide valuable context and information about the significance of the art and the stories they tell.

Why Visit: Nanguluwurr offers a more intimate and contemplative experience of Kakadu’s rock art. The peaceful surroundings allow for a deeper connection with the history and culture of the area.

4. Motor Car Falls

Located in the southern part of Kakadu, Motor Car Falls is a hidden gem that offers a rewarding hike and a picturesque swimming spot. This lesser-known waterfall is part of the Yurmikmik area, which also includes Boulder Creek and Kurrundie Falls; it is no wonder that this is one of Kakadu’s hidden treasures and one of the 4 gems you must discover.

Getting There: From the Gimbat picnic area, it’s a 7.5-kilometer return walk to Motor Car Falls. The trail is well-marked and takes you through beautiful woodland and monsoon forest.

What to Do:

  • Hike: The trail to Motor Car Falls is relatively easy and suitable for families. The walk itself is a treat, with diverse flora and fauna to observe along the way.
  • Swim: The falls cascade into a large, inviting pool, perfect for swimming. Always check for crocodile warnings before swimming.
  • Picnic: The area around the falls provides a scenic spot for a picnic, allowing you to relax and enjoy the natural beauty.

Why Visit: Motor Car Falls offers a less crowded alternative to some of Kakadu’s more famous waterfalls. The combination of a scenic hike and a beautiful swimming spot makes it an ideal destination for a day trip.

Kakadu National Park is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From the tranquil waters of Maguk and the rugged beauty of Jarrangbarnmi to the cultural richness of Nanguluwurr and the scenic allure of Motor Car Falls, these lesser-known spots offer unique and unforgettable experiences. So pack your bags, prepare for adventure, and uncover the hidden treasures of Kakadu. Also, don’t forget to check out our blog about 10 places to visit in the Kimberley for more incredible destinations to explore!