Camping in Kakadu National Park
Camping in Kakadu National Park is either very affordable or totally free.
There are many more campsites in Kakadu than there are other accommodation options. If you camp you have more freedom regarding what and how much you do in a day.
The free bush campsites are only accessible by 4WD. If you have the right car and camping gear, a Kakadu visit is not only affordable, you can also avoid the crowds.
Kakadu National Park Camping
There are two different kinds of campgrounds in Kakadu National Park: managed campsites and bush campsites:
Managed campsites are usually separated in a generator area and a quiet area. They have flushing toilets and solar hot showers. You also find drinking water, picnic tables and barbecue facilities. Wood can be collected from wood bins only.
The managed campsites attract a fee (children under 16 are free) which has just been increased. As of 2012 the camping fee is A$ 10 per person per night. Camping fees are collected on site during the dry season, but you need to pay in advance at the Bowali Visitor Centre during the wet season.
Bush campsites used to be all free, but most of them are now A$ 5 per person per night. You will find basic or no toilet facilities, and sometimes picnic tables and barbecue/fire pits. Wood can be collected from wood bins only.
Always check the access requirements for these sites. Most tracks to bush camping areas require 4WD.
- Wild bush camping is of course not allowed. You can only stay in the designated camping areas. Any camping outside those designated areas requires a special permit (and a good reason).
Also note that alcohol is often not permitted at the bush campsites. (It is ok at all managed campsites.)
There is no booking or reservation system! In the main season you just have to get to a campground early enough to get a site. If you want to know if there are still sites available at a campground before you drive out there, contact the Bowali Visitor Centre.
Campgrounds in Kakadu National Park
Below is a list of all designated camping areas in Kakadu. They are listed in order, from the northern entrance to Kakadu National Park (on the Arnhem Highway), driving towards Jabiru, and then along the Kakadu Highway to the southern exit.
South Alligator Area
Bush camping is available at Two Mile Hole, Four Mile Hole, Waldak Irrmbal. Waldak Irrmbal is on the coast, near the mouth of the West Alligator River and well out of the way. The other two campgrounds are along the track to Waldak Irrmbal. Unless you have a boat you probably won't make that detour.
Red Lily Billabong, Bucket Billabong and Alligator Billabong are three bush campgrounds not too far south of the main highway and popular with fishing enthusiasts (and crocodiles). The turn off to the access track is 37 km past the Kakadu National Park entrance, and about 14 km before you get to the Mamukala wetlands, the first major attraction of Kakadu.
Commercial camping facilities can be found at the Aurora Resort.
East Alligator Area
The Merl Camping Area is close to Ubirr and the Border Store. It is a managed campground.
No bush camping in this area.
Bush camping is available at Malabanjbanjdju and Burdulba. The latter is not suitable for vehicle camping because the tent area is fenced off from the parking area. Officially the sites are listed as part or the Jabiru area. They are in fact located about half way between Jabiru and Nourlangie, only about one km off the Kakadu Highway.
Commercial camping facilities are also available at the Kakadu Lodge in Jabiru (in the town itself).
The Muirella Park Camping Area is a managed campground. The turn off is 7 km west of the Nourlangie Rock turn off and the campground is 6 km off the main highway.
Bush camping is available beyond Muriella Park at Sandy Billabong. (Access via Muriella Park.) This is one of the best campgrounds in Kakadu, if not the best, in a central location of the park.
Jim Jim Falls Area
Garnamarr Camping Area near Jim Jim Falls is a managed campsite but does not allow generators. There is room for 250 people and the campground is locked from 8.30 pm to 6.30 am for visitor safety.
No bush camping in this area.
Yellow Water Area
Bush camping is available at Jim Jim Billabong (which by the way is nowhere near Jim Jim Falls). The turn off to the access track is just east of the turn off to Yellow Water, and the campground is 6 km off the road.
Mardugal Camping Area is a managed campsite, located 2 km west of the turn off to Yellow Water.This is a very nice campground and in a good location if you want to do an early morning Yellow Water cruise.
Black Jungle Spring (Giyamungkurr) is a bush campsite without facilities along the Old Jim Jim Road, an unsealed road that connects the Arnhem Highway (turn off before entering Kakadu National Park) with the Kakadu Highway (turn off near Yellow Water).
Commercial facilites can be found at the Cooinda Lodge.
Mary River Area
The Gunlom Camping Area is a managed campsite located directly at Gunlom Falls.
- Bush camping is available at Maguk itself, at Gungurul and Kambolgie. Gungurul is 6 km west of the turn off to Maguk, just off the main highway. Kambolgie is located on the drive into Gunlom, 13 km from the highway.
- Bushcamping is also available at Koolpin Gorge (accessible by permit only).
Commercial facilites are available just outside the Kakadu National Park entrance, at the Mary River Roadhouse.
Main page: Kakadu National Park