Gunlom Falls - Kakadu National Park
Gunlom Falls (also called UDP Falls or Waterfall Creek) is one of the most popular places in Kakadu National Park.
You don't have to drive all that far to get there and you don't need a four wheel drive.
There is a beautiful, big swimming pool below the waterfall and if you walk to the top you find more pools to swim. Just follow the creek and you can even get away from all the other people...
View from the top of Gunlom Falls
You can easily get there - by two wheel drive - from the southern park entrance. Locals come here for day trips from Darwin.
(Note that if you hire a two wheel drive car then unfortunately you can't get here, because hire companies require you to stay on sealed roads. The road to Gunlom is a good road, but it isn't sealed.)
Even if you have to share Gunlom Falls with a lot of other tourists - and during the peak season you will - it's possible to get away from them and find a beautiful and quiet spot for a swim and a picnic.
But the main reason for Gunlom's popularity is the beauty of the falls and the whole area.
To get to Gunlom Falls turn right shortly after passing the southern entrance into Kakadu National Park. (If you come from the other direction turn left about 90 km from the Cooinda/Yellow Water turn off. Just follow the signs.) Some 30 km of well maintained gravel road will take you to the falls.
The drive through the so called "southern hills and basins" is an experience in itself. Millions of years of erosion have left awesome scenery of rugged hills and broken ridge lines. The now exposed rocks are 2500 million years old! If you can, plan your trip to enjoy the views in the dramatic light of the evening or early morning.
(If you have a lot of time, like bushwalking, and really want to appreciate the unusual geology and diversity of habitats and wildlife in this area follow the signs to Yurmikmik walks, about half way to Gunlom Falls.)
The main pool at Gunlom Falls
When you get there you park at the Gunlom Falls camping area. From there a very short walk leads through a patch of monsoonal forest and opens up to reveal a huge emerald green plunge pool with a white beach, sheltered by towering cliffs.
It's hard to see, but the white speck at the bottom of the falls is a person swimming. It's a big pool!
Depending on the time of the year you may find anything between a roaring waterfall and a gentle trickle falling down the cliffs. (Read about when to visit Kakadu National Park.)
It is a beautiful spot, which unfortunately means it can get crowded.
If you happen to arrive here together with half a dozen tour buses you best head straight for the top of Gunlom Falls.
It only takes ten to fifteen minutes, but it is a pretty steep climb to the top of the falls, and that gets rid of half of the people straight away.
From the upper half of the track you have fantastic views over southern Kakadu. Signs along the track explain the geology of the area and the different ways in which Kakadu National Park can be seen: the white man's, and the Aboriginal view.
Pools at the top of Gunlom
The well marked track is only 1 km long, but I guarantee that you will be hanging out for that refreshing dip when you reach the top... and what a spot for a swim! You can follow a series of rock pools, further and further away from the cliff.
You have probably seen this place. Remember Crocodile Dundee? For example the scene where he looked at his watch and then pretended to tell the time by the sun? That scene - and many others - was shot here at Gunlom Falls. (In case that confuses you: there are no saltwater crocodiles at Gunlom Falls.)
If you want to stay here, you can. One of the many Kakadu National Park camping grounds is located at the bottom pool. It has showers, toilets and a separate generator area.
There is also a less challenging walk from the Gunlom Falls campsite to Murill Billabong, a 2 km return stroll to observe birds and other wildlife.
Other popular places in Kakadu: