A refreshing dip at Maguk-Barramundi Gorge.

Exploring the amazing Kakadu

Ubirr Rock lookout over Kakadu and West Arnhem Land.
Gunlom plunge pool.
Gunlom infinity pool is simply breathtaking.
Dustin with a nice barra caught just up from Cahills Crossing.
Cahills Crossing.
Barramundi caught at Cahills Crossing.

WOW, this month is about Kakadu in the Northern Territory.

What an amazing place and great to be back in some of my old haunts. It’s been about seven years since I have last been up here, when I was guiding in Arnhem Land and Kakadu.

I really like Kakadu. Just one of those places which feels like it has been left alone and untouched and that is pretty rare these days as everywhere these days is more commercialised and the nature has been changed to suit the demands of the tourist industry.

There are some pretty amazing places in Kakadu, starting off with Gunlom Falls which is the first real waterhole you come to when driving up from the South on the Kakadu Highway.  You do need to turn off the bitumen road approximately 50km of corrugated dirt roads to navigate.

Gunlom has an amazing pool at the bottom of it, which was used in the filming of Crocodile Dundee if you remember the part where Mick wades through the water spearing a barramundi with a wooden spear and Sue was watching on in awe. The bottom waterhole has a beautiful sand base with beautiful clear water and pandanus palms growing around it, a really deep section where in the wet season the waterfall pours in to.

This is great but the natural infinity pool at the top is truly spectacular. You can lay back in the top of the infinity pool and look over south west Kakadu, the view is amazing and really is beautiful there late afternoon with a cold beer.  The downside is the hike up is quite challenging and steep with the last 400m being the worst.

But it was well worth it! There is a nice little camping area there to stay with hot showers and flushing toilets and kept very clean and tidy.
The next along the drive was our favourite swimming hole Maguk (Barramundi Falls) and again there is a basic camping area about 2.5km walk from the Maguk swimming hole.

Long drop toilets but no showers. The water temperature at Maguk was just spot on, not freezing temperature and not too warm just perfect where you would want your pool at home to be. This swimming hole at Maguk opens up to a beautiful gorge which has some big barramundi and sooties swimming around in.

But if you follow the track off to the left and head up the hill, this takes you up to the top infinity pools, which are like spa baths in crystal clear waters with even a cave you can swim through.  These pools overlook the main swimming pool below but even down to the gorge and the creek and again another beautiful view and just a great place to just relax and pass the hours.

Maguk is only around 10km off the Kakadu Highway on dirt roads and is well worth the drive. The next little spot along is Jim Jim Falls.
We chose just to leave the caravan at a little camp north of the Jim Jim turn off just up the highway at Malabanjbanjdju Camp Site and do the drive in.

It is quite a run in to Jim Jim. There is a camping area out near the Falls but we just chose to do a day trip which turned out to be a good call as the road turned out to be extremely corrugated at the time we were going. The walk into Jim Jim for the first half is quite easy but it quickly turned into scrambling across big rocky boulders and rock hopping for the second half of the walk.

Once you got into the top of the gorge there were two nice swimming holes.  The first one being on the Southern side with a nice sandy beach you can lie on and swim and the second one being right under the cliffs of Jim Jim Falls itself.  The cliffs are about 150m high and it really is a grand spectacle, to see the rock colosseum surrounding you on both sides, but the water is ice cold as it doesn’t get much sun at all.

And unfortunately the only time Jim Jim actually runs is in the middle of the wet where it becomes inaccessible by cars to see so the only way to see it in full flow would be a helicopter ride where I can only imagine would be a wonderful sight. The next one along was Nourlangie Rock, which the traditional people have been coming to for thousands of years before with some amazing rock art.

Walking down through these big slits in this mountain rock truly was special, with a nice breeze flowing through it actually felt like it was air conditioned with fresh water nearby you can really understand why this place was so special to the traditional people. If you let your imagination run free you could still picture these people living out their lives in such an amazing environment.

Nourlangie also offered some amazing lookouts over Kakadu and some real insight into the traditional people’s lives.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it. Well onto Cahills Crossing and yes, some fishing finally.  Cahills Crossing is one of those places around Australia which pretty much always produces a barramundi especially if you are there on the moons on the top of the big spring tides.

As they push right up to the crossing and over it as do the bait fish on the first push of the tide and obviously the elusive barramundi chasing on behind.  If you can get this to correspond with daylight dusk or dawn, low light periods are definitely the recipe for catching some great fish.

We timed it perfect, it’s quite a funny place to fish off the bank as there are a lot of anglers there fishing off the crossing but there are also a lot of spectator’s sitting on the rocks or up on the viewing platform looking for crocodiles.  The first afternoon I went down for a fish I probably got there about a half hour before dark and there were about four or five anglers there fishing.

When I asked if anyone had caught anything, there was a response of “not a scale” from everybody, so I thought this isn’t going to be too good.  But my first cast with a little Ecooda prawn sunk to the bottom and I gave it a quick little flick off the bottom and a slow roll and just repeated again.

On the second flick off the bottom, bang I was on! A nice little 70cm model gave me a great fight and I had people cheering, whistling and clapping from behind, which was a bit off putting and added a lot of pressure! But I slid the barra up onto the crossing and unfortunately, it was going to be dinner for tomorrow night.

I was quickly reminded by the other anglers on the crossing that they had been there for hours without a bite and I had been there only seconds and got a nice fish.  On my second cast you wouldn’t believe it but I got another one, much to the crowd’s delight, and the clapping and cheering continued.

This one was about 65cm, which I quickly released to fight another day.  Then on the third cast I hooked into a very solid fish that did some great jumps, pulled lots of string and really got the crowd excited. This fish measured up at 92cm using the road sign depth indicator as a ruler.

And again it was released, much to the shock and disgust of many of the anglers that were around me who at this stage were getting a little bit annoyed by me.  To which I replied “when you got it you got it”, which didn’t make things any better.  And yes on my fourth cast I got another one about 80cm with a great fight and this one too was released.

I fished on for probably another hour well into the dark with only one more fish, a little 50cm rat. The mozzies were getting pretty vicious at this stage, so I decided to call it a night.  What a great bit of fun had! The next day we put the tinnie in and I took the family out for a bit of fishing where we managed to catch quite a few barra casting as well as trolling and did a fair bit of croc spotting as well.

Sometimes wondering who was going to give way to who, as a lot of the crocs were bigger than our tinnie. There is some beautiful rock holes to explore up the top side of the crossing as well as some aboriginal art on some of the overhangs but the croc population in this place is absolutely amazing.

With just one km of river the kids counted 22 crocodiles and they were all big, three meter and bigger. When you do go to Cahills Crossing to go fishing you really do need to be croc conscious and croc wise. Do not go out in small boats or car toppers over night time.  Do not stand close to the edge of the water, especially at the crossing.

Always stand a good four to five meters back from the water and never turn your back to the water under any circumstance.  The crocs have become a little cheeky there stealing people’s fish that are hooked so when you do catch a fish be even more aware of your surrounding environment and stay away from the water’s edge.

Ubirr Rock is another amazing part of Kakadu, again with some incredible rock art dating back thousands of years and has some of the most spectacular lookouts there are in Kakadu. One in particular, which looking out over Kakadu and West Arnhem Land with these beautiful vast wetlands with all this green spear grass and these rocky columns growing up from the grass with the beautiful pinks and reds contrasting to the green grass.

Definitely a must do especially on Sunset. Kakadu in my opinion is a must do, lots of tourist forums and social media thinks it’s overpriced and that the amenities are substandard in which they may have a point but honestly it’s great they have left these locations as natural as possible without putting fancy walkways and manmade steps, which in my opinion is better than man trying to alter nature to suit the tourism trade.

There is a Kakadu parks fee you need to pay to access Kakadu but just remember this money goes to the traditional owners to access their land and not so much into the management of the park.  There are obviously camping fees to be paid at different locations around the park depending on where you stay.

Ranging from $15 – $38 a night for a family.  Obviously the more expensive ones have more facilities on offer. Flush toilets and hot showers to ones with just a basic drop toilet.  You do need to bring in all your own drinking water and be quite self-sufficient.
But as a destination you must experience for yourself and really has a first-class fishery too.

Until next month.


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