There are a number of safety-related aspects of traveling in Kakadu National Park. Information about safety in the park can be obtained from the Bowali Visitor Centre of through the links below. For your own safety please observe all rules on park signs and brochures.
Two types of crocodiles inhabit Kakadu - estuarine (saltwater) crocodiles and freshwater crocodiles:
Estuarine crocodiles live in fresh, estuarine and saltwater environments, such as floodplains, billabongs, rivers and coastal waters. They are aggressive and dangerous and have attacked and killed people in Kakadu.
Freshwater crocodiles generally inhabit the upper reaches of freshwater creeks and rivers. They are usually shy animals but can become aggressive if disturbed, particularly during the breeding season (September and October).
- Look out for crocodile signs
- Obey 'no swimming' warnings
- Remove rubbish from your campsite: it can attract crocodiles
- Scale and clean fish at least 50m away from the water's edge
- When camping in areas near water bodies, set up the tents at least 50 metres from the water's edge
- Do not approach freshwater or estuarine crocodiles.
Swimming in plunge pools and gorges
Some visitors choose to swim at their own risk, in selected natural plunge pools and gorge areas such as Gubara, Maguk, Jim Jim Falls, Gunlom, Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) and in creeks on the plateau above Twin Falls and Gunlom. These areas are surveyed for estuarine crocodiles prior to opening each dry season. There remains some risk that estuarine crocodiles may move into gorges and plunge pools during the dry season.
Please read the crocodile warning signs and consider their information carefully.
Throughout the year, daytime temperatures in Kakadu are consistently warm to hot. September to December is extremely hot and humid.
Make sure your are suitably dressed in loose-fitting clothing that is cool but provides protection against sunburn.
Your must have plenty of drinking water with you, wherever you go. In a climate such as Kakadu's, most people need between 4 and 8 litres of water a day. A minimum of 2 litres per person should be carried for short walks.
Among the early symptoms of dehydration are feeling thirsty, headache, dizziness and nausea. If the symptoms continue, seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death can be the result. Children are at particular risk.
- Lie the person in a cool, shaded area.
- Give them water gradually.
- If the person cannot keep the water down or does not recover quickly, seek medical assistance without delay.
Insects such as mosquitoes can carry and transmit very debilitating viruses - the Ross River virus is an example - so always cover up and if necessary use a repellent.
During the heat of the day, you will be most comfortable in loose covering clothing which is cool but protects you from sunburn and insect bites. Use sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. Mosquitoes can carry viruses such as the Ross River virus, so if they are biting, use a repellent. Sunscreen and repellents may pollute our waterways.
Lost or injured group members
If a member of your group becomes lost or injured it is important to stay calm and pay attention to your own safety.
- If a member of your group becomes lost in an isolated area, gather together the rest of your group. Search the immediate area, but do not get involved in a major search by yourself: this could lead to other members of your group becoming lost. Collect your group and walk out. Contact a ranger or make sure that a message is delivered to staff at park headquarters. Give the rangers or police detailed information about the person's last known location.
- If a member of your group becomes injured in an isolated area try, if possible, to leave at least two responsible group members with the injured person while you and the others seek help. If the injured person can walk, and the return route is straightforward, one or two people should remain behind to help the injured person walk out slowly while you and the others go for help. Don't take short cuts. Give the rangers or police detailed information about the injured person. List of emergency telephone numbers.
Reducing the risk of wildfires
Please help prevent wildfires. Make sure your cigarette butts and matches are out and put them in rubbish bins, not on the ground. Use the fireplaces provided and, especially where no fireplace facilities are provided, ensure that you clear the area around your campfire. Always put your fire out before you leave.
Frolicking in the rock pools above and below the waterfalls can be a highlight on a trip to Kakadu for many visitors. However, there is potential hazard here during the months of October to April. Flash flooding can happen suddenly and without warning in the gorges, creeks and streams in the stone country. It is possible for a flash flood to be generated by a heavy rainstorm that occurred many kilometres upstream and more than a day earlier.
Please be aware of possible sudden rises in the water levels of waterways, which can quickly cut off the return route from the top of waterfalls such as Gunlom and Jim Jim. Fast flowing water contained within a flash flood can be deceptively strong, causing strong currents when crossing waterways and dangerous swimming conditions.
When walking on trails or entering/swimming in rock pools above and below the waterfalls during these months, watch for rising water levels and flood debris. Be mindful of the possible dangers of sudden and unexpected flooding.
Kakadu National Park is established and managed as a Commonwealth Reserve under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Act sets out rules for Commonwealth reserves. For example you must:
- Stay on public roads and marked walking tracks
- Camp only in designated camping areas
Other park rules and guidelines include:
- Stay behind the barriers to protect Aboriginal rock paintings
- Protect plants – do not use tree branches as fly swats
- Do not feed or disturb wildlife
- Light fires only in fireplaces provided or use fuel stoves. Keep use of firewood to a minimum
- Do not bring pets into Kakadu