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Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

Sydney, Australia
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Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

Is it OK to drive yourself to Kakadu in the wet season with a small hire car 2wd? We (family of 4) were initially going to do an organised day tour from Darwin (AAT Kings or similar), as I was worried about road closures etc. but is going to cost $600-$700, which is a LOT of money for a day trip. For that money we can drive ourself and keep car for the week we are in Darwin to do other sightseeing (Litchfield, croc cove, jumping croc tour etc.). Is it stupid to even attempt to drive to Kakadu in wet in a small hire car, or will some areas still be accessible? What about Litchfield? Will this also be OK to get to in a 2wd. I realise the weather is unpredictable at that time of the year, but assuming "normal" wet season and no cyclones. Thanks.

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1. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

It depends on what the weather is like. A cyclone anywhere in the area can dump a lot of rain and close some/all the roads, no one knows now. There are a lot of floodways which may have water in, check before you drive through. I have been out to Cahills Crossing several times in January, some years you cannot make it. Sometimes there may be a wait for a few hours so ensure you have some food and water with you.

Most of the main sites are on sealed roads but if you do go check environment.gov.au/parks/…roadreport.html and go to the download.

If it is a small car do not overload it or drive fast. When the air temperature is high and humid it can be too much for the little engine.

Darwin, Australia
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2. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

Forgot to add while the website above may say a road is open, it is correct only when the report was made, a sudden storm could easily close it a few hours later so go also with a plan B and C.

Floodways generally will have water in them that time of the year so in a small car your fording depth is not much, even with a 4WD unless it has a snorkel, cannot ford too deep as many makes have their air intake around the front wheel.

Sometimes you cannot progress beyond the Adelaide River Bridge. Just don't plan to return to Darwin at dusk then catch the plane out a few hours later. You could miss it.

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Adelaide
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3. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

You may also find that your hire car company may not permit you to go there in a 2wd. Crossing water etc in a 2wd may cause your rental agreement to be voided.

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4. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

If you go to Kakadu during the wet, there could be some real danger if you are driving on a road that has a hidden low spot covered with deep water and you try to cross. It seems that the billabongs get flooded and spill over their banks, often flooding low spots in the roads and running into another billabong. You could get caught and your vehicle stranded in this deep water. It's not the water that is the big problem. It's the saltwater crocs that also spill over and can sometimes be found on these low lying roads. Oh yes, you may also be out of mobile phone range as well. Get the picture?

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5. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

I was told by very reliable people that most of the parks would be shut during the wet season as it is much too dangerous. They said the crocodiles are everywhere and have to be recaptured and put back in the rivers and billabongs where they belong and advise people to stay out as the roads are flooded and you might get stranded or even worse eaten!! The best time to visit is in the dry season June July Aug & Sept.

I have only come back (last night) and the days are extremely hot and humid 80% but in January it is likely to be 100% humidity

Darwin, Australia
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6. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

I do not think your source is reliable.

The parks in the Northern Territory - Top End may be closed during the Wet season due to roads being closed by flood waters. Kakadu is open though parts will be closed notably Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls due to the last section of the way in is 4WD and there is a river crossing which is too deep. The sites on a sealed road are generally open though the floodways may have water in them and some years the rivers will cut the roads, sometimes for days.

Just check the NP sites road reports sections to see what areas are open. They are not closed just because crocodiles may be walking around but sensible campers would not camp close to any water way or billabongs any time of the year any way.

Litchfield NP has 2 ways in and the unsealed road over the Finiss River is closed by a locked gate once the Finiss rises. This is to stop inexperienced drivers trying to cross a deep river when it is in flood. One walk there is now closed due to the humid conditions, little shade once you reach the top and lack of water, this is to protect the visitors who do not come prepare. Same for Kakadu where 2 walks were closed a few weeks ago due to the weather conditions.

Katherine Gorge is still open but the boats will not be running by January due to the volume of water comming down, it would not be safe.

The rangers, both Commonwealth and NT, will close areas which are generally safe for swimming during the Dry season such as Berry Springs and Lichfield NP.. This is because during the floods saltwater crocodiles can enter these areas and the areas have to be checked once the water level drops. Swimming is also prohibited as the currents can be very strong and people have drowned at Tolmer Falls because of this. Also the water quality may be at the unsafe level due to all the debris being in the water and there are certain fatal bacteria around in the ground when the water level is high..

Edited: 02 November 2011, 10:13
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7. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

We were in the Top End in May this year and loads of things were still closed.

Kakadu
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8. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

Its not about what is closed but what is open and when. This is where trip advisor is really usefull, do not rely on heresay.

Darwin, Australia
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9. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

This year the Top End received the highest rainfall recorded, some places received 3 metres, average for Kakadu was 2450mm for 6 months. Average rainfall is 1500mm. Takes a while for the waters to receed.

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10. Re: Can you drive yourself to kakadu in wet season (january)?

Hi- you certainly can drive yourself but the main thing is to check the conditions before you go, so you might want to wait until the last minute. You can check online at the website offered by other posters or go into the Tourism Top End office at the top end of the mall for the latest Kakadu road report. A 2WD car should be fine to get you into Nourlangie Rock and to Cooinda to take the Yellow Waters cruise as well as the cultural centre, which is pretty much all you'd get to see on a day trip. With a 4WD obviously you'd have access to other places including waterfalls that are open in the wet season only. I would recommend staying overnight in Kakadu as Darwin to Kakadu and back is a long way for someone to drive in a day when you're unfamiliar with the roads and with the risk of water on the roads. I'd recommend overnighting in the park and Cooinda Lodge would be my pick with a bar, restaurant and pool and they have far better rates in the wet season- you should be able to get a good last minute deal. Litchfield is easy to get around yourself and it's easy to get to the Jumping Croc cruise, Fog Dam etc. The wetlands are spectacular in the wet season.

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