Hop on board a Yellow Water Cruise and get a taste of Kakadu National Park, a 20,000km² nature reserve in the Northern Territory that boasts a plethora of magical landscapes, from ancient rainforests to sprawling wetlands and everything in between.
The park is divided into seven distinct eco-regions, from East Alligator to Nourlangie and Yellow Water, each region has its own unique features and natural attractions.
In the heart of it all sits Yellow Water Billabong which forms part of the South Alligator River system, although there are no alligators in Australia. They’re all crocs! The wildlife at the Yellow Water Billabong is second to none. Covering vast wetlands, it is home to numerous species of native creatures that thrive in this environment.
Visiting Kakadu National Park is an incredible experience. Not only is there an extensive amount of history and culture to soak up in the park, but the landscape surrounding the Yellow Water Billabong is also one of the best places to experience all of it. Whether you are on the hunt for wildlife, want to see some of Australia’s most surreal landscapes, or simply want to try your hand at fishing, the billabong has you covered.
To get to see the breathtaking area around the waterways from a different perspective, hop on a billabong cruise and discover the truly remarkable landscape. The Indigenous-owned Yellow Water Cruises will provide you with a discovery tour through the dramatic scenery and ever-changing landscape of the world-famous Yellow Water Billabong that you will never forget.
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WHERE IS THE YELLOW WATER CRUISE
Yellow Water Billabong is part of the South Alligator River system, located at the end of Jim Jim Creek. The river system is unique as it is included in its entirety within a UNESCO World Heritage-listed National Park.
This is one of the must-do cruises while visiting Kakadu National Park. The cruise departs from Cooinda, which is 55 km from the township of Jabiru, the only town situated in the park.
Yellow Water Cruises operate exclusively on the billabong.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT YELLOW WATER BILLABONG
The north of the Australian Outback has a tropical climate, meaning a distinct dry and wet season, so any time of the year has advantages and disadvantages to travel around Kakadu.
The transitional periods between the dry and wet season April – May and September – October are arguably the best time of the year to visit Kakadu National Park.
Between April and June, waterfalls are usually pumping from their wet season top-up. At the end of the dry season, before the first rains, huge numbers of birds and lots of other wildlife congregate around the receding waterholes.
There are up to 6 cruises a day at various times with 1 ½ hour cruises and 2-hour cruises on offer.
The 2 hour Yellow River Cruise Kakadu is well worth it as they take you out on the billabong for sunrise or sunset, which are the best times to do the cruise as it gets very hot during the day.
Due to its popularity, I highly recommend booking your tour in advance.
You might even want to consider planning your trip to coincide with Kakadu Bird Week. There are special Bird Week cruises at 4:30 pm (1-3 September and 26-28 September), which focus on the vast birdlife around the billabong.
There are guided bird watching tours through East Alligator River, South Alligator River, Nourlangie, and Mary River.
The Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge both offer special discounts on accommodation during Bird Week.
Saltwater croc in Yellow Water Billabong
BOOK THE YELLOW WATER CRUISE
Prices for the tour are very reasonable, $90 per adult, $65 per child, and children under the age of 4 can participate for free.
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MEETING POINT FOR THE YELLOW WATER CRUISE
The meeting point is located at Cooinda Lodge Kakadu, just a 5-minute drive from the Yellow Water Billabong.
There is a large car park with plenty of free parking spaces available, as well as toilet amenities and a cafe.
A shuttle bus will pick you up from the front of Cooinda Lodge and chauffeur everyone down to the boats to begin the cruise.
RELATED ARTICLE → NAWURLANDJA LOOKOUT
Cruising down the billabong
WHAT TO EXPECT ON YELLOW WATER CRUISES
This is one of the most popular and most unique activities when visiting Kakadu and due to the ever-changing landscape, it will be a completely different experience for every tour.
Many people do two cruises at different times to experience and see the changes. The cruise moves super slowly, so there’s plenty of time to take photos from all different angles.
On the tour, you will be provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Saltwater Crocodile in its natural habitat. You will most likely see more of these impressive, prehistoric creatures than you can count and you might even spot a buffalo on the floodplains.
A very curious saltwater croc
Up close and personal
If you are a bird lover, Kakadu will be a paradise for you as it is home to one-third of Australia’s bird species. An impressive amount of 60 species can be found in the wetlands.
Some of the birds you may encounter on the cruise are Whistling Ducks, Magpie Geese, five different species of Kingfisher, Jabirus, and Brolgas. Kakadu has been voted the number one bird-watching destination in Australia by Australian Geographic.
Osprey eagle in Kakadu
Cruising the billabong
A colorful Kingfisher
WHERE TO STAY IN KAKADU
There are dozens of accommodation options to choose from in Kakadu, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
LUXURY: MERCURE KAKADU CROCODILE HOTEL
MID-RANGE: COOINDA LODGE KAKADU
MID-RANGE: AURORA LODGE KAKADU
MORE AUSTRALIA TRAVEL GUIDES
The coastline and hinterland areas along the east coast of Australia boast countless beaches, lakes, waterfalls, hikes, and many more fun-fuelled adventures waiting to be had!
This is what Australia is all about and what I love to share with you in my destination guides.
Click on the links below to see more related posts:
- Hamilton Island: 10 Things To Do In Hamilton Island
- Agnes Water: 17 Things To Do In Agnes Water
- Yeppoon: 10 Best Beaches In Yeppoon
- Brisbane: Things To Do In Brisbane
- Gold Coast: 3 Day Gold Coast Itinerary
- Fraser Island: Fraser Island Day Trip
- Springbrook: Springbrook Waterfalls
- Byron Bay: Things To Do In Byron Bay
- Crescent Head: 9 Things To Do In Crescent Head
- Forster: 7 Things To Do In Forster
- Port Macquarie: 7 Best Beaches In Port Macquarie
- Sydney: Things To Do In Sydney
- Kiama NSW: 3 Awesome Things To Do In Kiama
- Melbourne: Things To Do In Melbourne
LONELY PLANET AUSTRALIA
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Whatever expectations you might have of this activity, I dare to say they will be exceeded and you will have the experience of a lifetime.
The magic of nature around Yellow Water Billabong is incomparable to anywhere else and I guarantee it will be an adventure you’ll never forget.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
This trip was in association with NT Tourism and Backyard Bandits.