COME SEE Ubirr Rock & Lookout, Kakadu. Australia.
UBIRR ROCK & LOOKOUT: THE GUIDE
REGION: East Alligator, Kakadu National Park
ACCESSIBILITY: Open all year round, accessible by all vehicles most of the year. If the road floods during wet season you can reach Ubirr via a Magela boat cruise.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Dry season, during the guided ranger talks & sunset.
LOCATION: 3.5 hours from Darwin CBD Open in Google maps
WALKING DISTANCE: 1km circuit + 250m hike
TIME REQUIRED: 1-2 hours
TOURIST RATING: Very popular cultural site.
COST: Included with the Park Pass, which is AU$40 per person
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UBIRR ROCK & LOOKOUT: THE EXPERIENCE
As told by Jackie Te-Aroha
Ubirr was the first stop on our Kakadu road trip. We read it was an amazing sunset spot, so we knew it was going to be a late afternoon adventure. We packed our hired camper van with enough food for 5 solid days and drove South-East towards Kakadu National Park. After cruising the Arnhem highway for just under 2 hours and seeing a number of Buffalo chilling in the roadside wetlands, we hit the perimeter of the park. At the first information stop, and to our surprise there was a small sign that read ‘Free Wifi’. So we took the opportunity to get a few posts done because we knew we were going to have limited reception from here on in.
An hour and a half later and we had reached Merl campground. We wanted to make sure we got a spot nice and early so we weren’t jammed in the overflow section like we were in Litchfield National Park. It was a warm 35 Degrees as we pulled up on our little patch of dirt and began preparing lunch. Mmm our Moroccan salted steak, caramelised onion and salad wraps were absolutely divine, and looked a hellovalot more appetising than the canned lunches I had seen other campers preparing. Note: crushed up Kettle Chilli chips on wraps is a killer idea!
With full and happy tummy’s we then went around to Ubirr Rock. We kept ahead of schedule to give ourselves time to suss the location prior to the sun actually setting. I parked the camper and as Zade was getting herself comfortable in the back I went for a little stroll. I read a sign that said there were free ranger talks at the different art sites along the 1km circuit that had just began. So I rushed back to tell Zade and we prepared our gear, threw on some sunscreen, grabbed some cold water and off we went.
We missed the first talk on creation but caught up with the group before the second one began at the Main Gallery. The ranger discussed the geological formation of the area and how the seasons impacted the diets of the local indigenous people. We learnt about how the x-ray styled art evolved to document and communicate the skeletal systems and edible parts of different fish and turtles. Being a fan of mythology and indigenous cultures I found this talk both intriguing and educational. So if you do plan a trip to Ubirr Rock I would highly recommend you try to visit during the tour times (9.00am-11.00am Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 4.10pm-6.10pm Monday-Thursday).
The next talk was going to take place mid way toward the lookout so Zade and I set off ahead of the group so we could have a look around before it started. The lookout is a 250m rocky incline with some strategically placed stairs and hand rails to guide visitors up in the safest manner possible. The trail is quite defined but once you reach the top you’re free to wander around as you see fit.
We ascended with the intention of listening to the other talks but were wooed by the incredible vista that lay before us. I immediately set up the camera to frame up our first lot of photos as the sun was sitting low in the sky throwing a golden cast upon everything in view. We had to battle two annoying kids climbing the rocks just right of our frame but managed to get a few cute photos before we moved on.
It was safe to say that we weren’t going to catch any more of the talks as we looked around in awe. We continued to walk towards the biggest rock formation that overlooks the entire Nadab plains. But not before another quick little photo pitt stop.
[OF WHICH I HAD TO REMOVE BECAUSE ACCORDING TO THE TOURISM SERVICES OFFICER OF KAKADU NATIONAL PARK, WE ‘BREACHED REGULATION’, SOZ].
The sun had well and truely fallen beneath the horizon at this point but there was still plenty of light in the sky. As the majority of people began walking back towards the carpark, Zade and I kept climbing until we reached the top of the Lookout. We set the tripod and camera up for a final couple of shots before the ranger came up to clear the area.
Ubirr rock closes at sunset and the gates are locked each night. So if you’re like us and are wanting somewhere convenient for the night then head to Merl campground. Merl is just 3km from Ubirr Rock and cost $30 for 2 adults for an unpowered site. We thought this was pretty steep considering it’s an absolute mosquito haven but were not prepared to drive an additional 40km to get to Jabiru where the next closest campsites are located. So be warned don’t leave the comfort of your travelling home until the sun rises, carry 10L of Citronella oil to bathe in or save a little energy to drive onward to Jabiru.
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