Kakadu is a special place in the Northern Territory and there is no spot in Kakadu National Park more special than Ubirr Rock lookout during a sunset. High above the Nadab Floodplain, Ubirr rock lookout is an amazing spot to watch the sun disappear and truly appreciate the natural beauty, and reflect on the history of this powerful region. On the way up to the Ubirr rock lookout are several unbelievable Aboriginal rock art sites, which are in amazing condition and tell some captivating stories.
UBIRR ROCK IN KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
In this blog post, I’ll share everything you need to know about visiting Ubirr Rock.
HOW TO GET TO UBIRR ROCK LOOKOUT FOR SUNSET
Ubirr Rock lookout is located in the northeast section of Kakadu National Park and it is a region of the park rich in wildlife and also with many different Aboriginal rock art sites.
- Darwin to Ubirr Rock: Ubirr Rock is 253 kilometers from Darwin, which is the capital city of the Northern Territory and where we are based. You can access Ubirr Rock and Kakadu National Parks via sealed roads on the Arnhem Highway. It takes about three hours to reach Ubirr Rock from Darwin.
- Jabiru to Ubirr Rock: If you are already at Jabiru, the good news is you aren’t too far away. From Jabiru to Ubirr Rock it will take you about an hour to drive the 42 kilometers.
UBIRR ROCK ART CIRCUIT WALK
When you arrive you will find a parking lot. From here there is a 1-kilometer circuit, which leads you through several rock-art sites. The rock art was distinctly different from many I had seen before. There were several alien-looking figures that guides had told us were bad people. Instead of dot painting, only many of the paintings had solid lines. With hundreds of different tribes across the country over thousands of years, it’s so intriguing to see the different styles and stories being told.
SANDSTONE & RIVER BUSH WALK
There is a longer option than the 1km circuit. It begins at the Bardedjildji walk and extends for 6.5 kilometers. Along the way you will have beautiful, scenic views of the East Alligator River, floodplains, billabongs, sandstone rock formations, and Cat Fish Creek. The hike can take anywhere from 3- 5 hours depending on your pace. You will definitely need to take water, snacks, and sunscreen for this mini-adventure.
UBIRR ROCK LOOKOUT IN KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
From the 1- kilometer circuit you can venture up further. On the way up the rocks, you will pass several more rock art sites. There is a defined trail and you are asked to stay on this trail to protect these important, sacred sites. There is plenty of exploring to do once you reach the top areas, so please stay on the trail as you make the ascent.
The climb up only takes about 10 minutes and is moderately easy. It is a bit steep but small steps and a defined path make the journey simple enough. Once you reach the first plateau you will get some epic views of the Nadab Floodplain. It looks like you are peering out over an African plain and I found myself waiting for an elephant or giraffe to pop out from behind a tree. The Floodplain seems to extend forever!
UBIRR ROCK LOOKOUT FOR SUNSET
Despite all of the intriguing rock art sites, it is the sunset that most tourists come to Ubirr for. As the sun begins to set a crowd assembles atop the Ubirr Rock to bring an end to the day. Northern Territory is known for its epic sunsets and especially for the red ball of fire. When the sun sets it isn’t blinding it is a fiery red ball, which you can seemingly stare directly at without being blinded. It’s like few places in the world.
The night we visited Ubirr Rock for sunset was a sunset to remember. After the official sunset time had passed and the sun had disappeared most of the tourists left. However, a few of us knew there could be more to come and we stuck around for the show of colors. It paid off as pastels began to float through the sky over the Nadab Plain.
Be careful because the ranger does come just after sunset to shut the gates to the parking lot so you cannot stick around too long unless you want to get locked in!
Also, remember you are on the land of the traditional owners. Show the ultimate respect for this land, which belongs to the oldest living society in the world.
WHERE TO STAY IN KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
I stayed at Cooinda Lodge and it was one of the highlights of the trip and incredibly well-organized accommodations as well as a tour operator. They are keen to show off all the things to do in Kakadu National Park, teach you about the local culture, and of course, make your stay the best they can.
Cooinda Lodge: It is seriously the best place you can stay in Kakadu National Park for a few reasons:
- Firstly, you are in the outback and might expect some average food. The chef at Cooinda Lodge defies that and whips up some amazing dishes. He incorporates local ingredients like the crocodile, local berries and fruits, and of course barramundi into modern cooking.
- Secondly, the rooms are great. Kakadu National Park is great but it is damn hot. There is nothing better than coming back after a day of exploring all the things to do in Kakadu National park and enjoying an air-conditioned room, hot shower, coffee, and relaxing on a comfy bed.
- Thirdly, Cooinda Lodge is more than just an accommodation. It is the hub of lots of tours run by the same owner. They run the sunrise and sunset crocodile tours on the Yellow Water, which I did both of. I also did the sunrise barramundi fishing experience on the Yellow Waters and it was so stunning and peaceful in the morning. I also did a full-day waterfall tour of Gunlom and other secret waterfalls in the area.
- Fourth and final, you are nearby lots of attractions like Nourlangie Rock. If you have your own car you can explore on your own and enjoy the unique atmosphere of Kakadu National Park.