If You Only Do One Thing in Kakadu National Park, Do This!

Yellow Waters Cruise Review


When it comes to Australian National Parks, Kakadu is the big daddy of them all.

At 20,000 sqkm it’s the size of small European country and covers a huge diversity of landscapes, from low-lying wetlands through to towering escarpments.

Driving from one side of the park to another can easily take you several hours and with so much to see and do in between, you could easily spend a week in the park!

If you’re anything like us however, chances are you probably don’t have that much time up your sleeve. Situated in the Northern Territory of Australia, Kakadu is surrounded by a huge wealth of other amazing attractions and it’s hard enough to choose between them, let alone fit them all.

As such, we ended up rushing our time in Kakadu this time, leaving ourselves little more than a couple of days to explore this vast UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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My Yellow Water Cruise was kindly sponsored by Kakadu Tourism, but, as always, all views are my own.

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.

Choosing the Best of Kakadu


If this rings a bell and you’re also struggling to pick which of the many awesome Kakadu opportunities to enjoy, then let me make this easy.

I can easily tell you the number one thing you HAVE to do in Kakadu National Park.

Between the boy and I, we’ve visited Kakadu National Park over 5 times, so certainly have a good grasp of what the park has to offer.

We both agree that there is one stand-out attraction, so, if you are rushed and only have time to do one thing there, make sure you do a yellow warer cruise.


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Yellow Water Cruise


Yes this great guided tour really is the one thing you must do during your visit to Kakadu National Park.

Now I admit, I’m not generally a tour kind of girl and that’s perhaps why I feel kind of strange myself recommending this experience, but when the lovely folk at Yellow Water Cruises kindly offered me a discounted tour, I was hard pushed to refuse.

I  mean seriously, who doesn’t want to experience the best of this world-famous heritage area with an expert guide?

And, you know what, I’m so glad I did. Because the Yellow Water Cruise was worth every cent.

Not your normal sort of tour, this delightful boat ride was personal, genuine and best of all, very relaxed and low-key.


Yellow Cruise Itinerary


Starting early, I was already excited when we jumped out of our tent with a 6am alarm call and headed for the courtesy shuttle bus that would take us to the boat.

As we boarded the cruise to the blood-red sun rising over the misty wetlands, my excitement reached fever pitch!

The atmosphere at this time in the morning in Kakadu is incredible.

The vastness and the silence and the epicness (a new word I’ve possibly just invented to describe the brilliance of the place!) was astounding.

Our 2-hour Yellow Water Cruise led us right through this beautiful time in the morning, up to around 9am, when we really felt we’d covered an excellent amount of ground.

Seeing the colours change and the world come to life at this time in the day in Kakadu was spectacular.

As such, I was so glad we had chosen the earliest and longest cruise possible – it was definitely the best time to be on the water and gave us ample opportunity to explore and soak up the richness of this highly protected area.



#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national parks! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strolling, I love mine.

#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together.

#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!

#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion, you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.




Kakadu seems to be increasingly synonymous with crocodiles and, true to form, we’d already seen about 4 within the first 5 minutes of setting out on the Yellow Water Cruise.

Huge and hungry, viewing these prehistoric predators from the safety of a boat really is the way to go if you want to get a close look at them!

Indeed, gliding right past us in this rich natural wetland, seeing 4 crocs was just the beginning, as over the next few hours, we were to see many, many more, some sunning themselves, some yawning and some even enjoying breakfast!

As well as crocs, we also got to glimpse dingoes, wallabies, feral pigs and horses, not to mention countless birds, all of which our guide brilliantly spotted and pointed out to us.

My favourite were the incredible brolgas – huge crane-like birds, which we saw undertaking their annual mating dance: a one-legged, flapping, darting kind of ritual that was almost as comical as it was incredible.

With a passionate and well-informed guide, we were able to learn so much about the ecology of Kakadu, so much we could never have learnt otherwise.


Photographer’s Paradise


But it’s not only the conservation buffs that will enjoy a Yellow Water Cruise.

No, photography buffs would also be hard-pushed not to gain inspiration from the incredible landscape, scenery and wildlife of this area too.

Even if you’re a bit of a novice, then you’ll likely still get some of your best Kakadu shots from a Yellow Water Cruise.

This will help you remember your time in the park, if not the Northern Territory or Australia perfectly.

And will certainly be met with the wide-eyed admiration of your friends!

As well as a camera, try to take a pair of binoculars on the cruise – well worth it, especially if you can be a bit blurry-eyed in the morning like me!




The sun was starting to climb high in the sky when we finally pulled back into the Yellow Water dock, so it was the perfect time to disembark and find some shade.

Luckily, we’d opted for the Yellow Water Cruise that included a complimentary breakfast, so delightfully we then spent the next hour or so cooling down in the air-conditioned dining area of the Cooinda Lodge while we tucked into a scrummy buffet!

All in all, a Yellow Water Cruise really was the perfect way to start our day in Kakadu National Park and certainly gave us memories, and photos, we’ll treasure for a long time.

Check out the Yellow Water Cruises if you’re interested in enjoying one of their awesome tours too. I really do recommend it as the best thing to do in Kakadu National Park.



If You Only Do One Thing in Kakadu National Park, Do This! {Big World Small Pockets}


4 thoughts on “If You Only Do One Thing in Kakadu National Park, Do This!

  1. Peter Hook says:

    What a brilliant article Steph and while I am obviously biased, I think you nail what makes it so special. People may come for the crocs, but there is so much more to enjoy and experience. The birds – for me – are the most spectacular attraction, especially the Jesus bird, which really does walk on water (well, lily pads, at least). We have Kakadu Bird Week from 2 October, and with all this fresh water around, it will be an icredible time to visit Kakadu. See you again soon!

  2. Janette says:

    Spent a week in the Top End a few years ago and had an amazing time. We did the same trip as you guys and when we were there the previous tour witnessed a crocodile with a huge bull shark. The crocodile clearly came off best because by the time we arrived there wasn’t much left of the shark! Our guide told us that you only ever see 10% of the crocodiles and the ones we did spot were pretty hard to see. We loved the flocks of whistling ducks too. It was just a jaw droppingly beautiful place which was covered with lilies when we visited; memo to self, we really must get back there!

    • Steph says:

      Wow Janette, that’s amazing to hear about the croc vs shark incident – must have been epic for the people before you to watch … at least you caught the tail end of it! Ha Ha! I’m not surprised the croc won – those guys are impressive predators. Yes, it is a truly fantastic place (glad you agree) and hope you get back there one day!

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