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​Plunge into Kakadu National Park

Posted on 17 May, 2024 in Hiking, Kakadu, Photography, Private Charter, Top End Locations, Waterfalls

Kakadu National Park’s southern regions are where towering cliffs give way to spectacular waterfalls. You can find some of the most pristine and remote watering holes here. These natural swimming pools are unique and very different from the next, and so is the drive and walk into them; it's part of the adventure! Here are a few of our favourites;


Maguk Falls (Barramundi Gorge)

If wandering through striking savanna landscapes and plunging into pristine natural rockpools sounds like your cup of traveller’s tea, you’ll get all that and more at Maguk (Barramundi Gorge). Located in the Mary River region of the Northern Territory’s sprawling Kakadu National Park, Maguk is one of the most authentic nature experiences on offer in the Top End.


As you take the one-hour hike into Maguk, the path will change along with the surrounding landscape, starting as a tropical forest walk, into a sandy savanna trail, and then morphing into a rocky track. People of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy the walking trail, with sandy patches, large rocks to clamber over, and stepping-stone water crossings keeping walkers on their toes.


Once reaching Maguk Gorge, travellers can take in the towering escarpments and pandanus-lined pools and dip in the soothing cool waters. Even if you're not a confident swimmer, you can enjoy a paddle at Maguk – stick to the edges of the central swimming hole where the water is shallow, and the pool floor is sandy. Stronger swimmers can swim the length of the main pool to reach the falls, where the water turns a deep shade of emerald under the shadow of the surrounding rock walls. Bring along a snorkel and some goggles to get a good look at your new swimming buddies, the many freshwater fish species that call Maguk home.

Moline Rockhole

Located in the southern part of Kakadu, Moline Rockhole is a magnificent little waterfall and swimming hole not far off the main road (Kakadu Highway). Unfortunately (or could it be "fortunately"), it's not signposted, and most people drive past it when visiting the nearby waterfall of Gunlom.


You'll find the turn-off 5km after the Mary River ranger station, down a little dirt road - be aware you'll need a 4wd to get in. Moline Rockhole (AKA Ikoymarrwa) is one of these lesser-known sites but, in our opinion, one of the best!

Once you arrive at Moline, you'll be greeted by a small, picturesque waterfall with a nice little pool below the falls - a great place to cool down and relax. Moline Rockhole is a 'special permit area' which only a few select tour operators can access, so you'll often have the place to yourselves.

The water at Moline Rockhole is crystal clear, so pack your snorkelling gear. You'll find many little fish and if you're lucky a turtle or two swimming in the rockpool with you.

Gunlom Falls

When visiting Moline Rockhole, we recommend incorporating Gunlom Falls into your itinerary. We mentioned it before due to its popularity, and there is a good reason for this!

Located in the southern region of Kakadu National Park, The road into Gunlom from the Kakadu Highway is dirt and a high clearance vehicle is required. It is a short 100m easy walk to the lower Gunlom Plunge Pool from the entrance. 


The pool at the bottom is one of Kakadu National Park's most popular swimming sites. The water is crystal clear, meaning you can snorkel here as well. Freshwater fish and turtles can be found in and around the pandanus trees lining the edges.

Follow the signs directing you to the Gunlom Lookout Walk for a more challenging hike. This steep 15min climb requires a good level of fitness and will take you up to the top of Gunlom Falls and to nature's very own infinity pool. Here you can swim in the upper rock pool while taking in the breathtaking views of Kakadu National Park's Southern end. Most visitors do this walk late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day and to also witness the evolving colours of a Territory sunset.


You may also recognise Gunlom from the movie Crocodile Dundee! It's the waterhole where Mick spears the barramundi and cooks up some bush tucker!

The Gunlom walking track to the lookout and pools above the falls is closed at the request of the Traditional Owners until further notice.

Jim Jim Falls

Jim Jim Falls is one of the Parks most iconic waterfalls and comprises a soaring cliff face where a stream of water falls about 200 metres into the plunge pool below. The swimming hole is a one-kilometre walk from the car park. It's a little remote and takes some effort to reach, but the destination is worth it!


In the dry season, the falls stop running, and you can hike into the heart of the gorge and sit in the shadow of these spectacular dark red cliffs. The walk takes you through a monsoon forest and over boulders to a deep natural pool. Renowned as one of the most jaw-dropping sites in Kakadu and the largest waterfalls in the region.

The name Jim Jim comes from andjimdjim, an Aboriginal name for the water pandanus that line the creek.

Jim Jim offer's excellent swimming in the waterhole beneath the falls but beware; it can be cold! However, if you follow the water further upstream, it does warm up. If you're fit and active, walking to the top of the falls offers impressive views over Kakadu.

Motor Car Falls 

The 7.5km-return Yirmikmik trail is a moderate walk that will take you to this pristine waterfall. Yurmikmik is on Gimbat Road. Signposted as the Gunlom turn-off on the Kakadu Highway, It is approximately 140 km south of the township of Jabiru.

The hike is most definitely worth it! A breathtaking natural swimming pool set beneath cliffs and surrounded by monsoonal forest. The last 10 minutes of the walk is a rock scramble. However, you will be encouraged by the sound of cascading water marking water nearby. If the waterfall is flowing hard, the plunge pool will be crystal clear, and you may be lucky to spot long-neck turtles.

Lace-wing butterflies and black wallaroos frequent Motor Car Falls; best of all, it's open all year round, making it popular when some other falls become inaccessible.

Water safety in Kakadu National Park

Kakadu’s waterways and natural pools are pretty impressive; however, like any body of water, they can also be dangerous. Some waterways are susceptible to flash flooding and rapid currents, and some are home to crocodiles. Several natural plunge pools in Kakadu are surveyed for crocodiles before they open to swimmers each dry season.


Read the crocodile warning signs in each plunge pool and gorge area and consider their information carefully. Also, follow the advice of an experienced guide who knows the area well and can lead you to the safest swimming spots.

Venture North offers a five-day Kakadu, Arnhem Land and Cobourg Peninsula tour, which includes a visit to some of these unique places of water. And a few more! We can also craft a private tour to meet your interests and get you off the beaten track! 


Contact us if you'd like to know more about any of these great watering holes, or if you'd like to learn more about our tours!