Kakadu National Park - Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2009 at 00:00


Shall we go to Jim Jim Falls? It’s a long way to go when there will be no water flowing in the falls. Maybe we’ll give it a miss.

By the time the road is open to get to Jim Jim Falls there is very little water left trickling over the edge at this highest waterfall in Kakadu. Knowing it was not quick and easy to get there, we considered not going. To see these falls at their spectacular best can only be done by flying over them during the wet season.

Discussing it with neighbouring caravanners in the campground, those who had been there said it really was worth the drive, even without the water. So the decision was made. The caravanners next door to us decided to go the same day too.

Starting out early in the morning, we found the first fifty kilometres a good wide dirt road with some corrugated patches. This road terminates at a gate near the Garnamarr campground from where the narrow track is four wheel drive only, and following the twists and turns through the trees is slow and hard work. This gate is locked between 8.30 pm and 6.30 am. Many of the trees have scrapes from the top of the four wheel drive adventure tour coaches that come this way. Driving an F250 with a wheel base far longer than these coaches was exacting driving. There are also deep sandy patches.

After reaching the car park, there was still a kilometre walk along Jim Jim Creek involving scrambling over large boulders to reach the plunge pool under the falls. As with any streams or pools in areas tourists visit, crocodile traps were in the water. These are used for monitoring crocodile presence. Signage is in place stating not to enter the water downstream of the plunge pool. During the wet season, crocodiles can be found in most streams and pools within Kakadu. The last half of the walk was the hardest; finding a way through the large rocks with no defined trail, unless the blood stains on the rocks from cracks shins were any guide.

Jim Jim Falls tumble down from an escarpment of between 200 and 300 metres with a sheer drop of over 150 metres; this time of the year just oozing over the top. The high walls surround the deep plunge pool made a cool and shady environment. Prior to the plunge pool is a sandy beach, and a small group of young European travellers had stopped here while some of their group crossed the creek and took a less rocky path to the plunge pool, where they had swum to the far side under the water trickle. On reaching the pool, I too swum in the cold water.

There is a challenging further walk that can be taken at Jim Jim. The six kilometre return Barrk Malaam walk takes four to six hours and involves a steep climb to the escarpment, and is only for fit climbers, with the recommendation to start early in the morning to avoid overheating. Not something to fit into our day trip. An additional short walk; the one kilometre return Budjimi Lookout walk leaves from the car park up onto a rocky outcrop, giving views of the escarpment.

Twin Falls

Back tracking around two kilometres on the access track, the turn off to Twin Falls follow a similar ten kilometre four wheel drive track, with a concrete causeway deep water crossing at Jim Jim Creek which is open dependent on water levels. There are guide posts on either side and water level was around 400 millimeters deep. After a short walk from the Twin Falls car park, a small boat with a local tour guide costing $12.50 per person is the only permitted way to travel to the start of the gorge walk into Twin Falls. Swimming is not permitted due to crocodile danger. Prior to the boat, visitors used to swim as there is no other way to reach Twin Falls. Since crocodile hunting from the wild ceased, crocodile numbers have expanded, with numbers now above any seen in the past 200 years.

Twin Falls is a less often visited place than Jim Jim and one not to be missed. We alighted from the boat at a rocky ledge, where our guide left a small two way radio for us to call when ready to be picked up again.

There is a further one kilometre walk goes along rocky ledges, with a pontoon bridge over one inaccessible section. There are overhead sprinklers along the pontoon, and I asked our guide about them. He replied that they were used to cool people who were suffering heat stress.

In some sections the gorge walls oozed with water and were like a tropical garden with ferns and greenery. The walk was not difficult, although we were the only ones from that boatload to continue all the way to the falls.

We arrived at a wide sandy beach at the end of the gorge, where some water was still flowing down the cliff face. We walked back, called our boat man on the two way, assured him there was no-one else in the gorge and headed back to the car park. The knowledge that can be gained from these Aboriginal guides alone makes the boat ride worthwhile.

There is also a six kilometre walk from the car park to the top of the falls, which again as a walk to start early in the day. Swimming above the falls at the top of the scarp is crocodile safe.

Even at the Jim Jim and Twin Falls gorges, we were still near sea level, with the highest point of our travels (apart from climbs on walks) within Kakadu being when crossing a hill near the Garnamarr campground, when our dash mounted GPS registered 90 metres.

After a full on eight and a half hour day, we returned to the campground, weary, but so pleased we decided to go. It was certainly a day trip well worth taking after all. Our neighbours had arrived back a little before us and he confessed his shoulders were aching from steering his Landcruiser through the winding tracks. I said mine were too – and I was not the driver! All the more aches and pains for my husband, handling our F250 on those narrow tracks twisting between the trees.

Read more detail about this trip and see all the photos in our 2009 Travelogues


Red desert dreaming

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