Profoundly spiritual, a deep rich history, and views that make you feel almost insignificant.
- Ubirr, Kakadu National Park
On the tail end of the wet season, I made my first visit to Kakadu National Park, and having been informed that Ubirr is one of the most iconic sites to watch the sunset, I figured it was my duty to experience what all the fuss was about.
Ubirr is located within the centre of Kakadu National Park, about a 30 minute drive north of the main township of Jabiru, with Kakadu National Park being roughly a 2.5 hour drive from Darwin.
During the wet season the high water levels create deep and unsurpassable river crossings, and we found ourselves crossing about 1ft deep waters on two occasions as we headed up Oenpelli Road towards Ubirr.
Having now been through Australia’s biggest national park, seeing ancient art galleries up to 50,000 years old, learnt of Indigenous culture, read countless stories and witnessed the stunning beauty of the rock formations and views they produce I can confidently say that Ubirr, is a must visit amongst the National Park, and here is why.
1. Naturally Beautiful
Ubirr is a must-do for the adventurer minded.
Kakadu is wild. Every minute spent exploring sends you deeper into understanding what the National Park is.
As we explored Ubirr, along the dirt and rock tracks it felt genuine. There were no slabs on concrete for wheel chairs, or over manicured footpaths that ensure everyone can walk down them.
Every step was made from large rocks found on the site to form the bare minimum of a series of steps. Directions were minimal, small triangles could be found here and there to indicate where to walk or at least remind you that you were on the right track.
The climbs weren’t huge or beyond anyone with a casual level of fitness, but it was the heat that created the impact on your body. It is easy to underestimate how much water to bring, so pack that extra bottle, especially if you plan on relaxing and waiting for the sunset up top.
2. Indigenous Rock Art & Stories.
Although it appears quite simple at first glance, this artwork tells the story of Mabuyu.
Stories are told on many of the signs, which provide estimated ages, narratives and describe the different aspects of each piece of art.
“Mabuyu was dragging his catch on a string when a greedy person cut the string and stole his fish.
That night, Mabuyu waited until the thieves had eaten his fish and were camped inside their cave near the east Alligator River. He then blocked the cave with a huge rock.
Next morning they never came out. Because they pinched it, they got punished. Kids, Ladies and Men – all dead.” – Bill Neidjie.
The deeper you explore, the more intricate & intense the artwork becomes. Timber railings protect the fragile artwork but allow you to be close enough to see the fine details & rough textures of the rocks.
What is more incredible, is that over thousands of years, each piece of artwork appears to have been painted over as it faded, creating layers of art telling stories depicting different events in their lives.
3. The Sunset
You can wait all day for the sunset, only for it to be gone in minutes, and in the small fraction of time of watching the sunset you simply know that Ubirr is special to the lands of Kakadu.
We sat and watched, a long with some other groups of travellers on top of the Nadab lookout. During the finale of the sunset the chatter & talk stopped, everyone looked forward into the suns fading rays and felt a deep connection with the land.
It is a must do for anyone coming to Kakadu or even to Darwin. In a group or solo, it is big enough to feel isolated, but has the ability to bring everyone together to enjoy experiences as one.
Ubirr is a journey through Art, Culture, Nature & History.
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