Maguk Gorge; a hike well worth doing at Kakadu
One of the more popular gorges, and waterfalls to see in Kakadu National Park is Maguk, or Barramundi Falls. The walk is beautiful, the falls even nicer and its a must visit destination in the park itself. We really enjoyed our stay at Kakadu, and Maguk was one of the better attractions.
Where is Maguk Gorge?
You’ll find Maguk Gorge in the southern part of Kakadu national park, 10km off Kakadu highway.
To get there, simply turn off Kakadu Highway onto the gravel road, travel 10km and you’ll arrive at the camp site. The gorge is a further 2km or so.
The road condition varies a lot, but it was pretty average when we visited (late June). The 50km into Jim Jim Falls was fantastic, and I didn’t even bother dropping air out of the tyres. Ironically, the road to Maguk has a higher speed limit (70km/h), is much shorter but can be very corrugated.
I started off at highway pressures, and soon gave up and let them down to 30 PSI on the rear, 26 on the front and 26 on the camper trailer. The ride after was much better, and you’ll do your vehicle a big favour by airing down.
It also helps to keep the track in decent condition, but it was well over due for a grade when we went through, and lots of comments from others agreed.
We saw a few vans towed in, but it is hard work on them. Corrugations will test the integrity of anything bolted, glued or screwed together! Not sure how to drive on gravel? Check this out – The ultimate guide to gravel driving.
How hard is the walk?
The walk to the falls is only 1km, and the first 500m is pretty much flat walking through the monsoonal forest, and a bit of sand. You’ll have to cross a bit of water in a swampy area, and someone had put logs down to balance on (you can hold the hand railing).
The last 500m is rocky, but still fairly flat. Compared to the walk into Jim Jim falls, this is a piece of cake, and its really scenic too.
Can you swim at Maguk?
Kakadu’s stance on crocodiles is very much swim at your own risk, and they will never tell you its safe to swim. We did see people swimming here, and the chances of a salt water crocodile being in there would be pretty slim during the dry season, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it.
There’s always an element of risk, and leaving my wife and young boy with a 4WD and camper trailer to deal with if I got hurt or worse just didn’t seem worth a nice, refreshing swim.
I really liked Maguk Falls. The walk ends at a fairly small section of cleared area, and only two points where you can access the water. The pool itself is fairly large, but dwindles into insignificance compared to Jim Jim Falls.
The water is crystal clear, fish are out and about and the falls look beautiful, although are fairly small. Maguk is a pretty, little location that is very different from Jim Jim.
If you want, you can walk to the top of the falls, by not crossing the river. We didn’t do this, but I am sure the views would have been amazing.
Like most of the major attractions at Kakadu, there is a bush camping option a few kilometres back from the start of the walk. The sites are mostly around the 6 x 10 metre size, with some a lot bigger and a couple of places suitable for bigger groups.
There are rails around to mark the sites, and you are asked to camp within them. If you have trailers, you need to find one that you can drive into, but most of them allow this. Pay careful attention to the rails, as they are down low, and you can hit them pretty easily. How do I know this? I smashed my quarter panel on one, and was a very unhappy man.
The camp ground has no running water, and no showers. It does have a drop toilet, which smelt pretty average when we visited. Not quite gagging level, but it was up there.
I suspect the toilets that get absolutely hammered stink the most; the ones at Sandy Billabong were amazing for drop toilets; you literally couldn’t smell anything, and these would get used very rarely.
The sites were nice though; very shady, picturesque and spaced out well. I’d rate it fairly highly in terms of bush camping, but for those who love your green grass, flushing toilets and running water, it might not be for you.
Camping is $6 per night for adults, and $3 for kids. Very, very reasonable.
Other attractions nearby
There’s not much else to see nearby; Gunlom falls is about 85km further south, or you have to go about 50km north to Cooinda.
Should you visit Maguk?
Yep, absolutely. It’s a stunning part of the world, and was one of our favourite places in Kakadu National Park. The drive is worth it, especially if you can make it on the way to your entry/exit of the park.
Have you been to Maguk Gorge? What did you think of it?