Kakadu | Overnight or off-track bushwalking permit

Application form | Phone enquiries: 08 8938 1140 | E-mail enquiries: kakadu.permits@environment.gov.au

Walking is a great way to experience Kakadu. There are many marked walks throughout the park, including a wide variety of short and easy day walks as well as some longer, more challenging full day walks to be experienced without a permit.

Certain types of bushwalks present a higher level of risk to visitor safety. Overnight bushwalking, and bushwalking in remote and off-track areas are often physically demanding and require a high level of navigation skills. For these reasons, a permit is necessary for bushwalking that will be longer than a day, or where bushwalking will be in remote and off-track areas.

Kakadu has a range of day walks to suit bushwalkers who do not yet have the experience to do off-track or overnight bushwalks. These routes are marked and cover a wide range of landscapes which offer a wonderful variety of experiences and challenges. Visit kakadu.com.au to download a visitor guide and walking maps or contact the Bowali Visitor Centre on 08 8938 1120.

When a permit is required

You will need to apply for a permit if you want to do overnight bushwalking, or bushwalk in unmarked remote areas (off-track bushwalking). Please note permits will not be issued to solo walkers.

You will need to meet the required level of preparedness and skill before a permit can be issued. In your permit application, you will need to let Kakadu staff and your emergency contact know where you are going to walk and for how long. You will also need to provide a copy of a topographic map (scale 1:50,000 or 1:100,000) showing your proposed route and details of your proposed overnight campsites. This information is essential, particularly in the event of a search and/or rescue operation. Please make sure you and your group members are familiar with, and adhere to, the permit conditions.

Apply well in advance

Please allow at least 7 days for your application to be processed.

Access is seasonal and only a limited number of permits can be issued. Due to this, dates can be booked out well in advance. Applications are processed on a first in first served basis so apply early and nominate alternative dates on your application in case your first choice is not available.

Some things to consider before you apply

What to expect from the bushwalk
Kakadu’s off-track bushwalks and overnight routes are unmarked, highly challenging, and extend through very remote and rugged country with harsh climatic conditions. The routes cover terrain which varies from flat open areas to uneven ground covered with dense vegetation and steep slopes which means that bushwalkers need to have the ability to scramble over boulders, walk in areas of soft sand, do steep climbs, cross creeks and more - all in hot and often humid tropical conditions, and all while carrying a pack that contains food, utensils and cooking equipment, water, camping gear, emergency communication device, and a first aid kit!

Planning and experience are essential
When bushwalking in Kakadu, you will need to be mindful of the safety and well-being of you and your group. This includes being prepared for the risks you may encounter in the areas you will be walking through. It is essential to plan in advance and be adequately prepared for your bushwalk. For visitor safety, permits will not be issued to solo walkers, or to people who are inadequately prepared or who do not have an appropriate level of experience.

When planning your trip, you will need to consider the needs of everyone in your bushwalking group, seasonal conditions and risk management strategies. Your plan should address the following (and other considerations relevant to your trip):
Is there at least one group member with experience and able to navigate using a topographic map and a compass? It is a permit requirement to carry both a compass and a 1:100,000 or 1:50,000 topographic map.

  • How many people will be walking, and what are their respective experience and fitness levels? How much time do you need to complete the walk?
  • Who among your bushwalking party has first aid training? Who will be carrying a first aid kit, and are the contents of those first aid kits appropriate for the remote area you will be walking in and the variety of situations you may face?
  • Do any members of your bushwalking party have any medical conditions which may require treatment during the bushwalk, and what are the associated treatments?
  • What equipment will you take? Are all members aware of the appropriate clothing and footwear required?
  • How much water will each person be able to carry? How much food is required for your walk?
  • What will you do in the event of an emergency? How will you get help? What will you do if there is a fire on the route you are walking?
  • What will the weather be like at the time of your planned walk? Will access to the route be available at that time?
  • How will your group stay on the proposed route and camp at approved sites?

Topographic maps
Topographic maps may be purchased from a number of retailers or alternatively from our Bowali Visitor Centre. Visit ga.gov.au/products-services/how-to-order-products/topographic-map-retailers.html to locate retailers, or contact our Bowali Visitor Centre on 08 8938 1120.

Seasonal access
Weather conditions can be unpredictable. For Kakadu and our traditional owners, your safety comes first. During the wet season (October/November - May), going to many remote areas might not be safe because of flood damage, road inaccessibility and crocodiles moving into sites.

In these circumstances, these areas will be closed, and it can be difficult to predict when the area will open. Visit our road access report kakadu.com.au/access (updated daily) for current road conditions and area information.

If the area you would like to go to is closed for the dates you have nominated on your application, but may re-open in time, the Permits Officer will reserve your dates in our booking system (provided spaces are available). Kakadu staff will let you know that your application is ‘waitlisted’ via email. Once Kakadu rangers have cleared the area to open, the Permits Officer will contact you and issue you with a permit. Access is subject to weather conditions and cannot be guaranteed, however we aim to let you know at least seven days prior to the area opening.

Respect country
Your respect of country is important to ensure bushwalking continues as an appropriate recreational activity. Please do the right thing and:

  • Carry a copy of your permit with you while you are in Kakadu
  • When you are leaving your vehicle unattended, put another copy of your permit on the dashboard (so that it can be clearly seen)
  • Stay on the route and camp sites approved for your walk
  • Carry appropriate safety and emergency communication gear
  • Follow appropriate methods to minimise your impact on Kakadu

How to apply

The permit conditions and application form are attached. Please have a read through and make sure you:

  • understand and are prepared to comply with permit conditions (attached to this application form)
  • complete all sections in the application form and attach a map showing your bushwalk
  • provide vehicle registration and emergency details. If these details are missing on your application, the Permits Officer will waitlist your application (if dates are available). Once you provide the missing details, the Permits Officer can issue a permit to you.
  • have signed and witnessed the declaration and conditions pages (see page 9 and 10) - a permit cannot be issued unless these pages have been received
  • email or send the application to the address at the end of the application package.
  • By posting or emailing this application form to the Permits Officer, you agree that if a permit is issued, you and your group members will act in accordance with all of the permit conditions.

Need more information?

Please contact the Permits Officer on 08 8938 1140 or email kakadu.permits@environment.gov.au.

Download the permit application form

This permit application form is available as a Microsoft Word file and as a PDF.