About Jim Jim Falls
Jim Jim Falls (Aboriginal name Barrkmalam) was in our minds the Northern Territory‘s (let alone Kakadu National Park’s) most spectacular waterfall.
It was said to plunge about 200m off the escarpment and tended to flow spectacularly in the Wet Season.
The picture you see above was taken during our visit in early June 2006, which was towards the earlier part of the Dry Season.
And as you can see from that photo plus the rest of the photos on this page, the dual-segmented plunge along with its sheer size and awesome settings compelled Julie and I to place this high up on our Top 10 Australia Waterfalls list.
Experiencing Jim Jim Falls
It was hard to believe that we almost weren’t able to visit this waterfall!
To make a long story short, we originally intended to do a pre-booked land tour to both Jim Jim Falls and the nearby Twin Falls.
However, it turned out that access to the falls via land typically doesn’t happen until well into the Dry Season (and it wasn’t helped by an unseasonably late cyclone that had hit the area just a month prior on our 2006 visit).
That prolonged the threat of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles and caused the closure of most (if not all) 4wd roads, including the ones needed to reach Jim Jim Falls.
To snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, we booked a helicopter tour instead at the last minute, and thus all the photos you see on this page were taken from the air.
Timing Jim Jim Falls
So as you can see with Jim Jim Falls, timing was everything.
Come during the Wet Season, then the falls would flow spectacularly but it would only be seen from the air.
Come during the Dry Season, then the falls may diminish to the point that its flow might be a disappointing trickle.
We tried to time our visit to get the best of both worlds (i.e. the Wet Season flow with the Dry Season access), but this was not easy to do.
Heck, we were even unsuccessful on a subsequent attempt in mid-June 2022, and with hindsight being 20/20, it turned out that we were still two weeks too early.
Anyways, since we live across the Pacific and we were budgeting time and money along with our work schedules, trying to predict this timing was very difficult.
Indeed, when Mother Nature had other plans, the onus was on us to react and respond.
At least the benefit of doing the aerial tour was that we were able to see the surrounding escarpment lands of Kakadu National Park.
We were really able to get a sense of the grandeur and context of not only the falls but also the vast wilderness that was around us.
The aerial tour also bought us sightings of bonus waterfalls such as Double Falls in the Death Adder Valley.
The 4wd Tour of Jim Jim Falls Possibility
Had we been able to do the 4wd land tour or self-drive to the base of Jim Jim Falls, then our experience would’ve obviously been a lot more intimate.
However, we knew that it would’ve been a rough and rugged ride along Jim Jim Falls Road (roughly 2-3 hours each way to cover the 66km).
Depending on the type of rental vehicle, I doubt that rental car companies would be comfortable letting you go it alone without a properly equipped 4wd vehicle, which was primarily why booking a land tour was an attractive option.
Unfortunately, if the 4wd roads remained closed, then the land tour operator would likely substitute the Jim Jim Falls experience with a tour to Gunlom Falls and/or Motor Car Falls.
It may be an unacceptable trade, especially since it’s actually quite feasible to visit the substitute waterfalls on our own.
So the moral of the story here would be to take a wait-and-see approach when trying to time a visit and book a land tour to see Jim Jim Falls (as well as Twin Falls).
Nonetheless, we still feel that our Jim Jim Falls experience was incomplete and we’re itching to come back here to do the land tour (though so far we’re 0 for 2).
In order to get the latest information about what’s open and what’s closed in Kakadu National Park, Parks Australia provides a Kakadu Access report, which is updated pretty frequently so you can consult it for your trip planning needs.
Jim Jim Falls resides in Kakadu National Park near Jabiru in the Northern Territory. It is administered jointly by Parks Australia and the Bininj/Mungguy People. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
The access road to Jim Jim Falls branches off the Kakadu Highway (Hwy 21) just east of Cooinda. Since we didn’t self-drive to the falls, we can’t say much more about what the drive was like.
As for tours, land excursions can pick you up if you’re staying in Jabiru or in Cooinda (where we were staying). The helicopter tour we took was based in Jabiru (some 50km northeast of Cooinda along Kakadu Hwy). So we had to drive there before embarking on the aerial tour.
For context, Pine Creek was 225km (about 2.5 hours drive) south of Darwin and 164km (over 2 hours drive) southwest of Cooinda. Coming from the other direction, Jabiru was 57km (over 30 minutes drive) northeast of Cooinda and 253km (under 3 hours drive) east of Darwin.
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