Another family we met back in Limmen NP recommended Maguk as their favourite place in Kakadu so we went to check it out after Jarrangbarnmi. Like Jarrangbarnmi and Gunlom it is another waterfall/gorge that runs off the Arnhem escarpment, but is quite different to both of them.
First, the number of people came as quite a shock after the lack of others at Jarrangbarnmi. The car park was full and there were heaps of people on the 1km walk into the plunge pool and swimming in and around the falls themselves. The plunge pool is large and narrow with tall cliffs on either side. The walking track leads to one end, with the waterfall and the far end. Second, this is the only waterfall we saw in Kakadu that was actually running more than a trickle. All of the others had dried up almost completely.
The following day we walked to the top of the falls and spent the day swimming and exploring the gorge up there. The walk from the car park was probably close to 2km and reasonably steep and rough in sections, although nowhere near as difficult as the walk to the top of Gunlom.
Once at the top we initially had the whole area to ourselves, although others soon started arriving to share it with us. The river at the top could not be any different to that at the bottom. In contrast to the large plunge pool at the bottom, the gorge at the top consists of a series of very narrow and quite short pools.
Further upstream the gorge opens out to flatter land and it is hard to believe that the pleasant stream becomes a very large and impressive waterfall in a short distance.
I was keen to visit Jim Jim Falls, although I realised that during the dry season that would not be running and a couple of families had told us they were disappointed with them. It’s one of the little ironies of traveling in the Top End – you can only get to Jim Jim, and Twin Falls which are nearby, in the dry season but they’ve only got water running over them during the wet when you can’t get to them.
Anyway, we decided to go. They’re accessed by a 60km dirt road which is good quality for most of the way although the last 5km or so becomes a 4WD track. Twin Falls is also nearby but unfortunately was closed while we were there (I never worked out why).
The whole time walking along the river we could see the cliffs getting closer and closer. They form a massive U shaped gorge and are incredibly impressive. I couldn’t have guessed how tall they are – apparently up to 200m and they surround you on three sides with only a narrow section open to the sky downstream.
There are two pools near the falls. The first is slightly downstream and is in the sun with a lovely sandy beach, but it was incredibly hot so we went straight up to the second pool which is right at the end of the gorge. That was the complete opposite, in the shade, no beach and the coldest water we had been in for a long time. We had to stop Izzy swimming all the way across the pool because we were worried about how cold she was getting and whether she (and Lindy and I) would make it back.