Jim Jim Falls Information
Jim Jim is a main attraction in Kakadu National Park and is one of the few public access areas where a high clearance four wheel drive is required. Plunging 200m off the Arnhem Land Escarpment into Jim Jim Creek and onto the mighty South Alligator River via Yellow Water Billabong, this seasonal waterfall displays an incredible power that can only be seen in full glory during the wet season and from the air.
The landscape 140 million years ago was vastly different, where it is believed Kakadu was covered by a shallow sea and the escarpment was actually cliffs and the Arnhem Plateau was the land above the sea. Today the sea has receded leaving cliffs up to 300m above the floodplains below and waterfalls like Jim Jim carry the wet season rains from the plateau to the plains below.
Traditionally the escarpment edge was a walking highway for people traversing between Katherine and Gunbalanya, and the Jim Jim and Twin Falls area was a significant region along that walking and trading path. Almudj the rainbow serpent is said to have travelled the area, coming to the end of the journey in the Twin Falls plunge pool.
Jim Jim Falls is some 300km of sealed road from Darwin before turning onto the 60km unsealed access road and finishing on a high clearance only four wheel drive track that follows the base of the escarpment from Garnamarr campground to Jim Jim Falls carpark. A high clearance vehicle is a must as the water diversion speed humps are tall and steep in places and cars do get hung up on them. Access to Jim Jim Falls is seasonal and generally only from June to October. Outside these times the road is closed as it is impossible due to the dangerous creek levels.
The walk from the car park to the plunge pools at the bottom of Jim Jim Falls is only 900 metres long, but don't underestimate it! The first part is a leisurely walk - be sure not to miss the side track to the ‘viewing pool’, from here you get your first view down the gorge to the falls. The second half of the walk can prove to be challenging at times, scrambling and rock hopping over boulders.
The closer you get to the end of the gorge the more impressive it becomes until you reach the pool which is enclosed on three sides by the vertical cliffs.
Early in the dry season Jim Jim Falls ceases to flow leaving a very cold, dark and deep plunge pool with white sandy beaches at is base. Territorians tend to not swim here because of the cold water but those that are not hardened to the warmer weather enjoy the briskness of water that never sees direct sunlight.
For the more adventurous there is a walk to the top of the falls which provides panoramic views across the valley below, as well as providing views of the upper falls which can not be seen from the valley floor. This walk is called the Barrk-Marlam and it is a difficult 6km walk starting with a very steep climb up the escarpment. 6 to 8 hours return is the general time that should be allowed for this walk, and walkers should wear appropriate walking attire and carry plenty of water as it can get very hot on the plateau. The walk is well worth the view.