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Licences at Kakadu

Kakadu National Park is a Commonwealth reserve established under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) to manage the environment of the region for the benefit of all people, present and future. The Director of National Parks uses a licence system to help regulate exclusive and restricted use commercial activities.

Individuals and other commercial entities (e.g. companies and associations) wishing to conduct commercial activities in the park, including commercial tours, need to have a permit or licence issued by the Director. The Director may issue a licence only if:

  • the activity is consistent with:
    • the purpose for which the park is declared
    • any lease of indigenous people’s land in the park
  • the activity is not likely to:
    • endanger public safety
    • unduly damage the park
    • unduly interfere with the preservation or conservation of biodiversity or heritage in the park
    • unduly interfere with the protection of other features or facilities in the park
    • interfere with the privacy of a cultural event held in the reserve by the traditional owners of Aboriginal land in the park
    • interfere with the continuing cultural use of the park by the traditional owners of Aboriginal land in the park
    • interfere with the privacy of other persons in the park
    • the activity benefits the public or persons using the park
    • all the licence holder’s tour guides who will lead tours in Kakadu have successfully completed the Kakadu Knowledge for Tour Guides course.

In making a decision about whether to issue a licence, the Director may take into account whether a person to whom the licence is to be issued has, in the last 10 years, been convicted of or is subjected to proceedings for an environmental offence under the EPBC Act.

When a licence is needed

A licence is required for the following exclusive and restricted use commercial tourism activities:

  • sports fishing tours
  • safari camps (semi-permanent at managed campgrounds)
  • commercial bushwalking tours
  • tours to Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) (casual and regular access)
  • tours to Ikoymarrwa (lower Moline Rockhole) (casual and regular access)
  • any new activities that require exclusive or restricted use of an area

Licences will generally be granted for a minimum period of five years and for longer terms where significant investment is required.

Tour operators will be required to hold accreditation through a Tourism Accreditation Australia Ltd (ATAP) recognised program to hold a licence. It is a licence condition to provide evidence of accreditation to the Tourism Services Officer every year.

It is important that tour operators and their staff understand and comply with licence conditions. Breaching licence conditions may lead to the licence being suspended or cancelled.

The Kakadu Knowledge for Tour Guides Program

It is compulsory for all tour guides working in Kakadu to have successfully completed the Kakadu Knowledge for Tour Guides program. This program provides entry-level training covering all the things a tour guide should know when working in Kakadu, including key areas of visitor safety, understanding the park's natural and cultural values and history, minimising environmental impact and legal compliance.


A non-refundable application fee of $200 will apply once your application is submitted. Licence fees will be determined according to the type of activity. Transferred licences will also incur a fee of $200.

Licence fees will be paid according to the type of activity and may be annual or at a frequency agreed with the licensee. Licence fees will be updated on 1 April each year to maintain parity with Darwin Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases based on the previous quarter ending 31 December.

Licence fees (effective 1 April 2016):

Licence activity Application fee Licence fee
Safari camps (semi-permanent at managed campgrounds) (2 sites available at each managed campground) $200


$2,029.80* per year

Garnamarr, Gunlom, Muirella, Merl

$1,014.90* per year

Bushwalking tours $200 $5.75 pp/night
Sports fishing tour $200 $10.15 pp/day
Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) $200 $5.75 pp/day + camping fee if staying overnight *
Ikoymarrway (lower Moline Rockhole) $200 $3.05 pp/visit capped at $2000 per year

* Camping fees apply and are the same as the fee set by Determination by the Director of National Parks for the particular campground.

Application rounds

Application rounds for any available licences will be held in January and October each year with invitation to apply being offered in the Industry Update (to subscribe visit www.environment.gov.au/resource/kakadutourism-industry-updates). Applications are assessed competitively and a minimum overall score of 80% must be obtained to be eligible for a licence. Results from each round of applications are announced within four weeks of the selection panel convening. Successful applications will be awarded the right to hold a licence.

Apply well in advance

The standard processing time for a licence application is up to 8 weeks.

Further information

Contact the Tourism Services Officer

Phone: 08 8938 1170
Email: kakadu.permits@environment.gov.au.
Website: www.environment.gov.au/parks/permits/kakadu-tours.html

The EPBC Act and Regulations can be viewed at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/index.html or purchased from CANPRINT by telephoning 1300 656 863.

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