Crossing The World’s Most Dangerous Road—Cahill’s Crossing, NT

When you think of dangerous roads, maybe it’s a mountain pass, icy conditions or terrible traffic. Well how about a road where you drive through a crocodile-infested river three hours from the nearest hospital?

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world

It’s no exaggeration to say Kakadu, three hours east of Darwin, is magnificent. The twice the size of Lebanon, this national park in the Northern Territory has everything.

Kakadu’s landscapes are incredibly diverse, with savanna woodlands, monsoon vine forests, hills and sandstone escarpments, tidal flats, mangroves, rivers and billabongs—even 100km of rugged estuarine coastline within its borders.

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - crocodile hunting on the road

Home to the Bininj/Mungguy, the longest living culture on earth, Kakadu has one of the largest collections of ancient rock art in the country. It’s also full of dramatic landscapes and waterfalls, packed with wildlife—almost a third of all Australia’s bird species live here.

There are also an awful lot of crocodiles.

In the Northern Territory, there are over 100,000 adult saltwater crocodiles. Around 10% of them live in Kakadu National Park alone. There are also freshwater crocs here too, but they’re usually shy and rarely seen. The salties, however, are bold, aggressive and voracious.

Find more of our stories on Kakadu here.

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - collage of crocodiles

Cahill’s Crossing—the crocodile crossroads

Running straight across one of the major roads that cleave the border between Kakadu and Arnhem Land’s Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, the East Alligator River is a favourite hunting ground for hundreds of crocodiles.

Check out our video of Cahill’s Crossing:

In the dry season, between May to October, the water levels of the East Alligator are low enough to allow 4×4 vehicles capable of water crossings to ford the river.

However, it’s still risky.

Along with the river currents and debris like rocks and branches, the road is also the shallowest point of a common white mullet swim. These large fish are forced down the brackish water by tide flows and fill the waterway, enticing many large crocodiles into the area.

And that’s all part of the spectacle.

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - Jim on viewing platform

From the (very safe) viewing platforms a few metres above the banks of the river, with whistling kites circling overhead, you can watch these living dinosaurs snap fish up as they swim past, crunching down on them with their powerful jaws.

And the longer you gaze at the river, the more crocodiles you see.

At first they look like floating logs, but then you notice these ‘logs’ hold their position in the stream of the river. Then one turns, its sharply crenelated tail turning. You see eyes and a long snout, the glint of long teeth.

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - the road in full

Sometimes you see little front feet poking out of the water.

When they’re hunting on the surface, salties—and only ones in this area—have developed what’s called the ‘cross posture technique’. They’re feel for fish that swim by them that they can reach round and chomp up, trebling their chances of catching a meal.

What’s The Best Time To Go To Cahill’s Crossing?

The best time of year to see crocodiles at Cahill’s Crossing is in the dry season, but especially between July-October, when the movement of fish upstream is at its greatest.

During this time, low tide is prime viewing. Seeing the tide change and the crocodiles all turn to face the water flow, and therefore oncoming fish, is fascinating.

It’s also the most dramatic time to see cars crossing, water surging above their headlights, each bump and bounce of the uneven road surface surely sending sickening jolts through the stomachs of the driver and their passengers.

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - towing a boat across

Low tide also means you’ll be able to see the crocs as they swim and climb onto the inundated road, poised waiting for fish—or anything else—that might float into their fatal jaws.

What About The Cars?

It’s amazing to watch vehicles* driving through the river—already a precarious manoeuvre—and then have to avoid a large crocodile that’s decided to set up camp on the submerged road.

By law, drivers have to give way to the animals, who tend not to take much notice of big four-wheel-drives or service vehicles bearing down on them. Eventually the crocodile will move out of the way, a surging splash signalling its retreat to deeper water.

Vehicles must have four-wheel-drive capabilities, high clearance and preferably a snorkel for this kind of water crossing.

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - ute and saltie stand-off Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - busy road

*Because this road leads across the border from Kakadu National Park to Arnhem Land and Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, you need a separate permit to cross the East Alligator River here.

Where Else Can You See Crocodiles In Kakadu?

With so many salties in the park, there’s a good chance you’ll see one in most large water sources. Needless to say, unless you’re with a guide or a parks official has told you expressly, don’t swim at Kakadu. There are places that are safe, but you still need to check.

Also, never be the first one in!

The Yellow Water Billabong (Ngurrungurrudjba), which is part of the South Alligator River, and also nearby Jim Jim Creek is packed with crocs.

You can do amazing cruises along Yellow Water—highly recommended.

There are also river cruises you can take up to the southern edge of Cahill’s Crossing. The boats move between these giant apex predators as they hunt.

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - tour boat ride

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - temporary residents

Locals refer to people who do this as ‘temporary residents’

As you can imagine, it is not a good idea to try and go over Cahill’s Crossing on foot.

The Traditional Owners ask you to stay away from the water’s edge, to not cross the causeway on foot and to observe these impressive creatures from the safety of the viewing platform.

Couldn’t agree more!

Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu - the most dangerous road in the world - Jim and Christina

We travelled to Kakadu National Park as media guests of Kakadu Tourism and Tourism NT, but our experiences and opinions remain our own.

Be first to comment