Via the Victoria Highway
The drive from Darwin to Kununurra is already one of the most picturesque drives in the Northern Territory - but when you hire a 4WD campervan for this route, you open an adventure-filled trip to a whole new world of possibilities.
This 4WD driving itinerary winds its way from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Kununurra in the Western Australia Kimberley region and is a bucket list Australia road trip for families visiting this region. On this trip, you will have the chance to experience the very best of the ‘top end’ Australia attractions, all while getting off the beaten track and immersing yourself in the magic of this rugged red landscape.
Spend your days in the deep solitude of the monsoonal rainforests, swimming in ancient plunge pools, soaking in hot springs and maybe even catching a glimpse of Australia's largest reptiles: the saltwater crocodile. It’s important to remain ‘croc-safe’ in this region’s waterways – saltwater crocodiles inhabit rivers and waterholes, particularly in Flora River National Park and Gregory National Park.
It’s important to note that while this itinerary will take you along Victoria Highway - a sealed road that offers year-round access - some of the mentioned roads may be closed during the wet season (September to May) due to monsoon flooding. 4WD drivers should contact their local Britz Campervans & 4WD branch for up to date road conditions and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe journey.
Let's dive into this bucket list Australia road trip!
Darwin to Kununurra
Best Time of the Year
May to September
- Crocosaurus Cove
- Jim Jim Falls
- Cutta Cutta Caves
- Katherine Hot Springs
Sunset in the Northern Territory
Darwin to Jabiru
Distance 218km - Driving Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Pick up your 4WD at the Darwin Britz branch and begin your adventure by exploring the unique attractions in this ‘top end’ city. Some of the best things to do in Darwin include seeing crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove, sampling the food at Mindil Markets and exploring the heritage of Darwin Aviation Museum.
When you’re ready to farewell Darwin’s city lights, jump onto the Arnhem Highway and drive inland for 2 hours 40 minutes towards the vast landscapes of Australia’s largest national park. Kakadu is a timeless, ancient landscape best known for crocodile spotting, fishing, walks, waterfalls, and for being the world’s greatest concentration of rock art sites.
When you arrive in the hub of the region of Jabiru, you will pass the Adelaide River Bridge, where you’ll have the opportunity to get up-close-and-not-too-personal with Australia’s largest reptiles on a Jumping Crocodile Cruise.
Another 60km past Jabiru is Nourlangie Creek, where you can explore the rock art sites of Burrungkuy, Kuwarddewardde Lookout and Anbangbang Shelter. For a spectacular end to your first day - and a sunset you will never forget - book a scenic flight as the sun goes down and watch Kakadu transform in the infamous red glow of the dying light.
Once you land, make your way to Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park, where you can take advantage of the powered camping sites and swim in the lagoon-style pool. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, book a table at Escarpment to sample the bush tucker style menu that includes crocodile, buffalo and kangaroo.
Jim Jim and Twin Falls in Kakadu
Jabiru to Karnamarr Campground
Distance 94km - Driving Time 2 hours 40 minutes
While in Jabiru, visit the Bowali Visitor Centre to speak with the staff about road conditions, as well as tips for exploring the surrounding region. From here, you can choose to bike or walk the Bowali track before driving 1 hour and 15 minutes south to visit two of Kakadu’s most iconic waterfalls.
On the way south, detour to stop at Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Here you can stretch your legs while discovering stories shared by traditional owners via an exhibit of artefacts and a gallery of arts and crafts from Kakadu and its surrounding regions.
Continuing south, take your time as you navigate the 4WD road to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls. The road to these iconic falls is a challenging track and impassable during the wet season, so plan accordingly. When you arrive, grab your swimmers and hiking shoes to enjoy these short, yet challenging walks. Navigate your way through the monsoonal forest, over boulders and swim in the crystal waters of the plunge pool at the base of the falls.
Then, make your way along the 10km 4WD track from the falls to grab a campsite at Karnamarr campground for the night. Perched on the edge of Ahrnem Land, here you can enjoy hot showers, fire pits and dinner at a picnic area offering spectacular views of this epic landscape.
Karnamarr Campground to Gunlom Waterfall
Distance 183km - Driving Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Wake up early for a two-hour sunrise cruise with Yellow Water Cruises to spot birdlife, crocodiles and buffalo. Next, drive down the 14km 4WD track heading south to Maguk Gorge. This lesser-known Northern Territory attraction is a pristine natural waterfall nestled amongst steep gorge walls. While you can expect a moderate hike to the gorge and a steep walk to the top of the waterfall, this hidden gem is worth the sweat.
Before you leave the park, visit Gunlom Waterfall, where you can choose between a challenging climb to the top of the escarpment to bathe in nature’s infinity pool or simply relax and enjoy the waters of the lower plunge pool.
Drive to Gunlom Campground, where you can explore the tracks near the campground -Murrill Billabong and the South Alligator River- before grabbing a camping spot for the night.
Baruwai Lookout in Nitmiluk National Park
Gunlom Waterfall to Katherine
Distance 198km - Driving Time 2 hours 20 minutes
For those interested in gold rush history, Pine Creek offers plenty to see including Grove Hill Heritage Museum or the Northern Goldfields Loop. Drive 1 hour 15 minutes to visit Pine Creek to immerse yourself in the history of the area at Grove Hill Heritage Museum and marvel at the exhibition of mining artefacts at the Northern Goldfields Loop.
Drive 22km southwest of Pine Creek to Umbrawarra Gorge, where you can cool off in the clear waters and relax on the sandy beaches that rest against red cliffs and sandstone walls. Continuing towards Katherine, you’ll pass Nitmiluk National Park, home to Aboriginal rock art sites, Edith Falls (entrance is 40km north of Katherine off of the Stuart Highway), and Katherine Gorge (30km east of Katherine). You can hire a canoe or walk one of the many trails, time permitting, before spending a night in Katherine.
Choose between Nitmiluk Chalets or Katherine Holiday Park to park up for the night. Take advantage of the campsite facilities to scrub up before heading out to enjoy a bite to eat at Savannah Bar and Restaurant.
Britz Outback 4WD camp set up
Katherine to Gregory National Park
Distance 231km - Driving Time 2 hours 20 minutes
In Katherine, Australia, you can spend your days kayaking through the towering sandstone cliffs of Nitmiluk Gorge, wandering through the limestone stalactites of Cutta Cutta Caves, or relaxing in the temperate waters of Katherine Hot Springs.
Between July and September, avid hikers can opt to walk on the wild side along the famous Jatbula Trail. This 62km paid walking trail begins at Nitmiluk Gorge and ends at Edith Falls with the added option of paid transfers to deliver you back to your car at Nitmiluk Gorge.
For those seeking something a little different, follow the Victoria Highway west and turn off toward Scott Creek to Giwining/Flora River National Park, where you can take a short walk to Kathleen and Djarrung Falls – and keep an eye out for the pig-nosed turtle. With so much to see and do, Katherine and its surroundings could easily add another day or two to your trip.
A further 2 hours and 20-minute drive toward the Western Australia border brings you to the Northern Territory’s second-largest park: Judbarra/Gregory National Park. Expect gorges, sandstone formations, rainforests and woodlands as you make your way through the challenging 4WD tracks that weave through the diverse landscapes of this tropical and semi-arid region. When you’re finished exploring, enjoy a restful night at Bullita Homestead.
Timber Creek - Credit Getty Images
Gregory National Park to Timber Creek
Distance 59km - Driving Time 1 hour
Start the morning by visiting Gregory’s Tree in Judburra. This giant Boab tree is a sacred site to the Ngarinyman people and has historical markings from the explorers of the region in the 1800s.
Continuing along the Victoria Highway to the rural Northern Territory town of Timber Creek you can step back in time at the police complex; a rare surviving example of an early Northern Territory police station. You can also cast a line for barramundi in the Victoria River or commemorate those who served in world war two at Nackeroo Lookout. If you’re in need of supplies, stop by the indigenous-owned Wirib Store before settling in for the evening at Timber Creek Hotel and Caravan Park.
Britz Safari Landcruiser 4WD Exterior Tent
Timber Creek to Kununurra
Distance 226km - Driving Time 2 hours 30 minutes
The Western Australian border beckons, but you can’t cross the finish line before visiting one of the NT’s best-kept secrets – Keep River National Park. Pull on your hiking boots and challenge yourself to the 7km Jarnem Walk, which journeys through an array of sandstone structures decorated with ancient Aboriginal rock art. Beware - there are crocodiles in these waterways, so do not swim and remember to be croc wise.
Continuing over the threshold of the Western Australia border take a short detour to take in the beauty of Lake Argyle. Choose to cool off with a swim with over 30,000 freshwater crocodiles (the much friendlier counterpart to the saltwater crocodiles) in this man-made lake, or pay for a day pass to relax at Lake Argyle Caravan Park infinity pool.
Driving the final stretch towards Kununurra, stop off in Mirima National Park/Hidden Valley to go bushwalking while enjoying the stunning views of this east Kimberley region before heading into Kununurra, WA. Here you can take a cultural tour to experience Miriwoong culture, check out the local rare pink diamonds mined in the Argyle mine and eat at Pumphouse Restaurant before parking up for the night at Lake Kununurra Holiday Park.
Where to next
From Kununurra, you can turn around and return to Darwin or continue your journey west to Britz Broome. Kununurra is a great jumping-off point to local attractions such as the Bungle Bungles, El Questro Wilderness Park and the Gibb River Road journey (for more details on this iconic 4wd track read our Gibb River Road itinerary).
Ready to explore the Northern Territory on your very own 4WD adventure along the Victoria Highway? To get started on this journey, check out our latest deals and specials to rent a van to travel Australia and book a Britz campervan today.