To experience all the very best that the Top End has to offer, look no further than this road trip. Taking just over a week, be immersed in adventure travelling from Australia's vibrant capital to the ancient natural wonders of Kakadu, Nitmiluk National Parks, and the Daly River region. This drive follows sealed roads so is suitable for 2WD, but if you are wanting to go a little further off the beaten track, take the 4WD option.
Darwin to Darwin
Best Time of the Year
May to October
- Yellow Water Billabong
- Katherine Hot Springs
- Leliyn Falls
- Litchfield National Park
Darwin to Kakadu
Distance 151km - Driving Time 2 hours
Only a three-hour drive from Darwin along the Arnhem Highway, Kakadu National Park will surround you in an incredibly rare and beautiful landscape. To witness Australia's spectacular wildlife, stop at Corroboree Billabong for a boat cruise through the Mary River system. Try your luck at spotting crocodiles and native birds.
Kakadu National Park
A World Heritage-listed site and the largest national park in Australia, we suggest spending 3 days here to make sure you can enjoy the full experience of this destination.
Take in the incredible views from the wetlands at Ubirr lookout – seeing a sunset from here is even better. The walk to Ubirr will take you around an hour, and a further 30 minutes to climb to the lookout. The track is relatively steep but will take you to an incredible rocky view to take in an unforgettable tropical sunset.
Go for a walk at Burrungkuy to be amazed by impressive Aboriginal rock. The walls of this rock art site have acted as a shelter and canvas for thousands of years. If you are visiting in the dry season, hear from a park ranger about the relationship of the local people with this ancient gallery in regards to their country and belief.
Kakadu has a range of campgrounds to choose from, to find your best option check out their guide.
Kakadu National Park
Take a cruise across the famous Yellow Water Billabong, one of the national park's best-known landmarks. Home to crocodiles, wild horses buffalo, and an abundance of other wildlife. A cruise along this billabong will immerse you in a peaceful slice of paradise. Glide across the surface of the billabong, dotted with stunning pink and white waterlilies, whilst keeping your eyes peeled to spot the vast range of birdlife that call the billabong home.
Kakadu to Katherine
Distance 152km - Driving Time 2 hours
Once you have truly explored Kakadu National Park by spending a few days there, jump onto the Kakadu Highway and head south towards Katherine. With an abundance of caravan parks and national parks to choose from in this area, it is the perfect place to set up camp to begin exploring.
Once you arrive, head to the Katherine Hot Springs for a dip. These thermal springs live on the banks of Katherine River and are made up of a series of crystal-clear pools fed by a natural thermal spring. This spot is perfect for a bit of afternoon relaxation with a picnic lunch on the nearby grounds.
Head to your campsite at the Katherine Holiday Park for the night and enjoy a homemade dinner before unwinding whilst gazing at the blanket of stars in the sky above you.
Katherine to Nitmiluk National Park
Distance 30km - Driving Time 30 minutes
Spend your morning driving the short 30km drive northeast of Katherine to Nitmiluk National Park. This national park covers a vast distance. With 13 incredible gorges carved from the ancient sandstone country which will provide your views that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Take the Windolf Walk in the morning, an 8.4kn return track that will take you to a track that winds along the Katherine River and up to Pat's lookout for an impressive view of the gorge. On your walk back, stop at the picturesque Southern Rockhole – a seasonal waterfall.
After your active morning, head to Leliyn (Edith) Falls, on the western boundary of the park. Cool off in the tranquil waters of the lower pools before heading to the upper pools to experience a special swim along with the picture-perfect rock formations of the falls. Alternatively, head to Butterfly Gorge, home to rock pools shaded by paperbarks up to 50 metres tall as well as thousands of butterflies. Swimming here will make you feel like you are in a magical fairy escape.
Stay the night at Nitmiluk Gorge Caravan Park and enjoy yet another peaceful night under the twinkling sky.
Nitmiluk National Park to Darwin
Distance 320km - Driving Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Head back to Darwin along the Stuart Highway. Take a detour to visit Litchfield National Park. Known for its easily accessed, unspoiled wilderness of monsoon rainforests and waterfalls that are present all year round.
Head back to the Darwin branch to drop off your camper and wrap up this epic road trip exploring the Top End.