Take the scenic route
Take the iconic trip from Darwin to Katherine via Kakadu National Park along Nature’s Way. Explore World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park, full of stunning gorges, colourful flora & fauna and vibrant animal life, and immerse yourself in a world of wonder. Discover Katherine, the gateway to multiple nature parks, conservation areas and reserves. Cool off and relax in the plentiful and picturesque plunge pools dotted around the NT that the area has become so well known for.
The 1000km drive can be done as a one-way trip or a longer loop back to the capital. Nature’s Way journey is recommended to be done over a minimum of 7 days, here is a suggested way you could enjoy the journey.
Darwin to Darwin
Best Time of the Year
May to October
- Kakadu Nat Park
- Berry Springs
- Nitmiluk Nat Park
- Edith Falls
- Buley Rockhole
Sunset in Kakadu - Credit Tourism Australia
Darwin to Kakadu
Distance 250km - Driving Time 3 hours
The rare and unspoiled beauty of Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land is only a 3-hour drive from Darwin. A short way out of Darwin (about 35km) you'll turn onto the Arnhem Highway and follow it all the way to Kakadu. There are a few highlights on the way that shouldn't be missed too.
Enjoy something a little bit different on one of the crocodile cruises on the Adelaide River to see huge saltwater crocs jump for food from the safety of the riverboat (don't worry, it is safe!) Take a stop off at the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve, historically the location of rice crops, the now-abandoned rice paddies are home to large native birds called Jabirus. Take a stroll around the area on Monsoon Forest Trail (about 1.5 hours) that winds beneath a thick and active forest canopy.
If you've got any energy left, head up to Ubirr to watch the sunset, or, as it's equally as stunning at either end of day, you could save this for sunrise tomorrow.
Where to stay - Malabanjbanjdju Campground.
Day 2 & 3
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu is very much a tick list of what a National Park should be. Provided Unesco World Heritage status in 1992, it's often seen as the jewel in the crown of the Northern Territory and an absolute must-do if you're even remotely close to it. Covering 20,000 square kilometres, the park is home to over 2000 plant species, a quarter of Australia's freshwater fish species and a third of Aussie's birds live in the park.
You won't be short of things to do here either - hence we'd recommend a minimum of two days to soak it all up. Check out the Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr (and while here you should watch the sunset over the floodplains), take a cruise on Yellow Water Billabong to see the local wildlife including crocodiles, wallabies, wild horses and buffalo, and take a moment to visit Gunlom Falls (4WD vehicles only) with it's naturally created infinity plunge pool. Whilst you're here, there are more than 30 walks in the local area to explore ranging from short half hour walks to longer half day treks - more info available at the Kakadu visitor centres.
Where to stay - Gunlom Falls.
Britz Safari Landcruiser watercrossing
Kakadu to Katherine
DISTANCE 300KM - DRIVING TIME 3.5 HOURS
Departing Kakadu you'll head South along Stuart Highway to Pine Creek, a small town that experienced a rush for gold in 1871. Pine Creek is a great place to grab some lunch at the quaint little bakery before the slight detour on the unsealed road to Umbrawarra Gorge for a swim in the striking red sandstone gorge.
Continue on to Katherine, a great place to base yourself and explore the Victoria River region. It is the gateway to six national parks and over 10 nature parks, reserves and conservation areas, including Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park). With so much to do here, you might want to dedicate a couple of days to the area. Must do's include a refreshing dip in the Katherine Hot Springs – a series of clear pools fed by a natural thermal spring located on the banks of the Katherine River, The Katherine Outback Experience - a fantastic 90 minute show that immerses you in the working ways of the area, the Cutta Cutta Caves which will take you underground into a Australias only tropical limestone caves and a walk and swim at Bitter Springs.
Where to stay - Katherine Holiday Park. Shady Lane Tourist Park.
Katherine Gorge - Credit Tourism Australia
Nitmiluk National Park
Nitmiluk National Park is only a short 30km drive from Katherine. Home to 13 gorges that you can explore by foot, helicopter, canoe or guided cruise, you'll have plenty to entertain you for a day or more. There are plenty of well-signposted walks around the area and of course, many opportunities to swim in the idyllic water holes and plunge pools. A favourite for this is Edith Falls with its large plunge pool and the Sweetwater Pool, a secluded tranquil swimming hole. Finish the day with a drive up to Banyan Tree, ready to explore Litchfield the next day.
Where to stay - Banyan Tree Caravan Park.
Edith Falls - Credit Tourism Australia
Katherine to Litchfield
DISTANCE 285KM - DRIVING TIME 3 HOURS
Leave early and make the trip to Litchfield National Park. The Park is renowned for its accessible, unspoiled wilderness of monsoon rainforests and thundering waterfalls that flow into picturesque plunge pools year-round. On the eastern boundary of the park, visit the incredible 2-metre high termite mounds. Make sure you take the time to relax and cool off with a swim in the plunge pool below the permanent spring-fed Florence Falls or wade through the rocky pools at Buley Rockhole.
Where to stay - Banyan Tree.
Safari Landcruiser camp set up
Litchfield to Darwin
DISTANCE 150KM - DRIVING TIME 2 HOURS
On the final day, take the time to wake up slowly in your bush camp listening to the bird song before packing up and heading back to Darwin via the Territory Wildlife Park. Wander through treetop aviaries, around a natural lagoon and walk through the aquarium to see animals, including the saltwater crocodiles, in their natural habitats. Before you enter Darwin, stop at Berry Springs Nature Park. A recreation camp for armed forces personnel during the war, today it is a popular spot for a barbecue and a dip in the freshwater pools.