NT in a Safari Landcruiser
Hamish, a born and bred Kiwi lad went on a Safari Landcruiser 4WD roadtrip along the Natures Way in the Northern Territory.
Picking up in Darwin, Hamish and a mate explored Kakadu National Park, discovered off road tracks and the epic Nitmuluk National Park.
Read on to hear about his experience.
Darwin to Darwin
Best Time of the Year
All year round
- Nitmuluk - on the cliff tops watching the sun go down
- Kakadu National Park - diversity of wildlife and culture
- Navigating the 4WD tracks
- Swimming under the waterfall at Wangi Falls
Darwin to Kakadu Lodge Caravan Park
Distance 252km - Driving Time 4hrs
We departed Darwin after staying one night after our flight from Auckland, NZ. We vacated the busy bar a restaurant scene of Mitchell street for the endless solitude of the long straights of road on our way to u National Park. The tarmac glistened in the distance from a comfortable 32 degrees and we made good time on day one.
Stopping at the famous Bark Hutt Inn for a bite and a pint before settling in at Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park. The park was comfortable and I devoured my delicious Barramundi in their very own restaurant while enjoying great hospitality. A good night sleep was had all round and we were excited about getting emerged in the park on day two.
Kakadu Lodge Caravan Park to Garnamarr Campsite
Distance 150km - Driving Time 4hrs
Day two would see us lock the hubs on the Landcruiser and head off road into the unknown. The red dirt road stretched on and on until we met some more technical sand based 4WD’ing on our way to visit the impressive gorge and falls at Jim Jim and Twin Falls. The walls of the gorge tower all around you and you can’t help but feel humbled.
There were some nice pools that had been cleared for swimming by the rangers so we freshened up with a quick paddle in the temperate water before heading back to the truck to get back to the campsite fire up some bangers on the cooker and watch the sun go down against the escarpments surrounding us. The campsite was where the Landcruisers tent on the roof was in its element and it was a quick 5 minute set up and we were comfortably settled in to bed quick smart for a great nights sleep.
Garnamarr Campsite to Cooing
Day three was action packed with us heading back to the tarmac and exploring some of the ancient culture and art of the local Aboriginal people at Ubirr and Nourlangie. The art work goes back thousands of years and tells the stories of culture, spirituality, land and resources. It was amazing to decipher the detailing of the art into story and for a moment imagine back to a time long ago where people communicated through art.
From there we also visited Anbangbang Billabong and spotted our first big saltie.That was exciting but it was also amazing to see the vast birdlife flourishing in this harsh environment. We then carried on to Cooinda and did a Yellow Water Sunset Cruise. As the sky turned amber we witnessed various species of bird, snakes and croc. What a place.
Cooinda to Gunlom
Distance 150km - Driving Time 3hrs
It was time to put the cruiser back into where it belongs and after a bit of tarmac we were back in 4WD on our way to camp out at Gunlom. As we drove we were always in awe of just how much wildlife there is in this part of Australia, the trees sing and scream with life every moment of the way.
Gunlom is an impressive campsite with great facilities and the pool there is stunning with towering rock walls and lush forest. Unfortunately, there was a fire burning up near the normally must do pool on top of the waterfall so we weren't able to head up there to check it out but it was a sight to see the horizon glowing in different hues after dark as the fire breathed with the wind.
Gunlom to Katherine
Distance 170km - Driving Time 3hrs 30min
Kakadu had been an amazing experience of poeple, culture, flora and fauna but it was time to leave. We rose nice and early after another comfortable sleep in the rooftop tent and headed out of Kakadu National Park for the town of Katherine via Edith Falls. Edith Falls was a gorgeous pool which is safe for swimming and we didn't hesitate to dive in and get in a few strokes of freestyle and freshen up.
On arrival into Katherine, we had organised an outback experience with Katherine Outback Experience and it didn’t disappoint. The experience was on a working farm and the skills of Tom who runs the show were outstanding, including riding a horse bareback while singing and playing guitar! A genuinely great guy and awesome experience.
Katherine to Nitmuluk National Park
Distance 30km - Driving Time 18min
It was time to get back into National Parks and Nitmuluk was next. It was just a short drive from Katherine to the Park and the road in was comfortable. For the fifth day straight the sun was shining and we were excited about canoeing and boating up the gorge within the park. While canoeing we spotted the smaller and non aggressive fresh water crocodile, numerous species of bird and some other friendly canoeists! The gorge swallowed us up with its high walls and was super stunning.
We only got so far in our canoe so jumped on board a boat for a tour further up the gorge. The commentary along the way really opened our eyes to the history and importance of the gorge to the local aboriginal people as well as some interesting geological facts. All in all the hospitality was amazing in Nitmuluk and we finished the day watching the sun get lost over the horizon with the gorge greeting us in the foreground.
Nitmuluk National Park to Wangi Falls
Distance 291km - Driving Time 4hrs
Day seven started bright and early with us enjoying the long straights and open road on our way to Litchfield National Park and the night at Wangi Falls. Litchfield offered some of the best termite mounds we had seen on the trip. The towering cathedral mounds were up to 5-6m in height and dwarfed us when we were snapping photos in front of them. Then there were the magnetic termite mounds which are smaller but for me were incredibly interesting.
All the mounds run from magnetic north to south and have a thin spiked hair appearance. It truly is an abstract landscape with all these mounds built from the ground up and at times reminded me of a grand cemetery of elegant headstones. After looking in awe at the mounds we arrived at Wangi Falls late but still had time for a sunset dip under the falls.
Wangi Falls to Dundee Beach
Distance 140km - Driving Time 3hrs
We hit the road onward to Dundee Beach and once again it was time to lock the hubs and enjoy some off roading on some fiery red sand. After contending with some corrugations and a gentle river crossing we were back on the tarmac and enjoying ticking over some consistent km’s. Once at Dundee it was time to enjoy watching our first sunset over the water since landing in NT.
We parked the cruiser up in a nice remote spot, with golden white sand, pulled out the deck chairs and relaxed as the sun slowly tracked its way down the blue and blonde hazy sky. Looking out imagining that Africa was that golden disc’s next destination really gave us an appreciation of how isolated were.
Dundee Beach to Darwin
Distance 135km - Driving Time 2.5hrs
It was time to head back to Darwin and we spent the final part of our journey exploring the Darwin Waterfront with it’s impressive and must do market, restaurants and wave pool. It truly is a great city and has its own unique culture in comparison to other Australian Cities I have visited. It felt like a cross between a Melanesian town in the Pacific and a cosmopolitan Australian city. I’ll be back.