Darwin To Kununurra
The drive from Darwin to Kununurra is one of the most picturesque drives in the northern territory, with so many things to do and see along your journey. When you hire a 4wd campervan for this route, you open yourselves to a world of possibilities. With such a great deal of things to do and see on the way, we’ve put together a comprehensive Darwin driving itinerary for people that are self driving Darwin to Kununurra in a 4 wheel drive and want to see as much as possible.
5 - 7 DAYS
Darwin, Northern Territory to Kununurra, Western Australia via the Victoria Highway
Best Time of the Year
May - October (dry season)
- Gunlom Waterfall
- Nitmiluk NP
- Gregory NP
- Keep River NP
Sunset in the Northern Territory
DAY 1: DARWIN TO JABIRU
Pick up your 4WD and farewell Darwin’s city lights as you head for the vast landscapes of Australia’s largest national park, Kakadu. Jump onto the Arnhem Highway toward Jabiru, the hub of the region, passing 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 really spectacular end to your first day, book a scenic flight as the sun sets and watch Kakadu’s colours change in the dying light.
Where to stay - Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park
Jim Jim and Twin Falls in Kakadu
DAY 2: JABIRU - GARNAMARR
It’s time to visit two of Kakadu’s most iconic waterfalls, but not without a slight detour to Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre first. Here you’ll discover stories shared by traditional owners via an exhibit of artefacts and a gallery of arts and crafts from Kakadu and its surrounding regions. Note that the road to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls is a challenging track, and impassable during the wet season. During the drier months, you can hike and scramble for 900m across boulders and through native forests to swim in the crystal waters of the plunge pool. Garnmarr Campground is a 10km 4WD track from the falls, offering spectacular views of the epic landscape.
Where to stay - Garnmarr Campground
DAY 3: GARNAMARR - GUNLOM WATERFALL
Wake up early for a two-hour sunrise cruise with Yellow Water Cruises to spot birdlife, crocodiles and buffalo. Next, a 14km 4WD track heading south leads to Maguk Gorge – expect a moderate hike to the Gorge and a steep walk to the top of the waterfall, but this hidden gem is worth the sweat. Before you leave the park, a visit to Gunlom Waterfall and plunge pool is a must. Choose between a challenging climb to the top of the escarpment to bathe in nature’s infinity pool, or save yourself the exertion and enjoy the waters of the lower plunge pool.
Where to stay - Gunlom campground
Baruwai Lookout in Nitmiluk National Park
DAY 4: GUNLOM WATERFALL - KATHERINE
For those interested in gold rush history, Pine Creek offer plenty to see including Grove Hill Heritage Museum or the Northern Goldfields Loop. Umbrawarra Gorge is just 22km south west of Pine Creek, where clear waters and sandy beaches that rest against red cliffs and sandstone walls.
On your way to 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.
Britz Outback 4WD camp set up
DAY 5: KATHERINE - GREGORY NATIONAL PARK
Katherine and its surrounds could easily add another day or two to your trip, taking in the famous Jatbula Trail, kayaking through the gorge, wandering through the Cutta Cutta Caves or relaxing in the Katherine Hot Springs. But for something a little different, follow the Victoria Highway west and turn off toward at 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.
A further five-hour drive toward the WA border brings you to the NT’s second largest park, Gregory National Park, where you can really get your wheels dirty on the challenging 4WD tracks that weave through the diverse landscapes of this tropical and semi-arid region – expect gorges, sandstone formations, rainforests and woodlands.
Where to stay - Bullita Homestead
Timber Creek - Credit Getty Images
DAY 6: GREGORY NATIONAL PARK - TIMBER CREEK
To extend your road trip, head off the highway and spend the morning exploring the rest of Gregory National Park – and be sure to stop past Gregory’s Tree sacred site. After your big Victoria Highway adventure, you could treat yourself to some downtime in Timber Creek, visiting the heritage sites or casting a line for barramundi in the local waterways before heading onwards to Kununurra.
Where to stay - Timber Creek Hotel and Caravan Park
Britz Safari Landcruiser 4WD Exterior Tent
DAY 7: TIMBER CREEK TO KUNUNURRA
The Western Australian border beckons, but you can’t cross the finish line before visiting one of the NT’s geological wonders – Keep River National Park. Pull on your hiking boots and take to the 7km Jarnem Walk, which journeys through sandstone structures decorated with ancient Aboriginal rock art. The park is small and the 28km of the main road is dotted with more than 2500 drawings, aptly displaying the contrasting landscapes of the Victoria River and the Kimberly.
Where to stay - Kununurra town
Britz Scout 4WD in Northern Territory - Credit Mark Clinton
WHERE TO NEXT?
From Kununurra, you might choose to explore Lake Argyle, the largest man-made lake in the Southern Hemisphere. The town is also a jumping off point to the Bungle Bungles, El Questro Wilderness Park and the start of a Gibb River Road journey, read our itinerary for the Gibb River Road.
The Victoria Highway offers year-round access, although some of the mentioned roads may be closed during the wet season (September to May) due to monsoon flooding.
The Victoria Highway is a sealed road, but some of the side roads through national parks require a high-clearance four-wheel drive, and drivers should take necessary precautions to ensure a safe journey.
It’s also 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.