The Top End of Australia is on most RV traveller’s bucket list so whether you are driving to the Territory or just flying in for a short visit this great little road trip is a beauty, so with some help from NT Tourism we give you the Nature’s Way…
Journey to a land of spectacular sunsets and lush green landscapes where driving is a dream. The Top End is well known for its iconic national parks, rich Indigenous culture and stunning scenery. And what better way to see this ancient land than at your own pace following one of the most memorable routes in the Northern Territory.
For a road trip with a difference, the Nature’s Way showcases a region of rare and untouched beauty. Take in the very best of the Top End, including – Darwin, Katherine, Litchfield and Kakadu National Park. Discover a range of billabongs, wetlands and rugged stone country all within 4 hours of Darwin. The route follows a fully sealed road suitable for a two-wheel-drive vehicle so it’s perfect for those travelling in a campervan or motorhome.
Begin your journey in either Darwin or Katherine and in four to seven days you can experience a range of natural and cultural destinations. Wildlife and bird watching enthusiasts can delight in the array of native Top End flora and fauna. Bring your camera; you’re definitely going to need it!
Enjoy the drive; this is an unforgettable road trip.
Tantalise your taste buds and indulge in a bit of adventure in the Territory’s capital city. Darwin is well known for its amazing food including local seafood and array of Asian cuisine. There’s a wide variety of things to do and see in Darwin; visit one of the many outdoor markets, see a saltwater crocodile up close at Crocosaurus Cove or take a dip in the wave pool at the city’s waterfront.
Sail across the harbour from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands where you can purchase your own piece of authentic Aboriginal art or learn more about Darwin’s WWII history and Cyclone Tracy’s decimation of the town in 1974 at excellent museums and memorials around the city.
Do Litchfield National Park
Located at just over an hour from Darwin, this park is generally accessible all year round. It’s a firm favourite for waterfalls and waterholes, bush walks, driving tracks and local wildlife in the Top End. Take a dip in the crystal clear waters of Florence or Wangi Falls, or relax in the shaded Buley Rockhole and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the rainforest around you.
Explore the magnetic termite mounds along the boardwalk and marvel at the fascinating two-metre-high creations skilfully made by the insects to keep cool in hot weather.
Active travellers can delight in a number of bushwalks available, including the epic 39km Tabletop Track and its little known waterfalls to the more relaxed 3.5km walk alongside pretty Walker Creek.
Avid bird watchers should keep an eye out for the Rainbow Bee-eater, Yellow Oriole, Pacific Koel, Spangled Drongo, Figbird and Dollarbird. These birds inhabit sheltered areas close to waterfalls.
There are plenty of options to stay overnight and extend your visit to Litchfield. Camping sites are scattered through the park, and at nearby caravan parks. Or book a bed and breakfast or motel room at nearby township of Batchelor.
Do Kakadu National Park
Less than 3 hours from Darwin, Kakadu is Australia’s largest National Park and one of the most iconic in the world. The region has changed very little over thousands of years with an ancient Aboriginal culture dating back more than 50,000 years. Known for its spectacular waterfalls, Aboriginal rock art and rugged escarpments, Kakadu is a timeless and magical place. A Kakadu park pass costs $25 and allows you to explore the park for 14 consecutive days. Children under 16 are free.
Not far from the Bowali Visitor Centre is Nourlangie, widely known for its rock art and a place of shelter used for thousands of years by Aboriginal people. The paintings provide a rare insight into rich spiritual tradition and can be reached by the circular 1.5 kilometre Nourlangie Rock Art Walk.
Between April and October, listen to a Park Ranger share knowledge about this ancient gallery and the relationship of the local people to their country and beliefs. Explore the three main galleries – the Anbangbang rock shelter, Anbangbang gallery and Nanguluwur art site.
Located 39km from Kakadu’s main town, Jabiru, Ubirr is generally open year round and is renowned for its unforgettable sunsets and spectacular scenery. Similarly to Nourlangie, Ubirr also has three main sites of Aboriginal rock art that visitors can view via a 1km circuit walk. The galleries depict stories of creation and a number of animals that were hunted by the local people. Animals were often painted to pay respect for giving their lives or as a record of a noteworthy catch.
Time your visit for a sunset and climb the moderately steep 250 metre track to the rocky outlook for stunning views across the floodplains.
Take time to immerse yourself in the Aboriginal culture of Kakadu on a guided tour. You’ll get a fascinating introduction to creation stores, learn of traditional bush foods and medicines, and see amazing wildlife.
Tours include wildlife cruises on rivers and billabongs throughout Kakadu, such as Yellow Water Billabong where you’ll see an astounding selection of bird life.
Kakadu has a number of park-run camping areas or alternatively you can book into a commercial campground or caravan site. The park-run campsites have no booking system – therefore, spots are on a first come, first served basis.
Head south along the Stuart Highway to Edith Falls/Leliyn, 42 kilometres north of Katherine and enjoy a swim in the paperbark and pandanus fringed natural pool at the base of the falls. Explore one of the many bush walking trails in the area including the 2.6km Leliyn Trail that takes you on a loop of steep, rocky terrain with an upper pool halfway around the trail.
The lush, grassy campsites in a scenic bush setting make Edith Falls/Leliyn an ideal spot for parking your motorhome, camping fees apply.
Discover the town of Katherine where the outback meets the tropics. Situated on the banks of the Katherine River, it’s the Northern Territory’s third largest town. Katherine is a great base to explore the surrounding six national parks and over ten nature parks, reserves and conservation areas, including Katherine Gorge.
Take a refreshing dip in the Katherine Hot Springs – a series of clear pools fed by a natural thermal spring only five minutes from town. Get an insight into the town’s heritage and visit Katherine’s museums where you can learn about the region’s World War II, pastoralist, railway and Overland Telegraph Line histories.
Katherine has a handful of accommodation options in town where you can camp, park your van or enjoy a cabin or hotel room.
Do Nitmiluk National Park
The nearby Nitmiluk National Park is home to the mighty Katherine Gorge made up of 13 gorges. Why not explore this vast National Park via helicopter or join a cruise for a unique dining experience. Feeling adventurous? Paddle up the river in a kayak! Make a stop at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre and learn about the cultural and spiritual significance of the area for its traditional owners, the Jawoyn and Dagomen people.
Stay at the nearby caravan and camping park, one of many, and take your pick of the lush green powered or unpowered sites.
Top 5 Must-Do’s for Nature’s Way
1. Visit the Mindil Beach Markets where you can choose from over 1200 exotic dishes and watch a famous Top End sunset.
2. Take a helicopter flight over Katherine Gorge for breathtaking views of Nitmiluk National Park.
3. Hike up the rocky outcrop at Ubirr and watch the sun set over the wetlands.
4. Tour to the Aboriginal art centres of Tiwi Islands and discover why their traditional artworks are world famous.
5. Take a dip at Florence or Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park.
For more information on how to do the NT, visit travelnt.com.au.