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Start your adventure of the wild north in Darwin, the tropical city nestled amongst vast natural landscapes and iconic outback sights. Explore the city before picking up your rental car and beginning your road trip to the town of Jabiru, in the famous Kakadu National Park. Take an exclusive 4WD tour to Anrhemland or simply cruise down the East Alligator River. Next, continue on through the town of Katherine and into Nitmiluk Gorge to experience the region's Indigenous culture and remote wilderness with a scenic helicopter flight through the gorges. Traverse the outback as you drive north towards the town of Batchelor and explore neighbouring Litchfield National Park. Return to Darwin to farewell the city with a spectacular sunset dinner cruise through the harbour.

Aboriginal cultureClassic driving toursNational parksWildlife & nature
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Tour summary and feature

Self Drive Tour

This suggested tour costs from AUD$3,552 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Darwin, finishes in Darwin

10 days/9 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 33 times in the last 7 days

Tour full itinerary
ITINERARY
Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 1
Private transfer Darwin Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver outside baggage carousel and delivered to your Darwin accommodation.

Darwin

Darwin is a beautiful tropical city situated on the edge of Darwin Harbour and bordering a number of national parks and reserves, creating a fascinating, diverse mix of culture, people and nature. It is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park, and the isolated Tiwi Islands. The city is also steeped in history with indigenous culture in the region dating back tens of thousands of years. Darwin also felt the full force of World War 2 when it was destroyed in a bombing attack in 1942, and so the city's wartime heritage is remembered at numerous sites across the region. Experience the history on a wartime experience guided tour, explore WWII sites by adventuring on off-road vehicles through a nearby national park, or immerse yourself in the Dreamtime stories and traditions through a number of indigenous cultural experiences on offer.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Charles Darwin Dinner Cruise with Darwin Harbour Cruises

With beautiful views of the Top End city, there is no better way to experience Darwin’s renowned sunsets than on board the Charles Darwin. Enjoy a Territory-style dinner with fresh seafood and local produce. This two and a half hour cruise is the perfect way to experience Darwin’s world-famous sunsets.

Your accommodation: Argus Apartments Darwin

Set within the heart of Darwin, Argus Apartments Darwin consists of luxury apartments and penthouse suites. Just a short walk away from Darwin's entertainment, restaurant and waterfront precincts, this is Darwin's premier luxury accommodation from which to explore the Darwin surrounds and city tourist sites.

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 2
Explore Darwin

Darwin has a fantastic mix of things to do, whether you are joining a tour or going the self-guided route. Make sure you head to Mindil Beach Sunset Market and wander the multitude of stalls. Join a sunset harbour cruise and soak up the sunset with drinks and canapes. Catch a film under the stars at the outdoor Deckchair Cinema (known as "The Deckie" to locals); all screenings start at 7:30pm and local eateries have food stalls to keep your hunger at bay.
There are more crocodiles in the Northern Territory than anywhere else in the world, so jump in a boat or visit Crocosaurus Cove and meet the real locals. If you're looking to stretch your legs, visit the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. These beautiful, exotic gardens are home to some spectacular plant species that provide a tropical oasis where you can learn about their natural and cultural history.

Darwin City Sights Half Day Tour with AAT Kings

Join a city sights tour for the perfect introduction to Darwin, with expert commentary by a local guide. Learn about Darwin's role in WWII at the aviation museum and see a B-52 Bomber, one of 19 aircrafts on display. There is also time available to explore the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, whose collections encompass Aboriginal art, visual arts, and Northern Territory history and natural sciences. See the lush Botanic Gardens, one of the few gardens that has marine and estuarine plants naturally in its grounds.

Your accommodation: Argus Apartments Darwin

Set within the heart of Darwin, Argus Apartments Darwin consists of luxury apartments and penthouse suites. Just a short walk away from Darwin's entertainment, restaurant and waterfront precincts, this is Darwin's premier luxury accommodation from which to explore the Darwin surrounds and city tourist sites.

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 3
Choose your style of rental vehicle

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. From economy hatchbacks to SUVs, we can help you decide on a car suitable for this leg of your trip. Insurance can often be included with a small excess or deductible.

Kakadu National Parks Pass

The Kakadu National Parks Pass allows entry to explore ancient sites such as Ubirr, Jim Jim Falls, Burrunkguy and Maguk. You will be required to keep your Kakadu National Parks accessible when within the National Park and produce to Park Rangers upon request.

Darwin to Jabiru

Set off from Darwin eastbound towards Humpty Doo, the home of the Aboriginal Didgeridoo Hut and Art Gallery. If you're interested in learning more about the local culture the local artists at the gallery can teach you about bush food and medicine, weaving, spear throwing, and playing the didgeridoo. Back on the road, keep an eye out for the Big Boxing Crocodile as you travel along the highway. After about 32km, you will reach the town of Wak Wak, where you can join a Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise. Seize the opportunity to get up close and personal with these giant, prehistoric creatures from the safety of your boat. This one hour cruise will take you out on the Adelaide River and entice crocodiles up to 6 metres long to jump.
If you're interested in learning more about the local culture, head down the road to the family-run Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours where you will learn about local bush food and medicine, weaving, spear throwing and playing the didgeridoo.
When you are ready, continue travelling east on Arnhem Highway. Mary River National Park is a beautiful wetland reserve located down the road from Wak Wak. Bird lovers will be spoiled with the diversity of species living here and will have plenty of opportunities to spot them while cruising the billabongs. For the anglers out there you can also enjoy world-class fishing, with the opportunity to catch barramundi, getting up to 1.4m in length!
From here it is a very straightforward drive to Jabiru, the main township of Kakadu National Park.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Guluyambi Cultural Cruise

Take a journey on the East Alligator River on the Guluyambi Cruise with a local Aboriginal guide. This provides you with an insight into their culture & local mythology, the river’s abundant food chain, traditional uses for many plants & animals as well as bush survival skills. 'Guluyambi' means paperbark raft, however, don't fret, this vessel will safely travel up and down the East Alligator river, revealing the wonderful pristine wilderness of Kakadu National Park. There is also an opportunity to step off the boat into Arnhem Land and witness spear throwing. At the upstream boat ramp where you will embark on the Guluyambi Cruise, there are sometimes local artists painting using traditional methods. If you wish to purchase any pieces of art at the boat ramp, please bring cash as card is not accepted.

Your accommodation: Aurora Kakadu Lodge

Experience Kakadu accommodation, set in tranquil tropical surrounds. In the middle of Australia’s largest national park, Aurora Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park is the ideal base while you experience all that this unique world heritage national park has to offer.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 240 kms / 149 miles : 2.5 hours

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 4
Kakadu National Park, NT

Covering nearly 20,000 square kilometres, World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is Australia's biggest national park, filled with ancient landscapes. Here you will find stunning waterfalls, lush rainforest, spectacular wetlands and swimming pools, and the oldest Indigenous rock art in the world. Although this remote, untouched outback land is just 3 hour's drive from the city of Darwin, you will feel like you are a world away. This treasured region is filled with adventure opportunities, from learning the cultural significance of Australia's most prominent rock art at Ubirr, cruising along Yellow Water Billabong or the East Alligator River, touring to stunning Koolpin Gorge, or walking through monsoon rainforest to reach crystal-clear plunge pools at Maguk, there is an awe-inspiring experience here for everyone. If you prefer to take it easy, the view from Nourlangie at sunset is nothing short of a spiritual experience and one that can't be missed. If you're looking for a unique experience celebrating cultural diversity and community, check out the annual Mahbilil Festival celebrating Kurrung season (late august to early September).

Arnhemlander Cultural & Heritage 4WD Day Tour with Kakadu Cultural Tours - Lunch Included

This journey into Arnhem Land takes you to some of the oldest rock art sites in the world and provides an opportunity to understand what life was like early settlement. Cross over the infamous Cahill's Crossing and spend the day exploring one of the most remote regions in Australia, Arnhem Land. Experience the excitement of Cahill's Crossing on a 4wd vehicle, getting up close to crocodiles as they stalk barramundi. Only accessible by permit, Arnhem Land has incredible sandstone escarpments, outcrops, rock art sites, forests, floodplains and billabongs with birdlife. Your experienced guide will explain the importance of this land for the Aboriginal traditional owners, the Bininj people and talk about life in Gunbalunya (Oenpelli). You'll also stop at Injalak Arts and Crafts Centre where there will be time to browse and purchase the breathtaking art made by local artists.

Your accommodation: Aurora Kakadu Lodge

Experience Kakadu accommodation, set in tranquil tropical surrounds. In the middle of Australia’s largest national park, Aurora Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park is the ideal base while you experience all that this unique world heritage national park has to offer.

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 5
Jabiru to Nitmiluk National Park

The drive from Jabiru to Nitmiluk is a 3 1/2 hour beautiful journey along the National Highway 1 through Kakadu National Park. Roughly 1 hour down the road you will pass through Gulung Mardulk. This beautiful small rural town has a lovely natural infinity pool at the base of a waterfall which can be reached along a 200m accessible flat track. If you are up for a challenge there is a steep 1km hike to the top of the falls, giving breath-taking views of a series of small infinity pools and the top of the waterfall. Further along from Gulung you will reach Pine Creek, a small historical heritage town from the 1800's, known as the gold mining capital of the Northern Territory with plenty of attractions to discover. If you are into heritage, history and wildlife then it is worth visiting to learn about what it must have been like to live and work here in centuries gone by. From here it is approximately 45 minutes to the must-see Leliyn (Edith) Falls. With shady lawns, a kiosk, and a freshwater natural plunge pool at the base of the falls, the park is a little slice of paradise.
From here, it is a further 60 minutes to your base in Nitmiluk National Park, just beyond the town of Katherine - where the outback meets the tropics and nature comes alive.

Nitmiluk National Park

Located on the lands of the Jawoyn people, approximately 320 kilometres south of Darwin in the Katherine region in the Northern Territory, lies Nitmiluk National Park. The gorges and surrounds hold great ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who are the custodians of Nitmiluk National Park. Nitmiluk Gorge has been carved out of the sandstone cliffs of the Katherine River over the course of thousands of years, explore this 12-kilometre-long series of 13 magnificent gorges in this world-famous park on foot, by water, or by air. Walking tracks abound in Nitmiluk; there are over 100 kilometres of walking trails, allowing visitors an up close and personal opportunity to meet the local wildlife, including freshwater crocodiles, ospreys, wallabies, red-tailed black cockatoos, and red-winged parrots. Paddling explorers can hire canoes from the visitor’s centre and go at their own pace, allowing for full immersion amongst the dramatic red cliffs. Or opt for a view of this spectacular area by air via a scenic helicopter flight.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Nabilil Dreaming Sunset Dinner Tour

Considered the jewel in the crown of the Nitmiluk experience, sit back and relax as the tranquil surroundings transport you into a spiritual world of the Jawoyn culture and history.
Discover the stories and ways of the Jawoyn people against the magnificent backdrop of the Nitmiluk Gorge, changing colour with the setting sun, and concluding with the shimmering of the stars and the moon. The cruise has its own chef and waitstaff, so you won’t have to worry about moving from the comfort of your seat as all your food and beverage needs are taken care of.

Your accommodation: Nitmiluk Cabins

Here at the cabins on the Nitmiluk Campgrounds overlooking the Katherine River, you'll find Australian natural beauty and wildlife right on your doorstep. Just 600m from the river jetty and set amongst the highlights of the Katherine Gorge, this is the ideal base for exploring the outback and relaxing by the pool in the balmy afternoons.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 332 kms / 206 miles : 3.5 hours

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 6
8 Gorge Scenic Helicopter Flight

Nitmiluk Heli-Touring is the sole operator permitted to land within the National Park. Depart from the helipad located a three-minute drive from the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre and take off over the park enjoying the magnificent views of Nitmiluk Gorge, the Arnhem Land escarpment and local wildlife. You will have a landing opportunity above the tranquil tenth gorge, where a short 50 metre walk will take you to a unique and breathtaking photo location. Not accessible by road, you’ll have this secluded location all to yourselves allowing you to feel a deep connection to the natural wonders of Nitmiluk Gorge.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - NitNit Dreaming Two Gorge Tour

The NitNit Dreaming cruise is one of the most popular tours in the region. A boat will take you to the end of the first gorge, where you will experience the beauty of the large boulders, rock pools and sands that make up the crossover to the second gorge. Along the way, cultural guides will share their knowledge about plants, animals, Dreamtime stories and culture. Surrounded by the limestone escarpment, the scenery is second to none. Immerse yourself in the cultural significance and geology of the park - discover historical facts, such as how the river has been named.

Your accommodation: Nitmiluk Cabins

Here at the cabins on the Nitmiluk Campgrounds overlooking the Katherine River, you'll find Australian natural beauty and wildlife right on your doorstep. Just 600m from the river jetty and set amongst the highlights of the Katherine Gorge, this is the ideal base for exploring the outback and relaxing by the pool in the balmy afternoons.

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 7
Nitmiluk National Park to Litchfield Tourist Park

Make sure you have your water bottles filled as you depart Nitmiluk, travel through Katherine and northwest along the Stuart Highway. Just before crossing the Ferguson River, you may wish to take a right and detour to the stunning Edith Falls and take a swim in the paperbark and pandanus-fringed natural pool. Back on the highway, cross Wardie Creek before reaching the township of Pine Creek, home of the delicious Kensington Pride mangoes at Pine Cree Mango Plantation. Continue on through the towns of Adelaide River and Tortilla Flats before turning left off the highway at Crater Lake Road and then Batchelor Road. Pass through the Batchelor township and continue along the B30 highway for another 15 minutes until you reach the Litchfield Tourist Park on the left.

Batchelor, NT

Batchelor is a small settlement town in the Northern Territory of Australia, best known for serving as the entrance point for Litchfield National Park, and while many visitors have their eye set on the national park, Batchelor is also worthwhile investigating. Its history includes service as a major air force base during World War II and the town was important in uranium mining during the early Cold War years. The Batchelor Heritage Walk offers further insight into the significant indigenous, farming, and mining history of the area, with explanatory signs along the walk, as does the Batchelor Museum. Batchelor is also home to Batchelor Institute, which caters specifically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The Coomalie Cultural Centre conducts artist residencies, cultural projects, and exhibitions and also hosts a retail space of locally made art and crafts.

Your accommodation: Litchfield Tourist Park

Litchfield Tourist Park provides family-friendly, cabin-style accommodations conveniently located at the doorstep of the magnificent Litchfield National Park, making it an ideal base to explore all that the area has to offer. Litchfield offers guests barbecue facilities, a swimming pool, a café, and the tranquillity of the Finnis River running through the property.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 278 kms / 173 miles : 2.9 hours

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 8
Litchfield National Park

Just a 90-minute drive southwest of Darwin lies Litchfield National Park. The park covers approximately 1,500 square kilometres and is home to an abundance of misty, spring-fed waterfalls, scenic walks, 4WD tracks, lush waterholes for swimming, and plenty of camping accommodation options. During your stay, keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of hundreds of species of fauna, such as wallabies, sugar gliders, flying foxes, or dragon-like water monitor lizards, often spotted basking on warm rocks. Take the boardwalk to view the 2-metre-tall magnetic termite mounds and wonder at the impressive feats of insect architecture. Wangi Falls is the most well-known attraction in the park, Florence Falls, Tolmer Falls, and the three-tiered pools of Buley Rockhole are all similarly popular attractions within the park.  

Your accommodation: Litchfield Tourist Park

Litchfield Tourist Park provides family-friendly, cabin-style accommodations conveniently located at the doorstep of the magnificent Litchfield National Park, making it an ideal base to explore all that the area has to offer. Litchfield offers guests barbecue facilities, a swimming pool, a café, and the tranquillity of the Finnis River running through the property.

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 9
Litchfield Tourist Park to Darwin

Jump on the B30 highway and head east through Rum Jungle and Batchelor on your 1 hour drive to Darwin. Back on Highway 1 you will pass through the Manton Dam which is a watersport fanatic's dream. This is a highly popular destination for recreational watercraft and a perfect place stop for a picnic lunch. Further along the journey you will reach the McMinns Lagoon, a favourite spot to stretch your legs and wander along one of the many walking tracks in the 41 hectares of unspoilt wetlands. The lagoon is also a very favoured location for photographers to capture the beauty of the surroundings. Carry on to reach your destination Darwin, the tropical capital of the Northern Territory and the gateway to the Kakadu National Park.

Your accommodation: Argus Apartments Darwin

Set within the heart of Darwin, Argus Apartments Darwin consists of luxury apartments and penthouse suites. Just a short walk away from Darwin's entertainment, restaurant and waterfront precincts, this is Darwin's premier luxury accommodation from which to explore the Darwin surrounds and city tourist sites.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 111 kms / 69 miles : 1.3 hours

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Darwin & Nature's Way Circuit - Day 10
Return your vehicle to Darwin airport

Explore more of Darwin before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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