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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour

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Darwin is a hub for diverse culture and, nestled amongst an abundance of national parks, the perfect gateway for exploring Australia's tropical wilderness and where it meets the true outback. Begin by exploring the historical sights of Darwin and take some time to visit the toothy-grinned locals at Crocosaurus Cove. Enjoy a guided tour of Litchfield National Park and its ancient stone country while learning of the region's unique history. Next, it's time to roadtrip to the famous Kakadu National Park for both a natural and cultural immersion. From here, journey to Katherine and spend two days in Nitmiluk National Park, before returning to Darwin and farewell the Top End with a sunset dinner cruise. May through to October is the best time to embark on this trip of a lifetime due to the warm sunny days and balmy evenings in the 'winterless north'.

Aboriginal cultureBeachesWildlife & nature
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Self Drive Tour

This suggested tour costs from AUD$5,120 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Darwin, finishes in Darwin

10 days/9 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Rental car included

 Viewed 10 times in the last 7 days

Tour full itinerary
ITINERARY
Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - 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.

Your accommodation: Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront

Perfectly positioned amongst the entertainment and dining hub of Darwin’s seafront promenade, Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront is surrounded by great shopping, a range of Territorian pubs, as well as some of the most amazing restaurants and cafés in the NT. Whether you're tasting craft beers at The Precinct Tavern, enjoying hand crafted menus at Il Lido or Wharf One, or trying NT favourites at the Oyster Bar or Hot Tamale, you'll feel right at home at this picturesque location.

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - 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.

Crocosaurus Cove - General Admission

Be introduced to the World’s largest display of Australian reptiles and some of the largest Saltwater Crocodiles in the world, right in the heart of Darwin City. Crocosaurus Cove is passionate about showcasing the huge array of reptiles found primarily in the Top End of Australia. Meet a variety of critters that you are likely to encounter at various times of the year across the Kimberley, Kakadu & Litchfield National Parks and Arnhem Land regions and further afield to the Central Australian desert. It is these unique landscapes that are home to the many varieties of species that you will encounter at Crocosaurus Cove. From the freshwater aquarium’s Barramundi, Whipray & Turtles to 70 reptile species on display in the Reptile House and the active juvenile crocodiles in the Fishing for Crocs area, Crocosaurus Cove provides the perfect introduction to your Northern Territory adventure.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Gourmet Lunch & Art Tour with Darwin Gourmet Tours

Darwin Gourmet Tours guides you to the best of Darwin’s food scene with an escorted four hour easy walking tour. Enjoy a welcome drink at your first restaurant as chefs and staff present tasting plates (degustation) with an emphasis on local produce and Aboriginal bush foods. The rotating roster of restaurants includes Hanuman, Phat Mango, Aboriginal Bush Traders, PepperBerry Restaurant at the Hilton, Little Miss Korea, Moorish, Ruby, Char, Snapper Rocks, Roma Bar, Chow, Bannsang and other top dining places. Stop in at a non-profit Aboriginal-owned art gallery and store between restaurants. Coffee, tea and standard soft drinks are included. During the short walks between venues, your guide will also show you cultural and historic landmarks and bring Darwin’s vibrant street artworks to life.

Your accommodation: Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront

Perfectly positioned amongst the entertainment and dining hub of Darwin’s seafront promenade, Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront is surrounded by great shopping, a range of Territorian pubs, as well as some of the most amazing restaurants and cafés in the NT. Whether you're tasting craft beers at The Precinct Tavern, enjoying hand crafted menus at Il Lido or Wharf One, or trying NT favourites at the Oyster Bar or Hot Tamale, you'll feel right at home at this picturesque location.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - Day 3
Litchfield Day Tour with Ethical Adventures

Explore the ancient stone country and savannah woodlands seeking pristine creeks, water holes and cascading waterfalls of Litchfield National Park. Get to know the colourful regional history and learn some unique bush survival skills. Savour the flavours of the Top End with homemade and prepared snacks and lunch options as well as all the other personal touches that only a dedicated small group experience can provide. During this tour you will see many stunning natural aspects which makes the Top End unique as well as taking in the history, culture and deeds of those that live and have lived in this far country.

Your accommodation: Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront

Perfectly positioned amongst the entertainment and dining hub of Darwin’s seafront promenade, Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront is surrounded by great shopping, a range of Territorian pubs, as well as some of the most amazing restaurants and cafés in the NT. Whether you're tasting craft beers at The Precinct Tavern, enjoying hand crafted menus at Il Lido or Wharf One, or trying NT favourites at the Oyster Bar or Hot Tamale, you'll feel right at home at this picturesque location.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - Day 4
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.

Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise

Today, you will cruise a spectacular, untouched river and witness the iconic saltwater crocodile in action. An experienced crew will teach you about the biology and ecology of these creatures and the Adelaide River they inhabit. Onboard a purpose-built vessel, every seat guarantees a perfect view (no glass!) of the river and banks of Djukbinj National Park as you cruise into the wilds of the Northern Territory. With a focus on your safety and sustainable practices, you will have an unforgettable experience.

Explore Jabiru

Jabiru is a hub for experiencing the best of Kakadu National Park. Consider crossing Cahills, the world's deadliest river crossing, on a day tour which explores Arnhem Land, a region characterised by rocky escarpments and incredible reminders of Australia's history with rock art up to 50,000 years old. Walk the path around the Jabiru Lake, once built as a recreational lake before being inhabited by crocodiles and a great place for bird watching, before finishing up at Marrawuddi, the local art gallery. Drive 5 minutes or walk the 5km return path to explore the information at Bowali Visitors Centre before heading out to Burrunkuy (Nourlangie) where you will find World Heritage rock art, accessible by easy-to-access walks, ranging from 30 minutes to 6 hours. Head back onto the Kakadu Highway, past the Mirray lookout to Cooinda, where you will find Warradjan Cultural Centre, complete with Aboriginal displays, artefacts and a shop selling a range of artwork, books and crafts completed by local artists. Wildlife cruises on the South Alligator River in Cooinda allow you to get up close to crocodiles and learn more about the fascinating bird species in the region.

Your accommodation: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Famous for its outward design in which the hotel is meretriciously shaped like a female crocodile, the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is an oasis with comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool and restaurant onsite. Located centrally within the township of Jabiru, here is the ideal base to explore Kakadu National Park and be immersed in culture and the Australian Outback.
Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - Day 5
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: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Famous for its outward design in which the hotel is meretriciously shaped like a female crocodile, the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is an oasis with comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool and restaurant onsite. Located centrally within the township of Jabiru, here is the ideal base to explore Kakadu National Park and be immersed in culture and the Australian Outback.
Meals included: Lunch

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - Day 6
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.

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: Cicada Lodge

Cicada Lodge is designed for the sophisticated traveller looking for an authentic Indigenous and natural Australian “experience-of-a-lifetime,” in the heart of Northern Australia’s timeless north. A sanctuary of elegant comfort, the Lodge provides a level of excellence in accommodation, service and dining. Cicada Lodge features 18 rooms, all of which are air conditioned and feature full-length louvered doors to private balconies.
Meals included: Dinner

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

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - Day 7
Footsteps of our Ancestors Hands on Experience

This hands-on experience will see you welcomed by members of the local Indigenous community - the Jawoyn people. Spend the day with the Jawoyn, sharing their culture learning their ways, and trying your hand at some of the skills their ancestors have developed over tens of thousands of years. You will get to enjoy basket weaving, spear throwing, fire lighting with traditional methods, painting, and even learning to play the didgeridoo. A traditional meal of barbecued meat and fresh salads will be served for lunch. Dietary requirements catered for!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

Your accommodation: Cicada Lodge

Cicada Lodge is designed for the sophisticated traveller looking for an authentic Indigenous and natural Australian “experience-of-a-lifetime,” in the heart of Northern Australia’s timeless north. A sanctuary of elegant comfort, the Lodge provides a level of excellence in accommodation, service and dining. Cicada Lodge features 18 rooms, all of which are air conditioned and feature full-length louvered doors to private balconies.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - Day 8
Nitmiluk National Park to Darwin

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, passing Manton Dam which is a 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. Carry along Highway 1 to reach Darwin, the tropical capital of the Northern Territory and the gateway to many world-renowned national parks.

Your accommodation: Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront

Perfectly positioned amongst the entertainment and dining hub of Darwin’s seafront promenade, Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront is surrounded by great shopping, a range of Territorian pubs, as well as some of the most amazing restaurants and cafés in the NT. Whether you're tasting craft beers at The Precinct Tavern, enjoying hand crafted menus at Il Lido or Wharf One, or trying NT favourites at the Oyster Bar or Hot Tamale, you'll feel right at home at this picturesque location.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 345 kms / 214 miles : 3.5 hours

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - Day 9
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: Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront

Perfectly positioned amongst the entertainment and dining hub of Darwin’s seafront promenade, Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront is surrounded by great shopping, a range of Territorian pubs, as well as some of the most amazing restaurants and cafés in the NT. Whether you're tasting craft beers at The Precinct Tavern, enjoying hand crafted menus at Il Lido or Wharf One, or trying NT favourites at the Oyster Bar or Hot Tamale, you'll feel right at home at this picturesque location.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Best of the Tropical Outback Tour - 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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