HIGHLIGHTS OF A NORTHERN TERRITORY ROAD TRIP FROM DARWIN
Darwin locals are so fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most spectacular national parks in Australia.
If you’re exploring the Top End of the Northern Territory then a looped road trip from Darwin taking in Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park, and Litchfield National Park is a must.
We recommend taking at least two weeks to fully explore the top end of the Northern Territory. We started in the opposite direction from Katherine Gorge and looped anti-clockwise.
If you’re flying into Darwin, hire a car and loop around whichever place you please.
Northern Territory Highlights
Nitmiluk National Park is owned by the local Jawoyn people and Katherine Gorge is the main attraction of the park. It’s a series of 13 deep sandstone gorges carved out by the Katherine River on its journey from Arnhem Land to the Timor Sea.
Only three of the gorges can be accessed via tours and activities from the main visitor centre. Visiting the other gorges involve a long five-day hike.
Here are our Katherine Gorge highlights:
Walk to the Barrawei Lookout
This was a 3.2km loop walk up to the lookout with great views over the gorge. You can do the shorter walk taking a steep climb up to the lookout from the river and back down again. Don’t forget to check out all the bats hanging from the trees as you walk along the river bank.
There are plenty of other walking trails in Nitmiluk. If we didn’t have the kids with us, I’d take on the 12km Butterfly Gorge walk.
Do the Sunrise Gorge Cruise
This two-hour Dawn Break tour will take you through to the second gorge. You get to walk 800 metres when moving from the first to the second gorge and see some rock art and get a closer appreciation of just how beautiful this gorge is.
It wasn’t until we arrived at the second gorge that I understood what the fuss was all about. It’s called the breakfast cruise, but it’s really just a bowl of fruit and a drink. Forget the eating, it’s more about the stunning scenery in the soft, morning light.
There are other cruises you can do: a longer one, which takes you into the third gorge and a sunset dinner cruise, which is meant to be awesome. Make sure you book ahead as they get very busy.
If you’re staying in Nitmiluk National Park, in the evening at sunset walk down to where the tour boats leave from and view the hundreds of fruit bats flying over the river. Amazing site to see.
Kayak into Katherine Gorge
We could not do the kayaking trip as Savannah was too young, but Craig did it previously and it came highly recommended by our community. Our friend, Nick explored the gorge on his stand up paddle board. Definitely, make a day of it and paddle into the second gorge, which I found the most beautiful.
Stay at the Nitmiluk Caravan Park
Right near the visitor centre is the Nitmiluk Caravan Park and it’s the perfect place to stay right near the entrance to Katherine Gorge, about a 30-minute drive from the town of Katherine.
You can easily walk to the gorge, it’s clean, tidy, shady and has a great swimming pool. You’ll need it!
Kakadu National Park
Ah Kakadu National Park, an Australian bucket list must. I’m already planning my return trip in a different season.
It’s hard to put into words its power, but it has an ancient mysticism urging you to explore its changing landscapes. From wetlands, to sandstone escarpments, waterfalls, swimming holes, billabongs and rivers, it teems with wildlife and abundance. Spend awhile soaking it up.
I’m not sure I’ve been to such a powerful place before. It sure made me super grateful to be born in such an exquisite country.
Kakadu National Park is Australia’s biggest National Park, and is half the size of Switzerland. You know it’s a big place when you enter through the gates and you still have a 1.5hr drive to your campground, so you will need a bit of time here.