Days
10
Price from
$2,322AUD

Explore the Top End, travel through the Red Centre and end your journey in the wine-loving region of South Australia.

Cross the Australian mainland, from the tropical Top End down to South Australia's capital, on a ten-day journey through the Red Centre. Hike up to Maguk for a soak in one of Kakadu's most scenically situated swimming spots, spend a night camped out in the Mary River Wetlands and check out the cascades and giant termite mounds of Litchfield. Trade the 24-hour drive to Alice for a flight, and enjoy three days exploring Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon). Bunk down underground in Coober Pedy, visit a kangaroo orphanage and explore the Flinders Ranges by foot before winding the journey up in Adelaide.


Start
Darwin, Australia
Finish
Adelaide, Australia
Destination
Northern Territory, Kakadu, Uluru, Outback, South Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer, Overland, Walking & Trekking, Wildlife
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1, Max 24
Code
PKBDC

Why we love this trip

  • Skip the traffic and fly between Darwin and Alice Springs, turn a 24 hour commute into about 2

  • Get back to basics with this classic ten-day overland adventure. See the highlights and national parks of Australia's Top End in rugged, authentic style

  • Enjoy the flexibility of a private vehicle, the local knowledge of a passionate guide and the magic of camping under the great southern sky

  • Learn about the ancient culture and traditions of the Limilngan-Wulna people as they invite you into their community with a traditional 'Welcome to Country'

  • The Mary River Wetlands feature a wealth of wildlife, including the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the southern hemisphere. Get up close to the snappy beasts on a billabong cruise

  • Discover the wonders of Kakadu National Park. Get adventurous on a 4WD tour to the spectacular Jim Jim Falls and see the ancient Aboriginal rock art of Ubirr

  • Get up early and see the sun rise over Uluru

  • See some beautifully remote please in the Flinders ranges

  • Check out one of the strangest towns in Australia - built underground

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a basic trip, covering the highlights of Australia's Top End, Red Centre and the Flinders Ranges down to Adelaide.

  • You'll spend some nights of the trip sleeping in outback camping grounds. While conditions can be basic and facilities are minimal, this is all part of the adventure. You'll also need to pitch in with preparing meals and cleaning. This is part of the experience of travelling in a group.

  • This trip requires a moderate level of fitness as it involves a lot of walking, allowing you to truly enjoy the surrounding nature. Some hikes are longer and more challenging than others. Please bring sturdy, comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing.

  • This trip is BASIX and we use mixed gender multishare accommodation. This means, the minimum age for the trip is 18 years old because minors aren't able to sleep in mixed gender rooms.

  • Temperatures in the Top End be extreme. During the day the weather can be hot (and the Australian sun is strong) so please bring appropriate clothing, use sun protection and drink plenty of water. In the evenings temperatures really drop, so ensure you have base layers and warm clothing.

Itinerary

Originally established as a pioneer outpost, the Darwin of today – flourishing with outdoor markets, out-there festivals and a prize-winning waterfront wavepool – has a contemporary and cosmopolitan feel to it. Even so, it’s the attractions surrounding the city that generally inspire a visit. Setting off by 4WD, we’ll travel into Wulna country: traditional home of the Limilngan–Wulna people. Following a traditional ‘welcome to country’ (known as a ‘Cul-Cul’), our hosts will introduce us to their culture through a series of educational workshops and presentations. By the end you’ll know where to find bush tucker, how to weave a basket and have mastered the didgeridoo (ok, probably not). Next stop is the Mary River Wetlands, a swathe of interflowing waterways home to more than 250 species of bird and the southern hemisphere’s densest population of saltwater crocodiles. Following an afternoon boat cruise through these lily-padded floodplains it’s on and into World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Final activity for the day is a short hike up to Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) for a dip in its natural plunge pool.

Note: Total driving time today is around five hours. Total walking time is approximately one hour.

Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mary River cruise
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today you’ll see why we drive 4WDs, not mini-coopers. Heading off-road, we’ll roll our way through Kakadu to Jim Jim Falls – the falls so nice they named them twice. A few hundred million years ago, the Arnhem Land escarpment was a shelf beneath a huge shallow sea. Today it’s where the Jim Jim Falls plunge 200 m down stepped cliffs into a tree-shaded pool. We’ll break for lunch here, perhaps have a swim, and then press on to Ubirr for a guided cultural interpretative walk through one of the world’s oldest art galleries. After taking in expansive views across the Nardab floodplain, we turn in at our permanent campsite in Mary River National Park.

Note: Total driving time today is around seven hours. Total walking distance is approximately 3 kilometres, some of which is along challenging terrain.

Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Ubirr Rock
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
A rambling sprawl of woodlands, rock holes and waterfalls, Litchfield National Park is one of the Top End’s greatest natural treasures. While named after Frederick Henry Litchfield (the first European to visit the region), the area is the traditional homeland of the Mak Mak Marranunggu, Werat, Kungarkan and Warai Indigenous language groups. A network of roads interweave the park, crossing creeks, passing through pockets of monsoon rainforest, and occasionally being interrupted by massive termite mounds. We’ll stop in for swims in Florence Falls, Wangi Falls and the Buley Rockholes, then enjoy a picnic lunch before driving back to Darwin for a night. Hit the road and head back to Darwin. After you've arrived, you might like to head out for a night on the town with your new friends after checking into your hostel, the Melaleuca on Mitchell.

Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Litchfield National Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today, skip the 1,500km of driving which is about 24 hours by road, and fly from Darwin to Alice Springs with Qantas Airways. Qantas was Australia's first commercial airline, and stands for "Queensland and Northern Territory Ariel Services" and is now one of the worlds best International airlines.

We'll arrange your air tickets and issue them a couple of weeks prior to your departure. On arrival in Alice Springs, someone will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Tonight, you’ll be staying at the Alice Lodge Backpackers. (no meals included)
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Airport Transfers
  • Qantas Flight
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
It may not be the comfiest mode of transport in the world, but hopping on a camel for a saunter through the sands gives a great insight into how outback Australia would have appeared to its early explorers. Camels were the vehicles best suited to traversing Australia’s inhospitable interior in those days; you’ll come to understand why during a visit to an outback camel farm. Back on the road, prepare for a pretty remarkable drive to Uluru (Ayers Rock). It’s really quite incredible to think that this dry, barren and relatively featureless landscape extends for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers in any direction. Following lunch, it’s on to Kata Tjuta – the many-headed rock formation more commonly known as The Olgas. Returning to Uluru, enjoy a glass of bubbles as the sun sets over Uluru before settling in back at camp.

Note: Total driving time today is around five and a half hours. Total walking time is approximately one hour.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Fee
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Provided that you rise early enough, watching the sun rear up over Australia’s biggest natural attraction makes for a pretty memorable start to the day. Following a bit of free time set aside for exploring Uluru’s base at your own pace, join an indigenous guide for a cultural interpretative walk that explains this sacred rock’s significance to the local Mala people. There’s more opportunity for learning about the traditions of one of the world’s oldest surviving cultures at the on site Cultural Centre. Then we drive on to our night’s camp in Watarrka National Park.

Note: Total driving time today is around three and a half hours. Total walking time is approximately two hours.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mala cultural interpretative walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Deep within the craggy, torn-up terrain of Watarrka National Park lies Kings Canyon, a lush gully flourishing with native flora and natural springs. The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is the highlight attraction here. Starting off as an easy stroll along the canyon’s edge, we’ll trek down into the chasm itself, enter the lushly vegetated Garden of Eden and wander through the strange rock domes that populate the Lost City. Tonight’s accommodation is at a permanent campsite in Erldunda.

Note: Total driving time today is around three hours. Total walking time is approximately two and half hours hour.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
A bit of road-time and we’re over the Northern Territory border into South Australia and the underground opal-mining town of Coober Pedy. Aside from producing the majority of the world’s opals, Coober Pedy is where much of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was filmed. Serious fans of the film can even venture down into Jebediah’s dugout house (for a small charge). If you just want to see how Coober Pedy’s residents actually live, we’ve arranged a tour of the town’s major underground attractions. In free time you might like to try your luck ‘noodling’ for opals or go visit the rescued joeys of Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage. At day’s end you’ll be bunking down in an underground bunkhouse.

Note: Total driving time today is around four and a half hours. Total walking time is approximately half an hour.
Accommodation
  • Underground Multishare (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
We have some distance to cover today – 580 km to be exact – but we’ll break the drive up with some interesting little stop offs along the way. First is the tiny town of Glendambo, home to 22,500 sheep and 30 human beings, followed by the salt lakes of Central Australia. Sticking to the Stuart Highway we’ll pass the government weapons testing range of Woomera, which covers roughly one-seventh of the South Australian state. After stopping for lunch, we pass through Port Augusta and over the Pichi Richi Pass into the historical railway township of Quorn, where our night’s accommodation is in the historical ‘Mill’.

Note: Total driving time today is around six hours. Total walking time is approximately half an hour.
Accommodation
  • Dormitory (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Naturally spectacular, archaeologically significance and of great cultural importance to the Adnyamathanha people, the Flinders Ranges is one of Australia’s premier national landscapes. We’ll begin the day with a short hike through the park’s rocky ridges, hopefully being able to spy Quorn and Spencer’s Gulf from the top of Dutchman’s Stern. Back on the road, watch the arid, craggy terrain morph into the soft, vineyard-draped hills of the Clare Valley – one of Australia’s oldest wine regions – before finishing the journey up in Adelaide.

Note: Total driving time today is around three and a half hours. Total walking time is approximately two hours.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Dormitory (1 night), Hostel (2 nights), Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (3 nights), Permanent, furnished tented camp (with shared facilities) (2 nights), Underground Multishare (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Mary River cruise
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Ubirr Rock
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Airport Transfers
  • Qantas Flight
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Fee
  • Mala cultural interpretative walk
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Darwin on day 1 at 6am and finishes in Adelaide at approx 6pm on day 10. Flights must be booked the following day.
2. This trip requires a sleeping bag
3. Trip also runs in reverse POBAC

Essential Trip Information

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