Doing a road trip is one of the best ways to see Australia. There is something so exciting about the open road, the ever changing scenery, beautiful beaches and the vast nothingness ahead of you.
I felt like my one year in Australia went by so fast and sadly the end was approaching so what better way to end your time in a country than by doing a huge road trip to fully experience everything Australia has to offer.
The road trip was 15,000 km in total over seven weeks from Darwin to Brisbane. That’s a lot of mileage in such a short time! Australia is a HUGE country.
One thing to keep in mind when planning a road trip no matter what size, is to be flexible with times and not be set to an exact schedule. Every day is different and you may decide you want to go in a different direction than originally planned. The whole idea is to enjoy and have the time of your life. Anything can happen and you have to be willing to accept the good or bad and just go with the flow!
The itinerary as originally planned from Darwin to Broome for the first part of the trip looked something like this over 10 days.
- Darwin to Litchfield
- Litchfield to Kakadu Natiional Park
- Kakadu to Katherine
- Katherine to Kununurra
- Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing
- Fitzroy Crossing to Broome
First Stop Darwin!
The flight from Brisbane to Darwin was reasonably priced and only a few hours. Darwin is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen it and really blew my mind how spectacular the sky looked. After spending a few lazy days in the insane heat hanging by the hostel pool, it was time pick up the rental station wagon and hit the road to Litchfield National Park.
The station wagon, which was to be home for the next seven weeks was rented through a fantastic rental company called Travellers Autobarn. They provide great service throughout the entire length of your trip and any issue with the car is fully covered given you go with the full insurance package. I couldn’t recommend them more.
The feeling of driving down the highway knowing you are about to embark on a 2 month road trip is so freeing and exciting, it’s hard to put into words. But, every trip comes with its ups and downs and the first night was definitely a difficult one.
Litchfeld Park – After leaving Darwin a little too late heading to Litchfield, there wasn’t quite enough prep time to get the car set-up for camp. (Note: give yourself ample time to set-up camp each night stopping before the sun sets to avoid animals on the road, mossies, and to just plain know what you are doing.)
Wangi Falls campsite offers a great camping spot and its so close to Wangi Falls.
The goal was to set-up the air mattress in the back of the station wagon and sleep in the car. Learned hard and fast the first time this was not ideal. Northern Territory is HOT, HOT, HUMID and HOT. You can’t have the windows too far down for sleeping (unless you have really good bug nets) as the bugs are insane and you want to avoid the chance of someone breaking in. The car was suffocating, I never sweat so much in my life and was seriously missing that nice hostel with the pool in Darwin. Lesson learned, the tent was going to be the new bedroom.
Minus that crazy first night, Litchfield National Park is a beautiful and wild place roughly an hour outside of Darwin. Filled with breathtaking waterfalls and watering holes to swim in, trails to hike and the famous giant termite mounds. Beware there can be fresh water crocodiles in the watering holes so swim at your own risk, I opted to just take in the beauty from land.
After Litchfield Park, Adelaide River was the next stop for an experience everyone must do in the Northern Territory – Crocodile Tour!
A company called Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise offers a fantastic deal, $40 dollars for about a one hour boat tour on the water and worth every penny! The staff are well educated and experienced croc tour guides and have been operating on the river for many years. This is the best way in my opinion to get up close with nature and really see how amazing and powerful these creatures are. Truly magnificent and terrifying at the same time!
Next stop was Kakadu National Park, Australia’s largest national park, which is absolutely breathtaking and you feel like you are in a prehistoric jungle. The park itself is thousands and thousands of years old and rich with history including aboriginal rock art. There are many things to do in the park including waterfalls, trails to hike, off-roading, tours and much more.
The Northern Territory is wild, beautiful and so different from other states in the country. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Australia. It was so amazing to see how much the landscape would change as the Western Australia border crept closer and closer. The biggest change I noticed is the redness in the earth. After not seeing the ocean for 10 days, the excitement levels were high to reach Broome as its known to have some of the best beaches in Australia including Cable Beach which is part of the Indian Ocean. Broome is also home to some of the most mesmerizing sunsets which make for great photos!
It was heaven to spend a few days in Broome relaxing at a hostel with a pool and being near the ocean after driving so much in the first part of the road trip and being in such intense heat.
Some tips I learned for starting out a road trip in the Northern Territory at the beginning of the wet season and hopefully some tips to help you if you are planning a similar road trip!
- Make sure you have a tarp as it can rain really hard at any time and you want to stay dry in your tent.
- Wiki Camps which is an amazing app is you best friend for finding campsites. It lists free sites, donation sites, pay sites, RV camping and more. You can also see reviews and pictures left by other campers and download offline maps. It also includes shower sites, bathrooms and gas stations where you can see fuel prices. Its so handy when road tripping Australia. Highly recommend it.
- If you have a station wagon, avoid sleeping in it unless you have proper bug netting and can roll the windows down enough if you feel comfortable doing so.
- Be aware of crocs that can be in the rivers nearby.
- Aim to get to camp early enough to allow for proper set-up before the sun goes down and all the mozzies eat you alive, also so you can see what you are doing.
- Bring lots of bug spray – LOTS!
- Portable USB fan to keep you cool while sleeping in your tent. Best invention ever!
- Make sure you are aware of where the 2WD and the 4WD tracks are depending on the car you have. The station wagon was 2WD and unfortunately limited options for sites to see.
- If you can get a 4WD, DO IT!
- Be flexible and open to new things and have fun, you are on an adventure!