Combine Cape York Tour and Gulf Savannah Tour – Best of Both Worlds in 1 Tour!
When I first mentioned we were going to hire a campervan and explore the Top End in the Northern Territory for 10 days most people said “Why not go overseas and what is there to do and see in the Northern Territory? People don’t realise the Northern Territory is one of the most beautiful places filled with diverse scenery, world heritage sites, stunning nature parks, and outback landscapes. 10 days was not enough time to experience it all. With our little 2WD Campervan, loaded up with non-perishable supplies (pasta, bread, and plenty of crackers is a must for easy meals). I recommend anyone planning to travel to the Northern Territory to make sure you have a powered van with a fridge it will make your life a lot better. Discover what to see and do during a 10 day drive to the Northern Territory!
During the first day trip, we covered Darwin to Kakadu, with a 7-day national park pass we made our first campsite. Then 4 days at the Kakadu National Park – you need a good 4 days to see all the amazing sites. Then onto Katherine Gorge, where the nights were a little cooler providing a bit of relief from the heat. Bitter Springs provided an amazing location to swim in beautiful clear water. Edith Falls is the only location where you need to book ahead for a site. Edith Falls campground is very small and there aren’t any other options close by to camp. So, you don’t get stuck for the night, call ahead and book before your trip or a couple of days prior. The Magnetic Termite Mounds are located in Litchfield National Park, and its spectacular location displays some of the biggest termite mounds you’ve seen. Berry Springs is worth a stop-off if you have a little extra time on your way back to Darwin or you need to break up a drive. If we could do the trip again, we would have spent our extra 2 days in Kakadu National Park or Bitter Springs. Kakadu National Park or Bitter Springs have so much more scenery and culture to explore, including more than 5,000 Aboriginal rock art sites, which are some of the world’s oldest.
Day one – Road trip from Darwin to Kakadu
We drove straight from Darwin to Kakadu National Park; we didn’t want to waste any time getting to all the beautiful sites. Only taking 3 hours to get to our first campsite with a few quick photo stops along the way was manageable.
You need to purchase a park pass when visiting Kakadu, the pass is valid for 7 days. Purchasing online is the easiest way to get your pass however you can still purchase it from lodges in Kakadu National Park.
One of Kakadu’s most famous spots is Ubirr walk & lookout, overlooking green floodplains and rainforest; it is packed with amazing views and rich in culture. You can also find the main aboriginal rock art gallery where you can discover animal paintings that are realistic, traditional x-ray art, and paintings depicting early encounter with Europeans.
This location will take your breath away. I recommend visiting at sunset. Don’t worry there is a campsite nearby, so you won’t be driving far in the dark.
Day two to four – Kakadu National Park
You need at least 3 or 4 days to truly appreciate this UNESCO-declared world heritage site, Kakadu National Park.
Cooinda Lodge Kakadu is one of the best caravan parks you will stay in with a pool, top-of-the-line amenities and bistro-style dining. It is a great place to camp if you’re travelling with kids at prices starting from AUD $29 a night.
This Kakadu lodge is near Yellow Water Billabong, filled with more wildlife than you can imagine. From crocodiles, birds, and water buffalo to pandanus and freshwater mangroves. You can take a sunrise of sunset Yellow Water Boat Cruise to be truly immersed in the untouched wetlands.
The Yellow Water Cruises are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you only have one day in Kakadu this should be at the top of your list. Taking a sunrise boat cruise is the best option in my opinion, which is a day tour that offers entertaining and informative tourist guides, heading out as the sun rises you see the billabong come to life is magical. Do be warned though you will likely see a few crocodiles up close and personal, from the inside the safety of the boat of course.
If you have extra time, don’t forget to visit the Gunlom Falls, one of the most visited in Kakadu, and the Nourlangie Rock, which displays some incredible aboriginal rock art from 20,000 years ago and has the biggest escarpment in the area.
Day five – Katherine Gorge
Katherine Gorge was home to cooler nights than Kakadu paired with a shady caravan park in the bush, this was by far the most relaxed I have been. Taking the loop walk from the campsite you can stroll to the river and hike up to a lookout to take in the whole of the Katherine River from above, make sure you take a camera to capture the view.
You can even hire a canoe and paddle down the Katherine Gorge or if you prefer to sightsee in luxury take a sunset dinner cruise and discover the history of the Katherine Gorge against the changing colour of the rocks.
Katherine is a great spot to stock up on food and supplies if you need them, it has the biggest supermarket outside of Darwin.
Day six – Bitter Springs
Bitter Springs are natural warm springs in the rainforest. With crystal clear blue water, I can promise you’ve never seen anything quite like this.
It can get busy here especially if you come around lunchtime/ early afternoon however if you stay around for a few hours like we did you’ll have plenty of quite times too.
My only advice if you plan to visit here is to pack goggles and an underwater camera, you will get a whole new experience exploring under the water. We picked up a pair of goggles at the local shop, a little pricy but 100% worth it. The caravan parks are not the nicest ones we stayed at, but they do the job plus you will not be spending time there.
My Tip: Stay 2 days here minimum you’ll never get sick of this location. Apparently if you go early in the morning you can spot little turtles swimming around.
Day seven – Edith Falls
We went on a road trip to Edith Falls, which is the only location where you need to book ahead for a site. Edith Falls campground is very small and there aren’t any other options close by to camp. So, you don’t get stuck for the night, call ahead and book before your trip or a couple of days prior.
Edith Falls is an ideal spot for a campground that is lush and grassy, surrounded by bushland. There are many bushwalking tracks that take you to picturesque swimming holes for a cool-off during your hike, you’ll most likely have the spot to yourself too if you start your hike before lunch.
Day eight – Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park is another spectacular location with some of the biggest termite mounds you’ve seen (up to 8 meters tall). Waterholes and waterfalls are widely available in Litchfield National Park, and the best part is that any of these attractions can be fit into a day trip.
Litchfield is home to Wangi and Florence Falls; you can swim at both of these during the dry season. My favourite by far was Florence Falls surrounded by rainforest with 2 waterfalls flowing into the plunge pool. Before taking a dip, you can take in the panoramic views of the falls and the forest from a viewing platform, then you can walk back on a loop walk along the stream and woodlands.
Wangi Falls is right at the end of the road through Litchfield, there is a campground near the waterfall. You cannot book a campsite, so do not make the same mistake as us and get there late in the afternoon, we were left without a campsite and had to drive a good 40 minutes back to another campground.
Tip: Turn off at Buley Rockhole on the way to Florence Falls, while it is a small swimming hole you can have a lot of fun sitting in the rapids to cool off.
Day nine to ten: Berry Springs
We spent our last 2 days at Berry Springs close to Darwin on our way back home, this was a more classic Australian caravan park without the gorgeous National parks. We had heard a lot of great things about Berry Springs. We found them a bit cold and Berry Springs didn’t feel secluded compared to other locations we have visited. We also found out there was a saltwater crocodile spotted that same time the year before, yikes!
Berry Springs is worth a stop-off if you have a little extra time on your way back to Darwin or if you need to break up a drive. If we could do the trip again, we would have spent our extra 2 days in Kakadu National Park or Bitter Springs. Kakadu National Park or Bitter Springs has so much more scenery and cultural centres to explore. Berry Springs could easily be missed if you decide to hit The Upper Northern Territory.
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