Travel through Australia's Flinders Ranges and the famous Oodnadatta Track to the dusty Red Centre and tropical Top End

Embark on a Northern Territory adventure, from Adelaide to Darwin, taking in the region's biggest and best-known drawcards along the way. Drive the famous Oodnadatta Track, stroll around Wilpena Pound, witness Uluru during a stunning sunrise, wander through the majestic canyons of Kata Tjuta and admire the views from Kings Canyon. Head out croc spotting in the Mary River Wetlands and get a taste of the tropics in Kakadu National Park. A region of exceptional landscapes and intriguing cultural attractions, this tail-to-top adventure of the Territory is a trip that will leave you with a profound appreciation of Australia's raw and rugged natural beauty.


Start
Adelaide, Australia
Finish
Darwin, Australia
Country
Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer, Indigenous Culture, Overland, Walking & Trekking, Wildlife
Code
POBAC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why we love this trip

  • Get back to basics with this classic twelve-day overland adventure. See the highlights and national parks of Australia's Flinders Ranges, Red Centre and 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

  • - See some beautifully remote please in the Flinders ranges

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

  • - Get up early and see the sun rise over Uluru

  • - 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

Is this trip right for you?

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

  • 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

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 April 2017 - 31 March 2018

Welcome to South Australia, where your adventure begins. You’ll be picked up from the Adelaide Central YHA at 6.30 am, so please arrive at least ten minutes before. Leave South Australia’s capital behind and head for the hillside vineyards of the Clare Valley, passing through a string of classic country towns on the way. After lunch enjoy expansive views of the Flinders Ranges as you drive towards Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre of rocky mountains. Enjoy an easy group hike to explore the area. Spend the night camping in the Flinders Ranges, within the comfort of a swag (Australian bedroll).

Total driving time takes around five hours.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today, head north out of the Flinders Ranges and pass through the mining town of Leigh Creek. Visit Lyndhurst for the outdoor gallery of eccentric outback sculptor, Talc Alf. You’re now following the historic route of the old Ghan railway and the overland telegraph line. Before you veer off the beaten track, stop in Marree for lunch beside the old Ghan rail station. Steer onto the renowned Oodnadatta Track and pass by Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest salt lake. Your last stop for the day is at William Creek, which has a population of about ten people. Temporarily increase this number as you bunk down in your swag for the night.

Total driving time today is approximately 5 hours
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today drive through red dunes, salt pans and gibber plains on the way to Anna Creek Station, the world’s largest cattle station. Continue onto Coober Pedy, the ‘Opal capital of the world’. Due to extremely hot temperatures in the area most of the town is constructed underground, with residents living in homes carved into the hillsides. Upon arrival take a guided tour of the town, an underground house and the opal mine (with opal cutting demonstration). The rest of the afternoon is free to explore. You may even like to try your hand at 'noodling' (fossicking) for opals. End the day with some rescued joeys at Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage. Tonight stay in a multi-share underground bunkhouse in Coober Pedy.


Accommodation
  • Underground Multishare (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning, head out on a long day of driving (approximately 8-9 hours). Leave Coober Pedy and journey across the Moon Plains. Pass the Dingo Fence (the longest fence in the world) and take in views of the Breakaways Reserve, which was made famous by the film of Mad Max III. Late in the afternoon, arrive into Yulara in time for the sun to go down and enjoy some relaxation time at your campsite. Tonight sleep in a permanent tent or curl up in a swag.

Today driving time will be about 8.5 hours.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Rise early this morning and be rewarded with a glorious Uluru sunrise. While the day is still fresh, enjoy a walk around the base of 'the rock', which is of great spiritual significance to the Anangu people. Deepen your understanding of the land and the local Mala culture on an interpretive walk with an Aboriginal guide. Afterwards, you might like to purchase Indigenous arts and crafts at the Cultural Centre. Head back to camp for lunch. In the afternoon, see the landscape from a different angle, perhaps from a helicopter flight over Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This is optional and come at an additional cost.

There isn't much driving today, about an hour in total between destinations. You will walk approximately 5km.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today, explore one of the Red Centre's greatest treasures: Kata Tjuta. The Olgas, as they're also known, are a group of domed red rocks rising spectacularly out of the desert. Like Uluru, they’re sacred to the Anangu people and are believed to be 500 million years old. Return to camp for lunch before travelling to Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon). Spend the night in an exclusive campsite inside the park.

Driving time is about six hours today, and you will walk approximately 2km.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Put your hiking shoes on this morning and head out to explore the impressive formations and rock faces of Kings Canyon. Trek for 6 km along the Rim Walk, which takes you through a natural amphitheatre, past the striped sandstone domes of the ‘lost city’ and into the green oasis of the Garden of Eden. Enjoy a last lunch before making your way to the outback hub of Alice Springs (approximately five hours), where we will check into our accommodation for the night, Alice Lodge Backpackers.

Today we drive about 5 hours to Alice Springs. The rim walk is about 6 hours on flat ground with a short, slightly steep climb to the base.

Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Meet your Guide outside Alice Lodge Backpackers at 07:00am this morning and journey through Ormiston Gorge, witnessing contrasting colours as the light reflects off the cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for wallabies and other wildlife. Move on to Ellery Creek to enjoy panoramic views of the area, perhaps taking a dip in its still waters. After lunch, visit the world famous Simpsons Gap, an important site to the local Aboriginal communities. Head to the Western MacDonnell Ranges and watch the colour of the peaks transform under the setting sun. An optional, hour-long sunset camel ride is also available. Once more, we stay at Alice Lodge Backpackers.

We drive about half an hour, and walk around 5km.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Today, skip the 1,500km of driving which is about 24 hours by road, and fly from Alice Springs to Darwin 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 Darwin, someone will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Tonight, you’ll be staying at the Melaleuca on Mitchell. (no meals included)
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Airport Transfers
  • Qantas Flight
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, we'll pick you up from out the front of the Melaleuca at 6:50am to travel into Wulna Country and receive a Cul Cul or unique 'Welcome to Country' by the traditional owners of the land, the Limilngan-Wulna people. Learn about their culture and enjoy bush tucker talks, didgeridoo demonstrations and basket weaving. Next stop is the Mary River wetlands system, which is home to the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the southern hemisphere. Get close (but not too close) to the ‘salties’ and other wild creatures on a unique billabong cruise. In the afternoon, head to World-Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. Your first stop here is Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) where a hike is rewarded with a reviving swim in the plunge pools. Spend the night at a permanent campsite at Kakadu.

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 is a long day of driving. Get ready for some 4WD action as you make your way to Jim Jim Falls, the crown of Kakadu. Once there, take in stunning views of this natural wonder and enjoy some time for a swim or a rest on the sandy beach. After lunch, discover the ancient Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr. Your guide will lead an interpretive cultural walk through the different rock art galleries, before you climb to the top of a rocky lookout for fabulous views over the Nardab floodplain. Tonight, camp in twin-share permanent tents in the Mary River region.

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
Filled with waterholes and waterfalls, Litchfield National Park is well deserving of all its hype. Exploring Litchfield is the perfect way to complete this trip. Today visit Florence Falls, Wangi Falls and the Buley Rockholes. After a picnic lunch, stroll through steamy rainforests and cool off with a dip in one of Litchfield's picturesque swimming holes. As with all good things, this Top End adventure must come to an end. 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. Total driving time today is around four hours.

Note: Should any of the attractions of the standard itinerary not be open as a result of National Park decisions surrounding accessibility and safety, activities will be substituted. Please see 'climate and seasonal information'.
Included Activities
  • Litchfield National Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Meals

8 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Plane

Accommodation

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

Included Activities

  • Airport Transfers
  • Qantas Flight
  • Mary River cruise
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Ubirr Rock
  • Litchfield National Park

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Adelaide on day 1 at 6am and finishes in Darwin day 12 at approx 6pm
2. Onward travel to be booked the following day
3. This trip requires a sleeping bag
4. This trip also runs in reverse, see code PKBDC

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Adelaide to Darwin Overland trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 review in the last year.

Adelaide to Darwin Overland, August 2016

Sandra Toner