Travel through Australia's dusty Red Centre and tropical Top End

Embark on a Northern Territory adventure from Alice Springs to Darwin, taking in the region's biggest and best draws along the way. Witness Uluru during a stunning sunrise, wander through the majestic canyons of Kata Tjuta and admire the views from Kings Canyon. Head into the bush and learn from the area’s traditional land owners, enjoy exclusive access to Arnhem Land, cruise the Mary River and spot crocs in the wetlands, and get a taste of the tropics in Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, as well as Katherine Gorge. A region of exceptional landscapes and intriguing cultural attractions, this tail-to-top adventure through the Territory is a trip that will leave you with a profound appreciation of Australia's raw and rugged natural beauty.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Alice Springs, Australia
Finish
Darwin, Australia
Country
Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer, Indigenous Culture, Overland
Code
POBTOC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why we love this trip

  • Skip 1500km of straight driving between Alice Springs and Darwin and fly with Qantas Airways, on an included flight

  • Get back to basics with this classic nine day overland adventure.

  • See the sun rise over Uluru, walk the rugged rim of Kings Canyon, discover the highlights and national parks of Australia's Top End in authentic outback 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

  • Tuck in to an exclusive Australian Native Foods menu throughout the trip. Created in conjunction with Aussie bush tucker specialist Andrew Fielke, you will be treated to a plethora of native dishes incorporating ingredients such as kangaroo, emu, lemon myrtle, desert lime, wattle seed and more

  • Enjoy an authentic Indigenous experience in the Red Centre and Top End and exclusive access to Arnhem Land

  • 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 Red Centre and Top End in a short amount of time.

  • 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 uses multishare hostel accommodation that may be in mixed-gender dorm rooms. We don't offer private rooms, but you can book our Territory Encompassed trip if you'd prefer twin share motel

  • Temperatures in the Red Centre and 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

The major point of difference with this trip is that the itinerary is flexible. Where you go and in what order will largely depend on what your group want to see, what the weather's doing, and what your trip leader recommends. Therefore, the following description is only a rough outline of what you can expect. The region's big name attractions, however, you're guaranteed to see: Uluru/Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Palm Valley and the Western MacDonnell Ranges. Several lesser known attractions – Rainbow Valley, Owen Springs, Ruby Gap and the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges – you'll get to visit if seasonality and time permit.

The following itinerary is therefore only an example of the form your trip could take.

Starting off in either Alice Springs or Yulara, set off to experience a working camel farm, perhaps even enjoying a ride. Make our way to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and take a guided walk through the awe-inspiring Domes of Kata Tjuta. Then head to Australia's most iconic landmark: Uluru (Ayres Rock). As the sun begins to set below the horizon, take a glass of sparkling wine and watch the rock's rich colours change against the backdrop of a blazing Red Centre sunset. Head back to camp for a hearty dinner, and ponder what the following day may hold.

Notes: Total driving time is approximately five and a half hours. Total walking time is around an hour.
Included Activities
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Fee
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
An early start this morning is rewarded with an Uluru sunrise. While the morning is fresh enjoy a walk around the base of the rock, gaining insights into the land magnificent views of the rock. After your stroll, we walk to the cave paintings near Mutitjulu Waterhole at the base of Uluru. You will be in the hands of an Anangu guide who will share the stories of this unique landscape and explain the Art, the Culture and connection to Land. This exclusive experience is ollowed by a hands-on painting session, this will give you an exclusive insight to the meaning behind Anangu art and traditional culture. The on-site Cultural Centre also houses an extensive collection of indigenous arts and crafts for you to browse.Once you’ve had lunch, perhaps purchase some Indigenous art and craft at the Uluru Cultural Centre. Travel onto the exclusive campsite within Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon), where the group will eat and sleep for the night.

Note: Total driving time today is around three and a half hours. Total walking time is approximately two hours.
Included Activities
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast, get your hiking shoes on and head out to explore the impressive formations of Kings Canyon. You’ll be left breathless by the sheer beauty of the canyon, as you trek through the Amphitheatre, the Lost City, the lush and ancient Garden of Eden and the North and South Walls. Lunch is a welcome prospect, and after you’ve relaxed for a little while we head along an iconic Red Centre dirt track to the Western McDonnell Ranges where we stay overnight at our permanent campsite at Glen Helen.

Note: Total driving time takes around five hours.
Total walking time is approximately three hours.
Included Activities
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning we 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. Watch the colour of the peaks transform under the setting sun.

Note: Total driving time is about 45 minutes.
Total walking time will be up to 10km
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we’ll be exploring one of the Outback’s best kept secrets – the Eastern MacDonnell ranges. Learn about the ‘Caterpillar Dreaming’ on a short walk at Emily Gap, then travel on to Trephina Gorge for a 1-hour guided walk through this area of beautiful rock formations and myriad birdlife. For lunch we’ll be calling in at the historical Ross River Homestead, an iconic building established in the 1890’s as a regional supply centre to the goldfields. Back on the dirt track, next stop is the ‘Ghost Town’ of Arltunga, which serves as a magnificent example of early European settlement. Learn about the case of mistaken gemstone that led to a mining rush here, and which also precipitated its abandonment. After exploring the best of the Eastern Macdonnell Ranges, it’s back to Alice Springs for a late afternoon arrival and check into your accommodation before a flight to Darwin tomorrow.

Note: Total driving time will be about three hours
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Skip a lengthy 1500 km of driving (or about 24 long hours on the road) with a flight from Alice Springs to Darwin with Qantas Airways. Qantas was Australia's first commercial airline and stands for "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services" and is now one of the worlds best International airlines.

Your air tickes will be arranged prior to the trip and will be issued a couple of weeks prior to your departure. On arrival in Darwin, someone will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
Included Activities
  • Airport Transfers
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel into Wulna Country, where you'll receive a Cul Cul ('Welcome to Country') by the traditional owners of the land, the Limilngan-Wulna people. Learn about their ancient culture as you enjoy bush tucker talks, didgeridoo demonstrations and basket weaving. Next stop is the border of Kakadu and Arnhem Land to experience the Guluyumbi cruise. Enjoy your Binninj guide explain to you the importance of the East Alligator River. After the cruise we will enter Arnhem Land and go to an exclusive art site called Mawurndaddja. This site allows you to see first hand the history and culture of this region. Find used ochre and spear tips on the ground. See artwork that is over 8000 years old. This site is unique in the Top End and you will have it all to youself. After a cool drink and some nibbles in Arnhem Land we will head to your overnight camp in Kakadu where the group will have dinner.

Note: Total driving time is about six hours (approximately 350kms)
Total walking time is approximately one and a half hours (including stops for informative talks)
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mary River cruise
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
  • Guluyumbi Indigenous Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja art site
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Early this morning after breakfast, travel by 4WD to the Twin Falls. Experience this spectacular gorge aboard a boat cruise that’s operated by the national park, with a walk along the boardwalk afterwards. Unwind and relax on the sandy banks before heading to explore Jim Jim Falls. After a quick lunch break, take in the views of this natural wonder before taking a challenging walk to the base of the falls. Here you can choose to swim or relax on the beach, enjoying the spectacular scenery, before making the short drive to your overnight bush camp.

Note: Total driving time is about four hours (approximately 120kms)
Total walking time is approximately two and a half hours
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Gorge River Cruise
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast, head to either Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) or Gunlom Falls and cool off with a dip in the plunge pools. Visit the historic gold-mining centre of Pine Creek and head further south after lunch. Journey for around three hours in a private vehicle to your campsite on the doorstep of Nitmiluk National Park. Once comfortable, have dinner with the group before relaxing in your tent for the night.

Note: Total driving time is about five and a half hours (approximately 340kms)
Total walking time is approximately one and a half hours
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Spend the morning at the magnificent Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park. Perhaps take a cruise along the gorge or rent a kayak and paddle downstream. These options are seasonal and at your own expense. In the afternoon, head off to Edith Falls where you can cool down with a refreshing swim in the huge rock pools. Continue on to the edge of Litchfield National Park. Settle down for the night in a snug camp and enjoy dinner with your group.

Note: Total driving time is about four and a half hours (approximately 350kms)
Total walking time is approximately three and a half hours
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Edith Falls
Optional Activities
  • Katherine Gorge Scenic Cruise - AUD94
  • Katherine Gorge Canoe from - AUD45
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Once you’ve had breakfast, head into Litchfield National Park. Filled with waterholes, creeks and waterfalls, it’s the perfect place to soak up the tranquillity of the tropics. Visit the gateway of Florence Falls, the popular Wangi Falls and the refreshing waters of the Buley Rockholes. Enjoy a picnic lunch, stroll through steamy rainforests and cool off with a dip in one of Litchfield's swimming holes. In the afternoon, take the two-hour drive back to Darwin where your trip ends. Enjoy an optional night out with the group if you decide to stay in Darwin for the night.

Note: Total driving time is about three and a half hours (approximately 250kms)
Total walking time is approximately one hour


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'.

- Florence Falls
- Wangi Falls
- Bluey Rockholes
Included Activities
  • Buley Rockholes
  • Florence Falls
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Wangi Falls
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Meals

8 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Plane, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with shared facilities) (3 nights), Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (2 nights), Permanent, furnished tented camp (with shared facilities) (3 nights), Hostel multishare (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Fee
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
  • Airport Transfers
  • Mary River cruise
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
  • Guluyumbi Indigenous Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja art site
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Gorge River Cruise
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
  • Edith Falls
  • Buley Rockholes
  • Florence Falls
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Wangi Falls

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Alice Springs on day 1 at 6am and finishes in Darwin day 11 at approx 6pm. Onward travel to be booked the following day.
2.You can also join this trip in Yulara (Uluru) on day 1; please see tour code POBTOCY.
3. Trip also runs in reverse; see tour code POBTTC
4. This trip requires a sleeping bag

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.