Travel through Australia's amazing Great Ocean Road, through the Flinders Ranges and the famous Oodnadatta Track to the dusty Red Centre and tropical Top End

Embark on a Northern Territory adventure, from Melbourne 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
Melbourne, Australia
Finish
Darwin, Australia
Country
Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
PAOKC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why we love this trip

  • Get back to basics with this classic seventeen-day overland adventure. See the highlights and national parks of Australia's Great Ocean Road and Grampians, Flinders Ranges, Red Centre and Top End in rugged, authentic style

  • Cruise the world famous Great Ocean Road

  • 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'

  • he 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 as well as Katherine Gorge

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a basic trip, covering the highlights of Australia's Great Ocean Road and Grampians, 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 2017 to 31 March 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 April 2018 - 31 March 2019

Departing cosmopolitan Melbourne, hit the road west to Geelong and the famous surf town of Torquay. After stopping for a quick photo opportunity at iconic Bells Beach, begin the journey along one of Australia’s most beautiful and famous drives, the Great Ocean Road. Stop in at Kennett River for some koala spotting, then break for lunch in Apollo Bay. Continue on to the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, spending the night in Warrnambool.
Included Activities
  • 12 Apostles & London Bridge
  • Kennett River Koalas
  • Melba Gully Walk - Otway Ranges
  • Swim at Lorne (Summer months)
  • Teddy's Lookout above Lorne
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Begin the day checking out more of the Great Ocean Road's wonders, then drive into the Grampians National Park – an area rich in Aboriginal culture and beautiful landscapes. We'll visit the Brambuk Aboriginal Culture Centre to learn about the period known as the Dreaming, then hike up to the Pinnacles for impressive views across the Grampians. Tonight we enjoy a traditional Aussie BBQ in Halls Gap.
Included Activities
  • Brambuk Culture Centre
  • Loch Ard Gorge
  • Mackenzie Falls - Grampians
  • Pinnacles Walk - Grampians
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Hike up to McKenzie Falls, the highest waterfalls in the Grampians, and check out other sights such as The Balconies and Reeds Lookout. Leaving the Grampians, pass through the town of Horsham before crossing the famed mighty Murray River and making the last leg of the journey into Adelaide. (B)
Included Activities
  • Reeds Lookout (The Balconies) & Boroka Lookout
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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
  • Swag Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Wilpena Pound
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
  • Swag 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.

Total driving time today is approximately 6.5 hours
Accommodation
  • Underground Multishare (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Anna Creek Station
  • Coober Pedy Mine tour
  • Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage
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 sunset 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)
Included Activities
  • Dingo Fence
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)
Included Activities
  • Mala cultural interpretative walk
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Fee
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
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)
Included Activities
  • Watarrka National Park Entry Fees
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 your adventure comes to an end. There are no more activities planned for today and you’re free to depart.

Driving time today is approximately 5 hours back to Alice Springs, and the Rim Walk is approximately 6km.
Included Activities
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • 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.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Chill out on a free day in Darwin, perhaps chill by the rooftop pool at the Melaleuca or head next door and say hi to the locals at Crocosauras Cove!
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, we'll pick you up 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 ancient culture as you enjoy bush tucker talks, didgeridoo demonstrations and basket weaving. Next stop is the Mary River wetlands system, which has the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the southern hemisphere. Get close to these ‘salties’ and other wild creatures on a billabong cruise. Late in the afternoon arrive into Ubirr in time for sunset, seeing the vivid Aboriginal rock art that dates back over 20,000 years. In the evening head to your overnight camp in Kakadu where the group will have dinner.

Note: Total driving time today is around six hours. Total walking distance is up to two kilometres.

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES:
- Cul Cul 'Welcome to the Country'
- Wildlife Cruise
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mary River cruise
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
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 today is just over four hours. Total walking distance is approximately one-and-a-half kilometres.
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 today is around five-and-a-half hours. Total walking time is approximately an hour-and-a-half.
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. Settle down for the night in a snug camp and enjoy dinner with your group.

Note: Total driving time today is around four-and-a-half hours. Total walking time is up to three-and-a-half hours (optional walks included).
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Katherine Gorge Scenic Cruise - AUD94
  • Katherine Gorge Canoe from - AUD45
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Once you’ve had breakfast, head to 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. The total driving time today is around three-and-a-half 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'.

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

Meals

12 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 11 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Private vehicle

Accommodation

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

Included activities

  • 12 Apostles & London Bridge
  • Kennett River Koalas
  • Melba Gully Walk - Otway Ranges
  • Swim at Lorne (Summer months)
  • Teddy's Lookout above Lorne
  • Brambuk Culture Centre
  • Loch Ard Gorge
  • Mackenzie Falls - Grampians
  • Pinnacles Walk - Grampians
  • Reeds Lookout (The Balconies) & Boroka Lookout
  • Wilpena Pound
  • Anna Creek Station
  • Coober Pedy Mine tour
  • Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage
  • Dingo Fence
  • Mala cultural interpretative walk
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Fee
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Watarrka National Park Entry Fees
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
  • Mary River cruise
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Gorge River Cruise
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
  • Buley Rockholes
  • Florence Falls
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Wangi Falls

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Melbourne on day 1 at 7am and finishes in Darwin day 17 at approx 6pm
2. Onward travel to be booked the following day
3. 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.

Reviews

Our Melbourne to Darwin Overland (Basix) trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 1 review in the last year.

Melbourne to Darwin Overland (Basix), April 2017

Bruce Robinson