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

Embark on a Northern Territory adventure from Darwin to Alice Springs, 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. Enjoy exclusive access to Arnhem Land 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
Darwin, Australia
Finish
Alice Springs, Australia
Destination
Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer, Overland
Code
POBTTC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why you'll love this trip

  • Get back to basics with this classic overland adventure

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

  • Enjoy authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences in the Top End and Red Centre and exclusive access to Arnhem Land

  • Discover the wonders of Kakadu National Park. Get adventurous on a 4WD tour to the spectacular Jim Jim Falls and see the ancient Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander rock art of Ubirr

  • 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

Is this trip right for you?

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

  • The Top End & Kakadu portion of this trip has a strict luggage limit of 10kg. Excess luggage can not be carried however, it can be stored at Darwin accommodation.

Itinerary

Welcome to Darwin, the Northern Territory’s tropical capital. There’s no time to waste, so get cracking at 6.50 am and hit the road to Wulna Country, where your Limilngan-Wulna hosts – the land’s Traditional Owners – will greet you with a Cul Cul or ‘Welcome to Country’. Learn about their culture during bush tucker talks and didgeridoo and basket weaving demonstrations. Continue to the border of Kakadu and Arnhem Land for a Guluyumbi cruise along the East Alligator River with a Bininj guide. Learn about the cultural importance of the East Alligator River to the Bininj people and take in the tranquillity and rugged beauty. Back on land, jump in a private vehicle and drive to Arnhem Land’s Mawurndaddja. This sacred complex (only recently opened to visitors) has a spectacular series of rock art that research indicates is over 50,000 years old. Spend the afternoon exploring this atmospheric site and learning about its history from your guide. Head to Kakadu for an overnight stay.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Guluyambi Cultural Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja rock art and occupation complex
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Meet your group at the Darwin joining point listed in the ‘Essential trip information’ and leave at 6.50 am. We recommend arriving in Darwin the night before, or earlier, so you make the departure. Please seak to your booking agent for more information.

Total driving time: about 6 hours (approximately 350 km)
Total walking time: about 1.5 hours (including stops for informative talks)
After fuelling up with an early breakfast, head to Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu's most iconic natural attraction. Take a challenging walk through monsoon forest and over boulders, then recharge with a cooling dip in the clear waters beneath the falls. After lunch head to Anbangbang, another incredible site that features ancient art on what was originally Warramal land. Sadly, there are no surviving Warramal people, so the care of the site is maintained by the neighbouring Mirarr and Djok communities. This afternoon, you have the option of taking a scenic flight over Kakadu or visiting the Bowli Cultural Centre.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time: about 4 hours (approximately 120 km)
Total walking time: about 2.5
After breakfast, head to either Gunlom Falls or Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) for a swim in another pristine waterhole. Maguk flows down the steep walls of rugged gorge into a beautiful natural plunge pool, while the steep climb to the Gunlom Falls plunge pool is rewarded with sweeping views of Kakadu and the welcome shade of gum trees. Neither option will disappoint. After a relaxing morning, it’s time to hit the road. Stop in the old gold-mining town of Pine Creek for lunch before continuing for another 3 hours to your private campsite on the doorstep of Nitmiluk National Park. Once comfortable, have dinner with the group before settling in under the stars for the night.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time: about 5.5 hours (approximately 340 km)
Total walking time: about 1.5 hours
Spend the day exploring the deep Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and greater Nitmiluk National Park, a wonderland of colours, ancient rock art, waterfalls and wildlife. While here, you can explore on foot or choose to take a cruise or rental a kayak to get a closer look. Keep in mind that these optional activities are seasonal and at your own expense. In the afternoon, travel to Edith Falls, a hidden oasis of clear, cool waters surrounded by bronze boulders. After a quick swim in the huge rock pools, continue to tonight’s camp located at the edge of Litchfield National Park, where dinner awaits.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Edith Falls
Optional Activities
  • Katherine Gorge Scenic Cruise - AUD95
  • Katherine Gorge Canoe from - AUD82
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time: about 4.5 hours (approximately 350 km)
Total walking time: about 3.5 hours
After breakfast, head to Litchfield National Park. A bit of a local secret, Litchfield is awash with tropical rainforest, gorgeous waterfalls and crystal-clear waterholes. Visit Florence Falls, Wangi Falls or Bluey Rockholes, then tuck into a picnic lunch. Enjoy a stroll through the steamy rainforests and refreshing dip in one of the park’s gorgeous swimming holes. In the afternoon, make the two-hour drive back to Darwin where the trip ends on arrival. If you decide to stay an additional night in Darwin, perhaps enjoy an optional night out with the group to celebrate the end of a fantastic trip.

Total driving time: about three and a half hours (approximately 250 km)
Total walking time: about one hour
Accommodation
  • The Cavenagh Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Litchfield National Park occasionally closes attraction if they are considered unsafe to access. If Florence Falls, Wangi Falls or Bluey Rockholes are closed, activities will be substituted. Please see our 'Climate and Seasonal’ section for more information.
Today, skip the 1,500km of driving which is about 24 hours by road, and fly from Darwin to Alice Springs with Qantas (QF). Qantas is Australia's first commercial airline and is now recognised as one of the world’s best International airlines.

We'll arrange your air tickets and issue them a couple of weeks prior to your departure. 

On arrival in Alice springs please look for your transfer vehicle (operated by Alice Wanderer - green and yellow bus) to transfer you into Alice Springs.

The rest of the day is free to explore.
Accommodation
  • Alice Springs YHA (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Your Darwin transfer  (operated by Darwin City Airport Shuttle Service) will depart approx 2 hours prior to your flight. In case of any issues or to confirm time please call. +61 8 8947 3979

Your Alice Springs transfer (operated by Alice Wanderer - green and yellow bus) will transfer you to the Alice Springs YHA. In case of any issues please call 1800 1800 722 111 (free call) or +61 8 89522111
Kick off your Australian Outback adventure in either Alice Springs or Yulara. Make tracks across the sunburnt plains to the captivating domes of Kata Tjuta. These massive red rock formations are believed to be 500 million years old. Continue to Australia’ most iconic landmark, Uluru, arriving in time to witness a magical sunset then continue to your camp, where a hearty dinner awaits.

Total driving time: about five and a half hours
Total walking time: about one hour
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
This trip is flexible. As such, the described itinerary is only an example of the form your trip could take. Where you go and what you do can change depending on the group’s interests and weather conditions, however all trips will include visits to the following: Kata Tjuta, Uluru, Kings Canon, Palm Valley and the Western MacDonnell Ranges.
Wake early to catch an unforgettable Uluru sunrise, then get a closer look at this massive sandstone monolith on an unguided walk around its base. After your stroll, walk to the cave paintings near Mutitjulu Waterhole, where you will be met by an Anangu guide. Your guide will shed insight into the ancient rock etchings and the stories they tell, as well as the traditions of the land’s Traditional Owners. Next, visit the nearby Cultural Central to browse its extensive collection of Aboriginal arts and crafts. After a local lunch, set off on a three-hour drive to your exclusive campsite within Watarrka National Park. (Kings Canyon). Get acquainted with your surroundings, enjoy an on-site dinner and settle in for the night.

Total driving time: about three and a half hours
Today walking time: about two hours
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Maruku Arts cultural experience
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The Anangu people have dissuaded visitors from climbing Uluru for decades; as Traditional Owners of the land they feel a deep responsibility for everyone who travels to the area. In 1998, we were among the first tour operators to stop climbing Uluru. The Intrepid Group are proud to be involved with local communities in Uluru and to have an ongoing commitment to providing employment for the Anangu people. You show respect when you choose not to climb Uluru, but walk with Anangu throughout the area and share their stories instead.
After breakfast, pull on your hiking shoes and set off to explore Kings Canyon. Plunging 270 metres/885 feet to the canyon floor, walking its rim reveals incredibly beautiful sandstone formations carved by wind and water. Discover its Amphitheatre, Lost City, North and South Walls and the surprisingly lush Garden of Eden, which owes its cycads and plant life to a permanent waterhole down in the canyon. After lunch, there’s time to relax for a bit before heading along an iconic Red Centre dirt track to the Western McDonnell Ranges.

Today driving time: about five hours
Today walking time: about three hours
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
For the Kings Canyon Rim Walk it is a requirement that you have a minimum of 3 litres of water with you. Please consider bringing your own refillable water bottles.
Spend the afternoon exploring the Outback scenery of the West Macdonnell Ranges. Visit one of the most photographed places in the Red Centre – Ormiston Gorge. Keep your eyes peeled for wallabies while admiring the colourful, sweeping walls surrounding its waterhole. Continue to Ellery Creek Big Hole, a popular spot for a refreshing dip. After a satisfying day spent exploring the MacDonnell Ranges, your tour leader will find a suitable place to set up your bush camp for the night.

Total driving time: about 45 minutes
Total walking distance: up to 10 kilometres/6.2 miles
Accommodation
  • Bush camping (no facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Often overlooked for its western counterpart, the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges just might be one of the Outback’s best kept secrets. This is the home of the Arrernte people, the Traditional Owners of the land. Learn about their caterpillar dreamtime story on a short walk to Emily Gap, an important spiritual site to the Arrernte containing galleries of ancient rock paintings. Drive to Trephina Gorge, where you’ll set off on a one-hour guided walk to see its quartzite cliffs and rich birdlife. Afterwards, it’s time for lunch; grab a bite at the historical Ross River Homestead before continuing to the ‘Ghost Town’ of Arltunga where you’ll learn about the mistaken gemstone that lead to a mining rush here in 1887, and also precipitated its abandonment. After exploring the best of the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges, it’s on to Alice Springs where your Outback adventure ends upon arrival in the late afternoon.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Meals

8 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Bush Camping (with minimal facilities) (2 nights), Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (6 nights), Mixed gender dorm (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Guluyambi Cultural Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja rock art and occupation complex
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Edith Falls
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Maruku Arts cultural experience
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Darwin on day 1 at 6am and finishes in Alice Springs on day 11 at approx 6pm. Onward travel to be booked the following day.
2. For the Kings Canyon Rim Walk it is a requirement that you have a minimum of 3 litres of water with you. Please consider bringing your own refillable water bottles.
3. The Top End & Kakadu portion of this trip has a strict luggage limit of 10kg. Excess luggage can not be carried however, it can be stored at Darwin accommodation.
4. This trip requires a sleeping bag
5. Trip also runs in reverse; see tour code POBTTC
6. This is a combination trip, made up of two of our most popular trips.

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.

View Essential Trip Information

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