You’ll love a sunburnt country, a land of immense beauty and culture.

Discover two regions of serene nature and sacred First Nations culture – the Red Centre and the Top End – on a nine-day Australian adventure. Explore the rugged landscapes of the Outback, admire Uluru by sunrise and sunset, weave through the gigantic boulders and gullies of Kata Tjuta and trek through the Lost City and Garden of Eden in Kings Canyon. Travel north to Darwin to go bird and croc spotting in the lush Mary River, see traditional rock art in Ubirr, climb high to look down on the Nardab Floodplain, float in the stunning waterholes of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, learn some of the sacred history of the First Peoples of Australia at Anbangbang and cruise through the towering rock walls of Katherine Gorge. Gain a deeper understanding and a newfound appreciation of what’s beneath the surface in the real Australia.


Start
Alice Springs, Australia
Finish
Darwin, Australia
Destination
Australia
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer, Overland
Code
POONC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why you'll love this trip

  • Wander through the magnificent domes of Kata Tjuta, gaze in awe at the sacred rock of Uluru and hike through natural amphitheatres, rocky chasms and lush oases in Kings Canyon.

  • Learn about ancient cave paintings near Mutitjulu Waterhole as a local Anangu guide explains the culture and stories behind the art and its connection to the land.

  • Dine under the stars and camp within privately owned sites on the red earth of the Outback to experience the true magic of the Red Centre.

  • The Mary River Wetlands feature myriad wildlife, including the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the southern hemisphere. Get up close to the snappy beasts on a river cruise.

  • Discover the wonders of Kakadu National Park. See ancient traditional rock art and consider taking an optional flight over the astounding landscapes.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Temperatures in the Red Centre and the Top End can be extreme. During the day the weather can be very hot (and the Australian sun is very strong) so please bring appropriate clothing, use sun protection and drink plenty of water. In the evenings temperatures really drop, so bring base layers and warm clothing.

  • On most days of the trip, you’ll spend several hours driving through very sparse areas of desert. Crank up the tunes and sit back to enjoy landscapes that you would miss in any other form of travel.

  • Group participation makes up a lot of this trip, so you'll be required to help with preparation of meals and cleaning up. These are the kind of tasks that bring a group closer together.

  • In the Red Centre, this isn't a basic camping experience, as you'll be treated to creature comforts such as proper beds, linen, electricity and cooling fans. Camping out in the open may not appeal to some people, although a proper bed, linen and electricity are provided.

  • 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 need to pitch in with preparing meals and cleaning.

  • 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 Top End section of your trip has a strict luggage limit of 10kg. Excess luggage cannot be carried; however, it can be stored at the Darwin accommodation.

Itinerary

Melbourne might have the arts scene and Sydney the beaches, but Alice Springs is really where you need to go to understand the heart and soul of Australia. Meet your leader and fellow travellers at the Alice Springs pick-up point this morning and set off to experience a working camel farm. Surrounded by the serenity of the Red Centre, observe and learn about these magnificent creatures, each with their own endearing personality. After this friendly encounter, and perhaps even a ride, continue your journey inland to Kata Tjuta. Whereas Uluru emerges from the earth as one giant boulder form, Kata Tjuta pops up as 36 different domes and you’ll get to know the site pretty well on an afternoon hike following lunch. As evening begins, enjoy some tasty snacks as the sun sets over Uluru casting incredible colours. The perfect end to a remarkable day is awaiting you back at camp, as you enjoy a delicious spread of food with your group. If the weather permits, sit outside under the stars.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time today is around 4.5 hours. Total walking time is approximately 1-hour.
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 and the local Mala people on an interpretive cultural walk with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Guide. Once you’ve had lunch, perhaps purchase some art and craft of the First Peoples of Australia, 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 (or up to 4 if you do the full 8.5km base walk.)
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Maruku Arts cultural experience
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time today is around 3.5 hours. Total walking time is approximately 2 hours (or up to 4 if you do the full 8.5 km base walk).

Uluru is considered a living cultural landscape and home to the spirits of the ancestors making it a sacred place for the Anangu peoples. 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.
The main attraction of Watarrka is undoubtedly Kings Canyon – a humungous gorge enclosed by sheer rock walls hundreds of metres high. Offering a welcome escape from the dry desert heat, this site’s deep gullies and hidden rockpools provide shelter to more than 600 species of native plants and animals. Your guide will point these out on a guided trek that takes in the canyon’s most famous sites – the Lost City, Garden of Eden, Amphitheatre and North and South Walls. Then it’s lunch, and after you’ve relaxed for a little while, head back to Alice Springs where you'll stay the night before a flight to Darwin tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Aurora Alice Springs (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time today is around 5 hours. Total walking time is approximately 3 hours. For the Kings Canyon Rim Walk it is a requirement that you have a minimum of three litres of water with you. Please consider bringing your own refillable water bottles.
This morning, be ready for a pickup from the Alice Wanderer shuttle transfers to head to the airport for your flight bound for Darwin (flight time approximately 2 hours). Once arrived, catch the Darwin Airport shuttle service to your hotel where you’ll spend the afternoon and evening, before setting off on your Top End adventure early tomorrow morning.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
The pickup time for your shuttle to Alice Springs Airport will be approximately 2 hours before your scheduled flight time. Please check your flight details with your booking agent, as well as your group leader in Alice Springs.
Your adventure continues in the tropical city of Darwin this morning. Set off from Darwin and head south to Lichfield National Park – a huge sandstone plateau with dozens of waterfalls. Explore 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. Enjoy some relaxed time at the campsite and a meal before climbing into bed at the secluded Mary River campsite.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Litchfield National Park
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time: approximately 5.5 hours (approximately 400 km)
Total walking time: approximately 45 minutes

Please note that all tents are twin-share and come with a proper bed.
After breakfast this morning, head to onto the water on a wildlife cruise in the Mary River Wetlands, a network of waterways home to crocodiles and native bird species. Kakadu National Park and discover ancient Aboriginal rock art in Ubirr. Your guide will lead an interpretive cultural walk through the numerous rock galleries, before you climb to the top of a lookout for views over the Nardab floodplain. Tonight, relax by the pool at the Kakadu campground and enjoy a group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ubirr Rock
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Mary River cruise
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time: approximately 6.5 hours (approximately 550 km)
Total walking time: approximately 2 hours
This morning you have the option to take a scenic flight over Kakadu (at your own expense). The flight takes in views over the Arnhem Land escarpment, vast flood plains and billabongs. Later spend time exploring Kakadu’s other major Aboriginal rock art site – Nourlangie (Burrunggui), while your guide provides a glimpse into how the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live. After lunch head south and stop to visit the historic gold-mining centre of Pine Creek. Stop for a quick dip at Maguk or Gunlom Falls, before continuing on to Katherine, where you'll settle in for the night at a private campsite near Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge).
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
Optional Activities
  • Flight (Fixed Wing Aircraft) over - Kakadu - from - AUD150
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Total driving time: approximately 5.5 hours (approximately 400 km)
Total walking time: approximately 1 hour
Depending on the season, head out on a morning cruise along the inky waters of Katherine Gorge, or canoe between red rock walls that are up to 70 metres high (both of these activities are optional and at your own expense). This 23 million-year-old landscape was formed by the Katherine River, which flows from Arnhem Land out to the Timor Sea. After lunch we head to the beautiful Edith falls for one last refreshing swim in the huge plunge pool before we hit the road back to Darwin, where your adventure comes to an end on arrival.
Included Activities
  • Edith Falls
  • Top Didj Indigenous Experience
Optional Activities
  • Katherine Gorge Scenic Cruise - AUD95
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Total driving time: approximately 5 hours (approximately 400 km)
Total walking time: approximately 1 hour

Meals

6 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (5 nights), Hotel (2nights)

Included activities

  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Maruku Arts cultural experience
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Ubirr Rock
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Mary River cruise
  • Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Edith Falls
  • Top Didj Indigenous Experience

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Alice Springs on Day 1 at 6:05am and finishes in Darwin Day 9 at approximately 6 pm.
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.You can also join this trip in Yulara (Uluru) on Day 1; please see tour code POONCY.
5. Trip also runs in reverse; see tour code PKOSC

Essential trip information

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