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.


Start
Yulara, Australia
Finish
Darwin, Australia
Destination
Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer, Overland
Code
POBTOCY
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why you'll 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

  • Enjoy an authentic Indigenous experience in the Red Centre and Top End 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 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

Fly into Yulara to meet your group. Make tracks across sunburnt plains to the captivating domes of Kata Tjuta, then head to Australia’s most iconic landmark and watch the colour of the rock change during a magical desert sunset over ancient Uluru – a fitting end to a memorable day. 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. When night falls, choose to bunker down in a cosy swag (Aussie bedroll), where you can literally fall asleep under the stars, or in a permanent tent.

Notes: Total walking time today is around an hour.
Accommodation
  • Permanent Tented Camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
Meals Included
  • 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 and the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 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 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 the art and craft of the First Peoples of Australia for you to browse.

This afternoon 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.
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
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, 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.
Accommodation
  • Permanent Tented Camp (with 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 this morning exploring the mysterious palms at Palm Valley. The only road in is in a dry river bed. This afternoon explore the Western Macdonnell Ranges, highlights include Ormiston Gorge, where we keep our eyes peeled for wallabies whist admiring its colourful walls, continue on to the exceptional vistas at Ellery Creek Big Hole and perhaps cool off with a dip. Your guide will find a suitable place to set up our bush camp tonight.

Note: Total driving time is about 45 minutes.
Total walking time will be up to 10km
Accommodation
  • Bush Camp (basic facilities) (1 night)
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.

Note: Total driving time will be about three hours
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
This is a combination trip, made up of two of our most popular trips. Some travellers will be leaving today and others heading on to Darwin in the morning where the makeup of your group and guide will change.
Today, skip the 1,500km of driving which is about 24 hours by road, and fly from Alice Springs to Darwin 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.

The rest of today is free in Darwin.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Your Alice Springs transfer (operated by Alice Wanderer - green and yellow bus) will depart approx 2.5 hours prior to your scheduled flight time from your accommodation. In case of any issues or to check departure time please call 1800 1800 722 111 (free call) or +61 8 89522111

On arrival in Darwin, please look for the Darwin City airport shuttle (green bus) to transfer you to The Cavenagh - 12 Cavenagh St, Darwin.
We leave Darwin with a bright and early start, and head to the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. Firstly, we make our way to see the stunning rock art at Ubirr before climbing to the top of a lookout so see the sprawling Nardab Floodplain. Next stop, head to the border of Kakadu and Arnhem Land to experience a Guluyumbi cruise along the East Alligator River. Travelling with a Bininj guide, understand more about the cultural importance of the East Alligator River to the region’s traditional custodians. Once the cruise wraps up, jump in a vehicle and cross straight into Arnhem Land for an unforgettable afternoon of exploration at an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art complex known as Mawurndaddja. This complex has a spectacular series of galleries with rock art spanning from the present time to many thousands of years of age. Your guide will explain the importance of this art, the methods used to perform this expressionism and the anthropological system used to date the art as you are guided through the site. Spend the afternoon exploring this historic ancient site before heading back to Kakadu and settling into this evening’s campsite.

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
  • Guluyambi Cultural Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja rock art and occupation complex
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
This morning’s departure is at 0650am. Please be ready with your bags packed for an early start.
Early this morning after breakfast, travel by 4WD to the Twin Falls. Experience this spectacular gorge aboard a boat shuttle 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 shuttle
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. Stop off at the Lazy Lizard Hotel and shop at Pine Creek before heading 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)
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, 9 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, 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 Entrance
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Maruku Arts cultural experience
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
  • Guluyambi Cultural Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja rock art and occupation complex
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Walk
  • Twin Falls Gorge River shuttle
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Edith Falls
  • Buley Rockholes
  • Florence Falls
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Wangi Falls

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Yulara at approximately midday (check flight times with us) and finishes in Darwin 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.You can also join this trip in Alice Springs on day 1; please see tour code POBTOC.
4. Trip also runs in reverse; see tour code POBTTC
5. This trip requires a sleeping bag

Essential trip information

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