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
Destination
Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
PAOKC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why you'll love this trip

  • Get back to basics with this classic sixteen-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

  • Spend a half day in Arnhem Land with a local Aboriginal guide

  • 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 places 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 rock art of Ubirr as well as Katherine Gorge

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Apr 2019 to 31 Mar 2020.
View the 2018 itinerary
Departing Melbourne, hit the road west to Geelong and the famous surf town of Torquay. From there, begin the journey along one of Australia’s most beautiful and famous drives, the Great Ocean Road. Experience a guided walk through an ancient and rare temperate rainforest. Check out the enormous trees that are native to the area. Stop 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.

Note: Total driving time today is about six and a half hours (approximately 450kms)
Total walking time will be about two hours (approximately 2kms)
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • 12 Apostles & London Bridge
  • Koala spotting - Great Ocean Road
  • Melba Gully Walk - Otway Ranges
  • Swim at Lorne (Summer months)
  • Loch Ard Gorge
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.

Note: Total driving time today is about six hours (approximately 400kms)
Total walking time will be about four hours (approximately 5kms)
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Brambuk Culture Centre
  • Mackenzie Falls - Grampians
  • Pinnacles Walk - Grampians
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Hike to base of 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 and the enchanting Loch Lel (otherwise known as the Pink Lake) before crossing the famed mighty Murray River and making the last leg of the journey into Adelaide.

Note: Total driving time today is about seven and a half hours (approximately 550kms). Estimated time of arrival into Adelaide is 7.30pm.
Total walking time will be about two and a half hours (approximately 3.5kms)
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Reeds Lookout (The Balconies) & Boroka Lookout
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
This is a combination trip, made up of two of our most popular trips. Some travellers will be leaving on arrival in Adelaide today and others heading on towards Central Australia and Darwin, where the makeup of your group and guide will change.
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
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Wilpena Pound
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Depart today from Adelaide Central YHA at approx 6:30am.
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
  • 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 this incredible sandstone formation, which is of great spiritual significance to the Anangu people. We walk to the cave paintings near Mutitjulu Waterhole at the base of Uluru where you wiill 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and crafts for you to browse. 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
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Kata Tjuta
  • 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
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 lunch before making your way to the outback hub of Alice Springs (approximately five hours).

Driving time today is approximately 5 hours back to Alice Springs, and the Rim Walk is approximately 6km.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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.

This afternoon in Alice Springs, you'll say goodbye to your guide and some of your group who are not travelling north to Darwin tomorrow.
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 e-tickets and issue them a couple of weeks prior to your departure.

The rest of the day is free to explore 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 Hotel - 12 Cavenagh St, Darwin. In case of any issues please call. +61 8 8947 3979
Leave Darwin in the early morning and travel to Wulna Country where you will be greeted by a Cul Cul or ‘Welcome to Country’ from the Traditional Owners of the land, the Limilngan-Wulna people. Learn about their culture as your hosts treat you to bush tucker talks and didgeridoo and basket weaving demonstrations. Then, it’s on to the border of Kakadu and Arnhem Land for 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 and hear about local mythology and customs.

Once the cruise wraps up, jump in a vehicle and cross straight into Arnhem Land for an unforgettable afternoon of exploration. Visit the Injalak Arts Centre to discover incredible examples of traditional art, witnessing traditional painting on bark and paper, basket weaving and screen-printing being created during a walk with a local guide – there is also an opportunity to purchase art directly. After visiting the art centre, unveil more art at a 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. Following this, head back into Kakadu for an overnight stay

Total driving time: about six hours (approximately 350 km)
Total walking time: about 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.
After fuelling up with an early breakfast, it's on to Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu's most iconic natural attraction. It’s a challenging walk through monsoon forest and over boulders. Recharge with a cooling dip in the clear waters beneath the falls upon arrival, or simply soak up the spectacular scenery while relaxing on the beach. After lunch head to Anbangbang and discover ancient rock art. Originally Warramal clan land, who have now passed away, Anbangbang is now looked after by neighbouring Mirarr and Djok clans. Consider taking a scenic flight over Kakadu in the afternoon, or visit Bowli Cultural Centre.

Total driving time: about four hours (approximately 120 km)
Total walking time: about two and a half hours
Accommodation
  • Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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. It’s a steep climb to the Gunlom Falls plunge pool, though the reward is 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 three hours to your private campsite on the doorstep of Nitmiluk National Park. Once comfortable, have dinner with the group before relaxing in your tent for the night.

Total driving time: about five and a half hours (approximately 340 km)
Total walking time: about 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 day exploring the deep Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and ancient sandstone landscape of Nitmiluk National Park. A wonderland of colours, Aboriginal rock art, waterfalls and wildlife, perhaps 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 on 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.

Total driving time: about four and a half hours (approximately 350 km)
Total walking time: about 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
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
Included Activities
  • Buley Rockholes
  • Florence Falls
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Wangi Falls
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.

Meals

12 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 11 dinners

Transport

private bus, plane, All Terrain vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with shared facilities) (9 nights), Dormitory (5 nights), Underground bunkhouse (1 night).

Included activities

  • 12 Apostles & London Bridge
  • Koala spotting - Great Ocean Road
  • Melba Gully Walk - Otway Ranges
  • Swim at Lorne (Summer months)
  • Loch Ard Gorge
  • Brambuk Culture Centre
  • 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
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Kata Tjuta
  • Maruku Arts cultural experience
  • Watarrka National Park Entry Fees
  • Guluyambi Cultural Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja rock art and occupation complex
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Edith Falls
  • Buley Rockholes
  • Florence Falls
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Wangi Falls

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Important notes

1. This trip requires a sleeping bag
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. Tour commences in Melbourne on day 1 at 7am and finishes in Darwin day 16 at approx 6pm. Onward travel should be booked the following day (or late that night)

Essential trip information

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