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-known drawcards 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 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
Alice Springs, Australia
Finish
Darwin, Australia
Country
Australia
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer, Indigenous Culture, Overland
Code
POONC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 24

Why we love this trip

  • Get back to basics with this classic nine day overland adventure. Camp in premenant campsites with furnishings including proper beds, cooling fans and electricity.

  • Fly from Alice Springs to Darwin instead of 24 hours on a bus

  • Enjoy twin share motel accommodation in Alice Springs and Darwin

  • Enjoy fully catered evening meals during your 3 nights in Kakadu, Litchfield, and Katherine

  • Enjoy our exclusive Australian Native Foods menu throughout the trip. Created in conjunction with Aussie bush tucker specialist Andrew Fielke, you will be treated to a plethora of native dishes incorporating ingredients such as kangaroo, emu, lemon myrtle, desert lime, wattle seed and more

  • See the highlights and national parks of Australia's Northern Territory in rugged, authentic 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

  • Get up early and see the sun rise over Uluru

  • The 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 and an optional flight over the escarpment

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a an Original style trip, covering the highlights of Australia's Northern Territory at a slightly slower pace

  • You'll spend some nights of the trip sleeping in outback camping grounds. While tents are comfortable facilities can be basic, this is all part of the adventure. You'll also need to pitch in with preparing breakfast and lunch meals. 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.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 April 2017 - 31 March 2018

Starting in Alice Springs, set off to experience a working camel farm, perhaps even enjoying a ride. Make our way to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and take a guided walk through the awe-inspiring Domes of Kata Tjuta. We then head to Australia's most iconic landmark - Uluru (Ayres Rock). 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. The perfect end to a remarkable day is awaiting you back at camp, as you enjoy a famous 1,000 star dinner. With the red earth at your feet and an infinite sprawl of stars overhead, sit down to a candlelit spread of locally sourced food and wines.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Uluru sunset drinks
  • 1000 Star Dinner
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • 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 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 indigenous arts and crafts 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
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Maruku Arts interactive Indigenous experience
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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
This morning we journey through Ormiston Gorge, witnessing contrasting colours as the light reflects off the cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for wallabies and other wildlife. Move on to Ellery Creek to enjoy panoramic views of the area, perhaps taking a dip in its still waters. After lunch, visit the world famous Simpsons Gap, an important site to the local Aboriginal communities. Watch the colour of the peaks transform under the setting sun. An optional, hour-long sunset camel ride is also available. Head to Alice Springs, where we check into our hotel for the night.

The total driving time will be about three hours, and you will walk up to 10km.
Included Activities
  • Western MacDonnell Ranges
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
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Airport Transfers
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Your adventure begins in the tropical city of Darwin. 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. The day draws to an end with a wildlife cruise in the Mary River Wetlands, a network of waterways home to crocodiles and native bird species. Enjoy an Aussie pub meal before climbing into bed at the secluded Mary River campsite. All tents are twin-share and come with a proper bed.

Note: Total driving time is about five and a half hours (approximately 400kms)
Total walking time is approximately 45 minutes
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Mary River cruise
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast this morning, head to 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. Head to either Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) or Gunlom Falls and cool off with a dip in the plunge pools. Tonight, relax by the pool at the Kakadu campground and enjoy a group dinner.

Note: Total driving time is about six and a half hours (approximately 550kms)
Total walking time is approximately two hours
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Ubirr Rock
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Gunlom Falls
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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 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).

Note: Total driving time is about five and a half hours (approximately 400kms)
Total walking time is approximately one hour
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Edith Falls
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
Optional Activities
  • Flight (Fixed Wing Aircraft) over - Kakadu - from - AUD150
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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 experience an Aboriginal interpretive display to learn about the local indigenous culture. You'll have the chance to get involved in some great hands-on activities, such as fire-making, boomerang and spear throwing and painting your own indigenous-style artwork to take home as a souvenir. Afterwards hit the road back to Darwin, where your adventure comes to an end on arrival. Perhaps enjoy one final group dinner in town and toast to your adventure with your new friends.

Note: Total driving time is about five hours (approximately 400kms)
Total walking time is approximately one hour
Included Activities
  • Top Didj Indigenous Experience
Optional Activities
  • Katherine Gorge Scenic Cruise - AUD94
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Meals

6 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Plane

Accommodation

Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (3 nights), Permanent, furnished tented camp (with shared facilities) (3 nights) Motel (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Uluru sunset drinks
  • 1000 Star Dinner
  • Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park Entrance
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Maruku Arts interactive Indigenous experience
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
  • Western MacDonnell Ranges
  • Airport Transfers
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Mary River cruise
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Ubirr Rock
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Gunlom Falls
  • Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Edith Falls
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
  • Top Didj Indigenous Experience

Dates & availability

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Important notes

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

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 Northern Territory Encompassed Northbound trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 review in the last year.

Northern Territory Encompassed Northbound, July 2016

Steve Pople