Take a unique road trip through ancient, sacred lands

Embark on an adventure from Darwin to Alice Springs, including Arnhem Land and sacred Uluru, on this nine-day tour. This classic road trip-style overland adventure proves the best way to experience this rugged land is by going back to basics – complete with nights spent under starry skies, cooling off in natural rock pools and waking to the layered calls of rainbow bee-eaters and spangled drongo birds. Find the essence of this ancient country in its most remote areas, among the people who have called it home for tens of thousands of years.


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

Why you'll love this trip

  • Start your journey right with a Cul Cul (Welcome to Country) from your Limilngan-Wulna hosts, a gracious ceremony from the Traditional Owners of the land you begin your adventure on.

  • Watch as the sacred monolith of Uluru changes colour during an unforgettable sunrise and discover why so many are captivated by this striking island mountain.

  • See rock art that was sketched over 50,000 years ago in Mawurndaddja and learn about the site’s spiritual significance and archaeological research from a local guide.

  • Hike through the otherworldly Valley of the Winds for spectacular views of Kata-Tjuta, the towering domes that form something akin to a forest of rounded rocks.

  • Get closer to nature with a few nights in a swag, a simple one-person tent that allows you to feel the breeze and admire the stars as you fall asleep.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a Basix trip which covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. You'll spend some nights of the trip sleeping in outback camping grounds and others in mutli-share, mixed-gender hostel accommodation. We believe it’s the best (and often only) way to see the Outback in all its glory. At campsites, 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.

  • Temperatures in the Red Centre and Top End can 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

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
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 2-hour drive back to Darwin.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Litchfield National Park occasionally closes attractions 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 information’ section in the ‘Essential trip information’ for more.

Total driving time: about 3.5 hours (approximately 250 km)
Total walking time: about 1 hour

As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today.

Today, skip 1500 kilometres of driving (which would take about 24 hours) and fly from Darwin to Alice Springs. Transfer from your accommodation to the airport. On arrival in Alice Springs please look for your transfer vehicle, a green and yellow bus operated by Alice Wanderer) to transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore ‘Alice’, your gateway to the Red Centre.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
We'll arrange your air tickets and issue them a couple of weeks prior to your departure. Please note this day is unescorted.

Your Darwin transfer (operated by Darwin City Airport Shuttle Service) will depart approximately 2 hours prior to your flight to Alice Springs. In case of any issues or to confirm the time please call +61 8 8947 3979.

Your Alice Springs transfer is operated by Alice Wanderer (green and yellow bus). In case of any issues please call 1800 1800 722 111 (free call) or +61 8 89522111.
Hit the road for Australia’s legendary Outback. Stop at an Outback roadhouse for an optional breakfast (at your own expense), then it’s back on the road for the drive to Yulara, stopping off along the way for views of Mt Connor and various salt lakes. After lunch, jump back in the vehicle and travel into Uluru National Park. Grab a coffee and check out the Cultural Centre, then walk over to the main attraction – Uluru. Depending on how active you’re feeling, you can choose to do an optional ten-kilometre walk around the base of Uluru. No two angles of the sacred monolith are the same and its sheer size will leave you gobsmacked. If you'd rather do a shorter walk, follow the ‘Mala Walk’ signs for a stroll to the Mutitjulu Waterhole. In the evening, watch a spectacular Uluru sunset while enjoying some tasty snacks. Once the sun has gone down, drive to tonight’s campsite for a hot shower and hearty dinner. Roll out your swag (Aussie bedroll) and get comfortable under the stars.
Included Activities
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Uluru sunset drinks
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
You must be packed and ready to go from the Alice Springs joining point at 5.45 am this morning. Please see the ‘Joining point’ section of the ‘Essential trip information’ for details.

Total driving time today is about 5.5 hours (approximately 450 km)
Total walking time will be approximately 2–3 hours, depending on which option you choose in the afternoon.
Rise early for an included breakfast and memorable Uluru sunrise. Next head to Kata-Tjuta (The Olgas) for a guided six-kilometre walk through the legendary Valley of the Winds. The walk can be challenging, but you’re rewarded with a spectacular perspective on mind-blowing rock formations. Return to camp for lunch. In the afternoon, drive to a remote bush camp in Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) and freshen up with a hot shower. Tonight’s dinner will be an authentic Outback barbecue.
Included Activities
  • Valley of the Winds walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Total driving time today is around 4 hours (approximately 300kms).
Total walking time is approximately 2.5 hours.
After breakfast, drive to Kings Canyon for a guided six-kilometre hike along the Canyon Rim. This varied landscape of chasms, canyons and cliffs is one of the most spectacular and surprising in the Outback. Enter a natural amphitheatre, discover the Lost City, cool off under the shade of the Garden of Eden’s leafy palm trees and admire panoramic views from the North and South Walls. After lunch, make tracks back to Alice Springs with a few leg-stretches on the way, before pulling into Alice in the early evening.
Included Activities
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Total driving time today is around 6 hours (approximately 500 km).
Total walking time is approximately 3 hours.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

All Terrain vehicle, Private vehicle, Flight

Accommodation

Camping (with shared facilities) (1 night), Permanent tented camp (with shared facilities) (2 nights), Permanent, furnished tented camp (with shared facilities) (3 nights) multishare hostel (with shared facilities) (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Guluyambi Cultural Cruise
  • Mawurndaddja rock art and occupation complex
  • Jim Jim Falls Walk
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Edith Falls
  • Uluru Base Walk
  • Uluru sunset drinks
  • Uluru Cultural Centre
  • Valley of the Winds walk
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Darwin on day 1 at 6 am and finishes in Alice Springs on day 9 at approximately 6 pm. Onward travel should be booked on the following day.
2. 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.
3. The Top End and Kakadu portion of this trip has a strict luggage limit of 10 kilograms. 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 POBUA.
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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