Darwin hosts plenty of destinations that can range from deserts, beaches, and mountains. So, you will have to spend a lot of time to explore all of it. The city, and the Northern Territory, in general, have over 50 national parks, natural reserves, marine protected areas, and conservation areas. There are also several 4WD tracks scattered all throughout the state which offers spectacular views if you have the courage to tackle them.
Darwin is strategically located as it has two World Heritage-listed national parks nearby: Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta. Both of these sites offer 4WD tracks and they should be your destination for your next trip. Here are our top 5 tracks in Darwin that you must try:
Out of all the places that you can head to, we have chosen five of the best 4WD tracks for enthusiasts of all experience levels. The first one is quite famous, so read more to find out.
So before you continue, If your new to 4WD and offroading or are not sure what equipment to take out with you on your adventures, make sure to check out the Off Road Aussies Essential 4×4 Equipment List where I have taken the time to review and recommend the equipment I use. If you kit yourself out correctly you will be able to tackle everything that your new adventures will throw at you.
Kakadu National Park
Location: 211 km east of Darwin
Track Length: 737.51 km
Track Time: 3 hours
Terrain: Dirt, mud, and bitumen
Mention Kakadu National Park and various people will associate a memory with it. Native workmanship, rock formations, numerous bird species, and massive slopes. Other than being notable for its World Heritage listing, Kakadu has a great deal to offer you – the average traveller. There are various 4WD tracks in and around the recreation centre. In addition, the park is a bird, boat, and fishing lovers’ haven. Just be mindful of the crocs!
The pictures we will, in general, observe of Kakadu are airborne photos taken from light flying machine during the November to April period, and you could be excused for feeling that Kakadu was a rainforest – it is a long way from it. Kakadu isn’t a World Heritage site for its prettiness, but for its biodiversity. So, don’t mind the pictures you’ve found in magazines and on TV. Kakadu really has 6 fundamental landforms, albeit about 80% of the national park is characterised as “lowlands”, which means it has shallow soils, loads of ironstone and ancient rugged hills. The most prominent areas for sightseers are the floodplains and the estuaries, because of the superb cluster of vegetation and wildlife that can be seen close to the water.
Visiting Kakadu by vehicle implies you’ll be there during the Dry Season as this is the only time that vehicular access is conceivable along the earthen and occasionally harsh tracks that lead to the most intriguing areas.
The entry fee into Kakadu has now been cancelled and you may visit the park for free. Camping charges apply at the national park campgrounds with showers and toilets situated at Merl, Muirella Park, Mardugal and Gunlom. There are various undeveloped campsites in the Park, with limited amenities, where you can camp for basically nothing. In addition, a permit is required to camp outside of the assigned areas. Additionally, the park has various boat ramps and bait angling is the only method allowed. Bag limits apply to Barramundi and a few regions are classified as off-limits for angling.
Street conditions in the Park shift as dictated by the season. Across the board, wet season flooding happens most of the time from November to April. Thus, you should account for this factor while planning for your trip. By a wide margin, the most significant precautionary measure you can take when you decide to have a trip to Kakadu is an effective insect repellent and mozzie-free tents. At nightfall, mozzies and bugs are very active, so wear loose protective clothing to minimise the problem. Using mozzie coils will also lessen the problem, as well as the giant sandalwood and citronella incense sticks that are easily accessible. On the off chance that you are allergic to insect bites and can’t quit scratching, you should start taking antihistamine tablets the day before your excursion.
Note: There are no caravan parks or campgrounds inside Darwin City; however, there are a lot of backpacker accommodation and decent motels and inns. The closest caravan park to the city is on the Stuart Highway at Berrimah, which is located in an industrial area. In addition, theirs is another one at Howard Springs, which is east off the Stuart Highway about 30 km (25-minute drive) from the city.
You can find more information about Kakadu National Park here.
Location: 1,660 km south of Darwin
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Track Length: 160.92 km
Track Time: 1 hour
This trek begins at Alice Springs and heads south on the Old South Road taking in certain vestiges en route to the community of Maryvale. It then travels southeast to Chambers Pillar which is an astonishing rock formation located in the Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve. This part of the journey is amazingly beautiful and is a decent prologue to the sort of view that you would find in the Simpson Desert. This is in spite of the fact that the course keeps running between the sand dunes and is moderately simple.
The track to Chambers Pillar is not suggested for trailers by most people. But aside from a touch of sand, a rough low range second steep decline, and some patches of corrugation, it is clear and numerous individuals with trailers do succeed in completing it. There are red hills on either side of the track, some scattered ruins, and not a vehicle in sight. The track is for the most part sand and has great drainage when it rains.
You can move up to the base of the vertical segment of Chambers column to see the carved names of the celebrated pioneers who go here before the Telegraph and Ghan was completed. In addition, there’s a pleasant stroll around the base of Castle Rock. Late evening is the best time to see the rainbow shades of the ridge that gleam dynamically when struck by the brilliant beams of the setting sun.
Chambers Pillar lies in a Historical Reserve and you needn’t bother with consent to enter it. Additionally, you won’t need an Aboriginal Land Permit since you won’t go through any restricted land.
The campgrounds are phenomenal with incredible perspectives on both Castle Rock and Chambers Pillar. They have free gas BBQs, hotplates, fire pits, and huge outdoor tables. Although, the campgrounds are not perfect for camper trailers or caravans with bollards improving the sites to fit tent campers. In spite of the fact that you can camp in the shade, your vehicle will certainly not. This is a thought in destinations with hotter climates as there is no electricity to power refrigerators or keeps batteries charged.
You can find more information about Chambers Pillar here.
Location: 1,056 km southeast of Darwin
Track Length: 378.25 km
Track Time: 1 day
The Tablelands Highway is a remote stretch of single-path bitumen which has likewise turned into a mainstream route for caravan travellers as it gives them chance to investigate the land that lies between the main east-west arterials – the Barkly Highway and Carpentaria Highway. Albeit some 190km east of the Stuart Highway, it is a better alternate route for getting some north-south mileage under your wheels on a calmer stretch of the path if you aren’t bothered by the remoteness.
With all of these things considered, it also hosts major cattle grazing areas and sometimes you may come across cattle trucks moving stock. So, you’ll need to be alert in the event that you do.
In spite of the fact that the place is named as a “highway”, the Tablelands Highway is a lot more like a pastoral street clearing its path through grazing land. Several kilometres are not fenced and red kangaroos or cattle cross the bitumen suddenly even with vehicles around.
Every year in June, the Brunette Races likewise draws a huge crowd. Situated on Brunette Downs Station, this is a 4-day outback carnival of racing, camp craft, rodeo, children and grown-up’s gymkhana, an extravagant dress gala, and the Battle of the Barkly. Whether you take part or spectate, there is onsite camping.
The Tablelands Highway is noted for its skyline with treeless fields that seem to go on forever, which makes up most of its southern end. On the other hand, its northern end hosts a lot of sandstone and gulf.
You can find more information about Tablelands Highway here.
Old Andado Track
Location: 2,038 km southeast of Darwin
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Track Length: 440.75 km
Track Time: 2 days
The course crosses captivating terrain that incorporates mountain ranges, rugged gibber fields, desert sandhills, and floodplains. It genuinely is an amazing experience and one that you won’t think to find in Central Australia. You can stretch out this trip to incorporate Dalhousie Springs or Finke, and it ends up pleasantly with the Simpson Desert trek notes. The Old Andado Track is suggested for 4WD vehicles only.
Probably the rarest tree, the Waddy Tree (Acacia peuce) is found in this protected area. It can specifically be found in 3 secluded stands on the edge of the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory and in Queensland. The other 2 areas are on the Bedourie Road and close to Montague Downs, QLD. Each site has up to a few hundred trees, strewn over a couple of square kilometres. Despite the fact that the tree may live to more than 500 years old, there are little indications of regeneration at the Andado and Birdsville spots. The waddy tree has an exceptionally thick hardwood and was utilised by aboriginals for weapons and early surveyors utilised the timber as miles markers when making state limit reviews in the 1880s.
You should also remember that in spite of the fact that this course does not look far on maps, you should permit 2 days (at least) to complete this journey. In addition, you should be ready for anything to happen. Old Andado is in an extremely remote location, so vehicles must be very much prepared for emergencies. You should also take adequate fuel, food, and water as there is nowhere to stop and restock for supplies. As is usual with every single 4WD excursion, you will require recovery gear, long-distance communications equipment (e.g. HF radio and UHF radio), navigation hardware, and a satellite phone (if you have one). You should also secure permits if you plan to visit or enter into Aboriginal Communities (no permit is required to navigate the track itself).
You can find more information about Old Andado Track here.
Judbarra/Gregory National Park
Location: 544 km south of Darwin
Track Length: 413.11 km
Track Time: 3 days
Terrain: Sandy, rocky, and grassy
The Gregory National Park 4WD track network is composed of the Broadarrow, Wickham, Humbert, Bullita Stock Route, Gibbie, and Tukawam tracks. This trek takes you from south to north through some extremely remote areas over its entirety or parts of the initial four tracks. In any case, the park and this trek can likewise be reached from the Buchanan Hwy in the east through Victoria River Downs.
Access to the tracks is by and large last from June and November in the dry with the tracks continuously opening north to south with the Broadarrow still accessible in late July or August. NT Parks and Wildlife portray these tracks as being mostly simple with some moderate to hard segments. There can be some scratchy areas on the Broadarrow Track, and anyplace there are springs with steepish entrances and exits, and rough segments are plentiful. Thus, care should be taken consistently. The Broadarrow is extremely infamous for punctures. The track is difficult to miss with for all intents and purposes as you will have no other choices or offtakes and is demonstrated broadly by boab-themed markers and distance stakes. NT Parks and Wildlife exhort against camper trailers, however great quality, high leeway, well-verbalised rough terrain trailers might be increasingly appropriate.
Most tracks are on a rather flat country in spite of the fact that the area rises south of the Humbert River. There is one sheer incline (with a few false peaks) on the Wickham Track and one troublesome ‘shaley’ drop on the Bullita Stock Route. Three intersections, Humbert River and two East Baines, are dubious, not due to its deepness (just about 30cm in August 2009). Instead, picking the right line through the submerged edges isn’t that simple especially when taking into account the marker stakes. Having your guide ‘detect’ these segments will make life a lot simpler.
Take care at the main East Baines crossing at Bullita where the sign says to keep to one side of the markers, yet in the event that you veer too far left you may discover a gap. The Bullita SR is especially rough and slow-going for the initial 12 km. Every one of the tracks experience wide wanders and criss-crosses as the course endeavours to stay away from the most terrible of the various springs, breakaways, and rivers.
Camping is free at many cleared assigned NT Parks and Wildlife campsites (with the standard dinky chimneys) on the tracks and wild outdoors (along with free kindling) is accessible all across the park. Water can be obtained at numerous spots along the track; however, its quality would differ. Camping charges apply at the campgrounds with more ‘facilities’ (i.e. Bullita campground on the East Baines River). There are various swimming waterholes but most of them are croc territories too, so take alert and take note of the signages.
Try not to miss the short one kilometre walk just toward the north of the Fig Tree Yard turn off – it isn’t strenuous and gives incredible views, especially in the late evening. There is another short stroll in the area close to the Humbert intersection to Police Creek Waterhole. It is likewise worth investing a touch of energy at Bullita Outstation as NT Parks and Wildlife have introduced some intriguing interpretive material.
From Bullita (should you not pick the difficult Stock Route alternative), there is a very much well-maintained 2WD street to the Victoria Hwy.
You can find more information about Judbarra/Gregory National Park here.
Is Swimming Allowed on Dundee Beach?
Beach NT 99 is the location of the Lodge of Dundee, the most famous tourist and holiday destination in the region. The best piece of the shoreline for swimming is on the south side of the hotel or in the little pool which has the view of the slope and ‘harbour’.
Is It Safe if I Swim in Darwin?
Darwin pools, shorelines, rock pools, and cascades are well known in an atmosphere with normal temperatures above 30C. In any case, a portion of these spots is likewise prominent with crocodiles and box jellyfish, which are deadly. Thus, before you do a running jump into some alluring cool water, see if it is safe
Can I Swim at Mindil Beach?
While Casuarina shoreline has a lot of sand it is genuinely shallow and to exit to get into water over your knee caps can be a far walk at low tides. There is a Life Saving club here and BBQ facilities if you want to cook. Mindil shoreline by the casino is also well-known but there is little to no shade.
Do I Need a 4WD Vehicle to Explore Kakadu?
You needn’t bother with a 4WD to visit Kakadu National Park. But, in the event that you might want to see probably the most famous attractions, for example, Jim and Twin Falls, you will need to have a 4WD vehicle. Indeed, even Gunlom and Maguk can only be safely reached with an appropriate vehicle.