Top End Wilderness Explorer: Broome to Darwin
Get ready for one of Australia’s greatest road trips, on this 12-day self-drive outback adventure through Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Collect your car in Broome and head towards Kununurra, on the epic Gibbs River Road to see the spectacular canons and caves of Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. On your 2000 kilometre journey ending in Darwin, you will explore National Parks and see stunning gorges and thundering waterfalls, learn about the fascinating geology and centuries-old rock art and experience Aussie outback hospitality. With awe-inspiring landscapes, this road trip ticks all the boxes for a driving holiday like no other.
- Explore Derby, the first town settled in the Kimberley and gateway to the spectacular Horizontal Waterfalls and Windjana Gorge National Park
- Drive the Gibb River Road, one of Australia’s best 4WD routes and see the remarkable Boab Prison Tree, believed to be 1500 years old
- Relax on a scenic cruise in Kununurra with afternoon tea included
- Enjoy two nights at Bullo River Station on a full-board basis with (including beer, wine and spirits), and activities including cattle station activities, mustering, fishing, horse riding, guided tours of rock art, gorges & water holes, 4WD and a helicopter flight
- Visit Kakadu National Park and explore Katherine Gorge where the outback meets the tropics and home to 16 national parks
- Enjoy accommodation at unique farm homesteads and cattle stations offering unrivalled hospitality
Itinerary in Brief:
- Day 1: Broome to Derby
- Day 2: Derby to Mount Hart
- Day 3: Mount Hart to Drysdale River
- Day 4: Drysdale River to El Questro Station
- Day 5: Exploring the region
- Day 6: El Questro Station to Kununurra
- Day 7: Kununurra to Bullo River Station
- Day 8: Exploring the region
- Day 9: Bullo River Station to Timber Creek
- Day 10: Timber Creek to Katherine
- Day 11: Katherine to Kakadu National Park
- Day 12: Kakadu National Park to Darwin
Tailor Made Suggestions for this Itinerary
- Extend your stay in Broome and book a sunset camel safari on Cable Beach, discover dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point or snorkel the coral reefs at Rowley Shoals
- From Broome or Derby, book a scenic flight, float plane or scenic cruise to visit the spectacular Horizonal Waterfalls
- Book a scenic helicopter ride over the spectacular Bungle Bunge range or over the Katherine Gorge
- Stay a while and explore the gorges of Katherine (Nitmiluk National Park) on a multi-day hike
- Extend your stay in Darwin and enjoy a day trip to Litchfield National Park, cruise the Mary River wetlands or visit the Tiwi Islands, nicknamed the “Island of Smiles”
Day 1: Broome to Derby
On arrival in Broome Airport, make your way to the Hertz Car Rental Counter located in the Airport Terminal to collect your car.
Coastal and outback towns of the Kimberley region offer vastly diverse experiences. Covering nearly 423,000 square kilometres, this ancient region has fewer people per square kilometre than almost any other place on Earth. Hidden in the region’s heart are remarkable landscapes, spectacular gorges and thundering waterfalls. On its coast lie some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, untouched coral atolls and rugged islands with an amazing variety of marine life.
Today you will travel from Broome to Derby. The drive is 222km/138 miles and approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes drive without stops.
Derby is the western gateway to the legendary Gibb River Road and a short drive to the horizontal waterfalls and the ancient canyons and caves of Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge. It is the first town settled in the Kimberley and its residents have embraced life beside the largest tidal movements in the southern hemisphere. It is often called the land of the Boab trees as the streets are lined with these unique trees. The Prison Boab Tree, believed to be 1500 years old dates back to the time of Jandamarra, when many Aboriginal prisoners were chained here en-route to the lockup. At end of town is the Derby wharf, the famous jetty where you can watch the 11 metre tides rushing in and out of King Sound and catch the sun setting over the water. Discover Derby’s pioneering past by following the Derby Pastoral Trail. Visit the Wharfinger House Museum, Pioneer Cemetery and the Old Derby Goal.
Day 2: Derby to Mount Hart
Today you will continue your drive along Gibb River Road towards Mount Hart. The drive is 237km/147 miles and approximately 4 hours drive without stops.
Along the way you will stop at the Windjana Gorge National Park. This is one of the Kimberley’s most stunning gorges, with water streaked walls that rise majestically to heights of 100 metres. The Lennard River runs through Windjana Gorge in wet weather. It forms pools surrounds by tress and shrubs during the dry season. The 3.5km gorge cuts through Napier Range – part of the ancient Devonian limestone reef. Fresh water crocodiles bask in the pools, while fruit bats and corellas roost in the waterside trees. Walks include the Gorge Walk, which begins in the camping area and winds through the gorge for 3.5km each way.
Next continue to Tunnel Creek, within Tunnel Creek National Park, which flows through a water worn tunnel beneath the limestone of the Napier Range, part of the 375 to 350 million year old Devonian Reef system. You can walk 750 metres through the tunnel to the other side of Napier Range, wading through several permanent pools and watching for bats and the stalactites that descend from the roof in many places. The tunnel is up to 12 metres high and 15 metres wide in parts. Near the centre of the cave the roof has collapsed and is an excellent place to observe the colony of fruit bats. Take a torch, wear sneakers and be prepared to get wet and possibly cold. It is the famous hideout used late last century by an Aboriginal leader known as Jandamarra. He was killed outside its entrance in 1897.
After continue east along the Gibb River Road crossing the Lennard River until you reach the Mt Hart Station turnoff which provides you with a very scenic drive, winding and climbing through the ranges. Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge offers an authentic homestead experience off the Gibb River Road. Located in the heart of the King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park, Mt Hart’s proximity to many of the Kimberley major attractions makes an ideal base to explore the region.
Day 3: Mount Hart to Drysdale River Station
Today you will continue your drive along Gibb River Road towards Drysdale River. The drive is 332km/206 miles and approximately 5 hours drive without stops.
On arrival enjoy the rest of the day on this unique family owned property. It is not a hotel, not a motel, not a farm stay, not a bed and breakfast, not a roadhouse, but an Australian outback mixture of all these things including a million acre working cattle station. The section of the property where the accommodation is located offers also a general service centre, with a petrol station (including tyre repairs), small general store, homestead camp area, and a licensed dining room offering evening meals and breakfast.
Day 4: Drysdale River Station to El Questro Station
Today you will continue your drive along Gibb River Road toward Home Valley Station. The drive is 236km/147 miles and approximately 4 hours drive without stops.
Along the way stop at the Cockburn Range Lookout for some spectacular views of the region. Discover the spellbinding scenery that captivated audiences in Baz Luhrmann’s movie “Australia”, including the imposing yet strikingly beautiful backdrop of the majestic Cockburn Range.
This afternoon arrive to your accommodation at El Questro Station, situated on the banks of the Pentecost River, with sprawling evergreen lawns providing a contrast to the surrounding landscape. Explore the wide open spaces and see the kind of wildlife you just don't get in the city. Relax on the riverbank, swim in the tranquil swimming hole and in the evenings enjoy the fantastic cuisine at the Steakhouse restaurant.
Day 5: Exploring the Region
Today is at leisure and an opportunity to do some independent exploring, or just relax.
Day 6: El Questro Station to Kununurra
Today you will continue your drive along El Questro Road toward Kununurra. The drive is 105km/65 miles and approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes drive without stops.
Kununurra puts you at the heart of the East Kimberley action. The name Kununurra means “Meeting of The Big Waters”. The area offers countless gorges, waterfalls, several large tidal rivers, dozens for smaller streams and creeks, Lake Kununurra and Lake Argyle. Take a helicopter flight over one of the world's most unique ranges - the Bungle Bungle Range. Cruise the wildlife rich waters of a man-made lake so huge it's classed as an inland sea. Follow in the tracks of pioneering legends along the Gibb River Road, chase the mighty barramundi, or gain a true connection to country with one of the oldest surviving cultures on Earth.
After lunch you will enjoy an afternoon cruise on the Ord River. Commencing with a transfer from your hotel to the Marina you will board your boat. Cruising this spectacular waterway, you will marvel at the spectacular scenery, wildlife, flora and fauna found along the way and maybe even spot a crocodile. Remaining on the boat at the base of the Ord Top Dam, you will cruise back towards Kununurra. Enjoy afternoon tea at a riverside camp. Take in a colourful East Kimberley sunset before docking back at the Marina and for the coach transfer to your Kununurra accommodation.
Day 7: Kununurra to Bullo River Station
Today you will continue your drive along Victoria Highway toward Bullo River Station. The drive is 227km/141 miles and approximately 3 hours, 30 minutes drive without stops. Please note that your destination will be in a different time zone.
As you cross the border from Western Australia to the Northern Territory, you will see a DAFWA checkpoint (Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia) where fresh fruit, vegetables and honey are checked for. These foods are not allowed to be brought into Western Australia from the Northern Territory; however vice versa is not checked.
Bullo River Station is referred to the East Kimberley region and located on half a million acres of grassy dust plains, crossed by twisted rivers and home to over 9000 Brahmano-cross cattle. The station is surrounded by the Victoria River with escarpments inscribed with Aboriginal rock art, waters crammed with barramundi and crocodiles. Wild buffalo, dingoes and mobs of wallabies roam the plains. The 'Boab' is Bullo's symbol and these proud trees dot the entire property lending their stature to what is already an impressive landscape. Guests at this working station will gain a front seat view, from building fences to seasonal cattle mustering. Learn the Aussie bushcraft of cracking a bullwhip or helping to rope cattle.
Day 8: Exploring the Top End
Today is at leisure and an opportunity to do some independent exploring, or just relax.
The Top End of the Northern Territory is known for its tropical weather, crocodiles, rich indigenous culture, great fishing, national parks and laid-back lifestyle. It is home to an eclectic mix of cultures whose outdoor lifestyle is complemented by brilliant sunsets, fantastic fishing. Aboriginal people are the original custodians of the Top End and have a unique relationship with the land. Their art and Dreamtime stories weave a connection between spirit and country and provide modern travellers with a deeper understanding and insight to the mysteries of land and waters.
Day 9: Bullo River Station to Timber Creek
Today you will continue your drive along Bullo River Access Road and Victoria Highway toward Timber Creek. The drive is 172km/107 miles and approximately 3 hours drive without stops.
Fishing is Timber Creek’s biggest draw-card and the beautiful Victoria River, running through deep valleys and gorges, is one of the Northern Territory’s most scenic places to catch barramundi. Located just northwest of Timber Creek is Gregory’s Tree, a large boab that stands at the campsite of explorer Augustus Gregory’s North Australian Expedition, undertaken between October 1855 and July 1856.
Day 10: Timber Creek to Katherine
Today you will continue your drive along Victoria Highway toward Katherine. The drive is 317km/197 miles and approximately 4 hours drive without stops.
Stop at Kuwang Lookout for views towards Stokes Range and houses an interpretive display featuring creation stories of the local indigenous community. The stunning escarpment country provides the perfect backdrop for fishing and boat cruises, with Red Valley Gorge providing a shady and scenic rest area. It is important to remember Estuarine Crocodiles in habitat this area, so please observe all safety precautions/signs around any water in this area.
Once you reach Katherine, the gateway to sixteen national parks and where the outback meets the tropics. Take a refreshing dip in the Katherine Hot Springs – a series of clear pools fed by a natural thermal spring located on the banks of the Katherine River. Continue onto the spectacular Nitmiluk National Park and its world-renowned gorge system. You can walk, swim, canoe, boat or fly. Walks over the sandstone plateau range from an hour to five days and offer spectacular views of the gorge, as well as other landscapes. Other regional sights include the 500-million-year-old limestone Cutta Cutta Caves, home of the rare orange horseshoe bat, Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls and many other Aboriginal cultural sights.
Day 11: Katherine Gorge to Kakadu National Park
Today you will continue your drive along the National Route 1 towards Kakadu National Park. The drive is 281km/176 miles and approximately 3 hours, 30 minutes drive without stops.
The World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is internationally famous for the breath-taking natural beauty of its wetlands, escarpments and spectacular waterfalls, as well as its more than 50,000 year old Aboriginal cultural heritage. Aboriginal people own and co-manage the huge park, which covers almost 20,000 kilometres and encompasses a huge variety of Top End habitats with many different species of reptile, bird and plant life. There are also more than 5,000 Aboriginal cultural sites in the park, and the ancient rock-art galleries of Kakadu are the oldest in the world. Many of them record extinct species like the thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), as well as depicting sacred creation beings like Namarrgon the Lightning Man and Ngalyod the Rainbow Serpent.
Day 12: Kakadu National Park to Darwin
This morning will begin with a two hour intimate adventure tour that you will never forget. Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu's most famous wetland, is located at the end of Jim Jim Creek, a tributary of the South Alligator River. The river system, which is the largest in Kakadu, contains extensive wetlands that include river channels, floodplains and backwater swamps. About one third of Australia's bird species are represented in Kakadu National Park, with at least 60 species found in the wetlands. The guides on the cruise run a competition between themselves on who can find "the big five" on one cruise - all five species of kingfisher that can be found in Kakadu. There are plenty of crocodiles in their natural habitat and buffalo on the floodplains. Ahuge Jabiru's nest is nearby, and depending on the season, Brolgas can be found dancing.
You will then embark on your last drive along Kakadu Highway towards Darwin. The drive is 305km/190 miles and approximately 3 hours, 30 minutes drive without stops.
Pass through the main township of Jabiru become continuing onto Mamukala Wetlands, a bird lovers paradise. This short walk allows you to see an astonishing variety of bird life from the observation platform nestled into the paperbarks. With large numbers of Magpie Geese, Kites, Combe-crested Jacanas, Cormorants, Willie Wagtails, Purple Swamp Hens, Finches and Kingfishers that congregate in this billabong, this makes for one of the best birdwatching areas in Kakadu. If time permits, enjoy a jumping crocodile cruise in Wak Wak (four cruises daily).
Make a stop at the The Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve, a protected wetland area which is an important bird area. Boardwalks take you on different landscapes to observation platforms to view the large number of resident wading birds. Continue onto Humpy Doo where you will see a Big Boxing Croc standing 13 meters high and wearing a paid of red boxing gloves. It was inspired by the “Boxing Kangaroo” logo used in Australia’s successful 1983 bid for the America’s Cup. Stop at the Humpty Doo Hotel, where you will find the world’s biggest set of Water Buffalo horns above the bar and plenty of local characters.
Return your rental vehicle to the airport, allowing plenty of time to connect with your departing flight. Darwin is a fascinating city with a fantastic dining scene, interesting history and plenty to see. Consider adding on a a few nights here at the end of your drive.
|The Kimberley||Spinifix Hotel Derby|
|The Kimberley||Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge|
|The Kimberley||Drysdale River Station|
|The Kimberley||El Questro Station|
|The Kimberley||Kununurra Country Club Resort|
|The Kimberley||Bullo River Station Homestead|
|The Kimberley||Timber Creek Hotel|
|Kakadu NP||Cooinda Lodge Kakadu|
- 12 nights of accommodation as per itinerary
- 12 days of car rental with Hertz Australia - Large 4WD Auto (FFBD)
- Unlimited Kilometres
- Damage Cover (DC) for the Hertz vehicle and Third Party Property
- 24 hour Roadside Assistance
- Vehicle Registration Recovery Fee (VRR)
- Administration Fee Recovery (AFR)
- Government Stamp Duty
- 10% GST and Airport Concession Fee Recovery (ACFR).
Note: The Airport Concession Fee Recovery (ACFR) is included in the daily rental rate only and not for any extras such as child seats or one way fees.
- Meals as per itinerary: 7 x breakfast, 2 x lunch, 3 x dinner
- Afternoon Ord River Cruise
- Early Morning Yellow Water Cruise
- Wilderness Park Permit
- Government Goods and Services Tax of 10% (GST)
What’s not included?
- Both international and internal Australian flights (unless otherwise specified)
- Supplier surcharges when date/time of service required occurs on a public holiday or outside of standard hours
- Meals other than those specified above
- Your car rental does not include:
- Maximum insurance cover as it can’t be pre-booked or pre-paid;
You can book Maximum insurance cover directly at the Broome Depot with Zero access @ AUD$50,00 per day + location taxes;
- GPS units at available at the depot, please bring your own;
- One way fee AUD$1,650.00 must be paid directly to Hertz;
- Maximum insurance cover as it can’t be pre-booked or pre-paid;
- Optional tours and services
- Items of of a personal nature
- Travel insurance