Adelaide to Darwin Overland

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Intrepid Travel

See the Red Centre and the Top End on an Outback adventure through Australia’s heart, spending 15 days travelling from Adelaide to Darwin. From the orange-rock spires of Warren Gorge, the underground mining town of Coober Pedy, the towering domes of Kata Tjuta, the traditional rock art in Ubirr, the swimming holes of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park to the towering rock walls of Katherine Gorge, you’ll get an insightful top-to-tail Australian adventure. Along the way, learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legends and customs during the Top Didj cultural experience and discover the history of the First Peoples of Australia at Anbangbang. This trip will leave you with a profound appreciation of Australia's First Nations significance and rugged natural beauty.

Highlights
  • See the best of Australia’s iconic Red Centre on guided walks around Uluru, Kings Canyon and the ancient red domes of Kata Tjuta.
  • Journey into the heart of the stunning Flinders Ranges and take an easy hike around Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre of rocky mountains.
  • 'Noodle' for opals, hang out with some rescued joeys and spend the night in a subterranean bunker in the Outback town of Coober Pedy.
  • Discover the wonders of Kakadu National Park. See ancient traditional rock art and consider taking an optional flight over the astounding landscapes.
  • The Mary River Wetlands feature myriad wildlife, including the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the southern hemisphere. Get up close to the snappy beasts on a river cruise.
Included Activities
  • 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
  • Kings Canyon Rim Walk
  • Litchfield National Park
  • Pudakul Cultural Experience
  • Ubirr Rock
  • Kakadu National Park Fee
  • Mary River cruise
  • Bowali Visitor Centre
  • Pine Creek Gold-Mining Centre
  • Maguk (Barramundi Gorge)
  • Edith Falls
Transport
  • All Terrain vehicle
Accommodation
  • Hotel (5 nights), Underground shared bunkhouse (1 night), Permanent furnished tented camp (7 nights)
Destinations
  • Australasia
  • Australia
Day 1: Flinders Ranges

Welcome to South Australia, where your adventure begins. You’ll be picked up from the YHA Adelaide at 8.30 am and head to the culinary epicentre of the State’s capital, the Adelaide Central Market. We’ll meander through the markets to collect some local produce to enjoy a little later in the day. Next, visit Australia’s Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Tandanya. The First Nation precinct provides a wonderful opportunity to experience both traditional and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Leave South Australia’s capital behind and head north to the Clare Valley, home to some of the country’s best wines. Perhaps purchase a bottle (or two!) and pair it with your delicious lunch. After lunch enjoy expansive views of the Flinders Ranges as you drive towards Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre of rocky mountains. Experience the sunset at Wilpena Pound before settling into your accommodation for the night.

Location: Flinders Ranges

Day 2: Quorn

It’s an early (but worthwhile) start this morning as you enjoy a short and leisurely walk along one of the many tracks in Flinders National Park. Spanning a massive 450 km, you won’t be able to cover it all, but your guide will choose the best trail for your group, depending on the time of year. Travel to the site of the Yourambulla Caves where you’ll have the opportunity to view some Aboriginal rock art before stopping for lunch at Quorn. Spend the afternoon enjoying a couple of walks.  Warren Gorge provides stunning ochre rock faces that complement the blue skies. Keep your eyes peeled for the very well camouflaged local rock wallabies. Tonight, you’ll stay in the quintessential South Australian town of Quorn.

Location: Quorn

Day 3: Coober Pedy

Leave Quorn in the rearview mirror and head to 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 n 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.

Location: Coober Pedy

Day 4: Coober Pedy / Yulara

We’ll be honest, there’s a fair bit of driving today. From Coober Pedy travel past the Dingo Fence and Breakaways Reserve, and into the Northern Territory. Be prepared to ‘hold on’ as your guide hits the indicator on the vehicle for the first time, leaving the Stuart Highway and turning left onto the Lasseter Highway towards Uluru. Make sure you have your phone fully charged and your neck cushion handy!

Location: Coober Pedy / Yulara

Day 5: Yulara/Uluru

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. Walk to the cave paintings near Mutitjulu Waterhole at the base of Uluru where you will be in the hands of an Anangu guide who will share the stories of this unique landscape. This exclusive experience will give you an insight to the meaning behind Anangu art and traditional culture. The onsite 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.

Location: Yulara/Uluru

Day 6: Uluru/Kings Canyon

Today, explore one of the Red Centre's greatest treasures, Kata Tjuta, 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 600 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.

Location: Uluru/Kings Canyon

Day 7: Kings Canyon/ Alice Springs

With its 300-metre high sandstone walls, hidden waterholes, fern forests, chasms, canyons and caverns, Watarrka National Park is central Australia’s answer to an oasis. The highlight attractions here are the Garden of Eden, the Amphitheatre and the Lost City – all sites you’ll get to visit on the Rim Walk. Following lunch, it’s back on the road for the onward drive to Alice Springs, where you'll stay the night before heading to Darwin tomorrow.

Location: Kings Canyon/ Alice Springs

Day 9: Flight to Darwin

This morning, transfer to the airport for your Qantas flight bound for Darwin (flight time approximately 2 hours), skipping the 1500 km and almost 24 hours if you went by road! Once arrived, catch the Darwin Airport shuttle service to your hotel where you’ll spend the afternoon and evening, before setting off on your Top End adventure early tomorrow morning. The rest of the evening is free for you to do as you please in Australia’s northernmost state capital.

Location: Flight to Darwin

Day 10: Darwin Free day

After breakfast this morning, head to onto the water on a wildlife cruise in the Mary River Wetlands, a network of waterways home to crocodiles and native bird species. 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. Tonight, relax by the pool at the Kakadu campground and enjoy a group dinner.

Location: Darwin Free day

Day 11: Darwin – Mary River via Litchfield National Park

Welcome to the Northern Territory! 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. We then 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. Enjoy a camp dinner before climbing into bed at private campsite in the Mary River region.

Location: Darwin – Mary River via Litchfield National Park

Day 12: Kakadu National Park: Ubirr & Barramundi Gorge

After breakfast this morning, head to onto the water on a wildlife cruise in the Mary River Wetlands, a network of waterways home to crocodiles and native bird species. 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. Tonight, relax by the pool at the Kakadu campground and enjoy a group dinner.

Location: Kakadu National Park: Ubirr & Barramundi Gorge

Day 13: Kakadu – Katherine

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 and Torres Strait Islander 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).

Location: Kakadu – Katherine

Day 14: Katherine Gorge – Darwin

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 we head to the beautiful Edith falls for one last refreshing swim in the huge plunge pool before we hit the road back to Darwin, where your adventure comes to an end on arrival.

Location: Katherine Gorge – Darwin

Dates Price Single Availability

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This tour is operated by Intrepid Travel

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Group Size:1 - 24
Suitable For: 18-99 years
Accommodation:Hotel (5 nights), Underground shared bunkhouse (1 night), Permanent furnished tented camp (7 nights)
Difficulty:physical=3, cultureShock=1
Meals:9 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 9 dinners
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